Thursday, August 8, 2013

Overdue Update

For the last month and a half I had replaced blogging here with posting on Instagram. It was quick, easy, and required little writing. I guess I enjoyed having a little instant feedback seeing as I've only got one actual comment on my blog. Can you really blame me?

But I plan to post more here again. This is partially because I can't deny that I still love writing and Instagram simply isn't the place to be writing lengthy sentences about my hobbies and projects. Its also partially because I'm a bit tired of coming across the drama the preteen dollstagrammers keep perpetuating. That being said, there are still plenty of wonderful doll accounts on Instagram, run by both preteens and adults alike.

Also I'm not that good at doll photography. My camera can't focus, and despite my art degree I have a long way to go in the photography field.

That all said, here is the summery of my doll life since the last post:

I took Molly out for a harshly-lit photo shoot in the back yard after dressing her up with Kit's sweater. Her leg was loose so this wasn't easy. A few days later DH picked her up off the couch and her leg fell off. Oops. Molly's leg is still broken as I haven't gotten around to trying to fix it. Again.

Penny and Felicity had a photo shoot in the backyard too. Felicity's legs are also loose so its hard to get her to stand.  I've since sold Penny for what I bought her for to a nice lady I met on Craigslist.

I finally got around to taken a few decent pictures of the Disney Princess & Me dolls I bought last spring. I still think Rapunzel is absolutely gorgeous, and that Aurora could use a little less eyeshadow. I wish I had bought once of the other princesses instead... like  Ariel or Tiana. I think they're far prettier dolls. But Aurora is sorta "My" princess, despite not really caring for her. Its sorta a lifelong thing I decided when I was 9 or so and wasn't aloud to let go of.

Kit's shirt just above is one I made out of an old shirt of mine. Didn't turn out all that great. I gave it away to a neighbor girl as part of a late birthday present.

A friend and I got to go to the MCM sale where I bought a bunch of cute doll clothes and a #33 for myself. I picked up McKenna for a friend and was surprised to find that I actually kind of like her dress in person. Sakari looks adorable in the blue and white winter outfit I got there, and #33, who I named Darcy, is enjoying an eclectic style of old 90's AG clothes mixed in with a few modern ones.

The friend I bought McKenna for sent me a cute knockoff dress meant for Elizabeth as a thank you for being her personal shopper. She also sent brown boots sized for Journey Girl dolls for Sakari.

I redid all of my doll's hair using a spray solution of water and fabric softener. I don't mind Sakari's hair as much now, and  I can finally run my hand through Felicity's hair again.

I began packing up all my doll stuff as we're moving about an hour away to a larger house in the country. I took a group shot of all my 18" dolls... which I had to stitch together manually photoshop. When the shot is small like this I don't think my rushed graphical job looks too bad.

I found at a used kid's clothing and toy store a bag of AG clothes for $5. I'm not sure if I'll keep any of it but I'll decide that for sure after the move.

Also: Shoes. Aren't doll shoes great?

So that's the gist of what's been going on. Once I've got a setup in the new house I'll be sure to post pictures!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Biyu Qian

Last week I came back from vacation to find my new doll had arrived and was waiting for me upstairs in my "doll corner" of the bedroom. I was exhausted from traveling all day by myself with a baby but still managed to find the energy to unbox her. Since then, she's been standing on my dresser in the American Girl Karaoke outfit (cinched together to fit) with her stock red hair. Her wig is beautiful, though not the color I needed to fit my roleplay character, Biyu. If I ever want to dress her up as Chihiro (my Kyoshi Warrior character) its good to know I have something that works though ;)

Today my black wigs showed up. My favorite is the style with her hair up in braided buns on either side. So much so that I haven't got around to taking photos with the hair down yet. I also got her green shoes but they don't fit quite right so I'm not so sure about them. I'll get pictures of them up later, if not here they'll be on instagram.

For those who might be interested, Biyu exists the Avatar world (as in Avatar: The Last Airbender, not the blue people). At the start of the story she was fourteen and new to the big city that we roleplayed in. She came by herself as a vacation while her parents traveled the world for the summer. Biyu is an Earth Bender but has next to no interest in bending. She's a friendly, hyperactive teenager and is a bit dense. She takes good care of her looks, eating well and making sure to always be properly presented. Her parents drilled good manners into the girl though her natural clumsiness and outgoing personality almost negate this at times, despite her good intentions. She loves fashion, spending money, and the arts. Her over-friendliness is often taken as flirting though that's rarely her intention, nor does she even realize that she's strung so many boys along... not that she really minded the attention. Often seen with a sketchbook at the beginning of the story, by the end she had broken away from her family, supporting herself solely through her small dress shop where she designed, sewed, and sold her high-end creations to the wealthy of the city.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ellowyne Wilde: Biyu

I found my Biyu. She'll need a black wig (or rather, a few black wigs), but that's an easy-do as her hair is interchangeable. I'm super excited to meet her- though I'm leaving on a trip next week and likely won't be around when she comes... I'll have to trust DH to watch out for her.

I just hope her slightly-red eyebrows will look okay with the black wig...

But seriously... I can't wait to make her clothes.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Thanks to a lovely lady I met while scouring the internet for a possible doll to customize I've recently discovered the wonderful AG community on Instagram. I of course have known of Instagram for a long time but the slightly-snooty graphic designer part of me had so far ignored it... mostly because I had no desire to take pictures of my desert and apply stock filters to them before sharing them with the world. Call me crazy.

Anyways, I've joined. I cheated and put up some pictures I had already taken... and did the editing on the computer. Unfortunately, my phone camera isn't up to par so in the future I'll probably stick to shots taken with the nicer camera then cheat them onto Instagram as I please.

View my account by clicking here!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Brief Dolly History Through Photos

I've always loved dolls 

Little Brother & I for Halloween
Me, Water Baby, and Little Sister.

Lots of Dolls! All three sisters & my first American Girl - Felicity!

Me, Felicity, and Little Sister.

Five siblings and a load of monkeys all made by my mom!
Me with Felicity, Kirsten, Josefina, Samantha, Addy, and Molly.

Years Later - All the Girls and my Baby Boy at three weeks.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Queen's Treasures - Cupcake Set

The other day I added these adorable cupcakes to my order on Amazon. They're by The Queen's Treasures and hardly cost anything at all. Most doll food other than AG's is terrible, but these were great and definitely worth it - I just wish they made food other than cupcakes and cookies!

They came with a cute little box that was easy to fold up. I'm certain I'll be buying again from them in the future.

Garage Sale Samantha and More!

Today my dolls got themselves two foster sisters picked up at a local garage sale I found on Craigslist.

The dolls are a bit dirty, but otherwise in pretty good condition. I'm looking forward to cleaning them up and giving them the love they deserve before letting them go. In addition to the dolls, I also bought Felicity's horse, Penny.

Again, not perfect. She's missing a stir-up and the blue blanket but still... she's pretty nice. I had never been into the AG horse thing but I may keep her simply because Felicity has always been my favorite and now she gets to finally meet her horse again.

The lot also came with clothes.

As a kid, I had always liked the princess costume. I'm also a fan of the purple brocade dress. I think I'll be holding on to those two. I laughed at the mini grin pins over the red vinyl outfit. My little sister had the same outfit for her doll and I'm pretty sure she put grin pins on hers too. There's also a random sock that I'll have to investigate to figure out what its from.

At the bottom of the bag was this earring. I think its probably for dolls... though neither doll had her ears pierced so I'm honestly not sure. Does anyone know if its an AG earring?

All and all I'm quite happy. The lot was a surprisingly low cost for what came with it so... yay! I should be able to turn a profit for cleaning them up.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Medium Skin, Blue Eyes AG Doll

I've known for some time that I was wrong about there being no medium skinned, blue-eyed American Girl doll. I saw a used one on AGPlaythings a while back, but it was long after I had switched Meredith and Kyla's eyes. Alas, had I known this I would have bought this doll for Sakari instead.

Though honestly, I think the Journey Girls doll looks more like her. So its not a total loss. And I still would of had to get a different wig. Idealy, I would have also bought Kanani and switched wigs with her. Kanani would become Siku (Another RP character of mine... medium skin, grey eyes, black hair) and #67 Would be Sakari.

Part of me is still all like... its not too late. But I'd have to modify Sakari's tunic so the snap was sewn elsewhere (harder than it sounds, as part of it is hidden in the bias tape) and I'd have to bite the bullet and actually pay $150+ for a used Kanani, only to cut her hair to a reasonable length. Also, like I said, the JG facemold fit her better.

I've been looking at other eyes on the interwebs, hoping to be able to find something to replace the JG eyes with so I can better customize them. I have so many character ideas, and these dolls are much less expensive than AG.

By the way, I'll just put this out there- if anyone is interested in me making them a doll using a Journey Girl as a base, please let me know! They have 4 basic doll types: Black, Medium Skin, Light Skin, Light Skin/Asian. I could switch any of their eyes out for you and make their clothes. I'm fairly certain I can rewig as well though I've yet to do so for my own doll. Still waiting for a medium brown wig with a side part to come up on the marketplace. So if you have one of those for sale too... please tell me!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Food & Pants

When I found Molly's Tea Set at the flea market I immediately wanted to get a hold of the silverware and birthday cake that once came with the set. The cost on eBay for the silverware was ridiculous, so I turned straight to calling American Girl to order replacement parts. From them, I managed to buy all the silverware, napkins, birthday cake candles, and a new set of glasses for Molly. (Though something tells me I could find those when I next raid my parent's attic in an attempt to find my doll stuff mixed in with my sister's.) The birthday cake I bought from a member of the AG Playthings board.

Molly's Birthday Cake
I've had all these pieces sitting around for a while, but I wanted a red tablecloth to display them on before I took and uploaded pictures. So today I finally ironed out a fat quarter of red fabric and hemmed the edges. Then I started taking more pictures...

Kit's Birthday Cake
Pictures of things such as my most recent eBay purchase, Kit's delicious-looking cake. It won't be long now before I buy the depression glassware set for her to complete the set-up.

My display of doll food and knickknacks on top of my bookshelf. Aurora has been dutifully guarding the curio cabinet for some time now.

Where both Molly & Felicity's tea sets reside on my dresser. You may notice Appa resting on my pillow in the mirror. I sure did...

So I decided that Sakari & Appa needed to meet.

By the way, I made Sakari's black pants to go under the tunic. It took two tries, as my first attempt to alter a pattern to fit  Journey Girl dolls made for some awkward-looking pants. I may embroider the hem to match Sakari's sleeves, but not today.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Meet Sakari

Since the great Eye Swap, Kyla has been standing around, doing her upmost to look like the character she was meant to be. That is, my Avatar roleplay character, Sakari.

Sakari - Age 13

Kyla with Blue Eyes

I did some research and found a pattern to help me figure out how to construct Sakari's tunic. I chose It's A Wrap, an Ardently Admire pattern sold on Liberty Jane's Patterns. In the end, it was heavily altered for my dress, but I'm glad I had something to give me a start.

When I got the chance, I went to the fabric store to scout out what I'd need. I came home with a pile of supplies.

First, I opened up the colored wire and twisted together Sakari's bracelets. This was a pretty easy, mindless job, and by far the easiest part of the project.

I altered and cut out the pieces, embroidered the sleeves, then began my first ever attempt to make (and use) bias tape. It did not go well. While the pattern guide was helpful overall, its instructions for making bias tape went way over my head. Instead, I youtubed instructions. They were helpful, but my fabric strips were still rough and I couldn't iron straight. Giving up, I returned to the fabric store to buy the pre-made kind.

Then I sat down to sew.

The thread broke.

I tried again. It broke again. This went on for... every single time I tried. Re-threading didn't help, messing with the tension dial didn't help. I eventually gave up and did this:

Now all of facebook knows my sewing machine's shame.
The next day, though, I figured out I had the stupid needle in backwards. After that my machine sort of worked, but still jammed. I took yet another trip to the store to buy some new needles, some specifically for knit fabric, and voila!

Two days of sewing later, I finished Sakari's tunic. By explaining all its many faults away by saying the original was sewn by an emotionally distraught eleven-year-old girl with no mother figure and I feel a little better.

Sakari Waterbending


There's still more to do, including finding the perfect wig, but for now I'm done!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Flea Market: Molly's Tea Set

On Saturday DH and I went to a few Flea Markets with the In laws. Whenever we go, I've made it my personal mission to find items for my American Girl dolls, usually without much success. Never had I actually found an AG item. When I was just about to give up, imagine my surprise when I looked down to find Molly's Tea Set. I literally gasped- and I'm not the type to go around gasping. (Though I am the type to mutter to myself in public, a habit I really need to break so people don't think I'm crazier than I am.)

The silverware and napkins weren't included, but it had the creamer and sugar bowl, which are no longer sold by AG. The price? $12. Yup, I was pretty excited.

So today I finally got the chance to clean them up and practice macro photography for the blog. There are some minor imperfections on most of the pieces.

I'm not sure how normal that is or not. Also, I noticed there were no markings to say it was from American Girl, Pleasant Company, or even where they were made. I think some versions might have some of these? I'm not positive though.

Overall, I'm very pleased. Now I just want the silverware, napkins, and the birthday cake!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Journey Girls: Meredith & Kyla Eye Swap

Meet Meredith and Kyla, both 18" Dolls made by Toys R Us for around $30 each.

These Journey Girls Dolls were amount the first 18" Dolls I've bought outside of American Girl. The others were Disney Princess and Me dolls I bought at the same time to be reviewed in another post. What ultimately lead me to these dolls was a desire for a medium-skinned doll with blue eyes.

I've been wanting to make this particular doll for several years now. When I first saw AG's Girl of the Year, Kanani, I thought she'd be perfect if only her eyes were blue. I conspired to get her and swap eyes but was advised by DH to wait until Christmas. Then Kanani sold out. I realized later that an eye swap wouldn't have worked anyways due to the skin part on all blues eyes being too light. I still kind of want Kanani anyways but with an eBay price around $200... yeah.

But the Journey Girls dolls do not have sleep eyes. They have cute faces and Kyla's skin was perfect. I could finally begin my quest to recreate my original character, nerdily enough, based off the show Avatar: The Last Airbender. That's right, my girl is a water bender. I'm coming out of a slight obsession with this show that's lasted through several years, three costumes, and an immersive roleplay on Second Life.

Moving on...

Long story short, I bought both these eyes with the intention of swapping their eyes, despite not finding any information about anyone ever attempting to do this with the Journey Girl line. Going off what I could find about other similar dolls, I decided to first attempt the hairdryer trick. For those who don't know, this involves heating the vinyl around the eye for 3+ minutes until its soft enough to pop the eye out. It sounded easier than it was. It took me more than a few tries to get the hang of it but eventually I did. After taking Kyla's brown eyes (Which are beautiful, by the way) out, I unboxed Meredith and did the same for her.

Putting the eyes back in was far more difficult. As much as I tried with the hairdryer, it refused to work. I was forced to resort to dunking the poor things into near-boiling water.

First, I boiled the water. Once boiling, I poured it into a baking dish then quickly dunked the doll's face into the water for three minutes. Afterwards, I quickly dried the water out of the eye socket and put the eye in.

Understatement of the year.

Putting the eye in was VERY VERY DIFFICULT. It took me about an hour to figure out how to get just one brown eye into Meredith. So please don't attempt this unless you have a lot of time, experience, or patience. My ultimate technique involved trying to insert the eye in the center of the socket, starting perpendicular and pushing inwards. I tried to illustrate with this photo, but honestly... I doubt it will help much.

After I got the first eye in, I started the process over for the second eye. This time, Meredith lay on her side to avoid getting the eye wet. This made it unavoidable to get her hair wet, but it doesn't seem like there was really any damage from this.

After just two rounds of soaking I managed to get eye #2 in, completing Meredith's eye swap.

It didn't turn out entirely perfect. I tried to use the hairdryer to loosen it up and move the eye around a bit but it didn't really work. I had the same problem with Kyla.The hairdryer helped me save some of her eyelashes caught beneath the vinyl but by then they were already crushed. Luckily, I don't think it looks too bad.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with Meredith yet. I may sell her if I can find a buyer, or make her into another character.