Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hodge Podge

Hey, readers! This is going to be a regular hodge-podge of a post. I've been wanting to update for a while, but life's busy!  So here's what's been happening during the last couple months!

In April, my husband and I did a drawing challenge together-- we each drew the same character (DC Comics'  Supergirl), and we switched off now and then to add to/adjust/correct each other's drawing. Here are our results :

Handsomeface drew the top image, I drew the bottom.

Supergirl; full image

This was my first time using Copic markers, and it was a lot of fun. I like the bold colors and crisp shading. I did get pretty lazy on the background, but I think the rest turned out pretty well!

My next project was a little stuffed bunny made to match my sweet daughter's first birthday dress (which you can read about here, if you'd like).  She was super curious about it the whole time I worked on it, and as soon as I finally finished and gave it to her, it became an instant favorite!

Dollbaby showing off Baby Bunny.

The dress and the bunny.

Aren't they just adorable?

My next big project was another husband-inspired one. At the beginning of May, Handsomeface mentioned that he wanted to come up with a quick and easy costume to wear for Free Comic Book Day. We started talking about his, and I decided I wanted one too! I decided on Rey from  Star Wars : The Force Awakens. My husband was skeptical at first, but I was determined. It's a lot easier than it looks-- Sometime soon I want to do a tutorial post on how I put it together, but as I don't have any progress shots, I need to draw up a few diagrams first. For now, here's the finished project! I helped a little with Handsomeface's costume too, fitting the pants, whipping the scarf together, and coming up with a way to make a mask fit over his glasses. There may eventually be a tutorial about that last one, too.

Cosplay is so much fun!

Detail shot.

Me and Mr. Marvel.

At the beginning of June, I made a tunic top for Dollbaby using a pattern from the blog  Smashed Peas and Carrots. I modified it quite a bit to showcase a few different fabrics, and to make it reversible. It turned out a bit big, but I'm pleased with it. Of course, Dollbaby looks mind-blowingly cute in it, too.


Sittin' pretty!

The back.

The two designs.

Finally, I've been working on building inventory for my business, Rhymes with Finesse  Studios. I've been doing mostly jewelry, and have a few plushies lined up. If you'd like to see what I sell, please follow the link above! Here's a quick sample of what I offer.

For sale here.

For sale here.

For sale here.

To wrap up, I'll leave you with a picture of a current work in progress. I hope you enjoyed the update! Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Starting Up a Business

Hello, readers! I've been pretty busy since my last post... starting up a business! I was inspired by my cousin Rebecca Marchese of Crocheted by Rebecca and Say Cheese Photography, and after a lot of finishing up other projects and a lot of preparation, I now have a facebook page where I'll be selling handmade goods of various sorts, including plush toys, designer children's clothes, and fine art. I'll be focusing on custom orders, but hopefully I'll have some ready-mades to sell as well. Click here to check it out! Thanks for reading!

Visit my page and place an order! You won't regret it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Baby's First Birthday!

So, my sweet sweet girl had a birthday! And for her party I made her a dress. It's the biggest project I've ever attempted... I started from scratch by choosing fabrics and sketching out a design. I had an idea in my head of how I wanted the dress to look when I chose the fabric and trim, but it really took shape once I got home and started sketching and planning. Here's the design:

Sketch and notes - the notes are how I figure out what pattern pieces to draft.

From there, I started looking into how I could make the skirt. I wanted as many ruffles and as much pouf as are humanly possible, and it was actually pretty hard to find any patterns with as much floof and flounce as I was looking for. I finally found this tutorial on making a "ruffly cupcake - shaped" skirt. It was perfect. It wasn't super clear on measurements or anything, but gave me enough to go on that I was able to tweak it to fit my pattern and materials. The next step was drafting the pattern and calculating ruffle lengths. I had to tweak those a few times, and even went back to Joann's for more fabric, just to make sure I wouldn't run out (I was making a lot of ruffles). Finally, it was time to cut out fabric.

That pile of fabric in the lower left is all for ruffles.
The neater pile in the center is also ruffles.

I cut out everything but the ruffle pieces. To make them, I sewed parallel lines of satin stitch, then cut between them. It was easier than hemming, and slightly less time - consuming (though still a bit mind - numbing.) Then I started on the underskirt. There were 4 layers : one, a half circle layer of a lightweight, satiny lining - type fabric, and 3 circle skirts of gathered organza, each with a 25 foot ruffle on the bottom. As my Grandpa always says, if you've got a lot of frogs to swallow, swallow the biggest one first! And this was a pretty big frog. The underskirt took about as long as all the rest of the dress combined! But once it was all put together, I could see that it was going to be worth it.

Dollbaby approved!

Dollbaby loved it, so off I went to finish. I put together the bodice and lining next, and then the two layers of the skirt - one layer of organza, and one layer of "flower petals" made of the same fabric as the bodice. I attached the skirt to the overskirt and got ready to put all the pieces together.

Skirt, bodice, and lining, ready to be put together.

Once I got that done, there were only a few finishing steps left : attaching the outer sleeves to the sleeve linings, adding buttons and buttonholes, and sewing on trim.

Almost done!

I finished those last few steps the morning of my cute patootie's birthday party, and it went very smoothly. Of course, I snapped a few pictures while I waited for her to wake up from her nap.



Finally naptime was over, and I got to put the dress on my dollbaby! I hung it up on her doorknob while I got her undressed, and she "oohed" and "aahed" and petted the skirt. I completely melted when I saw it on her! Of course Handsomeface and I got a few picture before heading out to her party, and plenty once we were there!

Posing with Baby (her new dolly).

Dissolving in a cloud of pink.

Always so photogenic!


Top view.

She's standing up, but you can't see her feet!
I want a skirt like this.

All told, the dress took about 26 - 27 hours to make, not counting time spent designing, drafting the pattern, shopping for materials, or cutting out fabric. I satin stitched, cut, and gathered over 100 feet of ruffles, and used about 3 spools of thread... and I would (and probably will) do it all again! At this point you're probably asking yourself, "Is she crazy?" The answer is yes. Yes, I am.

Besides the dress, I also made the smash cake (which turned out pretty big for a smash cake, but hey, it was my first try). It's based on this tutorial, but pretty heavily modified due to my baby's tastes and some time constraints. I used stabilized whipped cream instead of frosting, since Dollbaby doesn't like sweets that much (but she loves whipped cream!) and used cookies and candies instead of fondant - Oreos for the eyes, pieces of pizzelle for the ears, pieces of marshmallow Peeps for the bow, and M&Ms for the pupils, beak, and feet.

Front view.

Side view... I just used a frosting spatula
to get the feather effect.

Of course, my dainty darling didn't want to smash it - she doesn't seem to like being messy.  She did enjoy eating it, though, especially all that whipped cream! She even shared the Oreo eyes with me.

"I'm supposed to do what now, Mommy?!?"

Mmm, whipped cream.

Happy, dainty Dollbaby.

So that's what I've been busy with! Next up, making little stuffed animals to get Rhymes with Finesse Needlearts started. Hopefully I'll be able to post more on that soon. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Just a Quick Blurb

Hey! So this is just a quick blurb about a present for my mom. One day in mid-December, I looked on Ebay for Vintage Chatty Cathy dolls. I don't even know why I looked; I just wondered what they looked like and what they generally sold for, I guess. Well, I saw one in what looked like pretty good condition (aside from not being able to chat anymore) for 19.99 (much less than any of the other listings). There were only three hours left to bid on it, and no previous bids. For anyone who doesn't know Ebay very well, that means I had a pretty darn good chance of getting the doll without the price going up. Well, I decided to check with my husband (I don't like making impulse buys without getting a second opinion), and by the time I actually got around to it, there were maybe two minutes left on the auction, and still no bids! So I made my bid, won the doll, and made plans.

This is the only "Before" picture
I have: the one that accompanied
the Ebay listing.

Once upon a time, when she was a little girl, my mother had a Chatty Cathy doll, but the doll didn't make it to adulthood with her. She mentioned on more than one occasion during my own childhood that she wished she still had it-- it was one of her favorite toys. Well, now I had one coming to my house, and my mom's birthday was in about a month. Perfect!

Waiting was rough, but finally Chatty Cathy arrived. Her hair had lost its curl over the years, and the face had faded to a sickly greenish-gray. I spent a good bit of time on Google, figuring out how to fix her up. For anyone who wants to know, the fading on the face can be cured using over-the-counter acne cream; just make sure the cream contains 10% benzoyl peroxide. It took three or four weeks for the cream to do its work, but sunlight seems to speed the process up some. I wiped off and reapplied it each week so I could check its progress. Chatty Cathy hair can be washed and conditioned just like human hair, and any wet-set curling method can be used for styling. I used vintage perm rods borrowed from my mother, which certainly aroused her curiosity, especially since I wouldn't tell her why I wanted them.

My mom got a sneak peek at the doll before she was finished, since the benzoyl peroxide hadn't finished its job by the big day, but she started getting excited. I brought the doll back when her face was finished and put her hair in curlers at my mom's house, then left her there so my mom could brush her hair out once it was dry. The next time I was there for a visit, I was as excited as my mom to see her all finished and decked out, and if you've made it this far into this post, I bet you are too! So here are the "After" pictures:

Doesn't she look pretty? The dress and shoes belonged to my mom's
childhood Chatty Cathy.

Close up

This photo hasn't been retouched, so the color's a bit off...
The coat also belonged to my mom's childhood doll.

So there you have it! This is my second foray into doll restoration... pretty fun stuff, taking a sad, beat-up dolly and making her beautiful again. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Stuff I Just Did; Stuff I Will Do

Hey, all! I got to do a lot of sewing over the holidays, so I thought I'd sum up here. I'll start with Thanksgiving. I started with this:

Sketch and fabrics for Elinor's Thanksgiving dress.

Those became a blouse, bloomers, and dress set. It was an adventure-- I'm still learning to budget my time with a baby in the mix, and I didn't make a mock up of the pattern I drafted. The blouse ended up too short, but I figured out a fix that wouldn't show. Elinor wore the ensemble for Thanksgiving, and looked absolutely darling!

So cute!

Showing off the sleeves and bloomers.

A pretty good view of the front.

The back.

So there's that. Then I started working on Christmas projects. I had quite a few of those: a pair of stuffed dogs for my nephews, a baby's first Christmas ornament, a stocking, and a Christmas dress for Elinor, and (this one was unplanned, but lots of fun) a stocking for my younger nephew. That last one is actually the first one I finished:

It's hard to see, but the little white spot is an elephant.

My sister-in-law had the cool idea of using one of her son's old pajamas as trim for the stocking. My mom partnered with me. I made the pattern, which, admittedly, didn't turn out quite as I envisioned; I didn't add seam allowance, so it turned out narrower than I'd planned. I cut and sewed all the trim on and did the embroidery, and my mom did the actual construction. It turned out pretty cute!

I started the puppies before the stocking, but didn't finish them till afterward.

The pattern in front was for the Thanksgiving dress.

The finished dog above is my younger nephew's. I forgot to get pictures of both before I gave them to the boys for Christmas; hopefully soon I'll be able to update with pictures of both.

I couldn't find any baby's first Christmas ornaments that I liked for my baby, so I got some Sculpey clay instead! Here's what I made:

The actual ornament is about three inches tall.

I was pretty proud of how it turned out-- even cuter than what Hallmark had to offer this year!

Elinor's dress and stocking were the biggest project. Here's how I started:

Sketch and fabrics

After working on my nephew's stocking, I decided it would be cool to make Elinor's stocking out of the same fabric as her dress, if I had enough. It turns out that I did! The dress could use a tiny bit of reworking (I ran out of time to do the back seam as well as I wanted), but it's really pretty! Here are pictures:

Dress and stocking!

A better photo of the dress

Sleeve detail

Bodice detail

My dollbaby opening her stocking on Christmas eve.

So, that's what I've been working on. The next few projects on my roster are for Elinor's birthday. The first is a fluffly ruffly birthday dress:

Sketch, fabrics, and trims.

I also want to make her a teddy bear. I'm deciding between two patterns:

I wouldn't add the patches, and would probably
make the eyes bigger. Plus I'd use the same
fabric for the muzzle and the main body.

I might try to add foot pads, and would omit the
stitch that they seem to have put in the belly.

If anyone has feedback on which pattern I should use, let me know in the comments!

Once those are done, I have several ongoing projects, plus I'll be trying something new. I've been inspired by my cousin Rebecca, who has a small crochet business (Crocheted by Rebecca on Facebook-- check it out; she's awesome), and I want to start a business of my own: Rhymes with Finesse Needle Arts. I'll start by selling small keepsake stuffed animals, made using outgrown babies'/children's clothes (or any other sentimental fabrics customers send me), and if that goes well, I might expand from there. So be looking for that starting in April or May!

So that's what's up! Thanks for reading!