Yasha, the 50-year-old doll

I don’t really enjoy sewing, it’s just a means to an end for me. I always imagined that if someone requested a substantial sewing favour from me, I’d try to politely explain that and decline. However, when a situation like that finally came up, it played out rather differently.

Recently, an older friend asked whether I would make some clothes for her doll. She said that the doll’s name is Yasha, and that he got him as a gift from a boy who liked her when she was a teenager living in Russia – some 50 years ago. She explained that Yasha came with an outfit, of course, but he was played with a lot over the years, also by her children, and the clothes were lost in the process. She said she made him a makeshift covering, as seen below.

I’ll be honest: this is not my favourite type of doll. There may be some actual style and design to it that I’m overlooking, but all I see is a doll like the ones that I used to see when I was a child, that already seemed out of date and kind of strange back then – I can’t undo the conditioning of these years. Also, I was disappointed to find out the doll was a boy – I would have liked to make a cute dress instead πŸ˜‰ But all my personal preferences aside, I was honoured to be entrusted with such a precious keepsake, and I said yes πŸ™‚

When I first got Yasha to work with, he was kind of… dirty. I don’t mind, and I’m assuming he stayed this way simply because we get used to things gradually collecting dust and such, and stop noticing it. I knew where to look for doll cleaning tips, but I was hesitant whether it would be a welcome intervention or not. In the end, I decided to only gently clean him with a damp magic eraser, no detergent, no submerging in water. (Spoiler: my friend did notice and seemed pleased).

The difference isn’t too clear in the photos, but still…

Before cleaning:

After cleaning:

Yasha looks like a toddler doll to me, but since I wasn’t sure, I wanted to go with something versatile age-wise. I decided on a fairly classic-but-cute outfit: overalls, a top, and a bandana.

I made the overalls according to the tutorial by MyFroggyStuff (it is my go-to for overalls for all sorts of dolls). I made one alteration, though. Instead of folding and hemming the bib, I added lining. I find it both easier to make and better looking.

The top is as simple as it gets, a white cotton tee. I really thought that it would look best this way – simple and classic. I also find that white is a good colour choice for dolls because it doesn’t clash with reddish vinyl tones, as many other colours tend to do. I used an Animator’s pattern and it was almost spot on, I just had to make the shoulder seam narrower.

Probably because of my relative inexperience, this already took me a couple of hours, but I still wanted to send Yasha home wearing shoes. I went with the simplest shoes that weren’t ugg-looking (I do like Uggs on dolls, but not necessarily worn with shorts…). I roughly followed a set of instructions I found on Pinterest. Unforunately, I don’t know who the original poster was. Nonetheless, the link to the image is here.

I also glued my shoes to craft-foam soles.

Honestly, mine did not turn out perfect… On one hand, I had considered making the shoes going the extra mile, but now that they were done, I mostly felt guilty for making them kind of wonky – unintentionally. I didn’t have the time to re-make them, so I settled for this pair. In the end they turned out a big hit! πŸ˜€ Both the doll’s owner and other friends present at the meeting (to which I brought the doll to return it) seemed to genuinely like them. I’m both glad and relieved, and still a bit embarrassed. There was hot glue showing here and there, and they are kind of uneven…

I topped everything off with a bandana – a simple hemmed triangle of fabric. Here is the final result:

I’m happy to report that my friend seemed happy with Yasha’s new outfit πŸ™‚ Complementing the handiwork is the customary reaction to a gift and a favour, but beyond the words, it was the way she kept glancing at the doll throughout the meeting made me believe she really meant it πŸ™‚ If so, I truly am glad. It’s wonderful to think that my craft played a part in a long story of a cherished doll and brought more enjoyment to it.

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Rapunzel and the great outdoors

We have already had a full season of Tangled: The Series showing Rapunzel’s adventures after leaving her tower, but I still think back to how it must have been like for her to touch the grass and see the world for the first time. Or even the first couple of times. Whenever I take my Rapunzel doll outside, these ideas come back to me. I’m not certain if it can in any way show in photos, but in my head I imagine her filled with a sense of wonder.

My recent trip was to a park with a small castle which also loosely reminded me of Rapunzel’s tower – not in it’s shape particularly, just by virtue of being a castle. Here, above, I imagine her sneaking out. She looks more cheeky about it than scared, and, honestly, it’s better that way.

The purple dress that Rapunzel is wearing is of course her signature outfit which came with the set – not my own work. Even though I’ve had this doll for nearly a year, I have not previously posted photos of the doll in its original state. I was so sure I was going to do a proper review, but I utterly hated all the photos I took for that purpose – and not just once! So, in case it never happens: I do recommend her, but be aware that the articulation is not as great as you might expect – the joints are numerous, but have a relatively limited range of motion.

The day I took the trip was sooo beautiful. Spring in full bloom. I think it’s very fortunate, because it mimics the beautiful locations that Disney gives Rapunzel to traverse (well, except for the scary parts). I really like the charm of Corona’s sights in Tangled, but, happily for us, the real world can compete πŸ™‚

The doll certainly has a lot of charm as well, and I love how well she reflects the style of the animation of the Series. I like her more than the classic Disney Store dolls for this character.

Then… another lovely spring day, I took the doll along for a walk and a picnic by the lake. This time she’s wearing my own creation – it’s a simple dress, but luckily, a sundress can get away with being a little simple πŸ™‚

Oh, and Pascal came along too. Not only that, he came back home safely too. I’m always a little worried about these little parts getting lost outside. This is exactly what parents warned us against as kids. Well, a doll photographer lives dangerously.

Some of these photos, especially the horizontal ones, look better on a slightly bigger scale. Which is a good opportunity to mention that they can also be viewed on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/147182045@N05/27296279317/in/dateposted-public/

I must say that all those failed attempts at reviewing this Rapunzel doll – all the horrid looking photos with an odd tint (not available for public viewing ;)) left a bad taste in my mouth and affected my enjoyment of the doll overall. Thankfully, I feel that these recent experiences have covered that up. After all, she really is a pretty doll – and certainly a unique one.

Mountain trip with Cerise Hood

Is it really almost spring? With the past two weeks having been freakishly cold (around -10Β°C/14ΒΊF) I barely noticed. It was also about two weeks ago that I made a short trip to the mountains that was indeed very wintery in character. I better get to reporting without any more delay πŸ™‚

Of course, this will involve a doll…

OK, so I am pretty passionate about dolls, but the trip wasn’t about doll photography exclusively. You see, I love winter, skiing and snow, but there is rarely an opportunity to enjoy any of the above in the city (even though we do have an artificial ski slope in the area, and even despite the cold, it’s not the same without natural snow). I was delighted when my family offered to take me along for a short skiing trip. Even though it only lasted two days, I still greatly enjoyed the rare chance to feast my eyes on snowy landscape.

The above photos were taken on the first day. This location was especially picturesque, and the weather was wonderful. Unfortunately, I did not bring Cerise on that day, and the next day we went to a different spot, and the weather was quite different. It wasn’t quite as magical, but I did my best to get the best out of it. To be fair, backdrop options are still plentiful for a doll so small in a world so big.

I made her coat just before leaving using the free coat pattern from BFashions, except I gave mine a hood and white trim. The idea for it was born thanks to the felt that it was to be made from – as soon as I saw it at the craft store, I imagined a doll sized, sheep-skin-inspired winter coat. And Cerise seemed to me like the right character to brave the cold and climb the mountains.

I attached the faux fur to the edge of the hood using fabric glue, but now I regret it. It made it stiff.Β  I chose to make a slit in the back to let her hair out. It’s an odd feature, but it works on this scale.

The day that the photos were taken, the doll was in my backpack all afternoon while I was skiing. I was worried about falling and breaking her (and the camera), so covered her in bubble wrap. Luckily, in the end, there weren’t any such dangerous moment at all πŸ™‚

These two are my favourite photos of the day:

I keep saying it, and I will say it again – I am not happy with the colour balance that comes out of my current Panasonic camera. I do try to adjust it in the camera and in GIMP, but it only makes things look even weirder. It’s especially stark in this post, compared to my old Fuji camera, as seen in the landscapes (although in this case the weather played a role as well). I don’t normally use the old one any more because it has far fewer options and its buttons have been used to death and barely respond, but I do miss the colours. I had another Fuji in-between the two, the infamous XF1. After two of it – the original purchase and the replacement – died to the same defectΒ (“lens control error”) year after year I decided to sulkily part ways with Fuji. I loved it otherwise.

If it wasn’t for the unexpected adventure, I wouldn’t have had a chance to take any photos out in the real snow, and it would be a real shame. Even so, I still have a brand new winter outfit for Animators’ dolls that I made that likely won’t see any use this year. I do love a proper, snowy winter, so I hope the next year will be more up to my standards, even in the city.

OK, now I better start thinking about something nice for Easter, spring and general sunshine.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I have decided to celebrate this Valentine’s Day with a few very pink photos. Now, I am very reasonable with the use of pink in my everyday life, but every now and then it’s fun to go a little overboard πŸ™‚ I present to you: Howleen in pink, from top to bottom.

To make the dress for this special occasion, I used the same fabric that I used for an Animator’s doll dress. I do think it’s a lovely one – the right kind of soft, baby pink with the right kind of cute polka dots.

I wasn’t quite certain where the idea for the overall-type style came from – it’s never really been my style. Finally, it dawned on me after a while. I had been unknowingly inspired by the “Pink Jumper and Cat T-Shirt” Barbie Fashionista doll! The resemblance is really quite strong.

This is a dress that I made for my own enjoyment, so there is no harm done, but this raises an important question – how often do images we see sink into our minds and then they come up in our thoughts as ideas that are seemingly all our own? In fact, but for the very real danger of unintentional plagiarism, looking at pretty things is a probably one of the bets sources of inspiration.

I completed Howleen’s look with Birthday Ball shoes from Cedar Wood. Even though they are slightly big on her feet, they were definitely the choice that made the most sense, colour wise and theme wise.

The photos wouldn’t be complete without the right props.Β  I ran into both the wrapping paper – which doubles as the backdrop – and the sweets quite a while ago and was saving them for this very occasion. After the photos were taken I didn’t need the ‘props’ anymore, so the clean up was extra fun πŸ˜‰

When I was a child, I loved pink. Then I hated it. Now I consider it a guilty aesthetic pleasure – that I do revisit from time to time. It suits dolls especially: I feel like every time we dress them extra pink, we pay tribute to the Barbies of our childhoods πŸ™‚

I hope you too enjoyed this little something sweet. I hope you have a nice day, whether it’s spent with a sweetheart, friends, family or just appreciating your dolls, pink and otherwise πŸ™‚

Holly’s Journey

Today I have a couple of photos I took this very morning. There will be trains, tracks, a suitcase, and the beautiful Holly O’Hair from Ever after High.

Holly O'Hair

The idea for these photos started with this little tin suitcase. I found it in a variety shop – anything doll sized is a great find! There were many designs, but this one in particular looked kind of realistic. Its colours reminded me of Holly.

I for one did not have to travel far to find the right spot for the photos. I live so close to railway tracks that I hear train sounds at home – but don’t worry, you do get used to it πŸ™‚ I have passed the bridge over the tracks countless time and knew exactly where to head for a nice railway-themed autumn view. I was only a little embarrassed as people passed me by…

I must admit I was a little tense letting her stand free on the railing so far above the ground, but thankfully, no dolls were harmed today.

I originally made this dress for Cerise last year,Β but I think it suits Holly very well too. I did have trouble finding the right shoes – all these richly embellished EAH shoes may look stunning with their original outfits, but paired with something more realistic they look over the top. I settled for Apple White’s basic shoes, but I do wish I had something a little simpler.

Thankfully, a misty autumn morning turned out to complete the picture rather well. Full-on sunlight tends to tint doll complexion garish orange, but I managed to avoid it.

Isn’t Holly absolutely stunning? I have had the O’Hair twins for nearly a year, but by some terrible neglect, I have only had them in one Christmas photo shoot before today.

This is in the nearby train station. As always, trying to make the doll look to scale is a little tricky. I lifted her up by standing her on a bench, but having nothing to lean on, she needed a stand. Luckily, Holly has more than enough hair to hide its clamps πŸ™‚

I kind of like this next photo, because it’s something different. The only downside is that people sleeping on benches in train stations is not usually a positive picture… She is a princess, though, maybe she can pull this off.

I’ll be the first to admit the colours here are perhaps a bit odd:

I was going for a ‘vintage’ and ‘filter’ look, but its definitely an arbitrary mixture of tints πŸ™‚ I may have to wash her hair, too. It was sweeping the train station all morning… I like to keep myself and my belongings clean and hygienic, but sometimes you need to get a little dirty to get things done.

Enjoying a little snack πŸ™‚

I did not plan ahead to try to capture an actual train, in fact, had I known the schedule, I would have probably tried to avoid any departures and presence of people they tend to attract. In the end, I managed to keep up my work despite two pairs of travellers’ eyes in the vicinity, watching, and was rewarded with the appearance of the train that they were waiting for.

Taking photos of dolls in the public always makes me a little tense, but I endured. And I am glad I did – I must say I am happy with the photos. I hope I will be able to take advantage of this beautiful autumn weather again before the world turns into Novermber’s muddy greyness.

Sand in the Hair

Holidays have not been good for posting, but on the bright side, I come back bearing beach photos πŸ™‚

Just before leaving for holidays I received a package containing my most recent doll purchase: “Tangled: the Series” Rapunzel from the Disney Store. After a moment of deliberation, I decided she is the doll that should come along.

Rapunzel’s signature dress wasn’t very fitting for the beach, so I quickly put together a swimsuit. This doll is still very new and there aren’t any appropriate sewing patterns that I know of, so I had to make one from scratch. If I tidy it up, and make sure it can reliably make a fitting swimsuit every time, perhaps I can share it for others to enjoy.

I love tiny doll accessories, and I love it when you stumble upon them in unexpected places. The cute bucket and shovel in the next photo came with a children’s magazine about pets. It’s always worth keeping your eye on these.

Tangled the Series Rapunzel doll on the beach

The one above is my favorite photo of the set. It looks colorful and bright, almost tropical, and ‘Raps’ is looking as lovely as ever πŸ™‚

Supposedly taking photos at the beach is tricky, and I believe I have experienced it on that day. Even though it was cloudy, the photos had a tendency towards being overexposed and the sky was often all washed out. I like to use wide aperture with doll portraits (the blur is pretty and it hides the oversized details of the landscape), but it was making matters worse. I really am no expert in these things, but opting for a very low ISO and messing with the EV setting helped to tame the light.

I must admit I was a little worried about taking a new doll to a beach. It’s always a dilemma. On one hand, I want to keep my collection in perfect condition, on the other – only keeping it safe behind glass would mean I never get to enjoy the dolls the way I like. In the above photo, it’s hardly visible, but I put pieces of clear tape over her knee joints to keep the sand out. Surprisingly, it worked quite well. Her hair, however, wasn’t as lucky…

…but that’s nor really why I took that photo, eitherΒ  πŸ™‚

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get the sand out yet. With any other doll, I would simply rinse it out, but I happen to really like the way her hair is gelled into an arch over her face and I don’t want it to dissolve. Coincidentally, that gel, too, seems to be great at trapping the grains of sandΒ  πŸ˜‰ Still, I guess it was worth it.

So, this is Rapunzel vacationing at the beach. The doll, and her original attire, certainly deserve a better introduction and a review, however, I am seriously disappointed with the photos I took for the review, so, until I re-take them, I decided to go ahead and share the ones I am happy to share. I can already say this much, though – I am definitely enjoying this dollΒ  πŸ™‚

 

In the fields with little Rapunzel

It is a little early for photos in fields of crops – everything is green rather than golden. Nonetheless, I couldn’t pass up the photo opportunity when it came up. Recently I had an unexpected visit in my hometown. The suburbs there look like proper countryside.

It was already evening when I set off for the walk too, so I only caught the last sunset-tinted rays of light.

The results were a little different than what I had in mind, and seeing the photos on a bigger screen for the first time I thought I’d scrap them and wait for another opportunity – but I couldn’t really give them up. In the end, I have decided to enjoy them for what they are, and save any reservation for the betterment of the future ‘photo walks’ πŸ™‚

This spontaneous session was only possible because of the little white tunic that I had ready in advance – I made it last year and forgot about. When I heard I had to go, all I had to do was slip the doll and her accessories in my luggage. Nobody on the train knew my secret πŸ˜‰

It was sewn according to the free pattern from Mekkotehdas . There are no instructions, but sewing it like a dress with a lined bodice works just fine (where you start with two layers for the bodice, facing good side to good side, and flip it inside out after sewing the sides. I only add a single seam allowance around each piece).Β  For a personal touch, I added the tiny buttons and gathered the sleeve ever so slightly.

Taking doll photos in your hometown is even scarier – I was seriously worried of running into someone I know πŸ˜€ Of course, there is no shame in collecting dolls, but… I need a little more time to gather my courage.

I once read that you should be careful to avoid flyaway hair when photographing dolls. I dutifully packed a doll-sized hairbrush (now that would be a perfect sight… and adult sitting in a country road brushing a dolly), but I just let them be. Since it’s Rapunzel, her flyways are magical.

This last photo will be different. I took it back at home, and let me be honest, the colours where crazy from overexposure and I couldn’t fix it. As a last ditch effort, I salvaged it by making it sepia tone. Now it reminds me of my mother’s childhood photos – she too was a little blond girl in a white dress in them. A happy accident πŸ™‚ Don’t tell anyone, though – the official story will be that it was the plan all along πŸ˜‰

Vintage sepia Rapunzel s

That’s all from Rapunzel – for now.

The summer is here, and I still don’t have holiday plans. Aside from choosing a destination, I still have to decide which doll to take along. I would like to take an Animators’ doll, but they take so much space in luggage. It will probably be one of the Ever After High girls. Maybe Holly or Cerise. Whoever it ends up being, I’ll be sure to share the results πŸ™‚