In the garden

In my attempts to tidy up the stuff on my PC I have found more unposted photos. These ones show a dress that I sewed for my Animators’ dolls quite a long time ago. I like to think it’s in Scandinavian style… but in all honesty, I have no idea if that’s even remotely correct πŸ™‚

These photos were taken in my mother’s garden – Rapunzel traveled with me in a suitcase just so I could snap a few photos. I wish I had a garden of my own!

Rapunzel animators custom dress.jpg

It was strawberry season, too…

I guess that’s all – just a few pictures saved from being forgotten.

My summer vacation is approaching and I am still wondering which doll should come with me for photos. I’m dreaming of taking Willow from the Hairdorables, the trouble is, I don’t own one πŸ˜‰ It’s fair to say it’s far from settled πŸ™‚

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.

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™‚

Pastel Easter

Last year, when Easter was just around the corner, I was looking at various Easter themed dolls and their reviews – just for fun, no dolls were purchased in the process. I noticed that a lot of them were dressed in pastel colours, and I wondered – is this a thing? Around these parts, there is no such thing as a preferred set of colours for an Easter ensemble. Now I know, yes, apparently it’s a thing! And I even decided to make my own pastel Easter dress for a doll πŸ™‚

This dress was made according to the Mimi dress pattern by Dolly Delicacies (still not a payed advertisement :)). I went with a 1/2 sleeve length, because I think it looks elegant, plus, it can be somewhat chilly in early spring πŸ™‚

As for the fabric, I sacrificed my own light cotton top. Don’t worry too much about it, it didn’t suit me so well, and it had just the right springlike colours.

I’ll admit to one problem right away – the colours are perhaps perfect for the occasion, but in retrospect, I am not sure they go so well Rapunzel’s complexion. Her face looks somewhat garish.

You know how certain colours don’t suit certain people? I find that it is even more true for dolls. At face value their ‘complexions’ resemble natural ones, but if you look closely – or even worse, tale a photo – some odd undertones emerge. At least this is my experience. I have been learning the hard way not to assume a fabric will go well with a doll. It’s best to put it next to her face and stare long and hard until you’re sure the tones aren’t clashing. Needless to say, I did not do it this time πŸ™‚

On the bright side, I found chocolate eggs in exactly the size and colours I wanted πŸ™‚

This year, I tried to learn from my last year’s experience: since I have found that greenery is not yet particularly lush and appealing this time of the year, I thought I’d try indoors. I am not sure which solution was better in the end, as I am not in love with the more artificial feel that the backdrop (posterboard) creates. Should I mention that they only had a limited range of colours available too?

Overall, I landed this surprisingly challenging project in an acceptable place, but I am not entirely satisfied. Maybe next year? They pass so quickly I am not even too disheartened about having to wait for another chance (I’m definitely done for this year πŸ˜‰ )

Anyhow, Happy Easter to you doll lovers and all passing by πŸ™‚

A dress fit for a… toddler

Recently I had developed a desire to make a truly ‘princessy’ dress for Rapunzel. In fact, I am surprised that so many months have passed without me being drawn to such an idea.

I had the motivation to sew, a design ready in my mind, and all I needed was the right fabric – a nice, pastel-coloured satin. Unfortunately, I simply could not find the right one. In the meantime, I ran into this most adorable pink corduroy, and its colour matched Rapunzel’s lips just right, too! So, I adjusted my ideas accordingly. Now I was making a cute toddler dress.

If you’re making a toddler dress for an Animators’ doll, you can’t go wrong with the Mekkotehdas free pattern. I have previously made jokes about me using two patterns over and over, so perhaps it’s time to be serious about why it’s so:

  • Animators’ dolls have quite big bellies. No other cut works as well on them as empire line. I find myself coming back to it continually.
  • The above pattern, and the other one I use, from Dolly Delicacies, are very versatile. Make the waist lower or high, the skirt longer or shorter, add the collar or skip it, alter the sleeves, add embellishments… and you have enough variants for a lifetime
  • For the most part, patterns aren’t free. I try to make the best of the ones I have. I am very pleased with them, too.

With this out of the way, maybe I can stop being apologetic about reusing the patterns πŸ™‚

In this case, I originally wanted to make the sleeves long to make the dress appropriate for the cold, winter months, but it was starting to look like pajamas. Luckily, the approaching disaster was spotted and averted in timeΒ  πŸ™‚

The white sleeve underneath is a doll top that I found in a shop – I thought I was very lucky to find something that fit my dolls like that. As a rule, you craft it, or do without. Unfortunately, it’s a small, local doll line, so I am afraid I cannot make a useful recommendation here.

The mouse plushie has a story, sort of. It was a gift for my husband (back then my boyfriend), possibly for valentines day, quite a few years ago. Maybe 7 or 8. I don’t know why a guy would need a mouse plushie, but he was kind enough to never complain πŸ™‚ I thought the mousie would make a good friend for Rapunzel (in the doll world, the colour scheme decides…).

I’ll be honest about one problem I have encountered with these photos. I am not too too sure that the colour balance is the absolute best, but it’s the best I could arrive at. I’ve been having that problem since I was forced to switch cameras a few months ago. Or maybe it’s just me. The longer you stare at these things, the more problems you start to notice. Maybe my wall is the wrong colour, too…

I had sewn these doll tights about a year ago, and the wear is starting to show. Personally, I think it’s adorable πŸ™‚

It will soon have been a year since I first got Rapunzel, and I think she deserves more creative attention than she has gotten. There have been a few attempts, but in the end I scrapped the photos because I wasn’t pleased with them. I still have the clothes I made for these photos, so I can always try again. Bottom line, I hope we will be seeing more of her.

Rapunzel goes to Rogalin

Today I was on a trip to Rogalin. It’s been five years since I visited its beautiful park and I was really glad to be able to go again. Of course, I couldn’t resist taking Rapunzel with me.

The weather wasn’t great and, let me say this up front, neither are the photos. Their redeeming quality is that they look very much like normal family photos taken on a trip, and I wanted share them as such:

Rapunzel in RogalinRapunzel in front of the palace

Rapunzel on a trip.jpgRapunzel with 700-hundred-years-old oaks

Oddly, both the top and the dress are loosely based on the free pattern from Ninnuska. Theoretically it’s a bathrobe pattern (well, I think it is :)), but these were one of the first pieces that I sewed and I didn’t know of any more appropriate pattern to base a top or dress bodice on. The pattern is for an item of clothing that opens at the front, but I didn’t know that and it works well the other way around πŸ˜‰

My April Blossom

Rapunzel Animatora' floral dress

This floral dress is something I sewed a few weeks ago and I couldn’t wait to try it on Rapunzel. I think it suits her rather well.

The dress is based on the Mimi Sewing Pattern for Disney Animators’ Collection Princess Toddler Doll by Dolly Delicacies and no, unfortunately I’m not payed to say that πŸ™‚ I made some changes to the pattern: my dress is longer and the sleeves are more puffy.

Rapunzel Animators' on the grassJust smell the grass, the dirt, just like I dreamed they’d be…

Rapunzel Animators' with a jug

It was something about this dress made me want to take a photo at the side of water, with the ‘model’ holding a jug – I think it reminds me ofΒ  a vintage poster I saw a long time ago, but the exact memory is lost.

DSCF8170.jpg

Vintage photograph edition. Now this kind of reminds me of family photos in my grandmother’s garden.

Rapunzel Animators' by the water

The trees are in bloom, and it won’t be much longer, it never is. I wanted to take advantage of it, but the actual blooms were out of the reach of a 16 inch doll. Perhaps you can see some petals one the ground, though.

Rapunzel Animators' by the trunk

This Rapunzel won’t be spending her life in a tower πŸ™‚

Washing Rapunzel’s hair

As I mentioned in my previous posts, the new doll had “crunchy hair” from the amount of gel that was in it. It’s a little scary to put a brand new doll into a bath, but I was convinced it was necessary. For a somewhat scary operation it turned out to be kind of fun and produced a few cute photos that I wanted to share.

Please excuse the doll nudity πŸ™‚

02b Rapunzel washing hair

I washed her hair pretty much like any hair (I did use a gentle organic shampoo. I’m sure vinyl skin is very sensitive :)). People advise using conditioner on dolls to facilitate brushing, but she didn’t have any tangles and I wanted to see what her hair is like without any product whatsoever.

03 Rapunzel washing hair

I intended not to mess with the original parting, but a few strands got displaced anyway. I had to move the hair strand by strand to restore the criss-cross pattern that ensures there are is no blank line in the middle.

04b Rapunzel washing hair

I learned a few things about doll hair in the process. Looking at online auctions of used dolls used to make me wonder how children manage to make straight-haired dolls look like poodles. Well, now I know. The hair is slightly elastic. If you pull on it too hard while brushing it stretches and then springs back curled up. It only happened to a few individual hairs in my case, but I can see how harsh brushing can turn it all into a frizzy mess. Even if it does happen there are ways of restoring it, just look around on YouTube or Google (I haven’t tried any of them myself yet).

Another tip I can share is that it helps to put a small pillow under the hair while brushing.

05b Rapunzel washing hair

All done and lovely, if still wet.

Disney Animators’ Collection Rapunzel Review

I gave a lot of though to which doll I should choose.

I liked both Rapunzel and Ariel very much, but I decided to give Rapunzel a higher priority, because I relate more to her as a character.

Even with this decision out of the way, my dilemmas had only begun. Perhaps, even almost certainly, I was taking this too seriously, but since there were two models still available online (2013 and 2015), I spent days weighing the advantages and advantages of each (I’m sure there are people out there who give less thought to buying a car). I by far preferred the dress on the older model, but I wasn’t even certain the doll would spend a lot of time wearing her original dress. The greatest drawback was that her lips were purpleΒ  – it seemed like a colour that would clash with the more neutral clothes I prefer to sew with. The actual doll seemed more important than the dress, and so I went with the 2015 version.

Even though I’d seen countless photos and videos, I wasn’t 100% accurate in my imaginations, so it’s time to weigh them against reality.

I would like to first discuss the design in general, and then the execution of the particular doll that I own.

01 Disney Animators' Rapunzel Review

In terms of design, I am very pleased with the doll.

I especially love that this doll, and all dolls in the collection, look so much like their charactersΒ  in the films. I have never seen dolls which would be closer depictions of the animated Disney characters, and that even though they are made as toddlers.

I knew vaguely that each doll in the Animators’ collection has a unique face mold, but I when I put my dolls side by side, I was surprised how different they were – they do share the same style, but their foreheads, cheeks, chins etc. have different shapes. The colours of their complexion also vary. Both dolls’ skin has a matte finish, which is a positive for me.

I’ve read and heard a few people say that the Rapunzel dolls look sad. I disagree. To me she looks pensive. I like her like that, not only visually, but also in that it gives her more personality. I think it’s a bold step to make a Disney princess doll without a cute happy smile, and I applaud this decision. To me it’s one of many proofs that they are something more that simple children’s toys – to me, they are Disney art poured into a tangible object, and I love that πŸ™‚

As I mentioned I quite like the lip colour, I believe it’s the most neutral one on an Animators’ Rapunzel so far, which is a good thing. It’s still pretty pink – I am under the impression that cameras tend to render it as a bit more peachy than it actually is (good luck trying to establish the ‘real’ colour of a doll’s features based on even a high number of photos – I did that and I still was a bit surprised when I saw the colours in person).

04 Disney Animators' Rapunzel Review

I was rather disappointed when I first saw this model’s dress online. For me, it doesn’t make sense to have an opened top layer that is identical to the fabric at the bottom. I like this cut a lot, but to my mind the layers should at least have different shades, and I feel quite strongly about that πŸ™‚ That said, when I saw the dress with my own eyes I decided that it is better than I expected – it’s pretty enough for me after all. I do like the bodice, which has stayed unchanged from the previous releases. The dress looks neat and is pleasant to touch.

The dolls hair, on the other hand is simply delightful to touch! It’s smooth, it’s long, it’s shiny πŸ™‚

I was well aware that Rapunzel doesn’t come with any shoes, and I know that it’s intentional, but I am not happy about that. I’d like her to have something to wear with the outfits I make. What is more, if I ever do buy Ariel, the shoe crisis will only deepen. Ideally, I wish they would box them barefoot, but put a pair of shoes in the package. I’d be happy to pay a reasonable price for spare ones, too.

Rapunzel comes with a stuffed Pascal. He’s kind of flat and useless and I don’t care for him πŸ˜‰

Overall, it’s a very cute doll. I think that the design of the doll itself is great, but since the outfit has changed slightly with each line, the design of the dress has perhaps suffered slightly from the imposed changes.

02 Disney Animators' Rapunzel Review

However, I also wanted to point out some problems which are not inherent to the design, but seem to be the problem of this particular doll that I own.

I had seen online that some dolls seem to have better rooting than others. I dreaded the though that mine could be one of those less blessed with hair, but since I ordered online, there was no way to find out. Unfortunately, it did turn out to be kind of poor.

03 Disney Animators' Rapunzel Review

The spaces between the individual strands are quite wide, even more so farther away from the hairline.

My Belle’s rooting is way better at the hairline, I’m not certain about the scalp overall. Her strands are finer and more densely rooted, and because of that much less obvious. However I’m wondering if it’s even fair to compare their hair in terms of quality. I think rooting may vary quite drastically between different dolls in the series (seeing Tinkerbell’s hair for example…) depending on their hairstyle – Belle’s hairline is more exposed. Even so, based on other people’s photos I think that there exist somewhat better rooted Rapunzel dolls. The fact that mine isn’t on of them was a disappointment for me.

Her hair has a lot of gel in it, so much so that it stands at the hairline. Perhaps it will lay flat after washing and that will help conceal the gaps.

Other than that, the hair is gorgeous. The unimpressive little strands amount to surprisingly thick, lovely hair farther away from the head.

01 flaw

There are some other minor defects, but they do not bother me as much, because they are either less visible, or likely possible to be fixed. One eye’s corner has little specs of paint, and a fraction of the skin-coloured outline is missing. There is some varnish next to the other eye which looks a bit like a tear. There is also some misplaced varnish on her right arm. The rubber band by which Pascal was attached left an indentation in the other arm. Her underwear is unevenly sprayed on.

 

On the positive side, there is virtually no staining on her body, even though it seems to be a fairly common problem among the Animators’ dolls.

I had put so much thought into choosing the right and perfect doll for me that at first it was a little hard to accept that there are some flaws. When you shop online, the unboxing is the ultimate test of what you really got and, at least for me, there is some pressure in that moment. I worried what happens if it’s not perfect and guess what – it’s not.Β But only a day has passed and it already matters less. I suspect none of them are impeccable, Belle had some imperfections too. It’s life in a nutshell πŸ˜‰

Overall, I am definitely happy to have Rapunzel in my tiny collection. It is a beautiful, adorable doll, and on top of that, one based on my favourite Disney film of the recent years. As a doll sewist, or whatever it is that I am, I am especially excited about her as a new model, bringing in new colours and new opportunities. But ever before I manage to create something special with Rapunzel in mind, she brings me joy just standing there and being pretty πŸ™‚