Monday, December 30, 2013

That Time of Year Again...

End of the year, time to reflect and plan on the coming year, right? (Not to mention look back at everything you didn't get done in the current year.) I don't do resolutions. I never keep them. All I can do is try to get concrete things accomplished, and promise not to beat myself up too badly when I don't manage it.

So far, I'm making a preemptive strike on organizing my daughter's room. She has collections that need a little curating, and a whole lot of clothing that needs someplace to go. I think I have come up with a way to reorganize her closet and make better use of the space. Today has been all about laundry, weeding out things that don't fit and getting gifts washed and folded. Tonight maybe I'll go get the shelves I want to put in her closet, and then I can work on getting her better organized.

The basement is a huge mess. I managed to undo so much of the work I did last year, that I will practically be starting all over again. I really want to get that done this year, so I can get that wall painted.

And speaking of painting... I still have to finish stripping and sanding a bookcase I plan to use for cookbooks. (They're currently on a baker's rack that is starting to show a little stress from the weight.) I want to paint it to look like the pattern on my grandmother's recipe box. I want to paint the kitchen cabinets too, but that's going to be an enormous job, and I don't know when that will happen. I'm making new everyday kitchen curtains, but that will only take me a day, max. (Huzzah for quick projects!)

There's dozens of little projects, but if I can get those three big things done (her room, the bookcase, and the basement) then I think my life will be greatly improved for the other things.

Friday, December 20, 2013

From Dr. Thad to Groovy Girls

So I finished Dr. Thad and the Medications, and decided to leave the other 9 dolls for another time. It felt pretty good not to have to rush and panic! Then, in a surprising twist, she starts asking about Groovy Girls dolls again...

I had sent Mom a list of what I thought was the last updated inventory of the dolls she had, and then discovered that it was not an updated list, and that there were duplications. Hubby and I did a new inventory, and I pulled out all the duplicate dolls that were also in identical outfits. (I had already gotten new outfits for other duplications years before.*) We had stopped at one of the few stores in our area that carry the dolls, and I got three new outfits. When they left to go to the mall on their weekly pilgrimage, I undressed the duplicates and started messing with mixing and matching and giving them new hairstyles. When I finished, I still had one doll who needed a new outfit, and the clothes I had didn't suit. Chrissy Christmas wears green elf shoes and peppermint striped tights. She was going to need something seasonal for her outfit.

I tried looking for clothes online, but there doesn't seem to be any holiday clothing sets (odd, huh?), so I started looking for sewing patterns, and found an A-line skirt pattern/tutorial, but precious little else. So I winged it, like I usually do.

I crocheted a tube with a little flare at one end (looks a bit like a peplum), and added a ribbon at the center front to tie around her neck as a halter. For the skirt, I used material from something else that my mother had given me, because I needed a small-scale print. The skirt is basically just 2 rectangles sewn together in a tube, with elastic sewn into a casing at the top.

The green top doesn't match, but I don't think she'll care.
The ribbon is just looped through in a half-hitch.

I didn't have any narrower elastic than 1/2" -- I'll need to get something smaller.

Please note, I eyeballed and estimated everything. I didn't count my stitches, or use a pattern. I just held things up to her as I was going and decided if it looked right. (I have an unfortunate habit of cooking the same way, so lots of things never quite taste the same way twice.)

I had fun making it, did it in an evening, and now my daughter has a "new" doll! I ordered a handful of "naked" dolls on ebay, and will give them all new names and new outfits and hairstyles, and give them to her for Valentine's Day.

I'd like to make a doll wearing a bowling shirt like she wears for the Special Olympics bowling team, and she's been asking about a cheerleader doll (naturally, the only one on ebay right now is part of a lot), so I thought I'd make a cheerleader uniform in her school colors. Maybe make an iron-on (miniaturized) of the school mascot...

There seems to be precious little in the way of patterns for these wonderful dolls. If you've got an American Girl or Barbie or Cabbage Patch Kid, you're set, but not so much for the sweet and fun Groovy Girls. (If I end up making any of my own, I'll share them here.)

Strappy top from Anne E. Weaver (who also did the A-line skirt)
Wrap skirt and Halter dress from Hobo Mama
No-Sew Doll Fashions from old socks, from TLC 

Beach Baby Dolls has patterns for sale that will fit Groovy Girls.

Simplicity had patterns called "Dizzie Dolls" by Carla Reiss (from 2002?) that included a pattern for a 14" soft doll, one for clothes, and another for pets for those dolls. They appear to be out of print, but available on ebay. Look for Simplicity #5742, 5745, 5682.

* Why not just remove the duplicates and give them away or sell them? Because she knows when dolls have been removed from the collection, and that upsets her. It's ok if they get new clothes, but taking them out of her collection completely is Bad. She got home from school before we finished the inventory. I took the duplicates in our bedroom and hid them. She went upstairs, and immediately noticed. I had to get Marc to hustle her out of the house so I could finish the inventory and recostume them. When they got back, she went upstairs first thing and then brought me one of them, saying "she looks fancy." (One of the new outfits was an evening/party dress.) I told her that she had a new outfit, and she was fine with that. So long as no one is missing, it's all ok.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Betty Crocker Angel

For my kitchen tree, I needed the perfect topper. I decided to make an "angel" using the first Betty Crocker portrait from 1936.

Artist: Neysa McMein
I used a seven-inch paper cone (from Michael's), the portrait (adjusted for size), a felt snowflake that looked like a halo (from Michael's), a photo of my personal copy of the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book (altered in Photoshop), paint, and hot glue.

I painted the cone red. Then I printed out different sizes of the portrait to decide which one I wanted to use. Making the wings was the trickiest, because I didn't want to distort the covers too much, but I needed them to fit the cone at an angle. The wings and portraits were printed on white cardstock.

Altered in Photoshop:
The finished wings are 10 inches wide and the widest point,
and the spine is 5 inches tall.

I spray-sealed the cover/wings, and her portrait and let them dry before I glued anything. I scored the wings so they would bend back slightly from where they were glued, and used the edge of my kitchen counter to gently round the spine where it would attach to the cone. That way I wasn't fighting the stiffness of the cardstock when I glued it down. I glued the snowflake-halo (off-white, so it fit with the cover perfectly) to the back of her portrait, then glued that to the cone, centered over the wings.

The jacket she's wearing in the portrait didn't print as vividly red as my paint, so I ended up painting a very light coat of the same red over her jacket, so it would match the cone. I also added a tiny bit of the same red to her lips.

The ribbon is held in place with tape, while I decide if I love it or not. I'm pretty sure I do, but I wish they were longer, and went to the bottom of the tree's branches. (I might get more ribbon to do that; that was one spool, cut in five pieces. I'll need two to make them as long as I want them to be.)

I want to include the other Betty Crocker portraits as ornaments somehow, but I haven't decided exactly how yet... As smaller angels? As cameos? I'll have to see what I find at Joann's when I go. (I need more felt for the candies and cupcakes.)

I love the way she turned out. The width of her shoulders in relation to the cone is perfect, the color of the cone is rich and wonderful, touching up the color on her jacket really made it blend with the cone, and the book cover wings are just awesome. Even the snowflake halo coordinates with the design on the cover smoothly. Everything came together exactly as I saw it in my head. And how often does that happen??

Monday, December 9, 2013

Kitchen Tree

Because I am crazy, when I finished my daughter's second round of Sesame Street "deep cut" muppet dolls*, rather than celebrating by taking the day off and enjoying the fact that they were done, I went out and bought another (small) Christmas tree to decorate.

I found a pure white three-foot tree (not iridescent or glittery, just white) and a white wire string of LED lights (multicolor). I already had a plan to make the ornaments for it, using recipes cut from vintage magazines and pasted onto oval paper maché things. I bought paper cupcake cups in an argyle pattern, harlequin patterned ribbon in lime and cherry, and from the dollar store: lime plastic measuring spoons, cups, a tea ball, and four hot pads in lime and cherry. I already had on hand four large copper cookie cutters, another tea diffuser, and two small wooden spoons that were Easy Bake oven accessories (that my daughter never used).

Here's how I made the recipe ornaments:

1. Paint the edges and a bit of the surface you're gluing on.

I used 12 of these; 6 red, 6 green, and each color had 3 of each shape.
(3 green ovals, 3 red ovals, 3 green rectangles, 3 red rectangles)

2. Make a template by tracing the edge of the ornament(s) you're using and cutting out the center. (This will be your guide to see if the recipe you want to use will fit.)

3. Find a recipe to use. (I used ads from vintage December issue women's magazines.)

December 1957 Family Circle
4. Use a template to see if the recipe will fit on your ornament(s).

5. Trace the outline of the ornament onto the recipe as a cutting guide. (The ornaments I used were not perfectly uniform, so I traced the ornament I was using onto the recipes.)

6. Cut out your pieces, checking first to make sure there isn't anything on the back you want to save.

7. Play with the placement, determine if you need more paint, and glue your pieces down. (I used a glue stick.)

The Pet Milk can covered up too much of the recipe.
I used it on the other side instead.

8. After the glue dries, spray sealant on the ornaments. Embellish as desired.

Finished, front and back. Back has a bit of paper tape as embellishment.
On the tree, with some of the other ornaments visible.

Materials needed: Paper maché ornaments (bought at Michael's), vintage magazines, paper (for a template), paint, glue stick, clear spray sealer, embellishments (scrapbook paper, stickers, ribbon, glitter, etc.).

Here's a few more, front/back views. You can see I used paper to cover the ornament
on the left view, top right, and then pasted the recipe on top of that.
All of the ornaments I made have a photo of the thing the recipe is for, because I love the look of those old magazine photos. You could also use photocopies/scans of family recipes (never, ever use originals, unless you're writing a new one just for this project).

I am still making ornaments for this tree. I have some little felt chocolates I'm making, and plan to make some cupcakes, too. More on those when I'm finished...

* This time, it's Dr. Thad and the Medications. The dolls turned out great, but they're slightly out of scale with Little Chrissy and the Alphabeats, because I had to recreate the pattern. I hope she doesn't notice and insist that Little Chrissy et al. be remade...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

"Apron" Curtains

I love vintage aprons. I don't want to use them as a window valance, because the afternoon sun would destroy them. I have a small wire frame "mannequin" that I use to display them one at a time in my dining room.

Mom gave me the idea to use the basic shape of an apron as a valance, but made with new fabric. I decided to try it, and even found some vintage-look Christmas prints at Joann's. I made a pattern piece for a gently-curved half apron, sized to fit my window. Each of the "aprons" is 20 inches wide at the top, 25 inches wide at the bottom, and 15 inches long, not including the rod pocket, which adds about 1.5 inches to the length.

Basically, I hemmed the sides and the bottom, sewed the contrasting rod pocket to the top, added a matching decorative pocket to the left front, and sewed on rick rack. I did it in a single morning.

Yes, Virginia, that is a Kitchen Witch. I didn't set out for it to, but the new valance coordinates with her.

Note that they are not as full as more traditional curtains would be. Usually, you want your fabric to be about double the width of your window, but I wanted the apron shapes to be apparent. My window is 72 inches wide, the width (at the top) of my valance is 100 inches. It has a little fullness, but isn't bulky.

I also didn't sew all of the pieces together; each of those "aprons" is a separate piece, that can be rearranged and maybe more importantly, can be washed separately. I did prewash the material, but with all those colors with the off-white fabric...

I went with three solids and two print (that were the same background color) so that it wouldn't be too busy. Each apron has a coordinating rod pocket and front pocket; for the five aprons, there are eight different fabrics. (In part because I couldn't decide between some of the prints, so I found a way to use most of them.) They overlap on the corners, showing off the decorative pocket. If I was feeling really ambitious, I suppose I could put something lightweight in the pockets, like little artificial flowers, or something, but I like they way it looks as is.

I'm so pleased with the way this turned out, I'm going to make more for year-round use, using more retro prints.