Sunday, 27 April 2014

Siouxsie Banshee - A Custom Art Doll

It's not someone I would have chosen to make myself, but I've really enjoyed making Siouxsie Banshee for Caron. It was a really nice change from my usual styles to make a more modern outfit, and especially to make a punk version of a kimono.

I've always loved traditional Japanese dress and customs so as soon as I was asked to make Siouxsie I pulled out all my Japanese history/biography and memoirs and hit the Internet looking for the info I needed on how to construct Siouxsie's kimono.

I started this lady with some sassy black lace underwear (yes, I know you can't see any of it, but a girl has to have her knickers. Right?).
Next I started on her shirt, which has long sleeves, cuffed at the wrist, and a wide turtleneck high under her chin.
The pictures that Caron had chosen for the outfit for me to make didn't show Siouxsie below her waist, so we between us we decided that a pair of harem trousers would be the best option as Caron wanted a full length kimono. I painted on her shoes as little ankle boots and fitted the cuffs of the trousers just above them to make then nice and loose.

Next came her kimono.
I'm very lucky that a friend of my Husbands is married to a very nice Japanese lady called Yuriko, who kindly agreed to help me with the text on the fabric. I searched everywhere for a fabric with printed Japanese text to use but nothing was suitable. So Yuri agreed to write on a piece of white cotton lawn for me.

I asked her to just go ahead and write whatever she felt like, and was truly surprised at what she'd chosen to write when I read the note she sent back with the fabric. Yuri had copied part of the first chapter of The Tales of Gengi onto the fabric. This book written by Murasaki during the Heian period between about 1000 and 1012 is a wonderful piece of writing that I was given as a gift many years ago. It was so lovely to find that Yuri had used one of my favourite books without me knowing :)

Over Yuri's writing I added the red spots by applique, and then smaller finer text that I copied from the newspaper sheets Yuriko kindly included with the fabric. I'm yet to hear back from Caron as to what she thinks as I think I need to add more text to get the fabric looking as it did in the pictures. So for now Siouxsie is sitting on my table watching the world go by in the garden :)

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Gwyneth my Welsh Lady in Progress

Gwyneth is coming together slowly...
And at the moment I'm working on finishing her paisley shawls, as it needs a wool trim edge, and her pretty white apron with yet more pin-tucks and a lace insertion.

Again I find myself waiting on a fabric delivery so that I can sew her a Betgwn - a cross between a gown and a coat, it has a tailored bodice, elbow length sleeves and long tail-like split skirts that will show her red pin-ticked petticoat underneath.
Not a lot of this red petticoat will finally show, and mainly around the front hem and the back split of the tails. The fabric I'm waiting on for her Betgwn is a darker brick red with a black check, and reminds me of the skirt I had for my own Welsh costume when I was a child.

For the moment Gwyneth is sat on my workbox in her petticoats and shift sleeves with just her small paisley shawl around her shoulders to keep her warm. So it's a good job we've had fine bright weather to enjoy this past few days.

You can see that I've gathered in her sleeves above her elbows so that it will be easier for me to fit the narrower sleeves of her Betgwn later.
As a fine young lady of means Gwyneth can afford the soft fine cotton needed to make such an extravagant shift. Where others must be content with added over-sleeves for their traditional dress she can have the extra layer to keep her warm (and the expensive wool layers clean). But she's a good modest girl and doesn't have much else that could be considered too dressy. And she's proud to wear her paisley and wool alongside the other women and girls.

In her lap here you can see the start of her best apron, handed down to her from her Nanna and worked by women of her family into a fine piece of best dress wear. Not something she'd wear while working around the house and fields, of course.

Other things I've been working on while I wait for things to fall through my letterbox is my Storyteller, a little ghost for my friend Linda, my Siouxsie Banshee and a custom peg Oz Scarecrow.

My storyteller is on hold until the pieces arrive for me to make her a headdress, and I want to make her some books to hold all her tales.

I think my little ghost needs some sort of ragged tattered wrap made of silk gauze over her lace dress. And I'm waiting for the return of the kimono fabric for Siouxsie.

Thank goodness I have things to keep me busy and don't need anything I don't already have for the Scarecrow.
It'll be just my luck for everything I need to arrive the same day, and then I'll be as busy as the bees. Just the way I like it :)

Monday, 14 April 2014

Things Happen, And Gwyneth Is Coming

Things Happen!
Or rather in this case S**T Happens!!!

There I was, comfortably working on giving my Storyteller doll her hair in a lovely soft navy feather. As usual I took a look at my feather box and thought "I have plenty of feathers here", so on I go...

Halfway through her head of hair I reach for another packet of the same colour and Bam!
No navy left!
My poor doll has had to spend all weekend with her half bald pat shining and making her look rather daft. Poor thing is hiding herself away in my dresser, but today I received my package of new supplies from the wonderful Ribbon Moon site. They have lots of bits and always deliver quickly so I can highly recommend them :)

Another big boo boo was thinking I had black feathers here for my Siouxsie Banshee doll, so this poor lady has been waiting on me too. I'm just so glad that tonight both will get their fluffy locks.

The fabric for Siouxsie's kimono is with a lovely Japanese lady who agreed to add the text to it. And once it's back I should be able to get Siouxsie dressed fully quite quickly. Here she is sitting in her harem pants and turtleneck looking a bit bland, and very bald.

I have to have something to work on, and after thinking over all my unfinished projects I of course went and started something new instead. I've wanted to make a lady in proper Georgian / Victorian Welsh costume for ages, but as with a lot of things I put it off.

When I spotted this dolls pretty blue eyes I could just see her dressed in a smart Betgwn (half jacket half gown) and tall black hat. And am planning on making her a long red clock too.

I found all the fabrics I need so have ordered them all. That never happens and I'm always searching, so I think Gwyneth really wants to be dressed :)

So far I've made Gwyneth a pair of long cotton drawers (I've decided she was well off and could afford such things), a knee length shift gathered around a low neckline, baggy cuffed sleeves for her shift with a kerchief over her shoulders, and a cream cotton embroidered petticoat.

She was looking a bit too plain so I added a narrow border of simple blackwork to the hem of her cream petticoat. And I think it looks quite pretty :)
I'm going to give her next petticoat in a bright red with a pin-tucked hem. It's the kind of petticoat that is meant to be seen below her apron and between the split skirts of her betgwn.
Hopefully next week I'll have lots more finished things to show you, and I'm hoping to list my storyteller too :)
Take care