Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Duchess's Milliner - Georgiana in Progress

This week has been about trimming Georgiana's jacket and giving her hair. As well as starting work on her wide brimmed hat.

At first I tried plaiting enough braid to sew around the edge of her jacket, but it looked to fake somehow. Just sort of floating on top of the fabric rather than being a part of it.
I dug out my stitch books and practised with a few different embroidery stitches until I found one that fitted well as a substitute for the fringe on the original costume, and I've used that on her jacket instead. This type of Picot stitch is woven onto a row of small back-stitch making regular loops that overlay each other. It sits nicely against the edge of her jacket now, and I like how it looks different from a standard chain.

I gave Georgiana her hair in my usual way, layering the fronds from marabou feathers to build up a full wild head of hair, and then it was time to start her hat.

Now I really enjoy making hats, but this one has been a big challenge for me as it's very different from my usual basic shapes. First I had to play around for a while with shapes until I found the shape that would create the wide curled shape of the brim. I cut buckram to my final shape along with the two pieces of fabric to cover it as this brim needed to be stiff an hold it's shape, and not floppy. It's an odd shape to work with as it won't lie flat, and I had to be very careful when attaching it to the hat body to make sure I got a straight neat edge.

I use all sorts of things as bases to make my hats, from bottles and storage tubes to cardboard packaging. I already had a base for a gentleman's top hat that was the right size, and as you can see it's a tube that once contained sweets :)
I used an awl to make a number of holes in the sides of the tube and strong thread to sew threads between each side so I could pull the tube into a more oval shape. It's nice and strong and I've used it for lots of hats, an I started the body of Georgiana's in the same way as making the body of a Topper.

First I add the circumference of the lining, making sure that the finished side is against the tube, then add the top. I push the brim onto the base then and get it positioned before sewing it to the hat body lining. I have to take it off the base to sew it firmly together after tacking it. Then put it all back onto the base. Then I add layers of buckram around the hat until I get the stiffness I want, and add ovals to the top tacking them all into place. This is the stage I've got to at the moment, and next I'll ad fabric to cover the top before covering the sides and adding the decoration :)

I'm one of these sewers that can't throw away the scraps. I knew that I'd use them all one day and decided it was time to look into a way of using them up.
We passed one of those beautiful little gift shops that we all like to drool over, and in the window was the cutest fat round creature. He wasn't anything in particular, but had big round eyes just like I love under the brim of his floppy hat, and a big round belly. I knew that I would love to have a shape like that to embroider and applique onto, so I'm going to try my own version of a fat little creature. It may work and it may not, but if I don't do something soon my scrap box is going to throw off the heavy books I have on top of it keeping it closed and explode all over my dining room. So we'll see what happens :)

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Best Kind of Distraction

It's been a week of getting not much done and a whole weekend of the best kind of distractions :)

I managed last week to get Georgiana into her pointed stomacher bodice and jacket. And realised last minute that I didn't have the right colour of embroidery thread to trim it. Of course being stuck in work all week at my day job I couldn't get to the stall at our local market where I get my thread from, and there isn't anywhere else around here without going into the city or getting Cris to drive me somewhere. I know I could have ordered it on-line, but I'm sure that it wouldn't have come any earlier, so Saturday I was off into town to pick up the right thread and run some errands.

Yes, I do have clothes on behind that car door.
Distraction number one came with a phone call from my best friend Sarah about our going to a 40th wedding anniversary party later that day, and we found she was also heading to town for a few bits and pieces. We met up and did our errands together, using my poor Hubby as the pack mule to carry all the heavy stuff. We got everything done between us and I was very grateful for a lift back home so I didn't have to walk back up the steep hill. By the time I'd done a few chores, showered and got ready we were back out picking up Sarah and her husband Liam and son Thom to go to the party. All of us dressed up nice and looking forward to seeing the third of our trio Becky and her family.

Becky lives in Cambridge and comes home to see family and us lot every so often. I'm a terrible traveller, even though I'm getting better slowly, because of the problems I've had with my back. So seeing her here is always really exciting for me. It makes me feel great when we're all together again. Both Sarah and me miss her loads and wish she was closer. We've all known each other so long, and as Becky, Liam (Sarah's husband) and Daryn are my Godparents kids we've known each other all our lives (as the dodgy pictures show :))

It was a lovely party at a beautiful home of my Godmothers brother. We got there early so as Becky could get her two sons home at a decent time for bed. And with Daryn and Delyth had their 6 month old daughter Ffion with them too we all took our leave around 9 o'clock and headed home. After sitting in the beautiful garden all afternoon and evening in the wonderful sunshine we're having here both Cris and me changed straight into pyjamas and watched tele for a little hour before bed.

Poor Cris was up at 5.30am to go do a car boot sale with my little sister on Sunday morning. I got out of it due to being terrible use when there's any lifting involved. Also Alex knows I'm a grumpy cow when I'm tired :S
Once I was up I packed a doll ready to ship and tidied up. I went through a load of my old craft supplies that I no longer use and found a big box full of sizzix dies and another full of stamps that I've put to one side to sell. I'd rather someone else get use from them and I've always kept them in good condition so am selling them to fund my fabric problem. You can never have enough fabric, right?

Once Cris came home we did some laundry and got some food prepared ready to take with us up to Sarah and Liam's house for distraction number 2. We all planned to sit in the sunshine and have a BBQ while the boys played in the pool with water pistols and little Ffion rolled around and laughed on a blanket under her parasol and us adults talked enjoyed the weather. We walked home that evening with the sun in our eyes as it went down. And once home, showered and changed I was so tired I thought it best not to try and sew. And no, I don't think the few glasses on wine I had at the BBQ had anything to do with that at all!

As you can see I've been very naughty and have a lot of doll making to catch up on this week, but I don't mind at all as I got to spend my whole weekend with those I love. The photo above is the birthday card Becky, James and their boys Dylan and Luke sent me a few weeks back. I laughed so hard when I saw all of the pictures of us through the years and my awful dodgy hair :) I was also very grateful she'd left out the photos I know she has of me when we were children.
Becky is the lady with red hair, Sarah brunette, and the blonde is me :)

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Guinevire And Georgiana

This week I've been spoilt. I'm so lucky to have such a lovely husband that treats me so well on my Birthday. And this year I had a new dolly from him as a surprise gift :)
Blair is a wonderful art doll bust by Mystic Asylum - . She's so dream-like with her soft wisp of hair and stained and aged fabric around her shoulders. From some angles she looks sad, and others looks wistful with a soft smile. But it's her lovely sad eyes that make her so special :)

Cris has taken me out and treated me to shopping and cocktails, taken me to the cinema, and we had a great day out yesterday at the Welsh Games Fair watching all the displays and motorbike stunts. It's not often you get to see birds of prey up close and they where very beautiful. There were loads of dogs around, and a stand of the cutest ferrets.
The sun has shone every day we've had off from our day jobs. But with all these lovely things we've done I've not managed to get much sewing done.

I found a design for the embroidery on Guinevere's gown, but have decided to wait until a new book I've ordered arrives in case I find something I like in it even better. It's a book on Celtic Backstich that I'm hoping will have knotted borders and medallions inside so that I can compare what I have now with other designs.

I like this set of designs as the all match and I can reduce or increase the size to make motifs for her sleeves and the train of her skirts as well as the borders. But true Celtic designs are hard to pin down, and being a great Queen Guinevere deserves something special.

While I wait I've started on Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and am working on an embroidered petticoat for her. I've always loves Georgiana ever since I first read about her. And the film with Kira Knightly has some of the most stunning costuming and scenery. As you can see I decided to give my Georgiana a pair of silk drawers, which at the time would have been a very very new fashion. As the lead fashion setter of her day I think Georgiana would have adopted the newest French styles from her friends Marie Antoinette and members of her court. And I always find that people have an odd way of always looking up a dolls skirts so I may as well give them something pretty to look at, right :)

I'm still to add some lace and ribbons to her underwear and finish her petticoat before I start on her silk stomacher, jacket and stripped skirt that I've based on an outfit from the film. She also has a huge hat trimmed in feathers and blue silk ribbon that I'm really looking forward to making :)
I'll have more soon.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

My Mantle - A Doll Collection

We live in what I call a comfortable house. It's not that modern, and not that neat in places. But it's full of things that we find beautiful. There are prints and photos on all the walls, and all our little memories in typeset trays mounted on the dining room wall. Nothing really matches, and there are lots and lots of books. And you'll always find my latest projects cluttering up the table top. But for us it's home, and as I sit here with my Meanna at my side I'm surrounded by things that make me smile.

My mantle holds many of my art doll collection (that's me in my scruffy Sunday lazy with my hair scrapped back - Very pretty!), creeping over onto Hubby's side of the shelf and squeezing up his fossil collection. I'd like to share these with you and the amazing artists that created them as they make me happy and I fell in love with each of them as soon as I saw them. So from right to left here is my mantle.

These two poor old dolls heads I found tucked away in a dusty box under a table at a doll fair. They looked so sad and neglected under that table of beautifully restored antique dolls in their fine lace dresses, and when I asked how much the lady wanted for them I could hardly believe my luck. So with my purse only £6 lighter and a huge smile on my face I went back to my own stall with my treasure.

Next to my old battered dolls heads sits the wonderful Maelgwn, my very own little puppy sized Werepup. Asia makes the most fabulous detailed realistic little werewolf babies. And I was so excited when I got in touch with Asia and ordered my little pup. I was able to choose what fur and eye colour I'd like, and if I wanted a little girl or a little boy which I left up to her to have a surprise, and Asia was really helpful an friendly. I named my little pup Maelgwn, which means both Prince and Wolf in Welsh. And I'm definitely saving up for one of her human baby sized pups.
Werepups -

Stood tall and proud at Maelgwn's side is Poe, my beautifully feathered Crow Boy by Kim of Homespun Dolls. His long skinny legs with his shinny shoes are hidden at the moment behind the twins. But it's his wonderful face that made me fall for him. He has sad sleepy little eyes and a gentle smile with all his soft feathers sticking straight up from his head. All of his clothes are made from different black silks and fabrics, and on his back are beautiful folded feathered wings. Kim puts a lot of effort into the details of her dolls, and my Poe is no exception - Homespun Dolls -

Next to Poe's head you can see a little photo of my Great Great Great Grandmother Susan Boyd. The little baby on her right is my Dad :)

In front of Poe stand my newest little dolls - a pair of grumpy babies from Colleen of Loopy Boopy.
Bud and his sister Babette have just perfect expressions, and their shiny sad eyes and round belly's made them hard to resist. I'm a huge fan of Loopy Boopy's work, and as soon as I saw these new grumpy babies I was totally struck by their poses and faces. Babette looks so sad and upset, just as if someone has stolen her lolly, and Bud looks so fed up. How could anyone not love them. they even have perfect little bums :) - Loopy Boopy -

Next along is another of my Loopy Boopy dolls, and Victoria rules all as Queen of the New Orleans Insane Asylum. Her pretty red hair reminded me of my little sister when she was small, and once I read about her and her life I just knew I had to adopt her. She has lovely little brown leather boots, and a slightly tattered checked dress with a mustard shawl around her shoulders. Again (or rather as always) Colleen has managed to create another stunning face, Victoria looks so wistful and dreaming that I often stop as I go by to stroke her soft hair and smooth her clothes - Loopy Boopy -

Next comes Buster who stares at all who enter the door, glaring at them all and clutching tighter to his dolly. I always think he looks as though he's really frightened that someone is coming to take his doll away from him. I think someone must have tried it before and he certainly won't let it happen again. Nicole of Mealy Monster creates really imaginative characters that always make me smile. From tiny snails, to big glamorous witches, all colourful and expressive and simply wonderful - Mealy Monster -

This little group of characters are all tucked up together, three friends spending their days chatting and giggling at their own jokes. First comes Maude in her black and red dress made by the lovely Cynthia of Fairies Nest. Maude came to me as part of a swap between me and Cyn, and I can't remember who I sent her in return now, but little Maude in her stripy stockings smiles out at me.
In the middle is Edith and Bun Bun by Dance Sippy Dance, smiling down at her poor dead rabbit as if she knows that she'll see him again soon. I know many think it morbid, but if you've read the Garth Nix books Sabriel, Lireal and Abhorsen you might understand why I immediately had to have this wonderful piece. Her colours and the shading are done so well, and her pose is just perfect as Bun Bun sits out in front on the shelf and can be seen as you go by in full detail.
Large and looming next to Edith is Maulie by Evie atWee Art Things. He's sad and aged with layers of fabric and paint. His confused little face under his mop of hair I find very appealing. And he wears his heart on his chest for all to see - The Fairies Nest -  Dance Sippy Dance -   Wee Art Things -

Under a glass dome given to me by my Grandmother that once held thimbles is No 2 Austere by Karly of Cheeky Bottoms. This wonderful face drew me in as soon as I saw it, and the cinnamon scent of the hard stuffed jointed body is so lovely to hold. He has tiny button eyes and I love the tinted colouring he has. I love old dolls and have a small collection of heads, so I was really drawn the the breastplate head and shoulder design over the cloth body - Cheekie Bottoms -

Next come two of my husbands dolls. A little tin toy panda that plays his drum when he's wound, and another little Mealy Monster Monster I bought him for valentine's day one year. Cris has named this little guy clutching his heart shaped sweets Nugget, but I'm not really sure why. He has a lovely cheeky smile :) - Mealy Monster -

Hubby likes fossils, and his collection comes next along the mantle. Some teeth and spirals, a skeleton and an amethyst geode with a lump of shiny coal we picked up somewhere on one of our travels.

One day I'll find a nice little shelf set for him and squeeze him off the Mantle all together :)

I made The Joker for Cris when he asked me to make him a doll as a birthday gift. And I was terrified as I carved up his face to make his evil cut grin. I learnt a lot about constructing a suit and all the different layers making this doll, and I mean one day to make him a chair using the vintage playing cards behind him. (I'm not mentioning the Transformer. Although I know that he's an original one I've no idea of his name).

Hanging below the mantle are another two art dolls, both of them made as hanging decorations. I have this little ghost from Mealy Monster dressed in rags and strips of wispy white, and my Elf from Loopy Boopy that gazes sadly down at the table where my sewing sits with his lovely pointed ears and tall stripy hat :)
I hope you've enjoyed having a look at my mantle collection. I'm always adding to it when I can, and I'll show you the others around my house soon. I don't get a lot of spare money to buy myself these wonderful things, but when I can afford it I love to invest in beautiful art for our home. xxx

Loopy Boopy -
Mealy Monster -