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Outlander Returns

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1cgalThe resemblance was uncanny.

It’s not often you see a composition doll – that’s not a Snow White, that is – with black hair. Granted, it was not this girl’s original wig, but still. She had just arrived and was in fairly good shape, upon first inspection. With that thick black wig surrounding her delicate features, for the briefest of moments I thought one of my girl’s had come back to me. She was the spitting image of O.L.D. No. 43.

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Here’s her “before” picture. Hardly different, but her wig wasn’t quite right.

Then she told me her name, and things got uncannier still.

“Claire,” she said, in her soft sweet voice.

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THE DRESS.

How fortuitous! Because weeks before, The Mayor of the tiny town in which I live sent me the image of a dress via email. It was from the second season of the STARZ series, “Outlander.” The mayor knew I had already done an Outlander doll. She was number 43, done almost a year ago when another pretty girl named Claire knocked on my door. When I saw second season dress, I felt a pang. If only, if only…ah, well!

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I had a scant half yard to work with and even had to put some panels of similar fabric within the folds of the skirt to have any kind of fullness. “Why don’t you pick another fabric instead?” the Mayor squeaked. She knew my response before the words were even out of her mouth: NO.

Now, standing right here before me, was my chance…

 

Thus begins the description for Claire II. You can see her adoption page HERE.

At 18″, she’s a few inches smaller than the previous Claire.

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After I took the first pictures, I touched up her lips and added “earrings” (they’re hanging from her human hair wiglet) for a splash of color.

I’m not quite sure who gave me this nice, large print. “Too large for a doll, probably,” I thought. But you never know, so I tucked it away. And then came the Outlander season two dress. PERFECT.

ABOUT THE HAT:

I’m not a fan of the new straw hats made for dolls. They’re thickly and slopily woven and just don’t look right. So here’s my solution, and it’s totally doable by anyone! All you need is something you can find at thrift stores and garage sales everywhere, a can of tuna, hot water, and nerves of steel.

placemat1Here’s what I did: you know those round woven place mats? They come in all kinds of colors. Why, the other day I found one in green for .50! This was my first attempt at using one for a hat, but I thought it was worth a shot, as I like the tighter weave.

1czallI took the place mat, ran some hot tap water over it, worked it over a tuna can, because that was about the right size for the crown of the hat (you would of course find whatever can or container would be right for your little girl), put some fat rubber bands around the hat and the can to hold the shape, and let it dry. If I had it to do again, I might have tried maybe boiling or almost boiling the water, but I only had one place mat in this shade, and therefore only one chance.

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Her square-toed turquoise shoes turned out cute.

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Yep, it was a dark and stormy day…

Here’s where the nerves of steel come in (and I’m just kidding about that). After cutting in increments – you can always cut more, but you can’t cut less! – until I got the hat brim size I wanted, I sewed bias tape aaaallll the way around the edge of the brim. My thread broke twice and then my bobbin ran out of thread, causing a few swearwords, I confess, but I hit both sides of the trim on the whole thing! I’m kinda proud of that…

Abigail, the 4th Sewickley FOUR All Seasons, was adopted by Hillary P. of New York! That makes three for our girl Hillary. Start spreading the news! A heartfelt thank you to all who bid.

And with that, I leave you! Happy rainy (a clue!) April, you’re my favorite!

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OFF WITH HER CAKE!!

“What should I do next??” I asked my sister The Mayor.

“Ooh, I know! I’ve been watching ‘Outlander,’ and there’s this really pretty dress…”

“But I’ve already DONE two ‘Outlander’ dolls!”

Then my eyes lit onto the remaining silvery fun fur I had left over from my last O.L.D., America. I knew JUST want to do….

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. No. 85, our very own Marie Antoinette. You can see her adoption page HERE.

I really, really wanted to make a cake for her as an accessory. I looked up how-to’s on Pinterest and everything. But things came down to the wire. I decided that “cake time” would be better spent on a second outfit of “street clothes” for her to wear, and a hat stand for her wig.

The “Outlander” orginal. Pretty hard to compete with that…

…I did my very best.

There would have been plenty of time for everything were this outfit not so labor intensive. I call this costume the “Bow” dress because of the series of bows that go down the front of the bodice.

My dear friend Janey had sent me some metallic trims from an old lamp factory. I spray painted different laces for the rest.

 

Here are some of the inspirations for the Outlander dress. And the beat goes on…

The swatch upholstery fabric I had on hand had the palest of slate blues in its pattern; I wanted to emphasis that. So I found some Wedgwood blue organdy and made a bunch of tiny little flowers, then beaded them with tiny gold glass beads.

One of the trims originally came with peach velvet ribbon. I exchanged it for blue to trim the sleeves, and wove blue silk ribbon for the trim for Marie’s skirt. And then all the trims had to be sewn on by hand. Not to mention the tiny slippers that most likely won’t be seen. But we can’t have our queen go barefoot!

It’s kind of hard to see, but there are hundreds and hundreds of hand stitches on this dress. That is NOT an exaggeration.

What a difference a wig makes! Here is Marie in the blonde mohair wig she arrived in, along with her “street wear” dress for when she’s not in the mood to prance around in her wig.

Speaking of her “powdered” wig, thank you Julie for giving me the fun fur! It was indeed fun.

Marie in her blonde mohair wig and street clothes.

So there you have it! Our Marie Antoinette in her “Bow” dress! And now I am off to my sewing room to pick my next victim…

Our previous “powdered wig drummer, America, was adopted by Kathleen Z. of Alameda, California! She also happens to have adopted Liberty, who was also a drummer. I daresay she must have a very noisy – and happy –  household. Thank you, Kathleen!

Until then, happy last days of February! You are very much my favorite.

LEGTASTROPHE! And an UPDATE

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A rare preview of the next doll. I believe she was made by Kestner, “The King of Dollmakers.” She has pierced ears and sleep eyes and is under 12″ tall.

So there I was, happily working away on the next O.L.D. several days ago. I had been working on her for over a week, had planned on putting her up for adoption this very evening. There was still much to do. She is small, which is good, because the piece of old green velvet I was using for her cloak was very small too.

I was holding the freshly cut cape up to this delightful girl, already dressed in her (stunning!) new outfit, when “Plop!” something fell into my lap. My heart sank. I don’t know how, but I wasn’t one bit mystified. I knew EXACTLY what it was. And I was right! Even worse, it was worser than I thought!

It was her lower leg. And it hadn’t just dislocated itself, it had broken off completely at the knee!

Reader, I have worked on hundreds of dolls. This current doll is O.L.D. No. 81, but I’ve been toiling over dolls long before Hazel Twigg. That said, this doll is something new. A type that I have never, ever restrung or repaired.

fainting-victorian-lady1If this were Victorian times, I would have had the vapors. As it was, it took me two days – days in which I worked on other aspects of this doll’s story – to get up the gumption to repair her.

During this time, there was a lot of back and forth with a dear friend who has restrung this kind of doll, and who held my hand during this whole ordeal. When I finally tackled it, it was a lot harder than I thought; the stringing elastic from the body meets the hook from the lower knee halfway up through the thigh. The tunnel running through the thigh is smaller than a pencil. I had to make a special hook to get up there to pull the elastic down, at the same time, grasping the end of the leg hook with needle nose pliers and blindly fishing up that tiny tunnel as I pulled, hoping to get lucky. Not only that, this doll is old and all this pulling causes EXTREME pressure, especially on her fragile head!

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Here she is pre-repair. Her knee has been reglued, but I hadn’t restrung her yet. Gulp.

I finally managed to get her back together, but the whole thing shook me a little. As I wrote to my friend, “Brenda” we shall call her, for that is her name, it was like “trying to defuse a bomb with a nitroglycerin switch.”

“Nobody will care about the knee!!!!” she helpfully responded. THIS is why I love her. She figuratively slaps me from afar (we’ve never actually met) when I get virtually hysterical.

This next O.L.D. will finally make her debut this Sunday. I don’t know her name yet, as luckily she’s been dormant this entire time, and doesn’t know the maladies that have befallen her. Thanks to this tragedy of errors, she is the only Hazel Twigg doll that will be available to arrive before Christmas. My bill collectors are THRILLED.

1ggalcomb1In the meantime, O.L.D. No. 80 slipped through the cracks! She quietly went up for adoption with nary a mention here! So without further ado:

A miracle occurred! The Cubs won! I may be a little late to the party, but I wanted to do a baseball girl…

Her name is Geena. She’s a small version of Arranbee’s Nanette, a mold I’ve used before, most notably on the Outlander dolls. Her clothing was based on the Geena Davis character from A League of Their Own.

Geena’s hat was made from red wool, I sewed red and blue thread stripes to create her baseball outfit fabric, and her pitcher’s gear was all made from leather.

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In addition, she has street clothes. Life is not made up of baseball alone!

Geena was adopted by…..Carmen Z. of Toledo, Ohio. A new face! Thank you, Carmen!

And with that, I leave you! Happy BEST time of the year and I hope your Thanksgiving was delightful, as mine was. You’re my favorite!

Well I Would Not Give You FALSE HOPE

My beautiful little sister Julie. Photo taken just the other day, before the Rolfe Rodeo.

My sister Julie The Mayor has given me permission to tell her story.

As I posted awhile back, my brother-in-law Scott’s son recently had a rare and early stroke. After three weeks of ups and downs, he passed away. Evan was only thirty years old.

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ANDY. So handsome! The resemblance is uncanny. It’s like they’re related.

One month later to the day Julie received a most unusual phone call. When my family was living in England, Julie had a baby. Because of her young age, she put him up for adoption. She was never able to have children after that. I happened to call Julie just after she’d hung up from this unusual phone call and she was sobbing as I have never heard her sob before.

“I just got the strangest call,” she managed to say.

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Here Julie is holding my son Adam. Turns out we both had only sons whose names are four letters and begin with the letter “A.” She was following me in advance!

You must understand: I always wish Julie a Happy Mother’s day in May because she is a mother. She gave birth to a child and did the very best thing that she could for him by giving him up. We would talk about her son every now and then and calculate what age he must be at various times in our lives. When his 18th birthday came and had long since passed we went about our business, me wishing her “Happy Mother’s Day” over the years and her wistful “Thank you”s in return.

Back to that phone call. At first Julie thought it was a scam. It most gloriously was not. A few days later Julie was on the phone with her very British-sounding offspring. Her joy knows no bounds. “For the first time in my life I feel whole. I now know what was missing.”

Julie's Andy

Andy is talented, charming and thoughtful. He sent Julie a gorgeous bouquet of flowers thanking her for giving him life. How sweet is that?!

Andy will soon be flying all the way from England to meet the mother that has always held him in her heart.

One hard aspect to deal with is Julie’s extreme happiness at gaining a son in the face of Scott’s recent loss. Scott looks at it another way: Perhaps Evan had a hand in putting all this together and timing it just so. Because thirty years ago just a few months apart two baby boys were born. Thirty years later and a few weeks apart the baton has been passed. I’m so very happy for you, Julie. And thank you Scott for being so gracious. Andy, we can’t wait to meet you and welcome you to our family!

AND NOW FOR A SWIFT CHANGE OF SUBJECT: I lost a day yesterday. Know why? Because of BAT. I had a BAT in my house! After two years of being bat free.

It was almost midnight when I spotted him flitting about in my room. I grabbed my wee dog Teddy and escaped to Julie’s so I could not sleep there (instead of not sleeping at my own house). The following morning I bravely went home alone. Scott was going to be coming by in just a half hour or so to try and find the bat and it was daylight. Everybody knows that vampires bats don’t fly in daylight. WRONG!

stock-illustration-23236081-scared-woman1The little critter flew at and around me in my sunny kitchen. I tried to see where he was going so I could point his whereabouts out to Scott. Turns out, it’s hard to see when your eyes are clamped shut and you’re screaming like a little girl! The bat couldn’t be found so I spent the day out of doors, mowing my lawn and watching “Outlander” (ooh-la-la!) with Julie instead.

bat4It wasn’t until later in the day that my hero Julie found the bat after an exhaustive search and plenty of fervent prayers. Hero Scott got him out of the house. In the meantime, I lost an entire day of sewing and toil. O.L.D. Andrea still needs half her clothes, and the next O.L.D. will be No. 00050! Which is a significant number and I simply can’t rush her to get her done by this Sunday. She’s going to have a theme. I’ll give you 50 guesses as to what that might be, and the first 49 don’t count. It’s a place near and dear to my heart.

Since I also have the final, final edits to do before the book goes to print, the next O.L.D. won’t be up for adoption until the following Sunday August 8th. Which also happens to be my parents anniversary.

These last edits are based on a professional editor suggestions. Reader, I am heartened and excited! She is a tough cookie and she really loves the book. FINGERS CROSSED! And back to work…

With that, I leave you! Andrea’s post will be coming soon! In the meantime, Happy Thursday, you’re my favorite.

 

By Their Baggies, Ye Shall Know Them

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It’s elementary, my love.

Oh sure, she may look like an ordinary O.L.D. going about her business, walking her dogs. But look out! Because when she dons her cape and grabs her spyglass, it’s certain that there’s a mystery afoot, and she is going to SOLVE IT.

Thus begins the description of O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 00044. You can see her adoption page HERE.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, my sister Julie, aka The Mayor and I are frequently confused one for the other.

A few weeks ago she and I met at the train tracks near her house for a short visit walking our dogs. We parted ways, she and her dog Toby heading for her house, me and my dog Teddy heading for mine. In the distance coming towards me, I could see a friend named Karen. When we finally met, she said, “I knew it was you! Because of the white bag!”

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Julie says the one on the left looks like a gerbil. HMPF!

She was absolutely right. I’m always carrying a white grocery bag, and it is usually filled with, well. You can guess. Bless my heart. Julie carries a much more elegant and non-see-through black bag.

I’ve also mentioned that I have other odd jobs besides sewing for these dolls that I love so much: I’m a dog walker. More white bags. More…you know. So when I had a busy week full of various dog walkings, I decided to combine two of my loves: dolls and dogs.

My original plan was to create three dogs and to have said doll be a dog walker like myself. The week was a busy one, and after making two dogs I could see the writing on the wall. There would be no time to make a third and to make her clothing. I wouldn’t be caught naked walking around town, and I didn’t want the next O.L.D. to be either!

Another friend who works at the vet’s office (KISMET! The vet! Where dogs go) had recently given me a lovely bag of different plaid wools plus other treasures. I was going to make the next girl’s clothing and then try and go back and make an additional dog. By Friday, I could tell it wouldn’t fly. I had the coat and a pink dress made, but I still had a hat, a second dress and another odd job still to do and Sunday was flying towards me.

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Cheryl has given me so many, many wonderful things. THANK YOU, CHERYL!!!!

But that fabric! That fabric looked like….Sherlock Holmes to me. That was the only way I could possibly be satisfied with just two dogs. To call them “Watson” (<free pattern!) and “Holmes,” and to make the girl into a sleuth. I didn’t want to call her Shirley Holmes. Was there a girl associated with Sherlock himself? Yes, there was! A sometimes girlfriend named Irene. Which also happens to be my middle name! And I’m a dog walker! Full circle.

I added a cape and made a deer stalker hat, and wonder of wonders I had a doll-sized spyglass on hand. Perfect! Irene the dog-walking sleuth was born.

This has been a tough few weeks for our little circle here in Iowa. Julie’s husband Scott, aka “The First Dude,” headed to California when he learned his thirty year old son from a previous marriage had a stroke. I’d met Evan a couple of years ago when he came to Iowa for a visit. He was extremely likeable.

Things were looking up. Evan recognized Scott and that he was there and they spoke to each other. For awhile it looked as if Evan would pull through, albeit with a lengthy recovery time. Scott was almost ready to head home with plans to visit frequently in the future. But then Evan took a turn for the worse.

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Evan looks just like his dad. That’s his wife Kayla and sweet daughter Heidi with him.

There have been varying times given for the time of death, which we have determined to be Sunday June 14 at 9:30 am California time. The reason for that is because as in life, Evan is a giver and because of him three people now have a second chance. We’ve learned a lot about the sacrifices that come with being a donor. It’s worth it! So worth it. But it’s very, very hard. Julie is flying out to be with Scott at this difficult time. My heart and prayers and love go with them. I don’t think there’s anything harder a parent can face than the loss of a child. Know you are loved! Come home safe! And know that while you are gone, Toby will be in very good hands. He’ll be walked by someone carrying a white bag. And confusion will reign.

Meanwhile, are there rocks in Colorado and do they stand? Because that’s where Claire is headed! To Michelle E. house! I’ll bet Jamie can find her there. I bet Jamie can find her anywhere, from what I’ve been told. Thank you, Michelle!

And with that, I leave you! Happy Thursday! Hug those you love! You’re my favorite.

Standing Stones Gather No Moss

1940s Claire

1700s Claire

Meet O.L.D. No. 43 Claire from OUTLANDER. You can see her adoption page HERE.

“Outlander”?! Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with it. Secretly, I’ve never seen it either. Two of my sisters have been raving about it for a very long time. First about the books, and then about the series on STARZ. From what I’ve learned in my research, heaven help me if I ever get a peek at yon series, I might never be seen again. But I digress…

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Claire arrived clothes-challenged, naked and bald, with her poor head split in two.

The first outfit I ever remember sewing for a doll (before that I would create clothing for paper dolls for days on end) was when I was 8 or 9 years old. It was a Shakespearean-style outfit made of blue velvet and white satin for a Barbie. I’ve always had an affinity for costumes!

She has clothes and hair now!

However, not all my girls that wear clothing other than the traditional garb of the 1930s and 40s do well. How to tie the two together? Because sometimes I feel the need to go off the beaten path!

Enter Outlander. It’s a story that takes place in Scotland both in 1945 AND the 1700s. Perfect! Claire, the heroine, travels back in time when she is in Scotland on her honeymoon and goes to see some ancient standing stones and she touches them and is transported to the past and some hunky fellow named Jamie.

Here are some of the inspiration photos and my interpretations:

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This dress was my main inspiration. GORGEOUS.

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Of course, I had to work with the materials I had on hand. The darker fabric for our Claire’s outer dress was the most suitable. It was the same fabric I used for Jill Sparrow’s pants – although this time I used it right side out. However, there was something super stiff and scratchy about this fabric. I decided to take the plunge; I boiled it in vinegar water. Much softer now! And easier to work with.

Lucky me, the inspiration dress has lots of raw edges. I didn’t hem Claire’s outer skirt, I just left it raw. Not only that, I purposely “rawed up” the lace, just as the inspiration dress had.

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A person’s neck must get awfully chilly in 1700s Scotland, because Claire has all these super nifty neck pieces that are all the rage. Our Claire needed one too! Since I didn’t have time to teach myself to knit, I picked some loosely woven upholstery fabric and went with that instead.

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Here’s the 1940s inspiration outfit I used. I was going to use a blue closer to the original outfit, but while it was the right color, it wasn’t the right kind of fabric. So I – gulp! – used the same vintage fabric I’d previously used for the bathing beauties. I confess, that smarted! I wanted to make bathing suits galore! But the color was right for my purposes. So, snip! *Sniff* And on we sew….

A girl from two eras! Whatever will be next…?

The Happy Wanderer Valerie has long since wandered her way to….Utah! A lovely woman named Sandra B. of Myton, Utah is enjoying her as we speak. Thank you, Sandra!

And with that, I leave you! Happy Thursday! You’re my favorite.