Sunday, February 26, 2012

The New Doll

I am co-owner of a new doll. I think my partnership will dissolve soon into official doll dressmaker, however. Nonetheless, I feel that I have finally reached a lofty goal of my girlhood: to own an 18" doll. 

Many of you will recall "The Pleasant Company" dolls that have become the "American Girl" brand. I first saw those dolls in an advertisement in Victoria Magazine as a girl, and wanted one so badly. I used to get the catalogs and cut out all the things I wanted, Samantha and her delightful tea table of course topping the list. Kirsten would make a nice neighbor, with all of her accessories, so I wanted her, too. And when Felicity came out I was all the more happy to add her to my wish list.
(Now of course, I wish I had those first catalogs, in tact!)

Unfortunately for me, $80 happened to be the family spending limit for dolls. It still is--I of my own accord will not spend that much on a doll. Even $25 is a stretch. However, one does make exceptions on Christmas, and a couple of years ago I thought I had at last found "my doll." She was a good-quality, name brand doll, and had a pleasant face. I am particular about doll faces, and dislike big goofy eyes and wide plastic grins (preferring a nice, sensibly happy smile). 
 Here she was, out of the box and standing on her own. I got her into a pretty homemade dress, and was quite pleased with her, except for...
...the smell. Now I have had a fair amount of dolls in my time, and they all tend to have a "new doll" smell. This doll smelled strongly of something that was not like a "new doll" smell. I just thought she had been in the packaging too long, and so I discarded that and decided to give her a few days' airing out. 

Not much later, I gave her some soap on a wet rag. 

After that, I put her up on a shelf where no one could reach her, in hopes that she could "air out" over time.

She smelled like she had fallen into the chemical vat at the vinyl company. I have never, ever had a doll that I could remember reeking like she does. "Stinky" is her nickname, and I hate to say it but "skunky" is probably another good one. I should have returned her but I waited too long-- perhaps was too hopeful.

This past summer, I took her outside and sit in the heat wave for a few days, on the porch. It did help quite a bit, but I suspect she'll have to sit on the shelf in the store-room for the next ten years.

In the meantime, I was still on the lookout for an 18" doll. I saw one at the craft store, and with a coupon the price was right (how about $11.99?). I had read a review about this particular doll, so I knew ahead of time that she was mostly bald with paint under the hair, but I thought I'd give her a try anyway. But before I bought her, though, I opened up the top of the box, and put my nose in. 

And there was hardly ANY smell. Not even a "new doll" smell. My shopping companion (the doll's co-owner) said the doll smelled faintly of tea.
 Yes, she has a plastic grin-- but this particular doll's head was attached at a slight cock, so it gives her character. No, she isn't as good quality as the other one, but she is good enough, and I am very pleased with her. 

She came dressed in an ugly little sleeveless shift, which I found a quick fix for (sorry I forgot to take a "before" photo!):

I had some large swatches of quilting fabric, which I sewed on to the shift, making it a cute sundress. 

Now I can get to work on all those 18" doll clothing patterns I have been stashing away for years!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

All Things Praise Thee

Singing American Male Toad, Eastern Pennsylvania, North America

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This morning at church we had an exuberant voice join in the singing. We were doing pretty well on the chorus, 

"Hallelujah, Thine the glory! 
Hallelujah Amen! 
Hallelujah, Thine the glory! 
Revive us again."

and then we heard a very loud but happy croaking. Most of the congregation kept their composure, though by the 6th verse even the song leader was having a hard time. The frog was keeping time with the music, interestingly enough, and had not betrayed its presence until it heard us singing. I think it was joining in the praise. After all, it is one of God's creatures too!

The question now is, do we count the frog as part of our attendance numbers for this Sunday morning, or not?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Problem With Pink

Palms And Sunset at Tumon Bay, Guam

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Have you ever heard someone say something about "living in a pink and tea-cups world" or "ugh, I couldn't live with so much pink around" or the like?

 I think that the world should quit being prejudiced against pink. It is just another color. Pink is in the crayon box the same as orange, brown, and denim blue. Pink is in the sunset just as yellow, orange or red are.

 All colors bring out feelings in people, feelings of association, or feelings of well-being, and if pink happens to be your "feel-good" color, than you are no different from the person who happens to prefer blue as a "feel-good" color. For some reason, though, pink preferences are judged more severely than other color preferences, and I'm tired of "pink" being used as a bad word.

Man with a Mountain Bike Looking at Sunset, San Mateo County, California, USA

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 If you like pink, it should be no big deal. If you like brown, or blue, or lime green, more power to you. It is a pity that pink gets such a bashing in the spectrum of colors.

People tend to have "favorite" colors. Children usually latch on to a favorite color and prefer everything that is of that shade. As adults we tend to dress or decorate in our favorite colors, or find that one color looks best on us, or around us, than others. There is nothing wrong with that

 Have you ever heard an acquaintance say,  "I was never one of those girly-girls who liked pink." I question why they feel the need to say that. Do they really think that we will judge them one way or another because they hated pink as a child? Do they really think we will change our minds about them if they admit that there was one color in the world they never could warm to? The reason they include pink in that statement is because pink has a connection with femininity in most people's minds. So a person who makes a statement saying they never liked "pink and ruffles" are really saying "I was never a feminine-minded girl." It just doesn't sound as good to say it that way-- it is sort of like admitting to contradicting themselves by being a girl and not liking femininity-- so they throw a color in there and some textures (ruffles, lace, frills, etc.) to soften the statement they just made about themselves. It is just a pity, though, that people tend to do that, because in some cases it comes across as pink-bashing. Or ruffle-bashing. Often is it said to someone who happens to be wearing pink, or has a bit of lace on, and then it comes across as offensive. If you are one of those who happens to be someone who never liked "pink" please just say what you really mean so as not to offend!

And again, I ask: is it really necessary to say anything like that at all? Do we really need to know that you were not a frills-and-pink girl as a child? Do we really? Does someone need to explain themselves in that way? Why not just keep quiet or comment on the weather? I doubt people really care that much about someone's childhood color prejudices.

But getting back to pink...

Sunset Light on Lemaire Channel, Antarctic Peninsula

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If you wish to avoid pink (if you are afraid people will give you pink things as a gift)  a good way to state your dislike is "pink just isn't my favorite color" or a similar phrase. Follow it up with a positive "I'm more attracted to greens" or whatever the color may be.  Most of the time people that know you tend to know what colors you like, so it may not be necessary to say anything at all.

Do not forget that over time, your color preferences may change. I do not care for orange-- yet. I like food that is orange, but I am not fond of orange flowers or orange fabrics. The time may come when I am really crazy about orange. I may state my current dislike to very close friends or relatives while out shopping or looking at furniture or the like, but it does not mean that I have a deep hatred for the color.  Is there a reason for me to make some comment that could be construed as insulting to orange lovers, to the face of someone who happens to decorate or wear orange? No.

Roses and Lilies

Roses and Lilies

Alfred Godchaux

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There is no reason to have a hatred for pink, or to use pink in a negative way, to put down pink, or put down people who adore pink.

I understand that pink will be forever associated with feminine things. I also understand that other colors are associated with other feelings and ideas-- white for purity, for example, or red for power. While studies may show all these associations to be prevalent in the minds of society, I think we should be careful not to put colors into a "box" (unless they are crayons-- but say- you could display them in a jar on the desk instead). While black may be a scary color to some because it is used by gangs and criminal minds, on the other hand some sweet and gentle women look great wearing black. You cannot put a color into a slot and say it is only for a certain kind of personality or group of people. But that is what has happened to pink. Taking the example mentioned earlier, do you ever hear a woman say "I was never one of those 'little black dress' kind of girls?" I suppose not-- pink is used instead. It makes pink "weak" to use it thus.

I applaud the bloggers who like to do a "Pink Saturday," and I think it is a fun idea, just as I think "Blue Monday" or "Rednsday" are fun ideas. They are equal in my mind. Colors are wonderful and should be celebrated. Pink should be celebrated by those who love it. Pink should not be singled out and beaten up by people who don't like it.



Pierre-Joseph ...

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Linking this rant to Pink Saturday

Monday, February 13, 2012

School Valentines and Other Projects

It's time for Valentines!

Our school made little valentines to send to classmates.
These are just a small sampling of what was given away. There were many with shiny car stickers for the boys, and some clever students even made pop-up decorations for the hearts.
 We used craft papers, stickers and clip art from our stash, and glitter heart stickers from the dollar store. We layered heart-shaped papers cut with the Cuttlebug machine,
 Each one had a loop string for hanging somewhere to display.

A little kitchen project for a Valentine's Tea:  little piped chocolate almond hearts, with some "kisses" thrown in.
Another project: taking an old sweater and making stuffed heart pillows. Here they are awaiting trimming. I am not quite sure what to trim them with yet-- ribbon roses? buttons? Or leave them squeezably plain? Just  to look at them adds warmth to chilly February days!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Scrappy Sewing Machine Cover

I am still eyeing my scraps for little projects. It was high time my sewing machine had a new cover, so I decided to pull out a few florals and fun fabrics and see what I could do.
It isn't very stiff, but it is lined and quilted. It is mainly to keep the dust out of the machine, not that it gets too dusty nowadays:) I didn't use a pattern, but made it in shape like a wide paper bag that I could pop on the top of my machine.
 Here is my own "fabric" that I sewed up for the cover.

One of the fun things I did was to recycle a blouse that had little ruffles on the front. I cut squares from the ruffled part.

Here are a few of my "make do" quilting items:

I'm not sure what this one would be called-- maybe a block sorting book!  I wanted to keep all of my block layouts in order. Even though I tried to keep the project "scrappy" looking, I did plan out where which piece would go. So I took some flannel yardage I had in the stash, and folded it up. I placed each block layout between a fold in the flannel.
 As I sewed up each block, I could turn a flannel "page" and go to the next set of pieces.

Here is my "quilting wall!"
As I finished each block and pressed it, I wanted to keep it in some kind of order. Here is the cover pinned to my "wall" which is just a sheet thrown over some storage drawers.

Despite my calculations, I was a couple inches short, so I had to add a pink strip to the sides/corners. That meant I could use yet another pink print!

I loved the print in the center-- it went well with many of my scraps.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More Sewing Basics: How To Grade Seams and Stitch Down a Facing

More basic sewing -- last time I showed how to finish a facing, and the next step is to sew the facing on to the garment. On my friend's pattern, she will be sewing a facing all the way around the neckline, as her pattern has no zippers or buttons to get in the way.

After pinning carefully by matching shoulder seams and centers (I make a little snip in the center of each facing-- before you unpin anything from the pattern, mark all the centers with a small snip or mark in the seam allowance! It saves a lot of frustration later), sew slowly around the neckline facing.

The instructions say next to "clip and grade" that seam allowance. I find it easier to do that the other way 'round. First I "grade" the seam allowance. That means cut each of those seam allowances slightly layered from each other. This is to reduce bulk.
 On my dress project, I had three fabrics at the neckline-- the garment, a collar, and the facing. I trimmed the facing seam allowance first, close to the stitching but not too close.  Maybe between 1/8 and 1/4 inch.

 On the next layer of material, I cut it about an 1/8 inch away from the facing. You keep trimming this way on each layer.

 Now I clip the curves. This is easy with scissors that have good sharp tips-- you want to just use the tip to snip close to the stitching, but not through the stitching (if you accidentally snip through the stitching, go back and machine-sew over it to mend it). All that snipping makes it super easy to iron things flat with no puckers.

 After pressing the seams towards the facing, and making sure everything is nice and flat, the next step is to under-stitch. This helps the facing to stay under and not be rolling out to the other side.
The seams you graded should be under the facing, and the rest of the garment should be on the other side (my garment has a collar, and that went on the other side, too). In the above photo you see the facing (with the seams underneath) on the right, and the garment (with my collar) on the left.
Stitch very close to the garment, but stay on the facing side, and catch and stitch that graded seam allowance to the facing side. You need to put one hand underneath your sewing as you go to make sure the seam allowance is staying there with the facing.

Now when you press that down, it will look like this on the inside of your dress. You see the stitching close to the edge in the photo above.

Next, my friend's pattern says to tack the facing to the shoulder seams. On her style of dress, that is sufficient, but on some garments I like to keep that facing really down by stitching all of it down, or as much as I can get to.
On my dress, I wanted the facing down all the way around. I use a simple stitch for this-- just pick up a little bit of the garment on the needle, then a little bit of the facing edge, and pull the thread through. Make the next stitch about a finger-width apart from the last. You will want to use a thread that matches your dress material for this.

 For extra security, you can make a stitch in the same spot again, as seen above; though this is not necessary on a facing, I sometimes do it on hand-stitched hems.

 I am pointing to my stitches on the front of the dress here. A small enough stitch will not be seen, though there may be a slight dent shown on solid-color fabric. If you use matching thread and are using a print fabric, your stitches may be almost invisible.