My little native costume is coming along nicely, even with some unexpected bumps in the road. The dress and jacket are from two different chamois, and they both reacted differently to being wet and stained. The fringe on the bottom of the skirt did what I expected it to, but the fringe on the jacket not only stretched after I cut it, but each strip of fringe actually shrank widthwise when it was wet. The fringe on the sleeves is okay. It looks very authentic and old, but I found the fringe along the bodice edge a bit too skimpy. So I cut another strip of fringe from the last bit of dress chamois and wet and stained it. Much better! I will glue and stitch that new fringe behind the first row along the bottom of the bodice, to help it 'bulk out' and match better with the bottom of the skirt.....
The main dress was made using the Simple Sundress bodice pattern, and now that the beading is finished, I can sew the back of the skirt together, and stitch the straps into place. Those 'spaceship-shaped' pieces on the bottom right, along with their painted tongues, will become the moccasins. The small leather circles at the upper left are for beaded hair ornaments. Still lots to do!
The crabapple blossoms had barely opened when we were hit with a two-day heat wave, and everything progressed so fast that the blossoms were spent in just three short days. Then came the annual pink petal confetti floating down from the trees, covering everything.
My beautiful Carina was still out, so I thought I'd take a few more photos of her....
I gave her a bouquet of lily-of-the-valley and violets.....
All the dandelions have peaked, and are gone to seed. The girls love to blow on
the fluffy puffballs and send the seeds skyward on their feathery parachutes.
When I was very little we pretended they were fairies floating on the wind.....
The native-inspired outfit is coming along nicely, albeit slowly. Working with soft chamois is a bit of a challenge, and I don't do it often enough to remember things I should and should not be doing. Like what needles and settings to use on the sewing machine. It didn't work at all to use the special leather needle, nor did it work sewing with the leather layer on the bottom and the cotton lining on top. So after a lot of frustration with skipped stitches, thread breaking, and generally making a big mess, I switched to a stretch needle, and then it worked just fine. Then when pressing the lining after it had been sewn onto the leather, and turned right-side-out, the steam from the iron totally shrank and crimped up the chamois. I had thought I'd turned off the steam, but I guess I didn't. So I had to start completely over. Fortunately by the second bodice, all the trials and tribulations of working with leather were still fresh on my mind, so the second bodice materialized in a much more orderly, less stressful fashion.
One thing I do remember from the last fringed outfit, is that the fringe constantly kept getting in the way while doing the painting, beadwork and sewing, so I opted to not cut the fringe this time.
I stained the leather a bit with diluted yellow ochre and brown paint. Then painted all the designs. Now I'm working on the beading, and am slowly starting to cut some of the fringe as a section of beading is completed. The fringe looks very pale and 'new' right now, but will get stained and crumpled to look more authentic, like the bits of fringe at centre top. Those strips will get sewn onto the bodice front and around the skirt along with the beading. Right now I'm working with everything in pieces, as it's way easier to paint and bead on a flat surface.
The last two days were too hot to do much of anything, so I took a break and crocheted
two hats to donate to a Yahoo group's Prize Album; a white one with pink and red trim
and flowers, and a turquoise-blue one with purple, lavender, and blue trim and flowers.
We went to Canadian Tire last night to buy a new chamois for my next commission outfit - a Little Bluebird native set. The soft chamois is perfect for the small leather clothing. Today I have one of the most challenging parts of the entire costume - the cutting of all the fringe on the 'jacket'. Much of it is around 4 to 5" long, and each strip needs to be just over 1/16" wide. That's hundreds and hundreds of fringe strips. Well, better get to it......
I've been working on a green and a blue Jennet outfit for BIDs, using my own red version as a guide. Then a few days ago, suddenly out of the blue, the three outfits made me think of the three fairies from Sleeping Beauty, and the costumes they wore when they were trying to live without magic in the woods while raising Princess Aurora.
Flora, Fauna and Merriweather, along with Maleficent, were always my most favourite Disney characters. The Jennet costumes are not exactly the same as what the fairies wore, but close enough. So last night we went to the edge of the woods and tried to recreate a scene from the story. As a result of the low light, and the constant attack by hoards of mosquitos, only one photo ended up being sharp enough to work with. But one is still better than none.
So, here's my three little fairies smuggling the baby Princess into the safety of the woods....
Spring came and went last week, and today we are hurtling straight into summer with the temperatures going way up to 28 C the next few days. I don't know why I'm surprised, as it seems to do this every year. Anyway, the plants are all growing like crazy and quickly becoming too big for doll photography - at least for the smaller dolls. The flowers also bloom and fade far too quickly. Even so, I did manage a few photos of Elin and Nami dancing in the phlox and grape hyacinth...
I did manage to finish the rest of both outfits on the weekend, so now I need to start the
little native costume to go with them. I'd love it finished this month, so better hurry it up!
Okay, so I was thinking everyone is getting very tired of always seeing the same little ones over and over. I do have plenty of other dolls. Then I realized Iplehouse's photo contest is coming to an end this week, so I really should try come up with something new to enter. Everyone on their site seems to prefer the larger dolls, and I do have several, even though they rarely get any camera time. With the crabapple trees starting to bloom, I had been wondering who to photograph with the blossoms this year. I don't want to do constant repeats. My own crabapple trees are too high up for doll photos, but there's several over at the nearby high school where the branches come almost down to the ground. So after dinner, with the sun low in the sky, I took my beautiful Carina out of the cupboard and headed on over. She looked beautiful in the pink blossoms...
Pretty enough, but my same old camera and lighting angles. But then I tried playing
with the light, shooting Carina from the side with her back to the sun..... very nice.....
Then shooting into the sun. I don't usually go for such harsh contrasts, but I LOVE the results!
I LOVE these last two photos! They remind me of the romantic paintings of the
Pre-Raphaelite period. I'm going to have to try this technique more often.
A few final photos of Bonnie and her puppies from this week's photo session. It's been nice having just Bonnie and Erzulie as photo models, as I've really come to appreciate how sweet Bonnie is....
I really like Bonnie as a blonde.
It looks like spring may finally be here, and the forecast calls for warmer temperatures, so
everyone will finally be able to take their sweaters off, and do some fun warm-weather things.
Hopefully this weekend I will be able to finish the two BID Jennet outfits, and then next week I can start work on the BID Little Bluebird native outfit. I'm also hoping to be able to take some new doll photos. With the warmer temperatures, plants are really starting to grow quickly, and most of
the spring flowers don't bloom for very long, so I have to take advantage of them while I can.
The commission outfits aren't finished yet, but they are far enough along that Elin and Nami could go out for a little walk this afternoon. Many of the spring flowers are finally starting to bloom
- lily of the valley, forget-me-nots, and lilacs - so they picked themselves a small bouquet.
I still need to finish their cloaks and make them some bonnets. In fact, I better get working on those cloaks, as I can't see what I'm doing with the dark fabrics in the evenings by artificial light.
Martha Boers is an award-winning Canadian doll maker and costumer specializing in fantasy and historical-style costumes.