A Sincere Prince: A Fairy Tale Prince Paper Doll

There’s a wonderful line in Into The Woods where Prince Charming says, “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.”

Well, I prefer my fairy tale prince paper dolls to be sincere, thank you very much. Hence why I named today’s paper doll, A Sincere Prince.

Over the years, I have drawn a few different “prince” paper dolls (no relation to the rockstar) and I think of them as coming from different fantasy worlds, much like I think of my Princesses as coming from different fantasy worlds. Mostly, I group them based on vague time period associations.

So, today’s Prince Marcus has a sort of renaissance feel to it while Prince and Gentleman was more 18th or 19th century and Marcus the Warrior was more Anglo-Saxon or Viking inspired.

A fairy tale prince paper doll with a four piece wardrobe. Part of the Marisole Monday & Friend's paper doll series, he can share clothing with any of the other Marisole Monday & Friend's male paper dolls. Free to print from paperthinpersonas.com.

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Picking out colors wasn’t that hard. I knew I didn’t want to use green. I tend to use a LOT of green in male paper dolls. I don’t know why, but I do. Anyway, so once I decided, “no green” than it was just a matter of picking some fun colors. I have done a Green Prince if you’re interested.

A black fairy tale prince paper doll with a four piece wardrobe. Part of the Marisole Monday & Friend's paper doll series, he can share clothing with any of the other Marisole Monday & Friend's male paper dolls. Free to print from paperthinpersonas.com.

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I’m a bit belated on today’s post. I managed to fall into that trap where I have a good bit of material ready, so I tell myself, “Oh, I don’t need to work on anything. I have time.”

But time has a way of flitting off when I am not paying enough attention.

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys today’s fairytale prince paper doll!

1834 Fashion Plates from Popular Women’s Magazines

Women’s magazines in the 19th century published fashion plates- illustrations of women’s clothing intended to guide the reader towards the latest styles. I love fashion plates, but often the scans of fashion magazines scan the plates very poorly.  On the other hand, many wonderful repositories of just fashion plates exist such as the Casey Fashion Plate index, but since plates were so often cut from the magazines, these collections omit the contextual information we need to understand the plates.

So, I spent some time pairing up beautifully scanned plates from the Casey Fashion Plate Index with their descriptions from various fashion magazines. I did excerpted the descriptions, added punctuation where needed, and corrected some truly strange spellings and archaic word choices. Riband means ribbon, apparently, though I did have to look that one up.

I chose to focus on 1834. Maybe because I am working on a paper doll from this era… Maybe….

Godey’s Lady’s Book Fashion Plates from 1834

If there ever was a magazine that barely needs an introduction, it is Godey’s Lady’s Book. In the 19th century, it was the most widely circulated magazine in the United States. That’s not just the most widely circulated women’s magazine, the most widely circulated magazine period. It began in 1830, but didn’t reach the height of its popularity until after Sarah Josepha Hale took over as the editor in 1837. She was an amazing woman and helped found the holiday of Thanksgiving. She also wrote the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

April 1834 Fashion plate from Godey's Lady's Book magazine of two gowns- one evening dress and one carriage dress.

(The Court Magazine and Monthly Critic describes identical dresses in their November 1833 issue.)

Evening Dress (left) – The robe is composed of a new kind of gauze, called gaze fleur des anges, a rose-colored ground, flowered in… a blond lace pattern, and worn over a satin slip to correspond. The corsage is low, cut in a very graceful manner on the shoulders… The lappel, bust, and bottom of the corsage, are each edged with blond lace. Bouffant sleeve slashed in front of the arm. The hair parted on the forehead, is disposed in light loose curls… A half wreath of blue wild flowers is placed rather far back (on the head) … gloves of white knitted silk, resembling double-grounded lace. Black satin slippers of the sandal kind.

Carriage Dress (right- identified as a Morning Dress) – A pelisse of lemon-colored gros frincesse… The sleeves very large from the shoulder to the bend of the arm, sit nearly, but not quite close to the wrist…. Pelerine (cape) of two falls, deep on the back and shoulders….  and knots of ribbon much larger than those on the sleeves are placed at equal distances from the waist to the bottom of the skirt. Lemon-colored satin hat, lined with pale lilac velvet… The trimming consists of knots of lemon-colored gauze ribbon and… flowers to correspond. Cashmere scarf. Lilac kid gloves.

Two evening gowns from 1834. Originally published in Godey's Lady's Book.

Evening Dress (left) –Robe of.. satin; a low corsage, plain behind, but disposed in drapery folds in front… and turning back round the bust in the pelerine form. The lappel and the bust… are both bordered with blond lace… The sleeves are of the double bouffant form; the lower bouffant is extremely small; it is shaded by a row of blond lace… The border of the dress is embroidered in detached bouquets in silk to correspond… a turban of white and blue gauze… A white ostrich feather, tipped with blue, rises from the bandeau, and completes the trimming.

Evening Dress (right) – Satin under-dress of a peculiar shade of gray; the corsage is cut low, sits close to the shape, and is bordered with blond lace… A deep flounce of blond lace encircles the border of the dress… the sleeves of the single bouffant form over satin… Knots of fire-colored gauze riband decorate the sleeves, and the sides of the robe. The hair is divided on the forehead, falls in loose curls at the sides of the face, and is combed up tight to the summit of the head, where it is arranged in a cluster of light bows, in which a sprig composed of colored gems is inserted. A bandeau, composed also of colored gems is brought from the sprig round the forehead.

Ladies’ Pocket Magazine Fashion Plates from 1834

The Ladies’ Pocket Magazine was published in London. As far as I can tell, it came out twice a year and was small format (pocket-sized) and included a variety of content from stories to non-fiction, poems, essays and fashion plates. The plates were divided between styles from London and styles from Paris.

Women's fashion plate from 1834 of a dinner dress from Lady's Pocket Magazine.

Dinner Dress- A green satin round dress a low body the front crossed in full drapery folds on the bosom. Long sleeves very wide and terminating in deep tight cuffs. Blond lace mantelet… The cap also composed of blond… is trimmed with an ornament of cut ribbon on one side and a bow on the other.

1834 fashion plate from March of an evening dress from Lady's Pocket Magazine.

Evening Dress- A velvet robe of a new color bordering on lilac. The body cut low and square is trimmed with blond lace arranged in the lapel style. Bouffant sleeves… The hair is dressed in loose curls at the sides and in high light bows on the summit of the head. It is adorned with a bandeau of fancy jewelry and a sprig of… roses inserted in the bows.

Women's fashion plate from 1834 of a walking dress from Lady's Pocket Magazine.

Walking Dress- A pelisse of apple-green satin… trimming of white fox fur descends in a straight band down the corsage and passes from thence to the bottom of the skirt…. Green satin bonnet to correspond round and rather deep brim bordered with a blond lace ruche… The trimming of the crown is composed of ribbon which forms a point in the centre and two full blown roses inserted one on each side of the band on the top.

Lady’s Magazine and Museum of the Belles Lettres, Fine Arts, Music, Drama, Fashions, etc. Fashion Plates from 1834

The Lady’s Magazine and Museum was born after two older ladies magazines came together- The Lady’s Magazine and the Lady’s Monthly Museum. Both magazines began in the late 18th century in England to cater to the women’s market. By the 1830s, facing competition, they combined into one publication and continued until 1847.

Lady's walking cape from 1834 with a child's costume as well.

 Toilette de Ville –  Hat of… satin ornamented with two ostrich feathers. Cloak… lined with satin… The cape is about half the length of the cloak… The cape is cut open at each side… and shows the sleeves which are immense… The collar and cuffs of black velvet.

Child’s Dress-  Cloak of pink satin made with large sleeves and pelerine…. the cloak is fastened round the waist by a… boa of swan’s down… Frock and trousers… to match and trimmed at the tops with swan’s down. Satin hat with a plain ribbon crossed in front and descending at the sides.

rbc1775-cropped

Costume de Soiree Dress of organdy embroidered in colored worsteds [in a pattern of] rose buds and foliage… The embroidery is continued in a light wreath round the bottom of the skirt to mark where the hem should come… The cap is… a plain crown and excessively full border which is very deep in front and diminishes gradually towards the sides… White gloves, white silk stockings, and black satin shoes.

The sitting figure shows the back of the same gown. This was a common “trick” in plates of this era and I think it’s pretty charming.

Thoughts on the 1830s? Other periods of fashion I should take on?

Sources

Casey Fashion Plate Index

Godey’s Lady’s Book

Lady’s Pocket Book Vol 1 1834

Lady’s Magazine and Museum 1834

Gothic Romance: A Curvy Goth Paper Doll

logo-bb-gothic My best-friend in highschool and middle-school was a curvy girl with a goth and punk style. Now, this might not seem like an odd thing to be today, but in Juneau, Alaska, in the early 2000s, this was practically unheard of. In the early days of internet commerce, buying a corset in Alaska required a willingness to shop online when the online options were limited to Amazon and a few catalog retailers. So, when I sat down to draw today’s curvy goth paper doll, I knew I wanted to celebrate my old friend and her willingness to break the mold.

Despite my interest in alt-fashion, I have never really wanted to wear it in public, but I respect people whose style choices are much more adventurous than mine.

Not that it is hard to be more adventurous than the girl who wears white shirts and cardigans to work nearly every day.

Anyway, when I work on designing something for a fashion genre, I try very hard to be as authentic as possible. Of course, as an outsider to any cultural group, it is nearly impossible to capture all the nuances, but I wanted for my goth paper doll to have a nice range to mix and match pieces which could also share with other paper dolls. After all, maybe she’ll want to wear a sundress or some thigh high platform boots one day.

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Color schemes for anything goth is going to be a lot of black (obviously) and I didn’t want to try to really break the mold here, so I stuck with my old friends favorite colors- black, red, and purple. Lavender was a Victorian color of mourning, so that seemed appropriate. Though the Victorians took their mourning culture way seriously.

While my natural tendency is to avoid patterns, I wanted at least one patterned piece in the bunch and a corset seemed like an obvious choice. The skull and roses pattern is mirrored in her purse and the limited color palette means I think it can go with either skirt.

gothic-romance-color

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I have always loved patent leather, so the boots were an obvious place to make some shiny-texture. I am out of practice with that technique though and it took three or four tries to get it right. I’m still not in love with the outcome, but I’ll live.

Looking for more goth paper dolls? I have a whole tag for gothic fashion, though looking through it, I confess I thought I had more gothic paper dolls.

Hmmm…. Maybe I need to draw some more, because there’s not a lot there.

Should I draw more Gothic Fashion paper dolls?

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As always, I always love to hear that you think of the paper doll!

Placing a Pattern on Paper Doll Clothes in Photoshop: A Brief Tutorial

Several readers have, over the years, asked about how I do pattern placement on my paper doll clothes. I actually use several different methods depending on the complexity of the pattern and the shape of the underlying garment.

Today, I am going to show you how to place a pattern onto a garment in Photoshop where the garment does not have folds, pleats or ruffles of any kind.

Garments like that include pencil skirts, most pants, most coats, many knit tops and suits. Really anything made of fairly structured fabric or style.

Assumptions:

That you have a working knowledge of Photoshop. I use CS5, but this should work in other versions. Nothing I am doing here requires fancy tools, but it does require the use of layers, the Magic Wand selection tool and the eraser.

Terminology:

Motif: A Motif is the individual pieces that make up a pattern. A single pattern might have lots of motifs.

Repeat: The spacing between the motifs that make up a pattern. All patterns have a specific motif size and each time the motif (or motifs) duplicate that is a repeat. This rarely matters in paper doll clothing, but it’s an important thing to think about when planning your pattern.

Directional Patterns: A pattern with a clear direction, the most obvious example is stripes, but a lot of patterns have a “top” and “bottom”.

Non-Directional Pattern: A pattern without a clear direction. (I know, you couldn’t have guess that one, huh?)

Pattern Matching: How well the pattern has been matched across the seams or different parts of a garment.

Distortion: Okay, so this term is one that I made up, but I use it when I am thinking about how the fall of the fabric or the shape of the body beneath the fabric distorts the pattern. Since our example romper has no folds or pleats or other things, we get to ignore this right now, mostly. Not entirely mind you, but mostly.

And Now, A Few Words about Fabric & Clothing Construction:

patter-placement-2

This paper doll romper is made from two different fabrics. One is the trim around the neckline and belt, along with the ribbons. The other is the main body fabric.

Because fabric is flat and humans are not flat, clothing is made up of various pieces of flat fabric which, once joined together along seams, make up garments. Take, for example, a t-shirt. There is a front, a back, two sleeves, and likely ribbing around the neckline. If the fabric making up that t-shirt is patterned, than the pattern has been cut to make each of those five pieces.

That means that where the pieces of fabric meet the pattern may not line up perfectly. This is known as “pattern matching.” Pattern matching is generally well done on more expensive garments and often poorly done on cheap garments. On paper dolls, it sometimes looks better to “badly” match your pattern, since that provides a reminder that the garment is made up of different pieces.

The pattern we are making (which is polkadots) will be applied to our romper. The romper is on the right. I highlighted each section of the romper in a different color to illustrate the number of different pieces that make up this garment.

Having some idea of which parts of the garment were cut from different pieces of fabric will tell you where the pattern should be broken up. It will also allow you to decide where you don’t necessarily want pattern. On this romper, I am going to leave the trimming plain.

Step One: Setting up Your File

So, to begin with you have to draw something you want to give a pattern and you need to also draw your pattern motif separately.

patter-placement-1

This is the romper I’ll be working on. It is on one layer in Photoshop.

It works best to have your “design” on one layer and your motif on a layer above it. So, copy your motif and remove any background that might be there and then past it onto a layer above the romper layer.

pattern-placement-3

Next you will want to copy your motif several times to create a large swatch of your pattern. I could have just drawn one polka-dot and copied it, but I find it works better if you draw several of simple motifs, like polka-dots, hearts, stars, ect. It keeps the pattern from looking too mechanical, I thin

Step Two: Building Your Pattern

pattern-placement-5

As you copy and paste your motif (or motifs) repeatedly, eventually you will end up with a large swatch of pattern. I like to make sure that my pattern swatch is large enough to cover the garment or at least most of the garment before I stop.

pattern-placement-6

Now, technically, I could stop right now. Clearly, I have enough polka-dots to cover the whole romper. However, if you stop here, than your garment will look flat, because this takes into consideration neither the distortion of the body nor the multiple pieces of fabric in play.

Step Three: Pattern Placement

At this stage, I always copy my pattern layer. I like to have a “back-up” pattern swatch in case I end up really disliking how the whole thing turns out. Doesn’t happen often, but it certainly has happened.

You can see the two layers of pattern on the side of the screen shot.

pattern-placement-8

Now, using the magic wand selection tool, select which areas of the garment you want to apply pattern to first. To do this, you will have to be on the “garment” layer. In my case, I started with the shorts and the bra cups. After you have made your selections, return to the pattern layer and inverse your selection as shown in the image above.

Then hit delete to remove the parts of the pattern NOT in the selection area.

pattern-placement-7a

Here is how the romper looks now.

For each section of garment you add pattern to rotate the pattern slightly in order to capture the sense of different pieces of fabric.

Checking for Pattern Gaps

Even after you have filled the entire garment with your pattern, there maybe places that there is a strange gap or a misplaced motif.

pattern-placement-9

After careful examination of my finished patterned piece, I decided there were a few spots which needed additional polka-dots to look right. I’ve marked them in red on the image above.

After filling in those spots, I cleaned up the edges of the additional dots with the eraser tool.

pattern-placement-10

The last step is to merge the pattern layer with the garment layer and then we are done!

Big round of applause everyone.

A Few Things to Watch For:

Patterns wrap around and therefore many motifs maybe cut off on the edges of the garment.

The more complex or larger the motif, the larger the garment, or you may not be able to see the whole motif.

With more complex motifs it is also sometimes best to put them on simpler garments, or only on parts of complex garments.

Lastly, the more complex the garment, the more time consuming the coloring process will be. (As I often complain about.)

Now, the next steps to make this line-work into a finished product are to clean up the line work and then color the garment.

Questions? Please feel free to leave a comment.

Paper Doll Principles: Diversity

Last time on Paper Doll Principles, we discussed Playability. Today, I am going to talk about Diversity.

As I explained in my first post, here are the “commandments” of my paper doll world:

  • Playability: Every paper doll must be a functional toy.
  • Artistic Quality: All paper dolls must be beautiful before and after they are cut out.
  • Diversity: Every person deserves a paper doll that affirms their existence.

Now, let’s talk about paper doll diversity.

Paper Doll Diversity

famous-black-women-dover

Dover’s excellent book about Famous African-American women.

Seven or eight years ago, back when PTP was just a thought in my head, I was looking through my own paper doll collection and I discovered that I owned no black paper dolls that were not either paper dolls of actual people (like Dover’s excellent Famous African-American Women) or paper dolls of ethnic dress (like Traditional African Costumes Paper Dolls ). I don’t recall what made me dig through them looking for one, but I remember being surprised by this discovery. I also didn’t see a single Asian paper doll that wasn’t wearing ethnic clothing, like Dover’s beautiful Japanese Kimono Paper Dolls or were of specific people. Now, my own collection is a small sample of the paper dolls created in this world, but it very much struck me at the time.

I believe the omission of brown skin and Asian features from paper dolls is largely because in the United States, we default to the assumption that people are white. So, that is someone’s skin-tone or ethnicity is not stated, than white skin becomes the default. This is a phenomena which can be seen in more things than just paper dolls, but since this is a paper doll blog that’s what I’m focusing on.

In recent years there  have been several paper doll sets published by major publishers that have challenged this phenomena, including Dover’s Ballet Dancer Paper DollsTeen Pop Stars and Fashion Models paper dolls, all of which feature four dolls in four different skin-tones by Elieen Russel Miller. China Town Paper Dolls by Kwei-lin Lum is another excellent set that celebrates the history of Chinese Americans in this country.  I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones that I am currently aware of. While I would still like to see more of this, I do think it’s a wonderful sign that this might be changing for a more diverse paper doll world.

When as an artist, I depict people who are not like me, I believe I have a huge responsibility to do so with respect and care. There have been many unfortunate paper doll depictions of African-Americans in this country. Arabella Grayson, a passionate collector of black paper dolls, writes about this on her wonderful website 200 Years of Black Paper Dolls. I am unaware of a similar project documenting paper dolls of other ethnic groups, but if anyone knows of one, do tell.  I am not perfect in this regard, but I decided years ago that I was going to try to create paper dolls that didn’t default to white. So, if you want a brown skinned paper doll wearing 1910s suits, I can hook you up. If you want a curvy, Asian, post-apocalyptic paper doll, I got that too.

But there are also times when the best of intentions, can become problematic. Cultural appropriation is a complex, nuanced, and often very difficult world to navigate. So, I am going to talk about not my successes in paper doll diversity, but what I think of as one of my failures.

The Parable of the African Fantasy Set

This could totally be subtitled, “One Paper Doll Rachel Kinda Regrets”.

So, back in 2011, I drew a paper doll called Inspired by Africa. At the time, I had been asked to do an African inspired fantasy set by a reader.

Naively, I drew the set, not really knowing what I was doing and then proceeded to post about it, making it as clear as I could that it was a fantasy set.

And I moved on with my life and kinda forgot about it.

marisole-africa-paper-doll-150

The Inspired By Africa set which I worry is promoting stereotypes about Africa.

Two years later, in 2013, I noticed that Inspired By Africa had been linked on a forum for homeschooling stating that it was a paper doll of African ethnic costume and I couldn’t have been more mortified. To make matters worse, when I followed the link from the forum post to the original site, I found a webpage where someone had made the same statement and provided a link to the paper doll.

So, I emailed the site owner and asked to have the descriptive text changed to “fantasy”.

Even after all of that, when I look at that paper doll set, I have reservations about it.

First, I think her outfits are stereotypical. I worry that when I made her, I was doing the same thing people do when they throw buckskin on a paper doll and call it “Native American”.  (Problem A)

I also know that one of the big issues Africa faces is that it is NOT one country, but many and am I supporting the view of a monolithic place when in reality it is not? (Problem B)

Further more, the paper dolls outfits are distinctly primitive. Am I promoting the idea that African is primitive and therefore inferior? (Problem C)

Despite all those second thoughts and worries, I haven’t taken her down, because one of the comments on that post came from a young girl living in Nigeria who said she loved the set.

And yet, I don’t know what I would say to someone if they asked me too remove it or told me it was stereotypical and problematic, because it is.

Moral of the Story: This stuff is WAY more complex than just throwing some brown skin on a princess and calling it good. The way people are depicted does matter, and as artists, we are responsible for our art. We are also responsible for recognizing that our art has a life of its own. Once created, our audience is not obligated to come back to us and ask what we meant. The art will be, and should be, judged on its qualities and not the intention of the artist.

In short, it doesn’t matter what you “meant” it matters what you did.

So, after all that, I am curious what y’all think…

Should I take down "Inspired By Africa"?

  • No (88%, 50 Votes)
  • I don't know (11%, 6 Votes)
  • Yes (2%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 57

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Edit: There was a problem with the poll this morning, I thought I had it fixed, but I was wrong. It is now officially fixed. Sorry about that, but thank you to everyone who commented.

Comments? Questions? Have you ever drawn something you regretted? What did you do about it? What responsibilities do we as artists have to the ethnicities and races we depict?

 

Maiden: A Printable Princess Paper Doll

maiden-fantasy-paper-doll-margot-bw

logo-maiden-fantasy-bwAnother printable princess paper doll this week. Clearly, I was in the mood to draw fantasy dresses. I did think about trying to get some other sets done and then breaking up my princesses, but in the end, that just didn’t work out. So, May has become a month of printable princess paper dolls for the Marisole Monday & Friends crowd and people are just going to have to deal.

So, in the 12th century, there was this garment called a “bliaut.” Now, I’ll be honest, I am still learning about 12th century clothing, but in my limited research the “bliaut” was a wide sleeved gown with a full skirt. The most famous example, I know of, is from the sculptures on the exterior of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Chartres. Another example is the Unshaw Virgin from the British Museum. I’m still mid-research to create a historical 12th century paper doll, so while I work on that, I thought I would draw a fantasy paper doll inspired by the 12th century.

A black and white printable princess paper doll with four gowns, two pairs of shoes and some accessories. She can share clothing with a lot of my other paper dolls as well. Free from paperthinpersonas.com.

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Along with the 12th century, Maiden here owes a bit to Norse things with her bone comb and her knife. I think she could be a generation or two removed from my Maiden of the North paper doll from last year or maybe from the same “world”, but a different geographic region. I also think Marcus as a Warrior fits in as well.

Now, I will confess that I did try to make something very different from Monica’s Dreaming Princess set here. Despite the fact that they are both fantasy paper dolls with a distinctly princess vibe, the styles are pretty different. Maiden here is all about the 12th century while Dreaming Princess was all about the early Italian renaissance look. Plus, while Dreaming Princess was modeled by Monica, Margot is the model for Maiden, a title picked entirely because it fit in the space I had left after rearranging this set like a dozen times.

For colors, I wanted to use shades that reflected manuscript illustration. While Dreaming Princess was me channeling my inner-8 year old. This paper doll was much more my taste which tends towards more muted colors when I think of fantasy gowns.

maiden-fantasy-paper-doll-margot-color

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Now, next Monday, there will be something completely different!

(Well… not really. It’s a paper doll, but not a princess paper doll.)

Also, if you’re wondering, “Who is this Margot person Rachel keeps referring too?” Than allow me to refer you to the Guide to Marisole Monday & Her Friends.

Questions? Comments? I’d love to know what you think of today’s paper doll.

A Pair of Lovey-Doveys: Thought’s on Sewing Up These Baby Gifts

So, in my last pattern review, I made a teddy bear for my sister. I also whipped up two of these little Lovey-Doveys, also designed by Abby Glassenberg.

(I swear I sew patterns other than hers, but I have been in full on ‘baby gift’ mode.)

While I made these on Sunday after making my Teddy Bear, I wanted to post about them separately, because they are a totally different pattern.

And now, onto the review…

bear-bunny-lovey-dovey

All the pieces cut out and waiting on the table to be sewn up.

Time to Complete: About 2.5 hours (I made two and did them over three days, so I’m not positive on the time investment.)

Number of times I pulled out “Jack the Seam Ripper”: 2

I made a bunny and a bear “Lovey-Dovey” or “Blanket Animals”. I bought a set of Lovey Dovey patterns from Abby Glassenberg Designs like last year in the deluded belief I would make them for a co-worker’s grandchild. Obviously that didn’t happen.

When I was at Hancocks for their clearance sale, the pattern (Simplicity 1681) was on-sale (Abby licenses some of her designs to them) for a very reasonable price. So, I picked it up for the bear pattern and also used it for the blanket animals rather than printing out my pattern, because I am lazy and was out of printer ink.

Clear as mud? Lovely.

lovey-dovey-collage-2

Picking out fabrics and cutting out an ear. I live dangerously and cut out my tissue paper patterns.

So, anyway, since the parents have decided not to know the gender of the baby, I picked up neutral fabrics for the ear linings. I probably could have raided  my stash, but why waste a good excuse to buy fabric, especially sale fabric?

I didn’t want to do a classic white bunny, since that seems like a bad idea given that babies are messy little creatures, so I instead I went with some grey fleece for the bunny and light brown fleece for the bear. I didn’t want to make both critters out of the same color fleece.

I love how the bunny and the bear turned out. 

lovey-dovey-collage

The back of one bear showing off his tail and my bunny with his adapted tail.

When with cutting the back of my first teddy bear and then inserting the tail, I somehow didn’t catch all the layers when I sewed it up again afterwards and had to fix it by hand. However, it worked much better the second time I tried (practice works!) and so the Lovey-Dovey bear tail came out well. The pattern called for using pom-pom for the bunny tail, but since I don’t like pom-poms, I gathered a circle to make the tail.

Uses of Jack:

Jack came out twice for this set. First, I attached one of the bunny ears to the wrong side of one of the head pieces and it had be to removed to re-attached. I also messed up while hand sewing on the bears ears and out came Jack once more.

He’s a good little seam ripper.

But, all things considered, Jack hasn’t gotten to spend much time out of his box this time. I say this, but I know that soon enough Jack with make a reappearance. (He always does.)

Final Thoughts:

According to Abby’s blog, While She Naps, her Lovey-Dovey patterns are her best sellers. I can see why.

They are fast and so cute. I want to make more of them. I want to make a whole menagerie of little blanket animals for every baby I know and possibly for babies I don’t know.

And I love that by just switching out the head and the tail, you can make a new creature. Once you figure out the process, it’s pretty fast.

I did all the machine sewing for both creatures and then sat down with some Netflix to embroider the faces and attach the the heads to the bodies. I tend to work tyhis way, doing the machine work and then in the evening or the next day, doing the handwork. It’s funny, when I create paper dolls I work the same way. I ink a bunch, than I scan and bunch, than I color a bunch. I guess I just like working in batches. 

So, I highly recommend this pattern, but I would buy it direct from Abby Glassenberg Designs (unless you too have a Hancock that is closing near you), because I think her photo instructions are SO much better than the ones in the Simplicity package which confused me in a few places. (Ear attachment, for one.)

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My finished bear and bunny. By the time I got this photo, it had gotten dark.

She also has this great video on how to ladder stitch that I watched before I started. Technically, I have ladder stitched before, but it was a nice reminder and I think I did better after watching and it was linked in her pattern, or I wouldn’t have known it existed.

Has anyone else made a Lovey-Dovey?

Next, I’m working on some cloth dolls by Jess Brown. Also a gift, so taking notes while I sew and I will share them once they have been mailed off.

And after that… Well, I haven’t decided, though there is a replacement bear to be made.

Paper Doll Studio Issue 114

So, kinda a belated review of the latest issue of Paper Doll Studio. It arrived in April while I was on my Hiatus, but I knew I wanted to talk about it upon my return. For those of you who don’t know, Paper Doll Studio is the magazine of the Original Paper Doll Artists Guild (OPDAG) and comes out four times a year. Each issue has a theme and artists submit paper dolls relating to that theme for the issue. For example, Issue 114’s theme was “Holidays.”

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Once I get an issue of Paper Doll Studio, I immediately read it.

I really enjoyed it, of course, I always do. I mean, it’s like getting a surprise in my mail box when it arrives. I don’t usually check the mail (mail-checking and garbage are my boyfriend’s jobs), but I always get so excited when he comes up the stairs and hands me the distinctive package from Paper Doll Studio Press.

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The featured artist for Paper Doll Studio was Cory Jensen.

Each issue has a featured artist and this time it was Cory Jensen. While I very much enjoyed Mr. Jensen’s article on his work (and his art is quite compelling), the amateur copyright scholar in me wondered about the legal ramifications of drawing paper dolls of other’s intellectual property and the ethical ramifications, as well. Not something he touched on in his article, but I rather wish he had. I think its a serious question that anyone who draws fan-art should be considering.

Along with Jensen’s article, there was a fun piece by David Wolfe on his tradition of creating paper doll cards for Christmas, but I’d have liked some more advice on how someone could do a similar project, rather than just a recap of what he’d done. My favorite articles are always the ones that talk about process and are a little practical, so I enjoyed very much Judy M Johnson’s article on Paper Doll Methods and Materials. (Judy is a dear woman who, after I cold called her once while I was working on a conference paper on World War 1 and 2 paper dolls, talked to me for over two hours on the telephone.)

Julie’s St. Patrick’s Day paper doll got a full page spread which made me cheer for her. She deserves it and you can print out her paper doll here. I always try to pick a favorite paper doll from each issue. This time I struggled a little, but I settled on two. Karen Hunter, an artist I was not familiar with, did a fantastic Halloween paper doll and Larry Bassin had four paper dolls in the magazine. I have always, and probably will always, love Bassin’s work and he was a big influence on the flat color style I use in my own paper dolls. I mean look out at that fantastic line-work.

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Karen Hunter’s paper doll is on the right. Larry Bassin’s work is on the left.

Every time I get an issue of Paper Doll Studio magazine, I swear that “next time” I’ll get my act together and submit something. Well, menswear is up next and I am going do it this time! I just… you know… need to get my act together.

Jenny, editor of the Magazine, was interviewed on this blog a few months ago. By the way, if you don’t already subscribe, I highly recommend it to anyone who loves paper dolls. It’s under 30 dollars a year and you get four issues of fun paper doll content. Here’s the link to subscribe.

Ms. Mannequin’s Get Some Resort Paper Doll Fashion

logo-ms-mann-resort-summer One of my goals for 2016, has been to focus on the Ms. Mannequin series. My goal is for ten pages for Ms. Mannequin this year, though with my new posting schedule, we shall see how that works out. While I love drawing paper doll fashion, it has been a little bit of a struggle, because how many pairs of skinny jeans does one paper doll series need?

Therefore, I have been trying to think thematically. Instead of just drawing “contemporary clothing”, I want to try to draw clothing that (for at least that page) represents a capsule collection of pieces that could be interchanged. (I say this now, but I might end up changing my mind about this plan tomorrow.)

Today’s Ms. Mannequin capsule paper wardrobe is a resort collection. In the world of high fashion, there are four seasonal collections made by most big fashion houses. Traditionally the Autumn/Winter shows are held in February, and the Spring/Summer shows are in September/October, known as Fashion Weeks. In between these shows, there are two other collections often created. Resort or Cruise collections are shown before the Spring/Summer collection and Pre-Fall collections are shown before the Autumn/Winter collections.

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{Click Here for a PDF in Color} {Click Here for a 150 dpi PNG in Color}{Click Here for a PDF of Black and White} {Click Here for a 150 dpi PNG in Black and White}
{Click Here for More Clothes}{Click Here for Paper Dolls to Dress}


Now, I would love to be able to say that everything in this collection of paper doll fashions came from designer’s Resort/Cruise collections, but that would be a lie. Two of the inspirations include this Alice & Olivia’s Pre-Fall 2014 dress and this outfit from Balmain’s Spring 2015 ready-wear collection. I’m certain there were others, but those are the only two I could remember specifically. As a librarian, I really aught to be better about remembering to record and therefore cite my sources.

You might be thinking, “Well, those are cute clothes, but what about a doll to wear them?”

Never fear, there are eight Ms. Mannequin dolls (7 human, one alien) who I am sure would be happy to show off these outfits and I am working on adding a few more to the collection soon.

My First Teddy Bear: A Review of Simplicity 1681

Time to Complete: 3 hours

Number of times I pulled out “Jack the Seam Ripper”: One

I wanted to make a quick fun baby gift for my Sister and Hancocks was closing. So, I popped in to check out the sale and picked up Simplicity 1681, designed by Abby Glassenberg, at a pretty good discount. I’ve always admired her soft toy design and her blog, “While She Naps.” So, I was really pleased to get the pattern and get to try it out. Plus, I wanted to see the differences in directions between her self published work and her licensed work. That way I would know in the future if I wanted to buy the Simplicity versions or directly from Abby.

Confession- I finished this guy in April, but didn’t want to post about him until he was in the hands of my Sister. Nothing worse than your sibling learning about her baby gift from a blog before the gift arrives.

I’ve never made a bear before, so I was pretty nervous. I think the small size was particularly challenging. Somehow, I didn’t notice that the pattern said the bear was only 12 inches tall. Tiny little guy.

I picked up some dark brown fleece and some quilting cotton to line the ears with. Since my Sister has decided not know the gender of her baby, I picked out fun striped fabric that could be for a boy or a girl.

Brown and colorful striped quilting cottons for the teddy bear I made from Simplicity 1681.

Picking out gender neutral baby fabrics is actually pretty tough.

There’s a step in the pattern where you fold in all the limbs and sew on the back of the body. That would have been easier if I had noticed that the directions said to “lightly stuff” the limbs. Opps.

After that, you tuck the head into the neck-hole and sew around the neck to attach the head. I looked at that and thought, there is no freaking way I am managing to sew that on my machine. I am just not that good.

So, I hand back-stitched the head to the body instead. I hope it’s secure enough. This is for a baby after all… but my sister can sew so I’m sure she can fix it if there is a head related mishap. Teddy bear decapitations ruin everyone’s day. (I wrote this before I found out what eventually happened to the bear… I can proudly say the head did not come off.)

Also, working with polar fleece is a dream. I’d never done it before, but it has no grain. It doesn’t ravel and it is pretty resilient to seam ripping. The only problem is that Hancock had a 2 yard minimum on their fabric cuts (since they were closing). Now, I’ve got A LOT of brown fleece. So, much that I could make an army of bears. Since I mostly sew doll clothes and dolls, I don’t know what I’ll do with 1.5 yards of left-over fleece.

Occurrences Of Jack the Seam Ripper:

Just one actually, which was kinda shocking. The first time I tried to embroider the face, I was copying the design on the envelop. It’s cute, but I wasn’t keen on how it looked when I did it.

I am not a smiling stuffed toy kinda girl. (Not shocking to anyone whose seen my paper dolls…)

 

A photograph of the embroidery on the face of my teddy bear head.

My redone face and my messy dining room table where I sew.

So, I tried to take out the embroidery with Jack, but ended up cutting a hole in the fleece. It wasn’t hard to stitch up a new face and try again though.

While I didn’t use Jack much, I did have to actually secure a fair number of things by hand. So, I used my sewing needles and thread more than Jack this time.

A back and front views of Simplicity 1681, a teddy bear pattern designed by Abby Glassenberg.

Here’s my finished bear and look, he has a cute tail. And I really should have given him a once over with the lint roller before photographing him.

Final Thoughts:

Pretty much all my problems came from the small size and my errors- not issues with the pattern design. Despite a few struggles I still ended up with a pretty darn cute bear!

I’d recommend this pattern to others who have never made a bear before. It was a bit more complex than I was expecting, but not absurdly so. That head attachment though… you gotta be kidding me.

I’ll also admit that I judge a good pattern by how much I want to make it again. I don’t think I’m desperate to make another bear, but if there’s a baby shower I need a gift for, a bear would be an easy one. I’m pleased with the results (though he is a little wonky) and I am so glad to get to send him off too my Sister.

You can pick up the pattern direct from Abby Glassenberg or from anywhere Simplicity patterns are sold. I would buy it from Abby, since I did decide I liked her photo directions better than the Simplicity directions.

An Epilogue:

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Poor bear.

So, I wrote up this post, scheduled it and then got a phone call from sister informing me of “horrible news.”

My mind immediately went to family disaster of some sort. Fortunately, no one human was in the hospital.  It turned out that her Sweet Dog and the Other Dog she was house sitting got their paws (or teeth, really) on the bear while she was showering. When she emerged, the dogs had torn up the teddy bear beyond repair.

After I finished laughing at the image of Sweet Dog enjoying the bear and she finished blaming it all on the Other Dog, I promised I would make another bear for her as soon as I could.

So, I guess I’ll be making my second teddy bear much sooner than I thought. Time to go cut some more fleece.

Also, I can safely add to my review that while the teddy bear was enjoyed by the dogs, it did not fair very well structurally, so I would not recommend it as a chew toy.