I can print that!

For all the hell my computer puts me through, I will say I try to give it back just as much. From hard shutdowns (sometimes there is but one choice), blown monitors, cracks, hacks and patches to get my old favorite programs to keep working with my newer systems. I even went through a time when I tried to cheaply refill the printer ink cartridges myself (you know the bottles of pigment with the big syringes and diagrams on where to stab! ..after the magenta hands fiasco, I haven’t a problem paying the outrageous $70 for the factory filled ones ..notice I still feel the need to say “outrageous” though :)

Back in the day I had a top-loading printer and I could literally send everything through it without a glitch, paper bags, thick cotton rag, plastic sheets, you’d be surprised at what I tried to stuff in it. I could adjust the pull wheel for almost any thickness of material, it was a tough old beast, but after years of love & abuse it finally died (still sadly missed). I replaced it with a front loader that frustrates me beyond belief, with paper jams, errors and red flashing lights ..it never occurred to me that with this style of loading, whatever I put in would need to contort at such a sharp angle, in such a little U-turn space, it would unavoidably always be getting stuck! I actually have to pop off the back and hand feed in my thick craft stock and forget about weird shaped papers or alternative materials gliding smoothly through this whiny baby! I thought my creative printing days were over, or at least tamed down until I could justify a spanking new, everything I ever wanted super printer!

…in walks printable fabric ..you either already know of this magic (with a nod & a smile) or you are ..WHAT the WHAT!?! .. PRINTABLE FABRIC!?!  Best of all my average home computer users (with standard “it came with it” hardware) they make some special just for us inkjets! It’s available in several different types of fabric, it’s paper backed for smooth feeding through your printer and it comes in pre-cut paper sized sheets or on larger rolls! In the past (my old printer past) I had ironed fabric onto freezer paper and sent it through the printer, the only problem was the inkjet colors weren’t permanent and would wash out, unless I bought a special liquid setting agent (bubble jet set) and pretreated my fabric with it. But this new stuff is ready to go straight out of the package, print your design, let the ink dry, peel off the paper back, rinse in water and lay out to dry (or iron if you’re too antsy to let it air dry!) Poof and it is ready to be used! There are lots of different brands sold online and in fabric & craft stores (search or ask for “inkjet printable fabric” sheets/rolls), I have only used the cotton and the silk that come on a roll, but I am thoroughly impressed and shitty printer satisfied for the time being! YAY!

Look what I’ve made!

The Jist: I wanted it to be slightly luminescent, so I used hobotai silk printer fabric (which is very thin & shiny ..think coat lining and you’ll know what silk I am talking about), I printed the graphic to the scale I wanted and cut it out leaving a ½” of plain unprinted silk around the image, next I cut an oval slightly smaller than the printed image size, out of thick acid free cardboard (this became the back), I then I added a layer of thin cotton batting on top of the cardboard (for a little puffy plush) and stretched the printed fabric over the back pad and glued it down, making sure it was really taut and had no wrinkles or puckers on the front.
Finishing: I crocheted a freeform oval bezel (basically like a little oval dish to set the whole cameo in) it does a perfect job hiding all the gathers and glue on the back! To attach it all together (the puffy alice pad to crochet bezel) I made little tiny tacking stitches (in red so they would disappear in the crochet) and stitched it together, I added a few beads just for fun. …you could probably even get away with glueing this too :)

I made a cotton chalklegs rosette for my suffragette bag (Ravelry info on my rosette here) I just covered the biggest button blank I could find. They are the kit kind for making all sizes of fabric covered buttons, like these.

(Ravelry info on my suffragette bag here & you can get the pattern for free at Purl Bee :)

I have also printed out linen “amanda tags” for myself that I stitch on to all the things I make. Mine are pretty minimalist but you could go all out! (Ravelry info on my shell bag here)

Oh the possibilities …you could print out a picture of your pet and make a pet pillow, or dig through the family album and find an old romantic black and white photo and use it as a ring bearer pillow at the next wedding or to make life like photo dolls, put your very own logo and images on patches & appliqués, not to mention all the custom printed fabrics you could make for quilting and crafting!

When I’m to lazy to draw, my favorite resource for copyright/royalty free graphics is the Dover Pictorial Archives, an incredible collection of imagery from the late 1800’s – mid 1900’s. They offer books and CD’s filled with high-resolution Victorian greeting cards, photographs and valentines, old advertising posters and breathtaking ornamental cuts and engravings (they even have botanical and insect etchings!). You will be happily overwhelmed in a completely satisfying and affordable way. You can also find wonderful vintage images free online at the Graphics Fairy too!

Doll Face

I grew up playing in trees and on train tracks. I hung out with boys who wanted to be a Jedi or He-Man, boys who spit. sp crew spent hours ripping apart stompers & penny racers and drawing super human robots and car crashes. I don’t really remember having many barbie dolls, I would play with my older sisters when she would allow it or when she wasn’t home, but that wouldn’t last for long after I was caught blowing seams trying to squeeze ken into a leotard, or wrapping barbie’s arm in a makeshift masking tape cast.

When I had my daughter, without my prodding, she became a barbie girl …with cars, airplanes and my size dolls with matching outfits so they could be twins. She never called the boy dolls ken they were all Jim to her, except for a doll she called Smash Headquarters, a barbie type GI joe, that had a real hair crew cut, exaggerated veiny muscles and a fresh bloody scar on his cheek, he always looked so out of place with posh barbie and the preppy fashion kens. My daughter had a massive wooden dollhouse that we decked out with wonderfully tiny furniture and housewares. She would go to play with it and there would be our kitty pickles peeking out from a second story window, we would always find pickles sleeping in the house and it would make my daughter so mad, because fatty pickles would mess up the pretty rooms. As my daughter grew older the love of dolls transferred to American Girls, with handmade bunk beds and patchwork quilts, I even bought a leg cast for one of them and another had a little silver flute to match my daughters flute!

Now that I look back, I don’t know if it was ever really about the fake play or the fictional lives of the dolls for me, but more so the miniatures. All the little things, that looked exactly like the real life big things ..tiny tea cups and silverware, small boxes of cereal, couches, chairs & toilets. Bity clothes made perfect using the tiniest snaps and hooks, everything hanging neatly on mini hangers in little wooden wardrobes.

All of this was rekindled not long ago, when a group of us in Good Things Together (Ravelry) were reminiscing about childhood. A dear friend took the lead and organized the very first full on doll fashion show! It had been years since I thought about barbie’s or walked the barbie toy aisle. I was always buying bits and pieces of creepy old baby dolls when they would come up at auction and recently I had gotten a bag full of fashion doll parts, among the torsos, arms and heads there was Francie, a 1960’s “teenage” cousin of Barbie. ..so I though what the heck, let’s do this!

My first outfit was entirely free style and ended up looking very Fräulein Maria, with the wide brim shaker hat & vintage hankie skirt!

For this outfit I used a sun-shift pattern I found in a 1966 copy of McCalls Needlework & Crafts (summer).

I also made a mini crochet shawl from this person sized pattern and a sweet little english fascinator with removable netting! Cute!

It was so much fun learning new tips/tricks and seeing all the different styles of dolls (American & Japanese) that the others in the group were using & all of the beautiful outfits they were designing for them! 

A few weeks back while at the thrift shop, I wondered down the toy aisle and on a shelf there was a pile of scraggly fashion dolls, I dug through the pile and found one I liked. She is a Liv Doll (they are so much more articulated than Francie and have life-like plastic eyes). She was naked, dirty, bald (apparently these dolls have removable wigs) & cheap (99¢)! …so once again, I thought what the heck, let’s do this!

I had seen people online doing custom repaints of vinyl doll faces and thought for that price, I could give it a go. So with a cotton swab soaked in acetone (nail polish remover) I set about removing her make up! It was so easy and awesome to just wipe it all away! I first removed her heavy lipstick & even just that slight change I loved! I kept going, next her blush, then the lower lash area and so on, I even removed her painted hair (she has a very (young) Mia Farrow / sweet gelfling androgyny look at this stage ..which I LOVE :) I washed her face with soap & water once I was finished to remove any acetone residue. I really like the idea that you can easily tame down parts or completely redo the factory paint! 

I decide to make her into everything I loved as a kid, so I gave her freckles (growing up I always wanted freckles) wow in this shot she looks very alien nation all bald & spotted.

*I used regular old acrylic craft paint, mixed with textile medium and when I wanted more of a translucent paint, I just added more medium instead of water.

I love that the Liv doll eyes are not painted on or attached in any way beyond just being inset behind the lids. I was able to pull her head off and using a hair dryer soften up the vinyl around her eyes, then using a pen and pushing from the inside, I popped her eyes out the front of her face! (creepy to watch, but nice for complete removal of factory paint & aiding in the ease of repainting!) when I was finished, I reheated her eyes sockets and smashed her plastic eyes back in. (I will admit getting them back in was a little harder than popping them out!) I was ultra careful to not get the acetone on her plastic eyes, it would have made them cloudy, which might be kind of living dead cool! (If you are careful with the acetone and skilled with your liner brush, I think you could get by without removing her eyes :) 

Luckily a week later, I was able to find a Liv wig at the same thrift shop (I always wanted red hair as a kid too!) At some point I want to try to make a wig but right now this hair is perfect!

I didn’t want to paint on eyelashes, so I went to the dollar store and picked up a set of cheap $1 falsies, curled them sharply right at the glue line with my eyelash curler, trimmed them to fit her eye and using a tweezers slid and pushed them up under her lid, being careful not to scratch her eye. It’s a really tight fit (so no need for glue), I just kept pushing them under until they laid nice and were securely tucked in. Next I just trimmed them to the length I liked (it was a little shocking when they were super long like spider leg eyes)

Notice the lack of eyebrows ..well I just couldn’t get them even or nice, I kind of like her without them!I learned that the mood of the face can really be set, just by shifting the eyebrows slightly in any given direction! (maybe next time I will leave her factory Brook Shields brows on!?)

…now just to figure out a life-like cast for her arm (it’s a recurring theme!? ..lol) …I really wanted to have at least one broken arm as a kid (preferably the left) just so I could have a cast that all my friends signed (I have yet to have a broken anything!) ..I also wanted glasses, braces …you know, the usual stuff!  :D

The next fashion show is set for September 18th – 22nd (the theme is autumn & yay, I made something and is being hosted by two super awesome doll expert sisters!) come join in! I still have no idea what I am making ..maybe I’ll sew something ..or make a little furniture piece!