Stoneleigh Dolls

Monday, 9 January 2012

'That Redhead Gal'...

My doll projects mostly start with some kind of inspiration sparked by a particular yarn. My second doll was the first project inspired this way. The burnt orange yarn I used for her hair was calling out to me to be made into doll hair.

Meet Ren...

This effort is a vast improvement on my first doll... however it was mostly dumb luck that the face proportions ended up looking this good!

When it comes time to do the face for my version of this doll, I have one piece of tight knitting (the face front piece), it's not stuffed yet or sewn up... and all it wants to do is curl up on me! That makes sewing the face on the way I do with tiny little stitches... quite difficult. I don't want to steam it flat because that tends to take all the 'give' out of the piece... doesn't end well when you want to stuff something reasonably firm.

The only two things I took away from the first doll in regards to the face is that the eyes needed to be lower and the face needed to be stuffed firmer. It was just luck that the eye angles and positioning ended up the way they did. I am extremely grateful for that though because this doll became my template for the rest of them.

Ren was complete... but naked. I looked at her trying to get a feel for what kind of clothes she should wear and decided she needed a pair of 70's style red flare pants... maybe with an embroidered pattern around the lower leg.

So began my first lesson in 'making it up as you go'. I sat down with a notepad, red wool and needles and began, writing down what I was doing as I went. I finished the pants, pinned them together and sort of tried them on. They fit pretty well and I was pleased... this is where the story gets a bit interesting...

I had just been reading up on steamblocking. It was a new concept for me. I decided that I would give it a try on the red flares and see if it made the knitting look better the way it said it did in all the literature.

Well... hmmm... no one made it clear, in any of the things I'd read, just how much bigger the piece ended up being after steaming and stretching into place (exactly the way it showed in the video I watched). I spent forever trying to stretch the two pieces to the same size (literally had to do it 5 or 6 times before they looked similar) and sewed them red flares now came up to Ren's armpits and had lengthened an inch on each leg and could no longer be worn as they were originally intended. So I put them aside for the moment and decided to knit something else.

Eventually the (formerly) red flared pants manifested in my mind as something I could turn into a pair of overalls or similar. So I dug them out of their hiding place, embroidered some quick flowers to match the buttons I had picked out, knitted some quick straps with a button hole and sewed them on...


Amazingly enough... these coveralls ended up being a great fit. Now all I had to do was knit a little top to go with them and some sort of shoes and Ren was good to go.

In the meantime, however, while the red 'flares' were hidden away from view pretending to be a failure, I had been knitting other clothes for Ren.

I had some cool looking camouflage coloured wool that looked like it would make a good jacket so I followed the jacket pattern in Fiona's book and made one. I also put my mind to designing and making some kind of boots that looked like chunky boots and gave some foot definition to the doll. So I had a cool jacket and boots... not the sort of things that would go with a pair of bright red coveralls with pink flowers. I figured the top I was making for the coveralls could double as something that would work under the jacket, so I picked green. Then I made a simple dark red skirt.


I still haven't made a pair of shoes especially for the red coverall outfit, but the boots do fine for now since the pant leg is so wide.

Ren plus two outfits was now complete... for now. By this time I was starting to get inspired to make the next doll... I'll tell you about that soon.

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