Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pickleweeds or Brambles?

A while back I mentioned that Barnes and Noble was having a toy sale, and that I had ordered myself the hedgehogs and elephants. Well they showed up within a week of ordering, but I got a bit distracted with posting my slipper pattern and jacket pattern. So I fell even further behind with my posts. Now that I am otherwise caught up with my collection posts, it is time to introduce the Ellwoods and the Pickleweeds:

The fur on the Pickleweeds came out of the box a little mangled (from the holes in the carton),
but re-fluffying their fur with the little brushes they came with mostly seemed to work.

Now, are the Pickleweeds Brambles, or is Peaches a Pickleweed?

Hopefully I should now get back to the sewn clothing posts I've been intending to write.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Voles, Pandas, Koalas, and a Penguin

In August I finally decided to order a few of the Sylvanian Families I wanted, before they cycled out of production when I wasn't paying attention. I really wanted the Sewing with Mother set, so I ended up placing an order with Sylvanian City.

The Sewing with Mother set: Stephanie and Sybil Clearwater, and a cute little sewing machine and accessories.

I also got the Bamboo Family and Billabong Family.
Polar de Burg: I don't like the bottle mouth much, but the penguin is cute.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

London Additions

So last April my boyfriend made a trip to London for work. While there he made the mistake of asking if I wanted anything. So I promptly replied with an ordered list of Sylvanian Families I was interested in. I also gave him a link to, saying that they would carry a larger collection if he couldn't find any in whetever toy stores he was near.

Well, he did go out to their store, and he is still muttering about the hordes of people from the football (US soccer) stadium, which was appearantly at the same train station. In any case, he arrived home with Peaches Bramble, which was very exciting, and said that was all he had room for in his luggage.

Well, a week or so later a box showed up. Appearantly he bought a fair number of the items on my list, and had them shipped. So I acquired the Nettlefields, Underwoods, and Vandykes.

I also got the river crew with Seamouse Twitch, Beaky, and Murky Waters.
And finally, two lone babies: Charlie Moss, and Barry Thistlethorn. Now Prissy has a little brother!

The full London set:

And my complete collection as of mid 2010 (with a rather eccentric collection of clothing).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

An Outdoor Chair

At some point I decided to go through all my old dollhouse furniture and see how much of it was correctly sized for Sylvanian Families. I didn't worry much about scale as a kid, and as it turns very little of my furniture was scaled correctly. So I contemplated making appropriately scaled furniture.

During my browsing of articles about making dollhouse miniatures, I came across The Art of Dollhouse Miniatures. This site discusses craft wood supplies that can be used as 'scale lumber', in particular the rather useful "Skinny Sticks" (I picked up a bag at my local Michaels). The site also has instructions for a Garden Lawn Chair.

Well, after looking at some number of miniature Adirondack chairs, I decided to try designing a chair scaled for Sylvanian Families. I also wanted a chair that they could sit in. Because of the way their legs angle, this made the project somewhat more complicated, since the seat needed to be extremely trapezoidal if I wanted the back to look like it was sized for one person rather than two.

The resulting chair is somewhere between the Lawn Chair and an Adirondack chair, and is made from 'Skinny Sticks'. It was stained with a wood stain after gluing all the pieces together. Also, some amount of filing and fiddling was required to get the pieces to fit together the way I thought they should.

I don't have complete step-by-step instructions, but here are the rough plans I made for myself along with a few notes on construction (pdf). I had some difficultly getting the back angled with the armrests actually sitting in the notches for them, so some additional filing may be needed. When printing the pdf out, make sure that it is printing without scaling (nor fitting to page, nor anything else that might cause the sizing to change).

Overall I am pretty happy with the result. My goal is roughly to have furniture the appropriate height: for example, table tops at adult waist height. Thus the legs should probably be a little shorter, so the seat isn't almost at their waist, but its pretty close.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Basket and Bread

Almost two years ago, while I was reading various articles and books about miniatures I came across some suggestions for using linen floss to make miniature baskets. I think this flower basket was one of the articles I read. In any case, I picked up the burgundy, brown, and green DMC linen floss from my local Michaels. Unfortunately I think those may have been the only colors they had, and they were never restocked. I never got around to following the woven basket instructions, but at some point I came across a cute little crochet basket by Pierrot (Ravelry link). Rather than using the suggested yarn, I used a single strand of the DMC linen floss, and a 0.9mm hook (US size 12 or 14). The basket could stand to be blocked, but I think the scale was approximately correct.

Cinnamon Hawthorne carrying a basket of bread:

The bread and the rolls in the basket were the result of reading various instructions and watching some number of YouTube videos about polymer clay food. In particular, this rather detailed video tutorial on bread. Since making the bread and rolls, and realizing I lacked useful powder colors to accent polymer clay food, I've collected a few more powders that looked like they would be useful, but I haven't tried them yet.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Knitted Baby Jacket

I went to re-check my notes/diagram for Prissy's vest (shown in this post), but then decided that the first knitting pattern I posted should perhaps be a little easier. Also, I wanted to test an idea I had for a top-down shirt/jacket with no seams to worry about. The result after the second attempt came out okay; here is Sandy Babblebrook wearing the second test jacket:

These jackets were knit with US size 000, or 1.5mm, knitting needles. I originally knit them with a size 8 perle cotton (DMC brand), since I already had a gauge swatch. Afterword, I also knit one up in a size 20 cotton cordonnet or crochet thread (specifically, Handy Hands Flora); I think it may be slightly larger, but not enough to be a problem. The perle 8 cotton is the purple jacket below, and the size 20 cordonnet is the blue jacket.

The instructions are both charted and written out. The pdf of the pattern, shown below, can be downloaded via GoogleDocs or Ravelry.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kid's Sale at B&N

This post is completely off the topic of clothing, but it is Calico Critter related. Barnes and Noble has started a Kids Club. It's not for kids to sign up for, it's for adults to sign up for and list their kids. Of note is that you are supposed to receive a $5 reward for every $100 spent on kid's items (books and toys). Not much, really, but the program is free to join.

Why is this of interest to Sylvanian Family collectors? Barnes and Noble carries Calico Critters! They don't have a huge selection, but it seems worth mentioning because B&N is currently having a toys and games sale: buy one, get one 50% off. The offer only runs through November 15th however.

So I ordered myself the hedgehog family and the elephant family:

Although, I was really tempted by the dress shops: Camryn's Country Boutique, and Margaret & Halley's Dress Shop.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Crochet Slippers for Sylvanian Family Baby

Well, I've mostly been keeping my posts in order, but I wanted to make the slipper pattern available. I went back and double checked my hastily sketched diagram, that I mentioned in The Slipper Project, to make sure it was correct. Luckily it was. On my first test, however, I misread my own pattern. Oops. So I went back and made a second pair, using three colors instead of my standard two for illustration purposes. Here's the initial diagram, and one of the original pair of shoes (in peach) along with the two new pairs created during the pattern test:

The slipper is constructed in three parts: a sole, the shoe sides, and the upper toe. The sole begins with a line of chain stitches, then works in rounds to make an oval: shown in medium blue.

The sides consist of three rows of single crochet stitches: shown in yellow.
Finally, the upper toe consists of two rows covering one end of the oval: shown in light blue.

After checking my initial pattern, I went and wrote up the instructions nicely. Here's a picture of the new chart:

Complete instructions, both written out row by row (using ch, sc, and dc) and charted with an explanation of the symbols, can be downloaded via GoogleDocs or Ravelry .

Pictures of the shoes on one of the baby grunts:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Slipper Project

One of the Sylvanian Family marketplaces is a shoe shop, and some of the available outfits also come with shoes. I don't recall ever seeing shoes for them when I was younger, but I did try and sew my own slippers and shoes back then. They were pretty poor attempts however.

Inspired by "Crochet Moccasin Slippers" by Sue and "Baby Mary Jane Skimmers" by Sylvia Heddwyn, I decided to try making a pair of slippers with my size 14 hook and embroidery floss.
Tiny - Slipper SideTiny - Slipper Top
The sole was crocheted with two strands of floss, and the sides and top were crocheted with one strand of floss. (link to Ravelry project)

Based on the success of the first pair of slippers, I decided all my Sylvanian Families needed new shoes. So I started "The Slipper Project". So far I have completed two additional pairs of slippers, and Coral now has shoes to match her dress:
Coral's new shoes

I made these based on a pattern diagram I quickly sketched out on some paper. I need to double check that I didn't make modifications after the initial diagram, and then I plan to post the pattern.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sewing Revisited

At some point I decided to once again try sewing clothes for my Sylvanian Family members. I figured with my substantial increase in sewing knowledge and practice since I was 12, maybe I could sew something that actually looked good.

I sketched out a pattern for a dress, a pair of pants, a skirt, and a top. The dress was probably the simplest and consists of a bodice and a skirt. The bodice is a pretty typical Sylvanian Family shirt, but the skirt is a partial circle.
The pattern came out relatively well, but I had some difficulty turning the edges under to finish the hems nicely. Hence the blanket stitch along the edges.

The pants required several iterations, mostly because Sylvanian Family members have fixed feet, so the waist hole needs to expand large enough to go over their feet.

For the skirt I was aiming for a Late Victorian or Edwardian style skirt with a slight train. The fabric I was testing this with was far too bulky, and the waistband came out a bit small. The first attempt is in the picture below and has the pink waistband. I revised the pattern by making it slightly larger, and making the train longer. I also added an elastic band to gather the train at the center back, which enabled the skirt to stretch over the feet while pulling it on. I picked a lighter weight cotton (probably quilting weight) for the second attempt, but the ribbon I chose for the waistband was still too bulky.
To go with the Edwardian style skirt, I wanted a shirt that was more bodice like. The shoulder strap sizing was a little off, and there was no good way to place snap or button closures.
Despite the problems with this shirt, I rather like it. I will be making an attempt to fix it in the future.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Hawthorne Family

When I visit Las Vegas, I almost always take a stroll through the Cesar Forum shops, usually to see if the clothing designers are doing anything interesting. Until it closed up or went into renovation, FAO Shwartz was part of my cycle through the mall. In December 2008 I noticed that they carried Calico Critters, and so I picked myself up the Hawthorne Family: Rusty, Cinnamon, Harry, and Tilley.
Unfortunately, I haven't seen any Calico Critters in FAO Shwartz since that time.