Thursday, August 26, 2010

Clothing: A Different Approach

I joined Ravelry at some point in 2008, and rather quickly became entranced with the doll group. Well, my 'dolls' have always been Sylvanian Families (or stuffed animals), and crocheting them some clothing sounded like fun. My thought at the time was something like "they're so small, it'll be fast."

I found out that Kelly doll patterns are sized somewhere in between a kid and an adult Sylvanian Family member. (At least, that's what I recall.) So I started with Wendy Squires's pattern for a 'Ruffle Tank Top', and of course modified it in all sorts of ways to make it fit. Here is "Quick Rewards, #1", as I have called the project on Ravelry:
Holly in a seafoam green dress.
It was made in a size 10 thread with a 1.5mm crochet hook. I couldn't figure out how to close the back for the longest time. Then eventually I decided to make a chinese button knot. I found instructions on Chinese Knotting, and after numerous practice attempts with larger cord and many failed attempts with the size 10 thread, I eventually managed to create a button knot closure.
Chinese Button Knot Closure Button Knot up close.

The first dress went together so fast I moved onto "Quick Rewards, #2", an outfit for Fern Timbertop. I used Wendy Squires's "Victorian-Style Outfit", and again modified it. This time, however, I kept track of my modifications (more or less); they're written up in my project notes on Ravelry.
Fern Timbertop in Quick Reward #2

For "Quick Reward's, #3" I decided to try knitting instead of crochet. I pulled out the smallest needles I had (at the time), 000 (3-0), and some DMC Perle 12 thread, and attempted to make a pair of underwear using "Undies for Barbie" with the usual modification creativity for fit. Modifications are again listed in my project notes, but I was starting to keep better track of specifics by this point so they may actually be complete enough to duplicate this.
Sandy in underwear
I concluded from this project that I needed smaller needles, and I needed to use finer thread.

Rediscovery: Calico Critters

About 2 years ago now, I learned that Sylvanian Family figures were still being produced, but under the brand name Calico Critters. I also learned that instead of just bunnies and bears (and the occasional mouse or racoon) they now had all sorts of animals. Yay! (I also have a stuffed animal collection, that contains an ai, vampire bat, kiwi, kinkajou, and seadragon, to name a few.)

Well, I just had to get myself a few of these new critters.

Frogs! (I have a fondness for the color green.)

The babies have jointed limbs! (Sooo much easier to dress.)

Since then I've been drawn into collecting. My resistance has been pretty good so far, but it's rapidly dissolving (meerkats!).

My Early Wardrobe

These are examples of some of the clothes I made for my Sylvanian Families back when I was approximately 12 or something.

Simple skirts from trim and lace, as described in the prior post:

In the picture below, Prissy (on the far left) is wearing another simple skirt, and a felt vest. Daisy has on a ridiculous hat I made, a simple shawl, and her skirt is simply a gathered rectangle of fabric (since she doesn't have a tail, it doesn't even have a snap). Bud and Bubba are wearing a couple attempts at pants. Bud is also wearing a cape (or maybe it was originally supposed to be an apron, I don't actually remember).

The baby crew. They are nearly all wearing more attempts at pants; these attempts at pants were based on the (now) standard baby outfit. Hoss, on the far right, is wearing my attempt to duplicate the clothing he came with. I also let my brother draw on the front of it.

Grandma Timbertop wearing another simple skirt (made from slightly wider lace). I'm not quite sure what I was attempting for Bobby Bear.

In the following picture Prissy is wearing an overall dress. It's still a piece of gathered lace for the skirt. Then a piece of braid was sewn on top of the lace for a waist band, and two pieces were sewn on as overall straps. In the center front a small piece of flat lace (binding lace probably) was stitched on between the straps. Coral, second from the right, is wearing a combination skirt and vest: its a small piece of bias binding with two armholes cut out for a vest, and a narrow piece of lace is sewn along the bottom edge of the vest. Daisy is wearing one of my pants attempts using binding lace; the lace makes it look like underwear.

Quick and Easy Clothes

I've always made clothes for my Sylvanian Families, as far back as I can remember anyway. I had an entire cookie tin full of clothes for them. Now that I look back at the clothes I made, I wonder why I didn't do a better job with my sewing, but at the time I was mostly just happy to have several changes of outfits for each critter. (Or rather, each girl had a handful of outfits, and the boys only had a couple; I never did figure out how to sew a pair of pants for them when I was young.)

So how do you expand their wardrobe in a quick and easy way? Pre-gathered trim, ribbons or binding lace, elastic, and fabric markers. And the smallest snaps or hooks-and-eyes you can find.

All my skirts were formed from pre-gathered trim. Here's an example. Take a piece of pre-gathered (cotton) eyelet trim: (This is actually the inside of the finished skirt, but it shows the type of trim.)
Now take some fabric markers and decorate the front side of the lace. (This should be the side that naturally bulges out.) If you can't find fabric markers (the ones I had were basically a felt tip permanent pen) Sharpie markers would probably work; just make sure whatever you use is permanent and doesn't bleed when it gets damp.

If desired, take a narrow piece of lace and attach on top of the eyelet trim along the waist (the gathered side). Then sew on a hook on one edge of the lace and an eye on the other; or use snaps. And that's it; you now have a new skirt:
If you want to finish the edges off so they don't fray constantly, turn under each end of the lace about 1/8" (1/8 inch) and stitch down; do this before sewing the snaps or hooks on. I didn't bother when I was young, and the edges on many of the skirts definitely suffered.

But she's topless! Many of the clothes the sister critters come with also suffer from this problem. I gave all my girls shawls. Nothing so fancy (or nice) as Grandma Timbertop's shawl, but they did get shawls. This was the basic shawl I made for them:
Its a length of picot ribbon, with a snap on each end to close it after wrapping around their neck. This was one of my 'fancier' ones, and has a blue thread woven through the picots to add some color.

What about the boys? Well, as I mentioned earlier, I was never successful at making them pants (not that I didn't try), but I did make them jackets (vests, really). Take a piece of basic white elastic, cut a couple holes for their arms, and decorate with fabric markers.
If they are modern day figures and can rotate their arms back, then you don't really need the stretchiness of the elastic. Take a piece of felt (or bias tape or ribbon) and cut a rectangle and some arm holes. On this one I also trimmed an angle by the throat:

These methods formed the basis for most of my entire early wardrobe.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Early Years

I've taken pictures of my early collection in their original clothing. The clothing is a little worn down; the boys overalls are disintegrating, and the girls skirts have (mostly) lost their straps.

Various members of the Timbertops, Babblebrooks, and Wildwoods formed the early part of my collection. I'm pretty sure Fern Timbertop was one of the first members; she doesn't have her glasses on in the picture.
Hoss and Prissy formed a fourth 'family' when I was playing with them, and were both the last members of my early collection (if I recall correctly).

At some point between the beginning and the end of the early years I picked up a couple Maple Town figures as well.

And apparently I managed to convince someone (probably my parents) to buy me a couple extra outfits as well. I have a feeling the blue and red overalls and the pink lace dress were Maple Town items, but I could be wrong. They both have velcro closures like the known Maple Town clothing, and all the early Sylvanian Family clothing closures were snaps. Patty is in her underwear, which is hard to see in the other picture. Prissy has put on a red skirt; although now that I look at it more carefully, it looks like a piece of trim with a snap attached.