Knitting Patterns by Lyndell

Halter Neck Dress for Neo Blythes - here
Design your own Dress for Neo Blythes - here
Gum-Nut Hat for Neo Blythes - here

Who? What? eh?

This is the blog of a constant crafter - a 'showcase' for some of the things I make, some hints for crafting & recylcing - lots of photos and some words. I hope it will inspire.
Please Note: all photos are Copyright.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Christmas Time Teaser

I've been busy this weekend - can you guess what I've been making?

Now with those colours it is obviously something Christmassy ... and yes, the white organza ribbon gets to be frilly on the edges ...

 Nah - sorry, but this is not correct, I'm not making fancy little Christmas trees ...

If you are a Blythe doll person - keep an eye on my Etsy shop BlytheStar  to find out what these really are :-)

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Adventures in Restoring Dolls' Hair

There are many really wonderful customisers of Blythe dolls & I'm never going to be one of them - I'm far too scared of 'hurting' a doll and doing something terrible that can never be fixed!  But recently I have done some hair restoring for my dollies and this post will hopefully encourage and help others who might be as diffident about these things as I was / am.

A few months ago this cutie came to live with me - a Rosie Red BL Blythe.  Ruby is perfect in every way except that a previous owner had chopped into her hair and given her a rather wonky fringe (bangs).  She was still very cute but ...

so I researched all the Blythe Forums and thought that I could probably manage a partial re-root to restore Ruby's hairstyle.

But I was too scared to do the scalp removal myself especially as the BLs have a reputation of being difficult to scalp.  So I sent Ruby to the wonderfully knowledgeable Natalie to have day-surgery.

Meanwhile I bought some Saran doll hair - in the end from this on-line shop because the photos gave a decent idea of the colours.

I had decided to practice on my Dawn dolls ...
Glori & Dawn - Topper dolls from the 70s & 6" tall

 Glori's hair was terrible - Dawn probably never had much hair and was missing plugs.
Dawn's severe under-cut

For Dawn, I bought some "Honey Blonde" because I thought it looked pretty - it doesn't match her original hair but compliments it rather nicely (I think).  I don't really like Dawn's original hair colour - it looks almost green in some light!
Following some guidance from the web I started to "sew" hair into dawn's (now decapitated) head.

Thread up the needle with as much hair as you can get into the needle, stab into her head taking the needle out thru the neck, turn needle about and stab from the inside this time.  Pull tightish, and cut (leave it longer than you want it to be when trimmed properly).

Stabbing from the inside is more difficult to get accurate so when accuracy is required (i.e. the hairline at the front) do that with the 1st stab. 
Showing hair half-way through pulling thru after 2nd stab

  • It is like sewing as you go in and out of the head
  • It does feel rather ghoulish   
  • It isn't difficult 
  • But it is time consuming
  • Things can get messy.  Try to keep your hank of new hair neat & tidy!
You will need these tools:
  • A sharp needle - not too thick as you don't want to rip the plastic - you can buy special needles for doll's hair 
  • A thimble to push that needle through the plastic
  • Small scissors
  • Tweezers if you are removing old hair.

Here is Dawn almost done - a bit more hair needed on the left.  The Saran hair is stiff and wants to sit out - perhaps nylon would be better for these tiny dolls?

However, it does respond to hot water - the "boil perm" (more on that later)

Dawn with her new full head of hair & Honey Blonde "high-lights"

So, I could manage an easy partial re-root but Glori needed a whole new head of hair.
Glori showing the original plugs
First for the radical cut - and I found that putting her head on the end of a pencil was better than holding her face and potentially damaging her further.

Then I had to pull out the remaining hair without ripping big holes in the scalp - this is when you need the tweezers.  I must admit to leaving some in situ and it all fell out during the process of giving Glori new hair. 

Glori needed to stay a red-head but a nice red rather than the brassy carrot colour she was originally - I bought a lovely red called "Ruby Tuesday".

Through the re-rooting process Glori was quite a Wild Woman!!
 So much hair took me quite a while - she has a lot more hair in many more plugs than she did originally.

Her hair wasn't Glori's only problem, she had a lot of staining, including these biro? tattoos on her legs.

Glori's legs then ...

 Definitely Spa-Time for the little dolls ...

Bird (my LPS Blythe on an Obitsu body) has joined the Topper girls - They all have head-bands of soft (underwear) elastic to keep the hair in the correct place.

With head-bands on they've been dipped in nearly boiling water - just the tops of their heads.  You don't want to damage makeup or loosen the glue holding in LPS eyes or those wonderful Topper dawn eyelashes.

Dawn & Glori also have lots of stain-removing cream on.  It is acne cream from the chemist, the stuff with 10% hydrogen peroxide in it.  Not cheap but it works!
Glori's legs now - Wow!

Well Glori will need some more boil perms before her fringe sits flat - but she is looking a whole lot better than when she came to me.

So now it was time to pluck up my courage and work on Ruby's hair  ...

Natalie had done a great job of the scalpectomy, even retaining the flanges at the front :-)

Here you can see the inside of the scalp - the machining creates a chain stitch on the inside and you can see some of the glue, she had lots!

The chain stitch made it easy to remove the chopped hair - would be easy to go too far.  Reminded me of mending 1920's beaded dresses - the tambour work has that same chain on the wrong side and if you pull the thread it can all come undone!
Inside the scalp

Here is the scalp from the outside - the holes were very close along the part and there was a tiny amount of ripping.

"Deep Cherry"
When looking for hair for Ruby I got really confused by all the different shades of brunette - I bought some "Mahogany" and some "Deep Cherry".  The Mahogany didn't work with Ruby's original hair but the Deep Cherry was lovely - it is a blend and I thought this would give Ruby's hair some 'life'.

I used the same 'sewing' technique as I had for the little dolls - taking the hair from the outside in and then stitching through back to the outside.  Easier on a scalp than with the tiny head.  Most web sites talk of knotting the hair and things like that but ...
  • I'm lazy
  • I figured that this does get glued, and
  • Knots are bulky.
Here is the scalp - you can see where I've put lots of hair at the front - along the parting and I've been filling in a little.  This is about 90% finished - I used about 1.5 hanks of saran.

The Finished Scalp - untrimmed.  The blend of colours is certainly working in this photo!

 Now to glue it all back - firstly to get some of that old glue off Ruby's dome.  Used rough sandpaper and I think poor Ruby got quite a head-ache!

from the left - sandpaper, 1 side of dome sanded, the other side not!

I couldn't find the glue that Natalie suggested - had to go for the 2nd best "E6000" - it didn't smell too bad (or perhaps I'm just used to working with smelly products!)   I did a light smear of glue all over the inside of the scalp (thinking to keep all the hair nice and firm) and a smear on the dome, some in that grove where the flanges go - but not too much as I didn't want it oozing out there and getting on her hair!   Keeping her hair well away I lined up scalp & dome and put the 2 together and then the part that really looks scary!
To keep the scalp firmly in place while the glue dries most folk use thick rubber-bands but I have lots of elastic and safety pins ...

 Ruby decided to go to bed!
Wake me up when it is over!

Ruby now has plenty of stories to scare the other girls with -

Hey cat!  Wake up and admire my new hair!
Even before a trim and perm Ruby's hair looked great ...
She looks like a Rosie Red again and the join where scalp meets face-plate is almost unnoticeable - disappears in photos :-)
This join is probably the reason why so many Blythe dolls are made with fringes (bangs).
I'm very happy I went with the blended colour.

Lillian joined Ruby at the hair-dressers' - Lillian is getting her kiss-curls re-set, Ruby has an elastic head-band to hold her new hairs in place.  They've had their hair dipped in hot, almost boiling water with some nice smelling hair-conditioner in it and are waiting for it to dry.
And here are Lillian & Ruby about to go to the Halloween party together (I still haven't finished trimming Ruby's hair, the ends are not even and I'm still not brave!)

 One last bit of Ruby Spam :-)

Friday, 1 November 2013

Let them eat Cakes

My darling grandson recently turned 7 (heavens - seven!  where did those years go!!) his current fad is Star Wars ... so I said I would make him a Star Wars cake for his birthday.  Now this was one of those spur-of-the-moment things that instantly caused me some consternation as I am NOT into cake decorating ... not into fancy food making at all really.

But I hit the Googly-Web and found lots of photos and some instructions for an R2D2 cake - it seemed possible and looked the part so a bit of shopping later and into the kitchen ...

R2D2 is tall with a domed 'head' so obviously the cake would be in tiers - this is a basic butter cake recipe made in double quantities and divided into 3 parts.  Plain vanilla for the bottom layer is just out of the oven & still in the 6" tin, pink (because my grandson has a sister!) is flavoured with rose flovouring and will be the middle part and the chocolate flavour will be the 'head' and there is less of that.

I had found pair of cake tins designed to make a giant cupcake ... used the top half tin for the 'head' of R2D2 but it was too conical.

Joined the 3 cakes with strawberry jam and added R2D2's 'arms' on the side - these were a commercial brownie cake sliced in half as I really didn't feel like baking another cake!  One tip I picked up from my www research was to do a 'crumb coat'.  A layer of thinned out icing to even out the shapes (such as those swirly ridges from the giant cup-cake tin) and to stop the crumbs getting into the final coating of icing.

Really wish I'd known about crumb coats years ago!!

Once that was set I slathered the top coat of icing on.  Icing is really unhealthy stuff, being basically just butter + icing sugar!!!  On the shopping trip I had bought some black food colouring, it was very strong and the grey for R2D2's head was perhaps a little dark. 

Then I needed a 'fondant' or 'royal icing' for all the decorations - one that could be rolled and cut out in shapes.  Didn't want to use a commercial one as those often taste very strong (like marzipan) and children don't like that.   The same www site as above has a recipe for fondant icing that started with marshmallows ... Ok - that seemed possible and my hubby could eat all the pink ones but the recipes said to zap the marshmallows in a microwave oven and I don't have one of those.  So, I chopped up the 'mallows put them in a little saucepan with a very small amount of hot water, put the pan over gentle heat and lots of stirring until the 'mallows melted and kinda frothed up.  Then added the icing sugar and stirred like crazy ... it worked !! :-)  I had a fondant icing that I could roll out & cut into shapes - though you do need to oil or grease all the surfaces or it will stick.

Here is the finished R2D2 cake - I was very proud of it even though it has plenty of flaws and the children loved it.

 The children helped with the decorations, the red dot is a Smartie, the black details are that food colouring applied with a clean small paint-brush, the 'cameras' are a sour licorice lolly cut to size.
Back view - very plain there

from the top - not very accurate but fun!

Well - then I had lots of grey coloured icing left over and with Halloween coming up I decided to make some suitably Icky cup-cakes ...

Put lots of Banana Flavouring and Orange Colouring in the mixture  

Once cooked, I put some strawberry jam 'blood & guts' in the middle

Then grey icing and some choc sprinkles ... the decoration wasn't very imaginative but I was running out of time ...

Meanwhile, the Blythe Dolls were meant to be helping me by filling the lolly-bags for visiting Trick-or-Treaters.   Ruby & Lillian were working hard - but Audrey was up to tricks of her own!

Ruby is my new girl - she is a Rosie Red BL and came to me with a wonky hair-do - I've given her a partial re-root (more in my next post) ... Ruby can do a marvelous Morticia Addams impersonation (imdollation?) now.