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Plain to Pretty Black Umbrella Makeover

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Catching Up – A New Friend

I made one special purchase last month.  It was something that I think will have an incredibly positive and wide sweeping effect on my life.

A doll.

Okay I know that sounds crazy, and that I have several dolls already, most of which you can see here.  But this is no ordinary doll.  It’s the kind I have been seeking out for years.  The one perfect doll for me, that has all the qualities I have been looking for in a doll.  At least it will when I finish working on it. 

It’s a ball jointed doll or bjd.  Here’s a site that gives a ton of information about bjds in case you’ve never heard of them.  They are lovely well made dolls that come in a variety of sizes, pose really well, and can be customized to be almost anything you want them to be.  They are also really expensive though, some cost well over $1000.  Luckily I found one I like for considerable less than that.  I bought it at the Junky Spot, a great site by the way.  They sell all kinds of these dolls and accessories for them. 

Junkyspot box

My doll showed up only a few days after I ordered it in this huge box.  I actually waited a day before opening because I wanted to do it at just the right moment.

Fragile notice

I thought the fragile labels on the box were cute and hilarious.  I wonder what the UPS delivery person thought when they saw this.

Hello Kitty box cutter

Ready to open it up.  I finally found a good use for this Hello Kitty box cutter.  Isn’t it cute?  I found it at an Asian supermarket nearby me.  It was on sale too.

Inside the Box

Inside the box, and inside another box, and wrapped in bubble wrap is my doll wrapped in a cushion.  But before unwrapping her I had to check out these…

Fun Freebies

…Freebies!  I heard in reviews that when you order something from Junky spot, there are always a few random little goodies stashed in the box.  I got a Hello Kitty phone charm, a doll size pair of dice, a small strange pink figure, a pack of fang shaped candies and a My Little Pony mini-comic pack.  The tiny bag in the middle of the photo is supposed to come with the doll.  It’s her eyes, along with some putty to stick them in with.  I actually lucked out with them because they are supposed to be a random color and I got blue ones in the exact shade of blue I wanted anyway.

My New Doll!

And here is my doll, fresh from her packaging.  She is a Mystic Kids Evelyn with no face up.  For those who don’t know, a face up is basically all the painting and such on a doll’s face.  Many bjds don’t come with them unless you are willing to pay extra.  The same with clothes and wigs.  Most of time you get them naked, except Mystic Kids apparently sends them out with some underwear which is nice.

New BJD in her First Dress

Here she is mostly dressed.  I whipped up this dress for her before she arrived because I wanted to have something to put on her immediately.  It’s one of the pillowcase dresses I’ve made before.  It’s simple and easy to fit which was important since I didn’t know what would fit her.

BJD Head Close up

A close up of her “face”.  The shape of her face is quite nice and versatile.  She will look great when she is finally done.  I just need to find a wig that works and work up the nerve to paint her face.  From what I’ve read, face ups can be tricky the first time you try and some of the supplies used can be hazardous to humans.  I’m considering commissioning someone more experience to do it for that reason alone. 

Mystic Kids Evelyn Card

Here’s a cute card the doll also came with.  It shows the default face up done by the company, looks cute right?  The backside has a place to put her name and birthday, kind of like a doll birth certificate. 

Speaking of names, I haven’t mentioned hers yet.  I decided to name my doll Hikaru.  I really like the name, but I won’t say why here.  That’s because I mentioned in my last post that I have a special surprise.  It’s a new blog!  I created a special new blog for my doll.  The catch is that it’s her blog.  Hikaru the doll will be writing the posts for it, with help from me of course. 

Please check it out here:

From a Doll's Eyes

And with that I am finished catching up.  So now I will be posting stuff that’s a little bit fresher.  Look forward to it!

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Catching Up – A Wee Bit of Online Shopping

This post may contain affiliate links, check my disclosures page for more info.  Thanks!

As a former tax preparer, I have a tendency to get my taxes done fairly early compared to most people.  Mainly because when working as a preparer, if you don’t get them done early you may have trouble finding the time to do them yourself and on time.  Plus what self-respecting tax preparer would even think of letting someone else do their taxes for them.  All this means is I filed my taxes and received my modest but decent sized tax refund in a timely matter. 

Now what did I do with my refund?  I invested some of it by buying bonds, and put some of it toward paying off debt, and some of it went to savings.  The rest went towards some items on my wish list.  Just a few things I have been eyeing for a while and thought would be useful to have for Spring as well as the rest of the year.

First off, you may have notice in the picture at Phoenix Comicon (see Catching Up - Conventions Anyone?) I’m carrying a white parasol.  I sort of made it myself, specifically for the con and for Spring.

Triangle Shipping Box

It start out as a white umbrella from World Import Co. on eBay.  It costs $16.99 with free shipping.  It came in just a few days in this cool triangle box.  I wanted to keep it but I somehow couldn’t think of a good use for it.  Such a shame.

White Umbrella

Anyway, here’s the umbrella along side some bubble wrap, yay bubble wrap!  This umbrella is the “parasol” style, so it has a ruffle on the bottom.

Umbrella Handle

I mainly bought it for the white color and this handy hook shaped handle.  They come in other colors that were tempting, but I just stuck with the white.  Still, it would be interesting to have a pink umbrella.  The thing is that the handle is a tad thicker than I was expecting.  Thicker does mean less likely to break which is good, but it also means slightly harder to hold.  At least it does with my small hands.  It’s just something I have to get use to.

Umbrella End

I do like the pointed end though, it’s one of the things I look for when buying umbrellas.  It just looks really nice and gives the umbrella a certain vintage touch.

Ruffle Close Up

The ruffle is pretty okay, it adds a sweet touch and saves me time since I was planning on adding a ruffle anyway.

Umbrella Close Up

The thing that really concerned me was the sheerness of the material.  I wanted to use this umbrella for both rain and shine.  If it’s too sheer will it offer enough sun protection?

Applying Lace to Umbrella

That problem was easy to fix.  I had originally planned to add just a little lace trim, but instead I completely covered it with row upon row of pretty and water resistant lace.  It took quite a bit of time, but it was so worth it.

Finished Parasol

Here’s the results.  I forgot to take a picture immediately after finishing, this one was taken after using it for several weeks.  The problem with white is that it is so easy to get it dirty.  Oh well, at least it’s pretty.

Package from Rose Boutique

I also bought a new petticoat, my other was dying on me.  It actually fell flat on me almost immediately after this one arrived, maybe out of jealousy?  I found the new one on Amazon, sold by Rose Boutique for $25 including the shipping cost.  They shipped it out quickly.  It was estimated to arrive in about 10 days, but it came early so when I got it I didn’t know what it was.  It came in this really tiny package. 

Wrapped Petticoat

I still didn’t know what it was when I opened the package until I read the included washing instructions.  I thought that was helpful at least.

New A-line Petticoat

Behold the unwrapped poufy petticoat.  It expanded like crazy after I unwrapped it.  It’s a 50’s style petticoat, so it has a bit of an a-line shape to it.  A little too a-line sadly for my use, but I was able to easily alter it to give it a softer and rounder shape.  Now it’s perfect and it cost a fraction of what similar shaped ones would have cost me to buy/make.

Package from Bodyline

I also bought a couple of blouses I’ve been eyeing from Bodyline. The total came to 5,998 Japanese Yen with free shipping, which comes to about $25 each.  Considerably more than what I usually pay for clothing, but they were worth it.

Bodyline Bags

They came wrapped in these cute red bags.  I saved them because they were so cute, I think they would be useful for organizing accessories or even paperwork.

Bodyline l076 Blouse

The first one is this short sleeved blouse.  It has beading lace on the collar and down the front, rose shaped lace down the front too, and faux pearl buttons.  It also has lacing on the back to give it a fitted look which is nice.  I found the wide crochet lace on the collar and sleeves a bit awkward the first time I wore it, but now I love them.  I bought it in a size medium and it fits okay except its slightly too big at the shoulders.  I’ll take it in eventually, but for now it’s okay.

Bodyline L108 Blouse

I also got this long sleeved blouse. It has some of the same types of lace as the short sleeved blouse which is so great, but there are a few problems.  It has the same fitting issue as the short sleeved blouse, the lacing on the back isn’t quite as nice looking, and then there’s the buttons.

Bodyline blouse upclose

First one of them actually snapped off when I simply tried on the blouse, possibly the result of damage during shipping.  It did come with one spare button, just one though.  The first time I wore the blouse a second button snapped off.  Luckily the buttons were definitely not my favorite part, now it will be easier to just switch them out for nicer buttons.  Otherwise I still really like both blouses.

There actually is one other thing I purchased over the last few months, but I’m saving that for another post because it involves a special surprise.  Look forward to it. :)
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Catching Up – Conventions Anyone?

Last month I went on my usual yearly pilgrimage to that most sacred haven for those of us who are truly passionate about our hobbies and interests.
Phoenix Comicon 2015 program guide cover
Phoenix Comicon.
This was my third year attending, and probably the best yet.  Of course this was mostly due to proper planning.  There were plenty of things to do to make this year successful. Some of the things that helped:
  • Bringing food and water – My friends and I packed bentos the night before, both so we wouldn’t have to pay outrageous prices for the food there and because it was just more fun.
  • A Parasol – This is a must for me. Since this event is always in the summer in Arizona to boot, and since there are some events that are outside, it helps to have portable shade such as an umbrella or parasol.  Plus a parasol matches my outfit well.
  • A fan – Because sometimes having shade isn’t enough. It helps to have a portable breeze too.  I found a pretty floral print fan at SAS for about $2 for this purpose.  Works great and still matches my outfit.
  • A cute tote bag – Even if you go in traveling light, you probably won’t leave that way especially if you stop by the vendors hall.  I had a cute Hello Kitty foldable shopping bag for this.
  • Pen and notebook – It does help to have something to write with or on. Good for jotting down info from a panel or writing notes in the guidebook about what you want to do.  Even getting contact info from new friends.
  • A sweater – The paradox of Arizona summers, blistering heat outside, frigid air conditioning inside.  I kept a pink cardigan in my bag just in case, and I did use well.
  • A sewing kit – This came in handy the night before, you’ll see why.
  • The Padawan Room – This is something I found in the guide. A special room setup for families with small children to relax. My friends brought their adorable now 6 month old baby boy this year, so this room was indispensible for us.
And of course what really helped was extra planning on outfits.  For starters…
Superhero dress and matching tote bag
…dealing with this one.  My friend asked me to make her this dress to wear.  It’s made with a cute print featuring Super Girl, Bat Girl, and Wonder Woman. Perfect for Comicon.  It ties at the straps both to make it cute and to make it easier for my friend to feed her son.  And of course it has pockets, she loves those.  The problem came when she tried it on the night before.  It somehow ended up a little too big for her.  That’s why dress rehearsals are necessary.  I had plenty of time to take it in for her. In addition to the dress, I made a matching tote bag and…
Superhero accessories
…accessories! Hair clips and wrist bands.  The wrist bands help with the super hero theme. 
A-line teal blue dress with ribbons
Now here’s what I wore.  It has an A-line skirt made from a pattern I drafted myself and the bodice came from a pattern for a top I really liked. 
Dress neckline closeup
It has lace running down the front seams and across the neckline as well as along the scalloped hem.  The look is complete with a wide ribbon sash as the waistline and match ribbon bows.  It was super difficult to decide on a color for the ribbon, especially with the strange color of the fabric.
close up of scallop hem
Funny thing about the dress, it’s known as my “Spring Dress”.  I had originally planned to make it as my Easter dress, but didn’t finish it in time.  I was literally working on it the night before Easter Sunday.  I decided then to just wear something else, since staying up all night to finish was possible but sleep was more important.  I eventually finished it and that’s all that matters.
Ribbon rose and lace headband
Of course I had to make some accessories to match.  Here’s the pretty head band made with the rest of the ribbon as well as some eyelet lace and a couple of faux pearls.  I had some trouble because I couldn’t remember how to make ribbon roses.  I managed to figure it out, after much trial and error.  The pearls were a bit of an after thought, but ended up being absolutely essential.
Comicon Selfie
Here’s a worn shot taken in a hotel restroom, classy I know.  You can see that I also made a couple of faux pearl bracelets and a necklace to complete the look.  I layered the necklace with my cameo necklace for a shall we say dressier look.  I actually also added a vintage pearl broach to my headband for the same reason.  Lots of pearls that day.  I was wearing a pair of simple lace gloves too.  I got them at SAS a few months ago and have worn them several times.  All that wear caught up with them and one of the fingers busted on me, which is why I’m just wearing the bracelets in the photo.  It pays to have extra accessories on hand.  It came in handy while getting dressed that morning too.  I had packed a lot more accessories and extra shoes and socks just in case my first choices didn’t work.
Dark Horse Comics promotional materials
Enough about clothes, time for some goodies.  There were tons of stuff to see at the vendors hall.  Of course I didn’t leave empty handed.  From Dark Horse Comics I got a free comic from Free Comic Book Day, a cute poster, a mini-pin and some information about their scheduled events.  Super practical.
Christopher Lee pin and card
There was this artist who made these cute mini-pins he was actually giving away for free while selling his prints.  I actually had to ask because I found it so surprising.  Anyway, his pieces are really cool and some of them are so cute.  You can check them out at his website at
lace choker gift
One the biggest surprises, while I was wandering by myself I found this booth that had cute baby and kids t-shirts that I knew my friends would love for their son.  I let them know where it was, and while I was waiting for them a woman from the booth just gave me this necklace.  She commented on my outfit and said this would probably match something I own.  It’s true, with a little altering this would look perfect with several of my dresses.  Of course I thanked her and my friends showed up and bought several of the cute t-shirts.  Sadly I couldn’t get a business card or anything from them.  Pity.
Orange grab bag
Now for stuff I actually bought.  I have a thing for grab bags.  The mystery of what could possibly be inside, at bargain prices no less, plus the surprise when you open it.  It has definite appeal.  Of course they can be hit or miss.  This first one was mostly and miss for me.  Everything in it was orange, orange is probably my least favorite color.  There’s a pair of fake glasses, an interesting crown head band, a panda hat and a duck shaped silicon change purse.  That last one is actually pretty cute. The rest I can either sell or give away as gifts/prizes.  Hmm, do I smell a giveaway?
MLP grab bag
The second grab bag was a definite hit, it was also the least expensive one so a real plus.  It was wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper and said it was for girls.  Inside was a MLP mini-tote bag, a keychain from an anime series I don’t quite recognized, a MLP pin that is probably fan made, and a tube of Lip Smackers lip balm.  Super cute!
Overall this was a super fun con, and I can not wait until next year.
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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Christmas At Last?

Now I know this post is a little late (nearly 7 months!!), but better late than never.  And what better way to take our minds off the heat of summer than by browsing through something a little more wintery, right?
As I said in my last post, oh so long ago, I decided to make all Christmas presents and such only from materials I had on hand at the time, spending absolutely no money.  It worked, a little too well.  The fact is that my craft stash was and probably still is fairly well stocked, it just makes things too easy.  I would love to say that this has inspired me greatly and that I haven’t bought any new supplies since December in order to further use up my stash and work my creative muscles, but I can’t since I have only realized all this now. Several months later.  But enough of this, time for the crafts.
First off, the ornaments.  Every year, for who knows how many years, I always make some sort of ornaments.  Nothing says holiday cheer like a homemade ornament, so last Christmas was no exception.  I actually made two sets of ornaments.  Both made from Christmas-y print fabrics I got for free from church along with some ribbons and cords.
Fabric Yo-Yo Christmas Ornments with Bells
This first set was similar to the ones from the previous year(see Yo-Yos and Buttons) except for these I added little bows and jingle bells.
The second set of ornaments were a bit different.  I learned how to make little kanzashi flowers and thought they would be perfect for ornaments.  They are just as fun and easy to make as the yo-yos, but one difference.  For yo-yo ornaments I only need to make two yo-yos for each one, but for the kanzashi ornaments I need to make six petals to form one.
kanzashi petals sewn
It came to making about 138 of these little folded and sewn petals…
Kanzashi Christmas Ornaments
…To make these 23 finished ornaments.  They were well received though most of the recipients thought they were poinsettias.  That actually makes them perfect for Christmas.
Dalmation and Fire Truck Blanket
Remember the cute baby blankets and such I made for my friends (See Sewing for Baby)?  A certain little boy thought the cute fabric would be perfect for a blanket for him.  And since I had plenty left over, he got this larger size blanket for Christmas.
Pretty Floral Print Zippered Pouch
For a certain little girl, I made this pretty pouch for her to keep things like lip balm.  It’s made from scraps from the two dresses I made earlier last year (see Time for Some Catching Up).  It came out better than I thought it would, mainly because of the zipper.  Zippers still are a total pain for me, but thankfully I’ve improved with them over the years enough so they aren’t something to be feared.  I guess that’s saying something.
Faux Fur Collar
I’m particularly proud of this one, a vintage style collar.  It’s made from scraps leftover from the teddy bear and jacket I made along with that baby blanket.  I kind of eyeballed the pattern a little, managed to luck out.  I actually have been wanting to make one for myself since I still have enough fabric leftover, just not right now.  It hit 111 degrees the other day.  Maybe this Christmas.
Vintage Style Button Hair Clip
To go along with the collar, I made this pretty hair clip.  It’s made similarly to the broaches I made in my tutorial years ago (see Button Broach: A Tutorial). It’s actually very fitting since I bought the fan shaped button with the buttons I used then.  I just hadn’t found a use for it.  The only difference is I added the chocolate brown bow on the front…
Vintage Style Button Hair Clip backside
…And glued a clip instead of a pin back on the back.  That and my gluing is probably a lot neater looking, thankfully.  I guess it means I’ve improved since then.
Lined Dice Bag
Here’s something not so vintage looking but still unique.  It’s a dice bag and it’s fully lined.  I used some fabric remnants I got in a baggie from a thrift store some time ago.  I meant to use them for some previous projects but never did sadly.  The red pinstripes give the bag a sophisticated grown-up look, however the pattern on the lining has a different effect.  I won’t reveal what that is, that is strictly for the owner’s enjoyment. 
Cute Plaid Ruffled Top and Skirt
Now a little something for myself.  I got a great deal on some of this cute plaid material from a thrift store (see Bagging It On Black Friday), and I thought it would be perfect for something to wear for the holiday season as well as year round.  I couldn’t decide to make a dress or a skirt so I sort of did both.  I made a skirt and matching top, so I can wear them together for a “dress” look or just skirt or top with other pieces.  So far I’ve done just that almost every month since December. Very versatile indeed.
So now Christmas is done, but I’ve still got several months to catch y’all up on.  So much has happened with so much stuff sewn. It’ll have to be covered in several posts.  Look forward to it! Smile
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