Jim and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary on March 16th. No cake. I have discovered the best recipe in the world for chocolate chip cookies. I make up a batch but only bake six every other day for three days. They are thick, crisp and chewy. They are wonderful and they are large so one per person is enough. I have to hide the other three for the second night to keep me from getting into them. Well, it’s better than baking up a three-dozen regular sized cookies that will only last one day around this crowd.
I finally had to make that fancy jacket that I messed up last week. The last Elf is Goldie. The jacket is a Renaissance style men’s jacket but my little girl Elf loves it. It is fully lined with a pale yellow silk. The jacket is a bit fiddly to make this small but would be lovely and easier to make if the size was doubled. It would fit a 15 or 16 inch doll. I am not planning to include this vest it in the pattern for the Elves because it would require dozens of photos and text to describe making it. But for those of you who are adventurous, click here to download the pattern. I adopted it from a wonderful book called Patterns for Theatrical Costuming, subtitled Garments, Trims and Accessories from Ancient Egypt to 1915 by Katherine Strand Holkeboer. It is published by Costume and Fashion Press, New York. It is available from Amazon.com and other online booksellers.
I spent three days designing and making a fancy vest for a seven-inch Elf. I need my head examined! Yesterday I decided to spend some time looking through several of my costuming books and found a renaissance jerkin that would do nicely. Elvin folk don’t mind mixing styles and even centuries. I draped the little guy’s upper torso to make the pattern and, as I was “truing it up,” I realized that as long as I was using a non-woven fabric (ultra-suede) I didn’t have to think about grain lines. This means that I can make this up as a one-piece pattern! A “simple” Mimi pattern. Now that’s an oxymoron!
Sorry I missed a couple of days. I had a bit of family stress to deal with and a jacket for “Fancy Pants” that didn’t work out.
The elf I am trying to dress is called “Fancy Pants” because he is wearing “pansied slops” (Shakespeare pants). Over time this was simplified to “slops.” These are the pants worn by men in the mid to late 16th century (Elizabethan times). They were worn over canions, extensions (fabric tubes) from slops to knees, then stockings that were tied above the knee with ribbon “garters.” I made tights to simulate both of these. The slops were stuffed, usually with the torn garments of the men whom they defeated in duels. When they were lengthened almost to the knees they were called breeks (or breeches).
I got interrupted several times yesterday and didn’t get this elf finished.
Cassi has three pet white mice. It all began while she and her mom were living in Virginia last summer. Her mother had a small (about two feet long) bald python. Snakes don’t eat at easily predictable times, so Lunch became James (named for Harry Potter’s father), because when Cassi got bored, not knowing any kids in the area, she began to train the mouse. He is a really cute pet; she bathes him often and keeps the cages clean. He rides on her hat when she goes outdoors or rides in the car, especially to PetSmart to pick up bedding material, food and toys…
She also has two females who need separate cages because they are not friends. James is not allowed in their cages because we don’t want more mice. This drivel is background about why I got interrupted yesterday afternoon. It seems that Alice’s cheek began to grow and it looked like she had mumps. (Bella is the other female. Can you tell Cassi is a great Twilight fan now?) Cassi was so distraught as it continued to grow that she convinced her grandmother to pay for a visit to the animal hospital. She made the appointment herself. It turns out Alice has an abscess. The Vet drained it a bit and now Cass has to give Alice antibiotics (via syringe) twice a day until she is better or not. This visit cost $127!!!!!! For a mouse that cost $2! Anyway that is why this little guy is not yet dressed.
I plan to make him a tight fitted jacket with a short peplum. His tights are called cannons and over that pansied slops (“Shakespeare pants”) as they were called back in the 15th century. Because the jacket will be fitted I don’t want any bulk; so instead of a shirt I just gave him sleeves. The jacket will be sleeveless with a sleeve cap over the shoulder. So this little nameless and half-dressed Elf is today’s photograph.
I thought I would call this elf Verdi, or some other word meaning green, since he is dressed mostly in green velveteen and cotton with some leather accents. However, when I plopped the crocheted wig cap of red/orange mohair on his head he became Padriac. I’ll call him Pat or Paddy for short. His boots and legging straps are made from a pale faun colored leather. I reversed the leather and used the suede side for his vest. The vest closure is made up of several beads to look like buttons. I decided he didn’t need or want a hat. Maybe I should give him a pot of gold so he can attract a rainbow to hide it behind.
I have the time for dressing one of these little guys down to about 7 or 8 hours. I have a lot less studio time these days now that I am a full-time mom again. Jim and I have temporary custody of great-granddaughter Cassi. Her mom, Chris, is my natural granddaughter. Jim and I adopted her when she was eleven years old. So she is his daughter, but both my daughter and granddaughter, which makes her her mother’s sister and her own aunt! Cassi has figured out that she is her own first cousin and her own second cousin. What can I tell you? I’m from the South.
Chris is in rehab trying to get healthy again. This could take some time… Cassi is twelve years old and in 6th grade. The only part that is really difficult is having to get up at 5:40 each morning to get a good breakfast into her and drive her to school. I didn’t realize how much her mom took care of until she was no longer doing it. This is the fourth time I am going through puberty!!! I always said little girls should be locked in a closet at 11 and not let out until 17 or 18 when they become human again. Talk about PMS… I had forgotten they have it 24/7!
I try to get into the studio around 9 AM. I drop Cassi at school at 7:20, come home, clean up the kitchen, start the laundry, then have breakfast myself. I can get a few hours work in until I have to pick her up at 3:15. (She stays an extra hour for private tutoring. She fell way behind due to emotional stress for a couple of months but is beginning to bring her grades back where they used to be. I expect she will be back on the honor roll by the end of the term.) Often I can get another couple of hours in after dinner is cleared up. My bedtime is between 11 and midnight so I am sleep deprived. I live for the weekends when I can sleep in until 7:30 and get two full days work in the studio before Monday morning arrives again.
I hope to have these little guys all dressed by the end of the week so I can get back to photographing and documenting the naked guy (Mimi’s Nude Male Sculpture) and finish the re-shoot for the Needle- Modeling a Pretty Face DVD. Then I have to make heads for two different fellows I call Stud Muffins and a “Bo-Jangles” figure I call And All that Jazz. I also have the High Priestess in progress. I had to stop work on her months ago and put her lower on the priority list. I Hope to have it all done by early June.
I wish some of my readers would ask questions about cloth dollmaking or designing that I can answer. It’s hard to come up with new stuff to talk about every day.
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I just finished Elf number four (Robin). While I was making his faux leather vest I realized that his shirt was too bulky, and a lining in his vest would have made this little guy look like a stuffed chocolate truffle. I decided to see if I could use leather techniques on this fabric. It worked great. The same techniques can be used on leather, faux leather (microfiber suede, deer skin, doe skin, etc.) and even felt. It works well on any heavy fabric that doesn’t ravel at the edges.