Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Shoes for the Dollies

I have been working on some new shoes for my dolls. I think Imelda Marcos would be jealleous...

Friday, March 27, 2009

How long does it take to make a German Doll?

I get this question a lot. So I thought I should devote one of my blog entries to it.

Often people will ask me if there is a discount when they buy more than one of my dolls. Then I have to tell them that making a Waldorf style doll takes many hours of work. Most of the work is done by hand. If you know how to sew or have ever attempted the task of making a cloth doll from scratch you may know how hard it is, and how much labor goes into the production of a single doll.
Aside from the fact that the materials I use are high quality, hard to come buy, and mostly shipped to me from faraway places because I cannot buy them at the local store - the price of a Waldorf style doll is mostly explained through the many hours of labor that go into it. Here is a list of the many steps it takes to make a doll:

1. Washing every piece of fabric and materials that goes into the dolls, ironing: 1 hour
2. Tracing and cutting out the body from interlock fabric: 20 minutes
3. Making a shaped doll head : 40 minutes
4. Sewing and turning the body: 30 minutes
5. Stuffing the body: 45 minutes
6. Sewing on legs, arms, head: 1 hour
7. Embroidering the face, putting on blusher: 30 minutes
8. Making the hair/wig, sewing it to the head: 1 - 1.5 hours
9. Making the doll clothes: 1-1.5 hours
10. Putting on final touches: 30 minutes
Total: 8 hours

Of course each doll is different. Depending on the clothes and what hairstyle, the production time may vary. But when you look at my list, please understand that I cut no corners. Whether I make 1 or 10 dolls the labor remains the same. Maybe I can save a few minutes if I trace and cut 10 doll bodies and make a number of heads at once. My husband and children find it quite amusing whenever I am having a “ head making day.”
To turn out a high-quality German Doll I must put in at least 8 hours of labor per doll. It also takes time to order and search out materials. After a doll is finished it has to be put on my virtual “store shelf.’ Taking pictures and listing an item is one more step not included on my list. Getting it to the customer all wrapped up and pretty another…
So really when you consider all the hours of labor that go into one of my sweet dolls, my asking price does not seem all that high any more. I have to pay myself at least minimum wage to continue…
Each doll is a little work of art. I enjoy the process of creating each little personality.
I tremendously enjoy being able to stay at home with my kids. I also like being my own boss, manager, advertising agent, photographer, shipper, wrapper, accountant, and and and….

It sure beats working at Walmart…

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Cutest Little Chicken...

I received another shipment of the cutest Kawaii fabric in the mail this week. OMG! I am really addicted now! One of the fabrics had these cute little chicks hatched from their eggs. I had this blond blue eyes baby doll sitting in my drawer. She is so sweet but I had not quite figured out what dress to put her in. Poor little darling all naked and waiting for some clothes. When I saw the fabric I knew she must be clad in it.

Now she is the perfect Easter Baby Doll ! In her pocketdress she carries a white Pocketdoll. The Wee baby perfectly matches the white eggs on the dress. But be careful with that white velour. I thought I should wear gloves while working with it. Every speck of lint shows on
Well, my hard work was rewarded. This baby found new owner in less than 24 hours of being listed in my etsy shop.Are you surprised?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Best Sewing Machine Ever. Or Ode to my Bernina

Oh, I cannot tell the many ways in which a good sewing machine makes the life of a seamstress better. I struggled for 5 years with various machines. One was DH's grandma's hand-me-down, an old Singer from the sixties. I loved it simply because it came from his dear old grandma and a lot of good memories were tied to it. But one day we tried to make sofa cover out of sailcloth with that poor old machine. Bad idea! It died instantly.
After that experience I started looking for a new model to cherish. Soon enough a friend came along and offered to sell me her new(er) Singer machine. Wow, for 150$ I got a Singer Millennium including every attachment you could ever think of. It was fun - for a while.
But when you are a professional and spend 3-4 hours a day sewing let me give you a piece of advice. Don't try to safe money when it comes to your most important tool! Get yourself a good work horse. I am not much of a computer person. I wanted a good, solid, mechanical machine. Not a fancy computerized one. So my first trip was to the Library to do some research on sewing machines. Unfortunately I cannot remember the title of this wonderful book that I found. But it was something cheesy like: How to choose and buy a sewing machine. With the help of the book I was able to figure out what I needed. The book also had great tips on how to set up your machine, and how to take care of it so it won't break again.

I played with the idea of buying an old industrial type machine. Lots of praises were sung about those. I looked at various models for sale on Ebay and etsy. My husband was wringing his hands. Honey, why would you buy someone else's problem? Just get yourself a good new machine from a reputable store in the area where we live. Well, I hate to say it. But as usual, the man was right. He gave me the best advice of all. In the end I went to a local dealer and bought a Bernina 1008. I absolutely love it! It runs as smooth as butter. Over are the days of cursing like a sailor or washerwoman...I am a much happier person. I can rely on this Swiss miracle every day! It has never given me any trouble whatsoever!
It works well on all kinds of fabrics I use for my doll clothes. I work with cotton, flannel, linen, and velour. The velour fabric used to cause the worst problems. The Singer Millennium would get clogged up and eat my fabric ALL the time.
The Bernina is like fine Swiss watch. I did not know that sewing could be so much fun and easy until I bought this machine. Gone are the days of running to the repair shop because of tension problems...Gone are sad days of not being able to get to your custom orders because of a broken machine
If you love sewing: Spend the money and buy a Bernina! And I swear they did not pay me to say those things!

Happy Sewing,
Your German Dollmaker

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Kawaii Fabrics...

So check out this adorable green mushroom dress! I made the dress of a Japanese Fabric ordered recently on etsy. I hear they are also called Kawaii fabrics. I found the following definition of the word "kawaii" on Wikipedia in an article on Cuteness in Japanese culture:

" Kawaii is a Japanese term which means "cute". Cuteness (kawaisa) seems to be a highly valued aesthetic quality in Japanese society and particularly Japanese pop culture, and overpowering cuteness seems to carry less of the stigma of infantilization as it does in many other cultures. Kawaii is pronounced Ka-wa-ee (not to be confused with "kowai", Ko-wai, the Japanese term for "scary"). Kawaii can be used to describe animals and people, including fully grown adults; while attractive women are usually described as kawaii, young men are more likely to be described as "good looking" or "cool". Kawaii is also used to describe some men who are considered to have"cute" personalities."

When surrounded by some of the harsh realities of life. what better way to distract oneself than working with this cute fabric? One look at it makes me happy, HAPPy, HAPPY.

Like those CraZy dancing rabbits in my last post. =) I think the fabrics are just beautiful in design and color. I also found the name of this particular fabric quite humorous: it is called "The fungus among us". Cute wordplay!

Unfortunately I could only get a hold of one yard of this fabric. It will be used sparingly on special dolls only! I love the bright green color. The little mushroom shoes I made earlier this month go perfectly with this ensemble.

I hope you enjoyed my little exploration into Japanese culture today!

Have a happy day - blessed and surrounded by cuteness and beauty!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Japanese Fabrics Rock!

Hey, hey, hey,

Finally I got something to show for all the money I spent on Japanese fabrics lately...It is so expensive but I really loved working with it. What do you think?

The Dancing Rabbits fabric was a thicker linen quality. A little bulky and harder to work for small doll clothes. But I adore the bright colors!

I even made a pair of matching shoes with needlefelted Dancing Rabbits.

I cannot believe I actually did it. I am not the most patient person in the world. But my nimble fingers and good eyesight helped with this project...

Miniscule amounts of wool roving found their way onto this pair of felt booties...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

St. Patrick's Day items on Etsy

Are you Irish? Or do you just love the color green?

Even if neither one is true for you, please consider voting for my needlefelted Leprechaun! I made him about a month ago as a special custom order item. The Storque (etsy's e-zine) has selected my listing for another custom made little guy to be part of their St. Patrick's Day item poll. I am not quite sure what that means. Hopefully it will translate into fame and lots of money!!!


Probably not. But even so I am happy that somebody else has found my craft worthy.

I taught myself how to needlefelt a little over a year ago. My husband gave me a kit for Christmas in 2007. It is such a wonderful craft and so very affordable. All you need is a few grams of wool roving and a simple barbed needle. You sculpt the wool into amazing works of art by continously stabbing at it.
If you have a knack for little things and a lot of patience you must try it!

Now, rush to the site and vote for germandolls!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Custom Orders

I have been working hard on some custom orders. Some of them have been very labor intensive.
For example: I made the cutest little dolly mushroom shoes. Don't you just love them and wish you had a set for yourself? Or the kids?

I also ordered some fabulous fabrics from Japan. I have admired them for a long time but never dared to spent so much money on a piece of fabric. Heck the economy is bad what better time to do it then now? =)

Would they arrive safely? Would they be worth it? I received them in the mail this week and LOVE them. I will post some pictures of the items I made with them soon...