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Thursday 29 July 2010

Redcurrant jelly

This evening I took a break from sewing Samantha's pop-star outfit.  This was from necessity because the redcurrants were fully ripe and today my husband and daughters stripped the bush clean as requested while I was at work.  When I weighed the bowlful before removing them from stalks and discarding the shrivelled ones, it came to 1.8kg, after my younger daughter and I spent over 90 minutes steadily de-stalking them, it came to just over 1.6kg.  I wasn't sure that I had enough sugar to turn the whole lot into jelly in one go, so I did 1kg worth this evening, which after straining out the pips gave me just over 2 jars worth (one of which will be a gift for a friend this weekend).  My elder girl who stayed up for the jelly making had a taste of the scraping from the saucepan and wanted more, so that is a good sign.

It seems like such a lot of work for a couple of jars (though there will be more tomorrow from the remainder which are ready for cooking), but as we stripped the berries from their stalks I explained (between younger girl's silly jokes and elder girl's comments as she sorted photos from her music trip) that jams, preserves and jellies were made from fruit as a way of preserving them for the winter months, so that people got a supply of vitamin C even when there wasn't any fresh fruit about.  Modern international trade, airfreight and people travelling relatively easily around the world has given us the impression we can have any type of fruit at any time of the year, but not so very long ago seasonal was the only way to eat, and during the war, preserving produce was vital during rationing.  The nicest thing about this evening was that we spent time together, even though the task was monotonous, the company was good.

It is now entirely too late to start sewing, especially as I've had a full, busy day at work, I've just heard the jelly jar lids pop as they cool (they've sealed nicely) so I shall go to bed shortly after a job well done.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Harriet's rock outfit revealed

On Saturday morning I got up and worked on the microphone and stand.  Actually I made 2 of each, calculating the other as being a present for my cousin's daughter later.  My husband cut the dowel and the old wooden cotton reel (he was a bit unsure of cutting a 'museum piece' in half for this project, but I decided it wasn't particularly valuable!).  He drilled out the centre hole to fit the dowel and there was the basic microphone stand.  However the attachment on top to hold the microphone was the next problem, which I worked on during the morning.  I found a piece of plastic tube in his workshop from which I cut a narrow ring.  This ring I cut in half across the circle, to make 2 half circles.  In the middle of each half circle I drilled a hole for the short number 4 screw and drilled a hole in the top of each 12" long dowel for the screw.  I then screwed the half circle to the top of the dowel into the end grain.  I was using the pillar drill, and hadn't lost my drilling knack (I used to use that drill a lot in a previous job when working with my husband) and it was quite a pleasurable way to start a Saturday morning.

Back in the house I covered each half circle with some thin wadding, glued on with evostick.  Once this was dry I used some of the leftover silvery material from Peter's first skating outfit to cover the wadding, gluing it on in stages using Hi-tack glue.  The glue soaked through the very thin material very easily and it was tricky not getting my fingers rather than the material sticking to the dowel, however after allowing each stage to dry a bit, I was able to make progress with it.  Once the top was complete, it was a relatively simple matter to glue a long strip of the silvery material along the length of the dowel.

The top of the microphone stand
after I'd covered the plastic half circle with wadding

Each microphone was made out a 2" length of the same dowel.  At one end I glued a strip of wadding, then I covered it with a piece of the silvering material taken from the edge, where there was a 1 inch wide band of white material rather than the silver, so this made a good distinction between the padded microphone and the handle. Once this had dried, I used a short length of elastic sewn on at the end and at the other end of the handle to provide a means for the doll or the microphone stand to hold the microphone without dropping it.

The microphones at various stages,
and the base of the microphone stand (half cotton reel)
comparing the two home made microphone stands for Gotz dolls
with the smaller version for Groovy Girl dolls
Close up of the microphone on its stand
Later in the day my elder daughter returned from her music trip.  She brought back a few souveniors, one of which was a small guitar about the same size but a different style from the one I'd bought!  She was delighted with Harriet in her new outfit, but the green eyed monster emerged when my younger daughter saw her sister get a new outfit and instrument for her doll, and there was nothing for Samantha doll (who received a new outfit in May but no instrument).  So I've decided to make a similar rockstar outfit for Samantha (I had already planned to make one for one of the 3 dolls belonging to my cousin's daughter, for Christmas, and had bought a guitar for that purpose), so it looks like the pattern I made up based on the 'Hannah Rockstar' outfit, will be used again a couple of times.

Harriet in her version of the Rockstar outfit
Harriet rocks!

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Harriet the rockstar

As explained in my previous post, I've been sewing my verson of the Gotz 'Hannah the Rockstar' outfit.  The outfit is now finished, the heartshaped sunglasses purchased and on her face, I've added a ribbon strap to the miniature guitar to help her hold it, and I think Harriet looks pretty cool.  Even my husband was impressed, and that is saying a lot (he tolerates the dolls as a fact of living with 3 doll mad females, shows occasional interest in the play dolls but is more interested in the dollshouses especially as he built one of them from a kit). 

However I haven't yet made the microphone and its stand to complete the outfit.  This will require a couple of pieces of dowel, some wadding, and some silvery fabric to cover the dowel.  However since finishing the outfit on Saturday night, I've been busy cleaning and tidying my elder daughter's bedroom while she is away on her second school trip in 2 weeks (this time a whole week away playing her violin), so I've had no time to make the microphone and stand.  Hopefully I'll make a start on it tomorrow night. 

I haven't taken photos of Harriet in her outfit because it doesn't seem complete without the microphone, so I shall tantalise you in the meantime with a description:  The dress is red with contrast material of purple, green, brown & red strips inlaid with shiny thread, the bottom of the dress has a band of red sequin material to match her sequin hairband, she wears red tights, the tartan plimsols, and the lilac heartshaped sunglasses.  The guitar is black.  With Harriet's auburn hair, this makes quite an arresting sight!

Welcome Princessclaire1000 to my blog - from your profile picture I'm guessing you are interested in American Girl dolls, but I can't find a blog link for you.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Sewing again

As explained in my previous post, this time of year in our family is always very busy.  However the birthdays are over now, as are my daughter's music exams and I've at last managed to carve out a few evenings to start working on dolls clothes again.  I keep wanting to get the dollshouse on the go but get distracted by outfits for 50cm dolls instead!  The new Gotz catalogue is out, and my elder girl is particularly taken with 'Hannah the Rockstar' - she loves her outfit even though it is a deep rich pink (not my red head's favourite colour).  The outfit doesn't come separately, Gotz are clever at attracting people to buying more dolls, but as we've already got an extensive family of Gotz, Australian Girl and Euro girl dolls, I don't want to buy another blond Sarah/Hannah doll.  So I've decided to try and copy the outfit, though with different material.

I've got as far as sketching out the pattern based on a Joan Hind pattern for an A-line dress, though adapted to suit the pleats in the rockstar dress, and have just cut out the material, so am almost ready to start sewing.  I have also bought a real guitar (black plastic) which is very similar to the guitar that Hannah is holding (ebay again), it even has its own padded case.  Some months ago I bought some tartan plimsols which go with the two different materials I'm using for this dress.  All of this planning, material matching and considering is happening while my younger girl sleeps upstairs and my elder girl is away for a few days on a school trip, so neither of them know.

I'll post more as the dress progresses.  In the meantime, welcome 'all4dolls' to my blog.