sabato 27 ottobre 2012

5 useful tips for DIY doll clothes on a budget

Crafting supplies may be expensive, but sometimes it only takes a bit of creativity and inventiveness to save some money. Speaking specifically of sewing doll clothes, while making my tailoring experiments for Monster High dolls I learned some cheap ways to gather supplies (like fabric, trims, lace...).
Here they are, I hope they'll be useful for you too!

1) Raid your house (and closet)


The cheapest way to find some fabric is using old clothes (or blankets, pillowcases, tableclothes, ...) you no longer use but are still in good condition: even a plain black t-shirt could be turned in a doll-sized cocktail dress (that's how I made Cleo's dress in this post)!

2) With a little help from your friends


If you have friends (or relatives) that are into sewing, ask if they have some unused fabric scraps to give you (when I was I child I started sewing for my dolls using fabric leftovers my grandmother gave me).

3) Party hard!


Party and wedding favors are often decorated with ribbons, lace and small fabric flowers: all these things can be used to add elegant details to your doll clothes and accessories.

4) Fat quarters


Dolls are way smaller than humans, so you don't need great amounts of fabric to dress them, a single fat quarter is enough to sew a lot of doll-sized things: try searching for quilting fabric fat quarters, usually they're reasonably cheap and come in a great variety of patterns (you will soon see my Sweet 1600 Draculaura in a Valentine chocolate themed dress ;)).

5) Chinatown


Chinese shops and dollar stores often carry a selection of basic sewing supplies at very cheap prices. Here's what I took home from my nearest chinese store for only 5 (about 6.50$), when I started sewing for MH dolls:
- 1 spool of golden embroidery thread;
- 1 package of velcro straps;
- 1 package of snap buttons in different sizes;
- 1 package of tiny hooks;
- 1 set of silk ribbons, in 5 different colors (each color was 2m long, about 80")
- 1m (40") of elastic band.
- 1 package of pins
That's a lot of stuff for that price, just think at how many doll clothes you can sew with it!

giovedì 4 ottobre 2012

Make up review: Essence Stampy Nail Art Set

Stamping kits aren't a novelty in the nail art world, I always found them interesting, but since they usually weren't easy to find in italian stores, I have never tried them. Until Essence (a brand that can easily be found also here in Italy) released a basic stamping set, with different design plates and special stamping nail polishes, sold at a very low price, how could I resist?
Well, I haven't, so last Sunday I went to the nearest shop and bought a basic Stampy set plus an additional design plate and black matte stamping polish, all for 6€.



The basic Stampy set contains a design plate, a scraper and a stamp, sold separately there are four different design plates and three stamping nail polishes (black, white and silver, but I only found black).
Since it was my first time trying it I decided to watch and follow the tutorial provided on Essence's Youtube channel (here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9ofLFhtYfc&list=PLDg6S58u7v-cccGEL-j8cpmk2KLLJXovD&index=4&feature=plcp ). 
After several attempts (including three complete manicure failed and redone), the best I could get was this:


Maybe I'm not the best nail artist of the world, but honestly I was expecting someting better after all these attempts :-/ as you can see better from the picture below, the stripes don't cover entirely the nail and are a little smudged.


The truth is that this "technique" isn't so easy to catch: you have to be very quickly applying the polish on the plate, scraping and then stamping it on your nail because it dries very fast, also it takes some practice to obtain smooth and clean stamps. Another problem is that the smallest designs, like the heart, paws and swirls  of the basic set, are carved with very little depth on the plate so they didn't work very well, only the patterned ones gave me some decent results.
My last complain is about the stamping nail polish: not mentioning that you waste a lot of polish (and dirty a lot of paper towels and cotton swabs) during the whole process, you are forced to use it, because normal nail polish don't work with the design plates (maybe it's not enough dense), and this limits a lot the color choice, plus once applied on the nail it scratches away very easily, so you have to be quick putting on the top coat, but be careful, use some very light brush strokes or the design will smudge!

My overall rating: 2/5
The idea (and the price) is good, but if you need a quick and easy nail art solution , nail stickers or fake nails are still the best in my opinion. Once you learn how to do it right and quickly, you can obtain some nice results (I've seen beautiful nail arts on the web), but I don't think I'll buy other Essence design plates in the future (but I'll probably try again with these when I'll have some spare time).

Bonus pic: one of my failed attempts using a different pattern


domenica 23 settembre 2012

The adventurous life of Mini Blythe

Last Sunday I received a mail from Frankie of Dolls From Planet Mu (check out her blog, she does very interesting and accurate reviews of dolls and toys!), noticing me that I had won her  Blythe Littlest Pet Shop giveaway! I was very happy because it was a while that I wanted to buy one, but usually when I'm in a toy shop my attention is more focused on the Monster High shelf, so this is my very first Blythe!
I was prepared to wait about 10/12 days for the package to arrive (that's what it usually takes for packages from the U.K.) but surprisingly on Friday morning the package was already here (thank you Frankie for the fast shipping, I hope you didn't spent too much for it ^_^).
And here begin the adventure of Mini Blythe vs Giant Dog and the Postman!
Usually when there's a package or registered mail to deliver, the postman rings the bell and deliver them in person, but this time he had the brilliant idea of just leave it unguarded on our gate, without ringing the bell (me and my boyfriend were at home, so I'm sure he didn't ring :-/).
 As you may know, I have a dog, Leila, who is good and loving, but still behaves as a puppy, in fact her philosophy about new things is something like: " Gnaw it, eat it, and see what happens". Could she resist a mysterious package left justin front of her nose? Obviously not, so she started fighting with the external packaging.
Luckily, at this point Dani accidentally  looked out to search forthe dog, and saw her gnaw something colourful, surrounded by pieces of bubble wrap and paper.
He immediately remembered of my package and ran to save it. Luckily again, Leila only destroyed the packaging and the cardboard box, while the doll and her accessories were saved by the rigid plastic casing inside.
Despite this small accident, the doll is safe (only her hair were a bit messy, but it's easy to fix) and incredibly cute!


I had already seen Blythe LPS sets in stores, but out of the box they look a lot more beautiful, what I like the most of her are the eyes: I wasn't expecting them to be inlaid, (from the shadow of the box they looked just painted on) and they also have long lashes.
The outfit is cute too, her tartan dress make her look like a mini human version of Frankie Stein (I put her near Frankie and Rochelle on my shelf), and she also has removable shoes and some accessories, my favourite is the flower headband.
I'm very happy of this prize (and I will probaby buy more Blythe in the future ;-)),thank you Frankie!

sabato 15 settembre 2012

Momijigari cake (with plums and cinnamon)


Don't be tricked by the name, it's not a japanese recipe but just a cinnamon plum cake, I decided to call it like this because the finished cake reminds me of autumn leaves ("momijigari" is the Japanese tradition of going to visit scenic areas where leaves have turned red in the autumn). 


detail of the decoration

This recipe is very easy and quick to prepare (aside from the baking part, it took me about a quarter of an hour to make), hope you like it!

Ingredients:

6/8 plums
200 g of flour
200 g of sugar
50 g of butter
2 eggs
1 bag of vanillin
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3 teaspoons of cinnamon

Preparation:
Wash the plums and cut them into thin slices. In a bowl mix eggs and sugar, add vanilla, melted butter, flour, baking powder and cinnamon, then mix well. Add the plums to the mixture (save some slices for decorating), pour everything into a pan of 24 cm, previously greased and floured, then decorate the top with the remaining slices. Oven bake for approximately one hour at 160 °. Let it cool (but not too much, a little warm exalts the flavour!) and serve!


do you want a slice? ;)




martedì 3 luglio 2012

Piña Colada Cheesecake



A few days ago it was my friend Valentina's birthday, so I made a cake to celebrate together with all our friends :)
I really like baking sweets, so I decided to start posting here my culinary experiments!
Today's recipe is perfect for summer, I called it "Piña Colada Cheesecake"! (though there is no alchool in it...)

Ingredients for the base:
200 gr of cookies similar to Digestive or Graham's crackers (I used Gran Cereale for a more crispy taste);
100 gr of butter or margarine.

Ingredients for filling:
200 gr of soft cheese like Philadelphia;
400 gr of  fresh cream;
50 gr of sugar;
100 gr of shredded coconut;
3 sheets of isinglass or gelatin;
a jar of canned pineapple with its juice.

Optional:
1 or 2 spoonful of flour;
some coconut milk.

Preparation:
Crush the cookies in the mixer and put them in a bowl with the melted butter.
Mix well, then spread the mixture of cookies in a cake pan covered with baking paper (instead of paper,you can use some oil or butter to grease the pan), press the  mixture with a spoon to make it solid and uniform, then put it in the fridge  for at leasthalf and hour.

Put the isinglass sheets in a bowl with hot water to let them soften. Put cheese, cream (save a little cream, about 100gr, for melting the isinglass), sugar, shredded coconut (if you want the coconut flavour to be stronger, add also some coconut milk), some tiny pineapple bits (very tiny, or they will get tangled in the whisk) and the syrup (I suggest using only half of the juice contained in the can, or else your filling mixture will end up too liquid: in this case you can add 1 or 2 spoonful of flour to fix it) in a bowl and mix them with the electric whisk until mixture is thick and smooth. Take out the isinglass  from water, squeeze it and let it melt at low heat in a small pan with the remaining cream, then add it to the filling and mix again to make it uniform.

Remove the base from the fridge, put some half ananas slices along the border (they make a nice decorative motif and help keeping the filling in place), pour the filling into the cake pan, level it with a spoon and decorate the cake with the remaining pineapple slices and some more shredded coconut.

Put everything in the fridge for at least 4 hours, then place the cake on a plate and remove the cake pan.

Here are some pictures of the finished cake, it was very fresh and delicious!



I hope the instructions are clear enough, this is my first time translating a recipe ^_^ anyway if you have any question or doubt, feel free to ask!


sabato 9 giugno 2012

Scary couture

Recently I found myself with some spare time (I finished my exams for this session, see you in September university!) and a lot of fabric scraps (due to a big closet cleaning and renewal), so I decided to create some new clothes for my Monster High dolls.
Considering  that the last time I sewed doll clothes I was 8 and I didn't used patterns (in fact the designs are very simple), I'm quite satisfied of how they came out :)
This is my very favourite: a two-pieces set for Operetta, made with some black and white satin ribbon scraps.


A simple black dress with green and gold trimmings for Cleo, the necklace is also handmade (using a piece of a broken bracelet)


A casual minidress for Spectra, who's reading about the latest gossip and trends on the latest issue of CosmoGhouls ( I had a lot of fun taking these pictures :D)


This one is my latest creation, a two-pieces set for Lagoona, with glass beads fringes and a sea-themed belt
(the top is a bit too large, but it is not very visible when worn ^^)


Right now I'm looking for new fabrics and trimmings for my experiments, see you soon with the next batch of clothes!

lunedì 21 maggio 2012

Rainy days crafts: Perfume Bottle Necklace

It rained a lot in the past days (well, actually it's still raining...), so I had a lot of spare time while forced at home by the weather, and I used it to finish some craft projects I was working on, here I will show my favourite: a perfume bottle necklace to match my Metamorphose Perfume Bottle skirt!


A while ago I purchased this skirt, which was one of my dream prints ever since I discovered lolita, and suddenly started to hunt for matching items: I already had a blouse, tights and shoes and I easily found a cute pink cardigan and some pink and gold hair accessories, but what I wanted the  most was  a perfume bottle necklace, similar to the one Metamorphose released with the print series (sorry for the bad picture, but this was the best stock image I could find...)


I found the original one on EGL sales a couple of times, and it wasn't incredibly costly,but I arrived too late and it was already sold :(
But then I remebered that years ago my grandmother gave me some mignon perfume bottles to play with that were just the right size for a necklace!
Luckily I still had some of the tiny bottles at my parent's, so this weekend I put myself to work and created my personal version of the necklace:


I'm very satisfied of how it came out: the bottle is not too big and it matches the skirt perfectly! For the chain   I used some simple white plastic pearls and some small pink hearts


Here's a picture of the necklace on a clear background (my pillow ^^), so you can see it better :)


I can't wait to wear it in a coordinate!


lunedì 14 maggio 2012

sabato 5 maggio 2012

Dolls Update: Lagoona Blue Skull Shores


Look who I found in a small toyshop in Turin: Skull Shores Lagoona Blue!
Lagoona was my favourite basic character ever since I discovered MH, but unfortunately she, together with Frankie, is quite rare to find in my city, in fact this is the first time I saw her in a shop (except for the Dead Tired version with the aqua spa lamp, which I don't like very much). Since she was the only one left (and was also a bit discounted) I bought her without thinking too much, but I'm definitely not regretting it: she's gorgeous!
This version is quite simple, but it has some nice details: her tiny earrings are octopus and tentacle shaped, she has a little cocktail glass, a tentacle bracelet and the most epic sandals I've ever seen: I love the bubble heels!


What I always liked in Lagoona's character design are the translucent fins on arms and legs, and her blue streaked hair: she looks like a mermaid! This version has a black hairband sewn to the head, but I'll probably remove it, so I could choose wether to put it on or not, depending on her outfit (yes, I've also started sewing some alternative clothes for the dolls, there will be pictures in the future...).
Here is a close-up of her face, her makeup has some glitter details (I also noticed that using the camera flash makes her face look annoyed and a bit evil, while with natural light she has a very sweet smile...)


I'm very happy of this lucky find, even if she's not the first version (which has become awfully rare and costly), she is really a beautiful doll, I can't wait to sew her a new dress!


mercoledì 11 aprile 2012

Artist corner: Natalia Pierandrei

This month’s featured artist is an amazing italian illustrator: Natalia Pierandrei (also known as Nati).
I discovered her works years ago, through  a pixel art contest inspired by her illustrations, in the end I didn’t entered the competition, but fell in love with her art!
What I love the most in her works are the use of colors, the details on dresses, hair and also background elements, and the romantic and magic feelings that her characters evoke: there's something in her art that reminds me Pre-Rafaelite paintings. 
You can find more informations on Nati’s art on her DA gallery, fb page, blog, website and Etsy shop (she sells prints and various paper goodies based on her illustrations, like paperdolls, postcards, bookmarks, ...).
Here are some of her illustrations, it wasn’t easy to choose only a few, because I love almost all her works!

"La dame baroque"

"Ondina"

"Shades of sunset"

"The canary prince"

"Sea maiden"

every image in this article belongs to Natalia Pierandrei

mercoledì 4 aprile 2012

Monster High dolls review


In my last post I mentioned that I recently started collecting Monster High dolls, here is a little review of the ones I already own :)
Monster high dolls were released in 2010 and they are inspired by monster movies and horror fiction in general: in fact all the characters are the offsprings of famous monsters like Dracula (Draculaura), Frankenstein (Frankie Stein), the Mummy (Cleo and Nefera DeNIle), etc.
Since these dolls aren't "born" to be collected, but just as common toys (though I am not very sure about this, since they came with a stand included in the box, they have some very little parts and they are a bit fragile for children's playing) , they are easy to find even in supermarkets and they aren't very expensive. However I've notice that the price varies a lot from shop to shop and sometimes internet is the best option: for example in my city Operetta's price varies from 26 € to 30 €, while I found (and bought) her at 24€ shipping included on the net.
What I like the most about these dolls are the details of their outfits, the softness and shine of the hair (kanekalon fibers) and the fully articulated bodies (there are also some "create-your-monster" kits, with alternative body parts to assemble new characters, I want the skeleton and dragon girl sets!).
Right now my collection includes Operetta, Spectra Vondergeist and Cleo DeNile.



Operetta is the daughter of the Phantom of the Opera, she has a beautiful rockabilly inspired hairdo with victory rolls and a casual outfit with musical accents (accessories, arm tattoo and face "scar", covered by a music note-shaped mask). Her package also includes a coffin-shaped guitar, her spider pet Memphis (with Elvis Presley-styled hair), her diary, a plastic stand and a brush.



Spectra Vondergeist is the daughter of the Ghosts, so her arms and legs ends are made of transparent plastic, like they're disappearing, and she has a lot of chain accessories (maybe a recall to Jacob Marley's ghost from "A Christmas Carol). Her package also included a drawstrings pouch-shaped bag, her ghost ferret pet Rhuen, her diary, a plastic stand and a brush.



Cleo DeNile is the daughter of the Mummy, she has long hair with dark green and gold highlights, a tipycal egyptian makeup, clthes with bandage details and accessories (mostly golden) that recall egyptian art. In these pictures she wear her alternative outfit with some accessories from the basic one, because I thought it was more "mummy-like". Her package also included a plastic folder, her diary, a plastic stand and a brush (she doen't have a pet because mine is the second version).

Overall I can say that I'm really satisfied with the quality of the dolls and I will probably buy more (and maybe sew some custom clothes!), now I'm looking forward to buy Cupid (sadly she will not be released in Italy, so I'll have to search her online) and Rochelle Goyle.

giovedì 16 febbraio 2012

Baby Angel strikes back!

Remember this post in which I reviewed two Metamorphose replicas made by italian brand Baby Angel?  I’ve recently discovered that Baby Angel’s 2012 spring/summer collection will feature some new “heavily lolita inspired” items! But the very best news about this is that this time they seem to be original prints, not replicas! This collection isn’t arrived in shops yet, except for some cutsews and accessories, but I found some pictures online, my favourite piece from the new collection is this skirt:
Considering the pretty good quality of last year skirts, I ‘m seriously considering of buying it (they also lowered the price a little, and I have a discount coupon to spend in their shops...), my only perplexity is about the colours: from the picture above they seem soft and pastel, but I looked at the matching cutsew in the shop and the colours seemed a lot more flashy, especially the pink details, they rembered me some Barbie clothes from the 80’s. Maybe it’s just the light in the shop that is strange, anyway I’m waiting to see the skirt in person (maybe in a different shop) before deciding.
Another lolita inspired piece from the collection is this jsk:
This looks like the “evolution” of last year Putumayo replica, because it features a very similar BxW flower pattern, but the shape is different and they replaced the butterflies with some random sweets. I don’t like it very much, because, other that not being a great fan of jsk and dresses (there is also a skirt version though), I think the sweets details looks a bit “unrelated” to the rest of the dress.
Instead, another item I’m very interested to, is this top:
I can’t tell from the stock picture if it’s made of cotton or cheap “lace-like” fabric, but if it’s cotton I think it would be a nice addition to my spring wardrobe J
The collection features also a couple of shirred cutsew in the same fabric of the skirts above, some cute sweets themed t-shirts, a misterious “punk” skirt (but it seems very short, more like a mini skirt than a loliable one), and some matching accessories, like a cupcake shaped locket necklace.
Right now I’m waiting for the skirt to appear in shops, I’ll write a review if I’ll decide to buy it, let’s hope it’s not too short and flashy!

martedì 7 febbraio 2012

Artist corner: Blackmago

Today I want to introduce a new section, Artist Corner: periodically I will dedicate this space to talk about artists I like very much.
Today's guest star is Blackmago, an extraordinary Peruvian artist that creates not only beautiful illustrations (and pixel art), but also amazing crafts with polymer clay and mixed media!
Here are some of my favourite works from his gallery, I love especially the books of secrets and the tiny bottles! You can find his works on DeviantArtEtsy and Facebook

every image in this article belongs to Blackmago