Strawberries & Ruffles: A Kaylee doll from Firefly

January 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

Something about the character Kaylee from Firefly gives me the craft bug–last week I posted about the very first doll I made, which was a Kaylee doll, and a few months ago I posted about my friend Angela’s Firefly birthday party and the Kaylee cake that I made.

Well, I’ve been at it again, and here she is:

A new Kaylee doll! This time she’s wearing her party dress from the Firefly episode ‘Shindig’

In the episode her hair is down, but this doll was a Christmas/12th Night present for my friend Angela (yes, the same Angela!), and by special request this doll has her hair in buns.

This Kaylee doll is handsewn from felt, ribbons, sheer ruffled trim, and tiny buttons. I based her on Mimi Kirchner’s pattern for The Purl Bee, but I adapted the instructions as I went.

In the Firefly episode it’s never possible to see Kaylee’s feet, so I have no idea what shoes she might have been wearing under her enormous fluffy dress! I decided that she’s just the kind of girl who would wear her boots, though, so I made boots with pink laces–and left them untied, because how would you tie your shoes while you’re wearing an enormous fluffy dress?

This doll has actually been a long time in the making–Angela asked me to make her a Kaylee doll, in her party dress, with her hair in buns, and that was four years ago. Two years ago I was going to make her this doll, and even cut out most of the pieces for her…and then never got around to it. So this year I was determined to get her finished! I was still two weeks late for 12th Night (which is when my friends and I celebrate Christmas and usually when we exchange gifts), but oh well 😉

Happy Christmas, Angela!

This Kaylee costume actually belongs to my sister, but look! A handy doll carrying strap!

Perfection.

From the Archives: Plush Kaylee from Firefly

January 16, 2012 § 3 Comments

A craft from the archives! It is, of course, a little plush doll of Kaylee from the TV show Firefly. I made this doll four years ago as a gift for a friend of mine, and it was my very first doll making projects. I used a pattern and a tutorial that I found online, but I’ve long since lost the address and I haven’t been able to find it again.

I made a huge number of mistakes–I chose fabrics that raveled horribly, like flannel instead of felt (what was I thinking?) and a nylon fabric for the shirt that raveled so badly that I had to singe all of the edges in order to sew it together. I made the entire project so much harder than it needed to be! It was really a huge fumble, from beginning to end, but I was so proud of her, and proud of myself for making her.

Sometimes it’s easy to be frustrated with my own skills–nothing is ever perfect enough. My projects are always fundamentally flawed in some way, and it can be hard to feel up to par with an internet full of people who seem to produce perfect projects (which are, of course, photographed beautifully). Maybe it’s just me, but I’m often proud of my projects and embarrassed by them at the same time, which is why I find myself trying to show things off to people while pointing out all of the flaws. “Look what I made! Do you like it? Are you impressed? You are? Yay! Of course, this and this and this were all wrong, and this part was a disaster, and actually the whole thing was terrible I can’t believe I’m showing this to you, I’ll go away and hide now.”

Anyway. I made this doll. I still think that she’s really cute, and I’m still proud of her–but I’m even more proud of the fact that I can look at this project and know that my skills have improved so much in the last four years, and that if I made this doll again it would be a hundred times better. Perfect I am not, but that leaves plenty of growing room.

…now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’d better end this blog post before I start accidentally writing Hallmark cards 😉

Happy Birthday, Tolkien: A Smaug Cake

January 9, 2012 § 5 Comments

Happy New Year! And happy birthday, Professor Tolkien! J.R.R. Tolkien was born on January 3, a birthday shared by my youngest sister, so of course I often make a Tolkien themed something. Last year I made hobbit hole cupcakes. This year I made a cake! And I’ve had The Hobbit on the brain (who doesn’t, lately?) so it had to be a Smaug cake.

Smaug, curled up on his hoard of stolen dwarvish treasure.

My Smaug is inspired/loosely based on this illustration by Tolkien:

I made Smaug out of fondant, molded mostly with my hands with a little help from a chopstick and a sharp knife. I used an icing tip to press ‘scales’ into the fondant of Smaug’s body, and the handle of my small offset spatula to press indentations for the arm and leg sockets, and made the limbs (legs/arms and wings) separately. I let the fondant dry and harden overnight, then painted the pieces with gel food coloring mixed with vodka, and then brushed it all over with sparkly yellow luster dust.

The cake itself is a chocolate cake, filled and covered with peanut butter mousse. Then I put a wire cooling rack across the sink, set the cake on it (holding it carefully with one hand to make sure that it didn’t slip and dump my cake into the sink!), and covered the cake with sparkly yellow sugar sprinkles for gold, red, green, and blue sugar sprinkles for gems, white nonpareils for pearls, and a sprinkling of gold luster dust for extra sparkle–a delicious hoard that would make any dragon proud!

Swap Package: The Hobbit

May 27, 2011 § 5 Comments

I’ve mentioned before that I participate in a Folklore & Fairy Tales group on Ravelry, and that we do seasonal package swaps, which I always love! My last package had an owl theme, inspired by my swappee’s screenname.  This time, however, our seasonal discussion and knit-a-long topic was The Hobbit. As you may have noticed, Tolkien is one of my favorite things, so I enjoyed putting this package together.

Here is the package! ...except that those three copies of The Hobbit? Those are all mine. They're just in the picture to hold other things up in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. Yes, it is necessary for me to have three different copies of The Hobbit, why do you ask?

My first idea for the theme of the package was for it to be a collection of the things that got left behind during Bilbo’s journey–the buttons he lost while escaping from goblins, a handkerchief he probably dropped, etc. Then things just sort of…rolled along, and before I knew it I was writing a letter under the name of Thistle Took (yes I gave myself a hobbit name, because I am cool), a hobbit historian researching the history of Bilbo’s journey in order to write a book about him, and sending some of the artifacts she’d collected to be housed in a museum of local history in the Shire.

The artifacts are:

-Bilbo’s lost buttons

-Bilbo’s lost handkerchief (embroidered with his monogram by me)

-the silver tassel from Thorin’s hood (I couldn’t find a silver tassel, so I made my own)

-a crown of elf flowers that will not fade from Rivendell (made by me)

-a copy of Thorin’s map (…printed out by me)

-a silver pony charm (I didn’t make this one, but I did make up a story about it! If you’ve read The Hobbit then you may have noticed that Bilbo and the dwarves manage to go through several sets of ponies in the course of their journey. They start out with ponies, lose them all, borrow ponies and are (wisely) compelled to return them, borrow more ponies and lose most of them–being a dwarf’s pony is not a safe position at all.  Surely, I thought, people would have given the dwarves grief about their inability to keep ponies–a little gentle teasing. Surely. So I decided, and Thistle Took recorded in her letter, that among the people of Dale something that was likely to be lost or broken was often called a ‘dwarf pony’, and that charms like this one would be attached to protect whatever the object was from its fate of certain destruction.  It makes perfect sense to me!)

-wooden dolls representing the dwarves and Bilbo Baggins, a popular children’s toy among the people of Dale (made by me!)

The dwarves and Bilbo in their box

The dolls are my favorite thing. I am so happy with the way that they turned out!  They’re very simple, but I think they’re very cute, and fat Bombur is so adorable that I might just die.

Thorin Oakenshield & Co., plus Bilbo Baggins (burglar)

The dwarves can be identified by the colors of their hoods as follows:

Thorin – sky blue with a large silver tassel

Dwalin – dark green hood

Balin – red

Kili – blue

Fili – blue

Dori – purple

Nori – purple

Oin – grey

Gloin – brown

Bifur – yellow

Bofur – yellow

Bombur – pale green

Ori- grey

Bilbo, of course, had to borrow a dark green cloak, and has no beard.

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