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This year I got into knitting because it’s one activity that tends to calm me down, especially whenever I go through extreme stress (such as finding money to pay the bills or dealing with my mother’s latest health issues). One day I would really love to knit (and maybe even sew) my own clothes. I decided to start small with making doll clothes just so I can train myself for the day when I will finally try knitting a human-sized sweater or some other type of clothing. I came across this book written by Nicky Epstein called Knits for Dolls, which focuses on knitting clothes for American Girl and other 18-inch dolls.

I found one pattern that was intriguing called “Alice’s Tea Party.” It’s obviously based on the Tea Party scene in Alice in Wonderland but this doll looks like she’s dressed like a 1920’s flapper who’s ready to go to a party featuring a live jazz band.

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I changed the colors from the original pattern. I ended up using pink and black, which made the out seem much bolder.

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Most modern 18-inch doll clothes tend to use velcro, including even the expensive American Girl doll clothes. I decided to use snaps instead because I know what it’s like to get a doll’s hair tangled in velcro and it’s such a pain.

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Here are the various American Girl dolls modeling the same outfit, which gives you an idea of how the outfit would look against various hair and skin colors.

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I even made a short promo video for this outfit.

Here’s a little change of pace since today marks the official kickoff of Labor Day Weekend.

A few weeks ago I happened to check out this yard sale in my neighborhood, which had a variety of vintage items from the 1920’s-1960’s. I saw a pile of sheet music that was on sale for 25 cents each. I thumbed through them and I saw that they were really old sheet music, some of which dated as far back as the 1910’s. I was also attracted to the beautiful illustrated covers, which were works of art in ways that the sheet music I used to use when I was learning how to play guitar as a teenager weren’t. (The sheet music I used basically just had the title along with a photograph of the band or singer responsible for the song.) I had never heard of any of these songs but the covers were gorgeous.

So I decided to take a risk by buying a few of them. I didn’t have much money on me so I only purchased around six of these sheet music titles for $1.50. I thought it would be cool to see if I could somehow input the music notes into GarageBand and see what it would churn.

But the big hassle is that there isn’t a sheet music equivalent in GarageBand that I could find. I know that GarageBand is easy for dropping various loops in order to make a song and it’s also good for inputing music using an electric guitar or MIDI keyboard hooked up to the computer but I couldn’t find anything in that software that had an interface I could use for inputing the music notes on printed sheet music.

I looked around for a few alternatives and I found this open source program called MuseScore 2. It  has an online sheet music interface where you can drag and drop music notes. What’s even cool is that you can play the piece while you’re working on it (which is great for picking up any wrong music notes) and you can even export the audio as a standalone file. I ultimately brought the audio files into iMovie where I also imported photos of the sheet music covers and I even typed the lyrics to the songs (which is for those who want to sing along). Here are the songs I’ve worked on so far. Enjoy!

The one thing I love about the Asian ball-jointed doll fandom is the intense creativity in the way that they dress their dolls. The kind of outfits that these dolls usually wear would never be mistaken for an American Girl or Barbie outfit.

My biggest complaint is that there are a lot of Asian ball-jointed doll owners who stick with one or two styles for their dolls. They tend to go with Lolita, Gothic Lolita, or Punk for modern clothes. If they want their dolls to dress in period pieces, they go with either clothes from the Victorian era or clothes that would be perfect for the French royal court during Marie Antoinette’s reign as queen (until she literally lost her head).

While the clothes are unique and stuff, it tends to be just as limiting as the outfits made for Barbie. The big irony is that Asian ball-jointed dolls were originally created to fire the owner’s imagination. Not only were the dolls created to be customized but, in theory, they are supposed to be able to fit any kind of outfit. If one wanted to turn an Asian ball-jointed doll into a glorified Barbie with wearing nothing but modern trendy clothes, then the person can do that. If one wanted to have an Asian ball-jointed doll wear caveman clothes or European peasant serf clothes, then that person can do so.

I attempted to prove that one shouldn’t just stick to one historical era when making a period outfit for a doll. This is a 1920’s style outfit that I made for my Volks Dollfie Dream called "Pink Jazz Baby".

Pink Jazz Baby
Pink Jazz Baby
Pink Jazz Baby
Pink Jazz Baby

This was an outfit I made especially for the 2006 Takoma Park Jazz Festival in Takoma Park, Maryland. I was working as a vendor at that festival and I had my Dollfie Dream on display as an attention-getting device. (She was not for sale.) Since jazz music reached its height of popularity in the 1920’s and since flappers (also known as "jazz babies") were synominous with the 1920’s, it was only appropriate that I created a flapper outfit for my doll.

I found a doll-sized flapper pattern in the book Period & Contemporary: Patterns for Fashion Dolls by Hazel McMahon. Since all the outfits in that book were designed for a Gene doll, I had to resize the pattern in order for it to fit my Dollfie Dream. The dress and cloche hat are made out of cotton fabric. (Two different pieces of fabric were used in making the dress and hat.) The dress is trimmed with beaded fringes around the waste and at the bottom hem. The dress is also trimmed with a metallic zig-zag trim around the front collar down the backside, at the waist above the beaded fringe, and at the bottom hem above the beaded fringe. The top front of the dress and the front of the cloche hat are decorated with pink art deco-style buttons.

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