Saturday, 21 May 2011

On Top of the World: Top-Hat!

These are the steps I followed for making an adorable leather-covered mini top-hat! 

Firstly, I cut a loo roll* down to size for the tube part (I know, so 'Blue Peter') and cut a circle out of stiff card. Out of this I cut the centre circle for the top of the hat, using a sharp cutting knife. This circle has to be equal to the internal size of the tube, even a few millimetres smaller depending on the thickness of the fabric covering it. 

(*If making a full-size hat, this would of course be too small, and the circumference of the doll's head would have to be used as the correct circumference)

Then I cut a piece of leather long enough to cover the circumference of the loo roll tube plus an extra 1-2cms to make a neat fold-over at the join. I also gave it 1cm extra width at each side, so that it could be folded over and glued to the inside of the tube. Again for this I used UHU glue because it dries fast and glues leather rather well (although you usually have to keep the tube upright so it doesn't squish everywhere).

Then I cut two equal circles out of leather with which to cover the brim of the hat, with a smaller circle out of the middle.

One side of the card was covered in glue - I used UHU glue, because I've found this to bind leather very well especially on the soft, fuzzy inner side and it dries quickly, but I'm sure PVA would do the trick too if used carefully. The card was placed centred on one of the leather circles and once secure, I cut small triangle darts into the leather just short of the card, using sharp little embroidery scissors. This was so that there wouldn't be lots of bunched up leather where the curves cause it to fold. I then spread glue on the card bit by bit and stuck down the leather to it, working around the outside of the brim first. I then repeated this on the inside, in the hole of the brim, glueing this inner part on top of the secured outer rim.  

Now to covering the other side of the brim. Once the glue fixing the leather to the card was dry, I added more glue to on top of this and placed it directly onto the second leather circle. Once dry I carefully trimmed the edges closely to the outer rim to get a neat edge.  I didn't fold it under again as before because of the bulkiness of the leather, but if I had been using fabric I would have. Instead I decided I would run a thin ribbon (3mm) around the edge of the brim to give it a neat edge.

So at the moment there is still the excess leather on the inside of the brim from the circle just glued on. As before I made some triangle cut-outs to this, but this time used them as the way to secure the brim to the tube. I spread glue on the fuzzy side of the leather and then offered it up to the already covered tube on top. Folding the leather into the tube it gets glued to the inside of the tube, so you won't see any joins or glue on the outside.

Next I glued the last card circle for the top of the hat to a oiece of leather and then cut this out, adding an extra 1cm around the circumference of the card. Again I cut out small triangles around the edge, but did not glue this to the underside of the card. Instead I pushed the circle through the tube from the other side so that the excess fabric was pushed flush against the inside of the tube. Then (and this was a bit tricky but I couldn't think of another way), from the other side I squirted glue between the excess leather and the tube, thereby gluing it to the inside.

Now the only thing left is to add some ribbon or fabric strips so that the hat can be held on securely. I measured around the head from the one side of the inside of the hat to the other to make sure the fabric strips I had were long enough. I then simply glued one end in each side and waited for it to dry before letting Hujoo Berry try it on. 

And that's it! It can now be decorated however you fancy!!

This is her top-hat in progress:

It has a swivel-down eyepiece made from various bits, including plastic model kit parts and a piece from an old chest of drawers. I have some more steampunky bits to add, but it's getting there =D

Next up: I have some fantastic accessories in progress thanks to my super hubby's help, including a steampunky gun and walkie-talkie! Coming soon!!

Friday, 6 May 2011

These boots are made for walking!

Finally Hujoo Berry has a nice pair of leather boots! And I'm pretty sure she loves them just as much as I do ;)

I basically followed the instructions from the Ryo Yoshida book (in so far as my non-existant understanding of the Japanese language would allow!).

First I carefully drew around her feet in pencil on some thin card, adding a bit extra for the shape of the front of the boot. In the book it shows the feet removed, but I didn't do this (because I was feeling too lazy to!). Although it probably would have been slightly less fiddly if I had, it didn't really make too much of a difference. This is what it looked like:

Then I wrapped the feet in clingfilm to protect them, because the next part was to create a moulded toe-cap using a small quantity of air-dry clay.

I used La Doll Premix,which I'd heard a lot about as being a commonly used clay for BJD making. This is a premixed version of two types of air-dry clay which the La Doll company make: the normal La Doll and La Doll Premiere. It is supposed to dry to a hard, durable finish, so I've yet to use it properly for scuplting before I can give a full verdict. But so far, and is the first time I've used it, I found it I've been quite impressed by its lightness and hardness.

Being in the UK, it was not easy to get hold of and I couldn't find a UK-based supplier, so I ordered it from a great little shop in the Netherlands, called Heins-Hobbies ( in Dutch, but scroll down to English part), who were very friendly, spoke excellent English, used Paypal for ordering and were all-round very reliable. Recommded to anyone for doll-making supplies!

I also cut out some soles for the boots from thick, black mount card, tracing around the paper templates (see above). The Yoshida book seems to use wood, but I couldn't figure out how I would get the curved arch into the sole without taking a thicker piece of wood and carving it, so I opted for thick card instead which I was able to bend easily. For this small scale this was fine, but it probably wouldn't be appropriate for larger scale dolls. I also cut out an extra couple of heel pieces to stack on top of each other.

Next I cut out the leather uppers of the boots using these templates I cut out from paper:

I sewed the two side panels together at the back, forming the heel and rear ankle part of the shoe.

Then the seams were sewn omitting the bottom part which was going to be glued to the sole.

The eyelets were punched into the curved front part. I marked with a pencil through the holes of the eyelets where the holes were to be punched on the other side, so that they would be equal.

Next I glued the pre-cut leather tongue to the underside of the toe part of leather. (Although I think in future what a better way would have been that rather than cutting out the tongue part separately and glueing it to the underside of the toe leather, I would cut the toe and tongue part out of one continuous piece of leather, so that there's no join.)

Then this is glued onto the clay toe cap (so that it wouldn't fall out when removing the shoe, because you want the cap to maintain the shoe shape).

I didn't sew a seam for the leather tongue because I didn't want it to be too bulky, but I think at larger scale I would. Being so small a neatly cut edge to the tongue seems to be sufficient. The leather side panels will overlap the toe part and be glued to it, so a seam wasn't needed for this either.

Then I carefully cut out small triangle 'darts' into the leather overlap which was going to be glued to the thin card sole. (Use very sharp scissors for this, otherwise it could end up being a bit messy!) The leather does have to be stretched and held into position while gluing so that you don't get visible folds at the join between the leather and the sole, when it gets glued on.

Then the leather sides can be placed on, putting a little bit of glue at the front where the sides join the toe part. As before, I carefully cut little darts into the overlap of the leather, where it is glued to the internal sole (thin card). This was to prevent big lumpy folds of leather from making a messy join between the leather and the sole.

The fun part was lacing up the boot - lets you know you're almost done!

So then the sole is glued to the underside of the leather and internal sole. This has to be pressed very firmly to get a neat join, so there has to be enough glue to secure it, but not so much that it squishes out all over the place! If I were making boots for a larger scale and I wanted them to be more secure than using glue alone, I would probably try to sew the upper leathers to a thicker inner sole and then nail some tiny, short pins through the lower outer sole to this, a bit like how shoes were traditionally made. That is if I were using a wooden sole, or even cast rubber. And tiny, short pins can be acquired by simply clipping some dressmaker's pins down to size (the ones with the tiny heads of course, :p not the bobble head ones) But as I say, not tried this yet, so there may be better ways still, I'm learning as I go!

And here they are!

Next up: Getting closer and closer to completion, so she'll definitely be needing a hat! And where would a girl be without some accessories!