Thursday, 31 January 2013

Elin Modification Step 1

Customising a Blythe is something that I have done before; the result is Plum. However things get a bit tricksy when you go back in the annals of Takara to something called the 'Superior Blythe' faceplates.

The mega difference between SBLs and the newer Blythes is that they only have two screws in the back of their heads and (more irritatingly) a glued-in head dome, with a scalp glued on top of that. This means they're a bit of a mare to get apart... no, seriously. One of my go-to websites mentioned SAWING. 

With this prospect waving at me when thoughts of customising Elin reared their head, I was understandably reluctant to give it a go. But she and I really weren't getting on, especially after I tried to sell her and failed miserably. 

I turned to Blythe Kingdom for advice. Although an appreciable amount of forumers suggested I send her off to the Bay of Evil, the majority thought she'd be salvageable with a bit of custom work. Most thought I should pay someone else to do it. But I'm afraid after spending £90 on a doll I don't really like, I'm not keen on spending another "fill in the box here" to end up with a doll I still don't like. 

So up went the sleeves, out came the tools and on with it we got. 

First step: screw removal. So far, so simple. 

We got 4 pairs of new chippies too! 
The disassembly stage thankfully isn't pictured. This involved a very sharp craft knife, side-swiping my thumb and managing to cut some of the scalp flanges off. Not a mega disaster, the edge of the scalp is still pretty clean and the thumb wound isn't deep, but still. We'd have liked a perfect result. 

Blood not pictured.
Getting the eye mech out was more tricksy than on Plum. Part of me wonders if this is because the plastic in a real Blythe is higher quality than the factory. 

Plum wants to be a) Blonde b) Nudist
Finally, we were in bits and ready to start stage two!

Eye see you!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

New Lids

Before we dive into about a week of Elin customisation posts, Plum would like to show off her new lids.


There. Happy?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Here we go again...

Yup, Elin's getting a makeover!

We're going for pale and interesting, losing the SBL smirk and trying not to have heart attacks on disassembly (which apart from cutting one of the flanges off of the scalp went very smoothly, thank you)

Sunday, 27 January 2013


This weekend was the RSPB's annual garden birdwatch event.

Essentially you make a cup of tea, sit at your cosiest window and watch the birds that come and use your garden. You write down how many birds of one type are in the garden at one time, then submit the highest figure.

Aspen and Alexa helped check my counting.
"Well, she's got a pterodactyl on here... that can't be right... can it?"

And Aspen did the uploading.

"Yep... click that one... No... over there..."

Here's my list from this year:
1 Long Tailed Tit
5 Blue Tits
1 Greenfinch
3 Great Tits
1 Fat (wood) Pigeon
1 Starling
2 Blackbirds
2 Robins
22 House Sparrows
3 Dunnocks
4 Chaffinches
1 Coal Tit
3 Stupid (Collared) Doves
1 Magpie
1 Song Thrush
3 Goldfinches
1 Bagpuss
 Not bad for an hour!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

More birdies, hoorah

It was a great weekend for birdwatching last weekend. We had all the usual visitors but with a lovely snowy backdrop, a couple of ones who visit only rarely (long-tailed tits, goldfinch) and then I happened to look out my kitchen window and see six of these hopping around in the leaves along the side of the driveway.

I had no idea what they were at first, but their behaviour was a lot like a blackbird or thrush foraging for insects.

Happily, the BTO guide to garden birds is arranged for duffers like me to be able to find things quickly; I was being visited by six redwings, which are a rather rare type of thrush that visit this country in winter. The snow had driven them out of the fields and onto my driveway in search of food.

Our resident blackbird, who has been known to dive-bomb us when we get out of our cars in breeding season, saw them off fairly sharpish. I caught glimpses of them amongst the trees later in the day, but not anything as good as all six, rummaging in the leaves.

This weekend coming, I'll be setting an hour aside to take part in my 3rd Big Garden Birdwatch. Sign your garden up here!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Plinkography: Snowmageddon!


Plink here, with some more tip-top Plinkography for you.

Apart from enjoying the bracing weather, Friday provided a great opportunity to watch some of the wildlife in the garden in the snow.

Stupid Doves
One stupid dove... ah ha ha... 
Stupid Doves
TWO stupid doves... ah ha ha... 
Goldfinch, honest...
Would've been nice of it to turn around... 
Piecats don't like snow
Pirate the Cat. He's not keen on snow. 
Very soggy squirrel
Posing Robin
Hope you had fun in the snow too! Back soon with more Plinkography!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Makies in the Snow

Take two Makies.

Add a good dumping of snow.
Snow angels?!
Encourage creativity.
We call him Mr Slumpy
Allow pioneering.
Taa daa!
Provide cleaning facilities...
Flipping heck... 
...and lots of hot chocolate.


What a dramatic title!

The Meteorological Office here in the UK likes to give weather warnings a colour. Yellow is a bit iffy. Amber is look out. Red is... omgwtfbbqroflmao lock up your valuables and hang on for a fun time of it.

They announced a red snow warning for today for the UK. Here's why it's a red warning...
Many parts of the Red Warning area are likely to have 20-30 cm of snow with strong southeasterly winds causing blizzards, severe drifting of lying snow and thus severe disruption. The public should avoid all non-essential journeys.
And oooh look. A map!

Oh dear. The Welsh Institute for Makie Science happens to be on the bottom edge of the red area... and the hospital where I work is well into the middle of it!

When we woke up this morning, there were a good four inches of snow on the ground and it's continued to snow all day. I must admit, once the traffic news started rolling in, I didn't even attempt to get my car off of the driveway. I'd handed over all my patients to one of the juniors who lives on site yesterday, and my Consultant told me in no uncertain terms that if I did make it to the hospital, he'd just send me home again. 

So I've been sat in the armchair, drinking tea and photographing the wildlife through the window... 

Poor Squirrel
...and then some very wild wildlife showed up...

O hai!

More to come!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Looks like Melchie and Plink got bored and decided to pick a winner without me*... 

Fil, looks like you're getting your fabric back again. Will send it at the end of this rather bonkers week :) 

*Good old-fashioned 'bung all the names in a hat and get the bloke to pick one out' was used, I just could not be bothered to photo it! 

Monday, 14 January 2013

Hey guys...

I'm here, I'm vaguely alive, this is good.
It's been a horrible week on call.

I'll be drawing the giveaway tomorrow evening; entries for it are now closed as per my original post.

Friday, 11 January 2013


We've had a flirt with lots of different names, but Plum seems to be the one we're coming back to.


She's still not finished. I've got to get her MSC'd, finalise the eyelids and the blush and I've finally ordered the bit to fix her eye mechanism, huzzah, but at least I know her name now.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Tutorial: Turning the Hoodie into a Wolf Suit

Yes yes. Calling it a tutorial might be a little bit rich, but we'll take a bit of a liberty.

So here's the lovely Melchie modelling the prototype wolf suit: 

Rawr, innit?
For ease of finishing, the suit is made from felt. This means you don't need to worry about hemming edges and other fiddly stuff.

To make your own wolf suit, you will need: 
  • The MakieLab hoodie pattern and instructions, which you can get here. You will be using the FRONT, SLEEVE and HOOD pieces only. We will not be attaching the hood casing. I only use one of each piece and cut out with my fabric doubled. 
  • Some A4 paper
  • Pens and a ruler
  • Fabric marking pencil
  • Felt fabric measuring about 40 x 30 cm
  • Felt scraps to make ears and a tail. You don't have to do a wolf! 
  • Snaps or velcro to close
  • Thread and needles. Although I used a sewing machine, you could do this entirely by hand
  • Scissors
Are we ready? Let's go!

Print off and cut out your hoodie pattern, making sure you've got the right scale.

Take the FRONT hoodie piece, cut it in half along the centre front line.  Reconstruct the pieces on your piece of A4 paper, but with a 1cm gap between them: 

I find a bit of double-sided sticky helps to keep these in place whilst you draw the rest of the pattern.

Using your pens and a ruler, you now need to draw around your pattern pieces to make one piece that looks like the shape in this picture: 

The TAIL goes on the back piece, the OPENING goes on the front piece.
To find the mid point, measure along the original bottom edge, then use this to work out where the rest of the lines go. 
You'll note I'm only using the front piece of the hoodie pattern. The original is slightly asymmetrical, in that the back is narrower and the sleeve edge a little differently shaped, but I find you need the width in a non-stretchy fabric and the sleeves fit just fine.
Cut out your trouser legs. The gap in mine measures 1cm in width at the ankles.

Next, take your hood piece. Draw a line where you'll be attaching your ears. I did mine 6cm back from the upper point of the hood.

I get sharpie EVERYWHERE when I use it. 
Then take your sleeve piece...
Nice to know, isn't it? 
Once you've got your pattern pieces, read all these instructions three times before proceeding. I used 0.5cm seam allowances throughout my construction, and the fit is pretty good.
  • Cut two of every piece from your fabric. Remember that if you're cutting on a single layer, you'll have to flip your hood pieces so you get two opposite-shaped pieces (alternatively use both of the hood pieces from the original MakieLab pattern). 
  • Mark your front opening, tail slit and ear slits on the fabric pieces using a chalk pencil.
  • Snip the inverted 'Y' shape on the front piece. Fold the raw edges to the inside and topstich along the opening in a 'U' shape. This gives you an easy way to get the Makie in and out of the suit.  
  • Snip along the tail slit opening on the back piece. Make your tail, insert it into the opening on the right side. 
  • Fold the back piece in half, right sides together, sandwiching the tail, and sew the opening closed 0.5cm away from the edge. 

Insert the tail from the right side, then fold the whole piece in half along the line of the slit.
Sew to close the gap and fix the tail
  • Snip the ear slits and insert the ears in the same way as the tail. If your ears have contrasting 'inner' bits, make sure they're facing the right way before you sew!

Make sure your contrasting inner ear bits are facing forwards, towards the hood opening.
Fold the hood piece in half along the line of the slit, like you did for the back piece. 
Sew across the base of the ear to close the opening.
Repeat in exactly the same way on the other hood piece :) 

Once the ears are inserted...
  • Follow the MakieLab instructions for sewing the sleeves to your front and back pieces.
  • When you get to sewing the underarm seam, simply continue along the side seam down to the bottom of the trousers. 
  • Sew the inner leg seam and turn the suit the right way out. 
  • Sew the hood pieces together as per MakieLab instructions. DO NOT SEW THE BOTTOM EDGE OF THE HOOD INTO A RING, leave it open. 
  • Pin the hood to the suit with right sides together, leaving an equal gap at each edge. I find this is easier if you find the midpoint of the back piece and pin this to the hood seam, then attach everything equally
Blue arrow shows the midpoint of the back piece.
Match this up with the hood seam to place your hood in the middle.
This is the point where you try on to your Makie. Trim the sleeves and trousers to a good length (this is part of the beauty of using felt to make this costume; you don't have to worry about hems and cuffs!), and trim the hood edge away from the face if you need to. 

Once you're happy with the fit...
  • Attach your snaps or velcro to the front openings. 
  • Pose.
  • Prowl. 

If you want, you could extend the sleeves over the hands and attach claws.
Eyes and a nose on the hood could look cute.
Why not attach a row of teeth around the hood opening! 
Taadaa! We're done. Have a cup of tea! Oh, and take photos and share them!

If there are any bits you're not sure on, chuck a question in the comments and I'll do my best to help.  

Saturday, 5 January 2013

It's a wolf suit. Naturally.

Well. It started with a bit of an odd statement on the forum...

And then there was a photo...
Photo by the lovely Fil's lovely SiL, who found the snowman on evilBay
And then there was a bit of an idea of how to do it, which means that as there's revision to be put off, so I'm looking for *any* distraction whatsoever, there had to be a proof of concept!
No fastenings, it's only a prototype... 
This little wolf suit is based on the MakieLab hoodie pattern, which is available in PDF form on the forum. The lower edge is simply extended by about 10cm to form the trouser section, and a 1cm extra width is added to the middle of the front section to facilitate the front edge opening. Construction is pretty much exactly the same, although slits are cut for the ears and tail, which are stitched in before the suit is assembled.
Look! A tail!
I'll see if I can get a pattern and a tutorial up at some point soon, but as I'm spending next week attached to the Big Red Bleep and my rather scary exam is coming up rather fast, you might have to make do with a shot of the pattern pieces and a basic set of  instructions... both of which I'll post tomorrow :)

Go on, Melchie. Get the instructions written... 

Friday, 4 January 2013

Another Giveaway? Woo!

So it turns out that Plink is not a fan of her tartan dress wot is made with lovely fabric that the Fil sent me, and she's decided that another Makie is deserving of it.

You don't get the frying pan... 
This dress is hand-sewn from a beautifully soft fabric that was an unexpected present from the Fil. It fastens at the back with two snaps and has crochet lace around the neck and hem, and three tiny buttons. 

As it's hand sewn, this garment will not stand up to rough handling or children. 

To be in with a chance of winning the dress, leave a comment on this post by noon GMT on Monday the 14th of January. I'll pick the winner once I've woken up from my snooze post night shift! 

Good luck! :) 

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Le gasp!

2013 is obviously destined to be a year of peace. Well. It is if this cat-truce is anything to go by!