Wow, it feels like forever since I last posted! There’s been a lot going on, including a medical scare that temporarily put a halt to all my glorious doll making plans for a week or so (luckily the medical stuff ended up being nothing as scary as the doctor originally thought, but will involve ongoing appointments and tests for a bit). Since then I’ve been playing catch up and trying to get as much done as possible. I’m not gonna lie, this project is becoming more and more daunting as the holiday deadline approaches!
The first big roadblock was the problem of creating the faces. As you may have seen in my last post in this series, I was really struggling with getting the felt eyes down for these dolls and ended up having to decapitate Jo and start over again. After more fiddling around with felt and more messing up, I decided to go for option B, which was to use fabric pens or markers to draw the faces on. I thought this option would be a breeze and there would be no way that it could mess up as much as the felt. Oh boy, was I ever wrong! Every brand of fabric markers I tried bled all over the fabric and ended up being a waste of time and money – luckily I was only practicing on that ill-fated already lopped off head or it would have been a waste of fabric too.*
After much frustration and wasted time, I settled for option C, which was to just give in already and start embroidering the faces. Embroidering doll faces is not exactly my favourite doll making task, mostly because even though I’ve made over 100 dolls at this point, there’s usually so much time in between dolls that I just don’t remember what the heck I’m doing and by the time I go to make another doll, I’m usually pressed for time and have to wing it. I really need to remedy this by taking the time to seriously practice. Also, getting started on big projects like this one a few months in advance would help. I did this to myself, you guys!
I decided to go for the expression I seem to choose the most often when I’m making dolls, because it seemed appropriate for Jo – a bit of a smirk and some serious side-eye action:
Jo number one and two. Yes, I’ve only made two out of four/five so far. Heaven help me!
These dolls will definitely not look exactly alike, as you can see in the above photos, but that’s not a big deal. Jo number two looks more like a Meg, though, mostly due to the dress. Oh well. Jo number one has a bigger problem!
Christopher Columbus, look at her skirt!
A scandalously short skirt! How did this happen? HOW?! The only possible explanation I can think of is that I was doing most of the sewing for this doll in the very early morning hours after some pretty sleepless nights and I didn’t have the brain capacity to realize just how short the darned skirt was gonna be. Also, being way too generous with the hem did help, but even if I let it out, the skirt would still be too short. My options are to try adding fabric onto the length of the skirt, which could be an epic mess, or starting from scratch, which would be better, but take longer.
It’s almost embarrassing how much time each individual item of clothing is taking me to make. A dress alone can take an entire day. I need to start picking up the pace, I have at least two more dolls (and their clothes) to make (I may make an Amy doll for my niece as well) plus another sewing project I want to get done in time for the holidays. On top of all the regular day to day stuff, plus numerous appointments every week, oh, and all my other holiday preparations too, of course.
What on earth was I thinking when I decided to take on this project so close to the holidays? To be fair to myself, the medical stuff alone has really thrown a wrench into everything because it has been eating up so much of my time. I should do myself a favor and start bringing a little bag of hand sewing with me for when I’m stuck sitting in waiting rooms for ages on end with nothing to do but moan to my sister in text messages about having nothing to do while I wait.
I should also stop trying to do all of the work by hand and start doing at least some of it by machine. You know, like a normal, rational seamstress would.
One thing I’ve really been enjoying when it comes to making these dolls is the hair. This was always such a dreadful mess of a task for me and I never felt I could get it right until now. I know it’s still not perfect, but I love using wool roving to create and style doll hair and I honestly don’t think I’ll ever use anything else again, because it’s SO perfect and so much fun to use. And I’m a bit messed up in the head and love that I can essentially stab my way to a pretty hairdo.
Yes, even their hair styles are slightly different and Jo number one has less hair than Jo number two. I’m telling myself that maybe each doll is Jo at a different stage of her life. Besides, it would be no fun for anyone if all the dolls looked exactly the same in every way!
There’s a lot more work to do before the holidays, but I’m determined to get it done in time. I guess it’s a good thing I’ve been waking up at 4-5am every morning – more time to sew!
Even though this project has been so up and down, I’m still loving it and enjoying making the dolls, and though it has been quite a bit of pressure to put on myself, it’s been a really good distraction from just how depressed I’m feeling about the holidays this year. Getting weepy in the grocery store or the mall because they’re playing Christmas music and it dawns on me yet again that this will not only be my first Christmas without my ex, but my first Christmas alone, seriously sucks, so being able to come home and work on these dolls really helps to ease the pain. It also gives me time to think about what I can do to make the holidays a little easier and nicer for myself, like planning to spend a good chunk of the day having a Doctor Who marathon with my cat and making myself yummy food.
I need to remember that I’m gaining way more than I’ve lost when it comes to the marriage ending, while still acknowledging that it is a loss no matter what and it’s okay to grieve that loss. I’ve come so far in the last few months and no matter what BS life has thrown at me since August (and oh wow, has there ever been a lot of BS), I’ve made my way through it and have been kicking ass just about every step of the way. That’s something to be proud of and happy about.
Now is the time to start making my own little traditions for the holidays, and that’s exciting! Realizing that this will also be the first Christmas in years where I don’t have to spend the entire day cooking and cleaning and worrying about making sure that every little thing is completely perfect or else I’ve single-handedly “ruined” the entire day will be a huge relief. After the year I’ve had, it’ll be nice having a Christmas where I can relax and watch my favourite show while cuddling with my sweet little cat, who doesn’t care if things are perfect as long as she’s fed and loved and looked after. And being able to spend time with my family in the following days/weeks without worrying about drama waiting for me at home or having to spend part of the time dealing with in-laws will be a gift in and of itself.
Basically, I need to re-frame the way I’ve been thinking about the holidays, because my mindset about the whole thing has been making me so depressed and that depression has been impacting every other aspect of my life. Yes, it will be sad, but that won’t be different from any other year since my mom died, except that there’s one more thing to be a bit sad about. If anything, this will the best Christmas I’ve had in years, because I’m free from so many people and things that were damaging me and I’m getting to start over now stronger than ever before. And while I’m not perfect, that doesn’t matter because no one is, and I’m still the best version of myself that I have ever been in my life and after everything I’ve been through and fought through to get here, I’m finally someone that I like. That is an amazing and beautiful thing and it’s definitely worth celebrating.
Now, with a much lighter heart than I had at the start of this post, I’m going to get back to work on those dolls!
*Side note: If anyone knows of/has experience with any markers or pens that would be appropriate for doll making/drawing on cloth and not bleed all over the place, please do let me know, I’d really appreciate it!