Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pretty Paper...Dolls!

Hello, cyberlovelies!

It's my birthday today. I'm thirty-two. A thirty two year old who has earned every wrinkle, would be grey hair and memory.

Which makes me think about gifts. The gifts you give, and the gifts you get.

Some of my fondest gift memories are those made by the people I love: my grandmother's patiently knitted hats, scarves and mittens...the way all of my aunts and grandmother raved at my Mama's handmade pine cone wreaths...making harried Christmas Eve goody plate deliveries to each of our family's friends...

It was never the things we bought that I remember. It's the hand-made, "My-Mom-made-this-special-just-for-me" things...I miss them with wistfulness, now that I'm an old hag of thirty two.

In that same spirit, I try to do something home made for each of my nieces and nephews every year for Christmas. There is so much hustle-bustle and a huge focus on what we buy for each other. I don't really do birthdays, but I try hard to do it up for Christmas.

I spend months planning, prepping and actually making gifts for the five best love-muffins in the whole world (which, honestly translates to an excuse to scroll Pinterest, Reddit and facebook crafting groups and videos and still feel like I did something productive and useful....five or six hours later. Fellow crafters totally know what I'm talking about, right? Of course you do).

I get so excited to see them open and enjoy their gifts; sometimes they get them early and then I end up scrambling to come up with something else (like when I made David's "Sharknado!" sweater. More on that, later).

This year, I went searching for something that all three of the young ladies in my life could do together; yet still be fun and engaging for a wide age range.

About three weeks before Christmas, I came across this. It was a kit to make your own paper dolls:


I thought this was perfect: it was a way for each of the girls to make and do crafts and it could be tailored to each kid.

I found it through Pinterest when I googled DIY gifts for kids. It took me to this site:

Grey Lustre Girl's Paper Dolls

When you go to the site, it takes you to the most recent blog entry. The kit entry is hard to find. But if you google "12 days of DIY Christmas + paper doll kits", this should come up.

But, I looked at a picture of the kits contents and it inspired me:


I thought that the kit looked pretty simple to make. It wouldn't take much time and would be an easy project that was relatively cost effective, considering that I had to make three of them.

I didn't like that the kits were housed in a basket/box made out of paper. It would be too flimsy for travel or mailing and was pretty basic. So I decided to skip that part. If you like the paper box-holder, there is a pattern for it on the Silhouette online store.

I had purchased some plastic lunch kits over the summer that I had planned to personalize and give to them as "Back to School" gifts. They went shopping for school stuff and bought lunch bags. So that was the end of that. I put them in the closet and promptly forgot about them.

Then, the idea for the kits came and I realized that the lunch boxes would be perfect - they were sturdy and could hold a lot. They look like this:

The ones that I chose did not have the Disney characters on them. They were plain plastic. I knew that I was going to alter them, so I didn't want to have to contend with peeling off labels, etc. This is the closest facsimilie (because I didn't take a before picture) that Google could come up with. The structure is the same. The shape is slightly different.

I got 5 of them for $2 each.

I used the original box as a jumping off point. I felt like the supplies included in the original kit were a little lacking and not as much fun. So I made a plan and went nuts at the dollar store in the crafting section.

I bought "crafting sticks" that were painted in rainbow colors, like this:

because I thought that the plain ones were boring. They came in a package of 100, so each kid got 20 or so (extras in case you make mistakes or want to double them up for sturdiness), bundled up with raffia.  

I bought pompoms in every color and size I could find. 

I had some pipe-cleaners left over from another project. But when I found metallic ones (yay, sparkles!), I just couldn't resist. Because I cut the pipe cleaners to fit the containers that I was storing them in, I only used 2-3 of each color (cutting each into thirds) So there was plenty left over for another project.

I added feathers, also. I wanted the girls to have lots of options to personalize their dolls. The package included lots of different sized feathers in several different colors, including some metallics.

I bought a bag of mixed colored sequins, also. I had some red ones, already, but I felt like a jewelled dress needed more than just red. There are other great colors, too! Then, I mixed them together.

 I purchased a 4 pack of glue sticks (only came in multiples of 4) and a 3 pack of small bottles of white glue. Sometimes, you need different kinds of glue for the job!

I purchased all of the craft supplies at Dollar Tree for $13 for the lot. I didn't need nearly as much as I had purchased. I had a great deal left over that I'll use for future projects.

I went to a beading store, and purchased three bags of randomly mixed seed beads for $4. The beads available at the dollar store were too large and would have been too heavy to glue to a paper doll.

I mixed them all together in a large bowl when I got home. More on packaging follows...

I also included a set of scented paints (that I found at another dollar store). They came in a set of 3 for $2.50 and looked like this:

I also included a paint brush in each kit. A package of 5 was $1 and I got to keep the left overs.

I put in a strip of about 30 mini stick on "diamantes": sometimes, a dress just needs a little bling! I already had them; just raided my scrapbooking supplies!

The entire shopping trip took about two hours, including both stops. Thinking on it now, the only thing I didn't include was 'eyes', which I had and regret not including

To make the actual dolls (bodies, hair and dresses), I used a die-cut pattern that I downloaded on clearance from the online store for my cutting machine (the Silhouette Cameo). Cost for the patterns (which I get to keep forever) was $5.

The bodies for the dolls looked like this:

Each girl got 15 doll-body patterns. Ten planned dolls, and 5 extras for do-overs.

There were three patterns for different hair styles, that looked like this:

I cut doubles of each so that there was a front and back to the head. I cut each in brown, black, yellow and "red", so that there would be plenty of choices. 

I downloaded several options for outfits....pants, shoes, bathing suits... but settled on "just" dresses. I thought that the other options had pieces that were too fussy and might be hard for little fingers to manipulate. This is the dress pattern I chose:

I cut several dresses from different patterned 12"x12" scrapbooking paper that I already had.  I used some solid cardstocks and other "fancier" papers (purple leopard print, sparkly florals).

Each girl got duplicates of each dress, so that she could personalize them, or have extras for do-overs. I am a *BIG* fan of crafting do-overs!

I chose not to include the shoes. They didn't cut well and were hard to remove from the mat, so I left them off. I also felt like they were too delicate for little hands!

The cutting process for all of the pieces took about two hours.

I sorted each of the pieces into snack sized ziplock bags and labelled them with printed lablels I created using an Avery program. I already had the labels.

Sorting and labelling took about one hour.

To store the supplies, I wanted something more than a bag, stapled closed, as featured in the original kit. I could see that spilling out into a mess that receiving parents would hate me for.

So, I up-cycled a pile of old pill bottles that were given to me. It was easy to clean them and peel the labels.

I painted the bottles and lids with different colors of Krylon (plastic adherent spray paint - there was no way I was going to do all of that with a brush!). I didn't really *need* to paint them, but I felt like it gave the kits a little something special.

You can get Krylon in about 400 colors (some sparkly!) for about $6/can at Wal-Mart (which is where I got it), in the paint section. If you are a person who shops by labels, here you go:

I strongly reccomend specifically purchasing the bottles that say "bonds to plastic" right on them, like this:
They generally adhered better and coated better also. 

The ColorMax and ColorMaster varieties did not do as nice of a job, so don't be tempted by the array of options. (Bottes look like this):

But, they were paints I already had from another project, so I used them.

Because I had to paint two coats (which meant waiting for them to dry), the painting process for all of the pieces took about three hours, over two nights.

Here is a shot of the painted bottles (filled):

You can see that some of the paint didn't totally adhere to the lids (I'm hoping the girls didn't notice!). You can also see my kitchen/crafting table, covered in a rainbow of Krylon. I haven't had time to clean it, to this day.

***Side note:*** I have a bottle of Varsol somewhere in the depths of my craft supply box(es) that I intend to clean this table with!

The following shot is all of the kit pieces together, including the die cuts:

There were things added after I had taken the content picture. Each kid got a bottle of glitter for their dolls also. I was going to mix it together so that each one was the same, but I reasoned that they would likely be making them together and could therefore share with one another.

The actual physical containers took not very much time at all. By the time I was ready to paint them, I had already figured out that I needed to use the bottles of paint that said "bonds instantly to plastic!" for the fastest, easiest and smoothest application.

Painting them took about 1.5 hours, simply because I had to wait for each to dry individually (including second coats), before I could paint the next. My table was just not big enough!

In reality, individual painting time was about 5-8 minutes per coat. I did not paint the insides (as you will see in shots that follow).

Here is what the boxes look like, fully packed. I put the sticks, brushes and glue stick inside of the water bottle, to ensure that I had enough room for everything. I cut the paints in half (groups of 3) so that they would fit in the kit. All of the die-cuts and bags are underneath:

I chose not to paint the bottles.

I cut each of the girls' names with fonts associated with my cutter. I tried hard to pick fonts that I thought reflected them.

I started with Kayleigh's. It looks like this:

The font is called "LD Fill-in".

I didn't center the letters so when I finished it, it looked odd. So I added an embellishment I dug out of my scrapbooking supplies.

This is Hannah's:

The font is called "Cricket Font". 

To embellish hers, I used foam stickers I got in a Valentine kit I bought at Target, but ended up having no use for. I was glad to find a use for them - the bag of stickers was still unopened!

This is Shaelene's:

The font is called "Daisy". 

It is my favorite, and the only one to feature a cleverly disguised finger print. 

In this case, the embellishment was simple, and was also pulled from my scrapbooking supplies. I love it.

I applied and sealed all of the letterings and embellishments with Mod-Podge matte sealant (I wanted the glossy stuff, but that was all that was stocked at Wal-Mart). It costs about $6 for a medium-sized bottle.

I applied it liberally (and still had 3/4 of the bottle left over) with a sponge brush. It took about an hour to dry with no tack (don't test: you'll get finger prints that you'll have to conceal. Trust me. Just leave it). 

I packed them all carefully and wrapped them for Christmas. Of course, they got to open their gifts early.... within seconds... doll kits everywhere!

Total cost for all 3 kits: $40.50 or $13.50 per kit. Which I think is pretty amazing when you consider what it costs for a good art kit, paying retail!

Pictures of completed dolls pending....

Good night, friends. Thanks for sticking your head in my little corner of the web!

Love to you! xo