Thursday, 17 November 2016

A change is coming...

I don't blog often but some of you have noticed we have been very quiet for the past few months on Instagram and YouTube. We have been very busy, and time just flew by. So please let me explain why...

The good news is we're not going anywhere. But the bad news (for me at least) is...we're moving!

We have outgrown our current 4 bedroom home some time 10 years ago, but there's never been a good time to think about moving. With 5 growing kids (and our dolls collection) you can imagine just how squeezed we all  began to feel :) it was high time to bite the bullet and do it.

So this summer, I have taken a hard decision, after lots of heartache, crying and deliberation, to put our current house for sale. That involved lots of decluttering and packing everything up  & putting into storage, That meant that all the kids toys, dolls, doll houses and my vast collection of yarn and crafting supplies had to go, so the house can be made "presentable" to potential buyers. Believe it or not, this took about 3 months to prepare the house for sale, including total repaint, Finally, it was ready, but in the meantime we missed out on a couple of properties that I really loved. Generally, the end of the year is not a good time to move house, so I thought it will take ages for our house to sell, whilst we can keep looking for our dream house...

Well, we must have done a good job, because after just 2 viewings and 1 week on the market, we had an offer on our house, and accepted it. Yayy! But now we had to find a new house, fast. We were hoping for a modern detached house closer to our eldest girls' high school, with a larger garden and at least extra bedroom, so not all kids will have to share..

Sadly, the dream house could not be found on our tight budget, so we have to compromise. Heavily. Which I am not happy about. But there's nothing else. And I did not fancy renting out with 5 kids in tow. So with a heavy heart we've put an offer in for a semi detached in the middle of the city, with more or less same size garden as ours. And same number of bedrooms. So we're not gaining anything in terms of space, other than being closer to the girls' school. So at least they are happy as they're daily commute to school with be cut down from 1 hour to about 10 minutes.

Personally, I can't see myself living in a big city - we currently live in a small leafy town, with lots of country walks, so I am crying just thinking about it. The kids are quite excited though so I guess there's no chickening out now. However, I did warn them that I am not planning on staying in the city for more than 10 years, so we've be moving again, and it's not a "forever home".

On a plus side, the new house is a beautiful period / Victorian semi with tall ceilings, and some original features, including an old fashion kitchen & pantry. so I'm hoping we can improve our cooking & baking skills...The house is generally in a great condition, as the current owner has restored lots of features, but it still has potential for improvement (and crafting). It does feel darker and smaller than our current house though, (and colder, so I'm crocheting extra blankets for us, like mad). It will also need some structural work like adding a window - there's absolutely no views to the garden at all - I don't know why Victorian houses were build like that :( And it need a second bathroom, which our large family really needs. I will definitively need to brighten up & fix it asap as it won't help my depression living in a dark space...

So because of all this house moving "drama", I have been very very sad since all the dolls had to be put away into storage, and I miss them terribly. Moreover, I fear that it may spell the end of our big collection, as I am 99.9% our new house will not have enough space for all the current dolls. And I need to have space for the future dolls AG releases (still did not get a chance to add Leah and Melody to our collection...). So whilst this whole moving experience is a sad news for me, it may be good news for some, especially if you ever asked me if I was planning to sell some of our dolls - there is a very high chance that I will have to. But I reserve the final decision once we're actually in the new house, had a chance to unpack and settle down - then I have let you know if and when I will be putting some of our collection for sale...

In the mean time, please bear with us - since everything is packed away, it's hard to do any photos or videos, but I will keep you informed how the move is going. So please keep your fingers crossed for us that everything goes well...

x AC

Friday, 15 April 2016

My One Week "Spring Cupcakes" Attic24 inspired Cosy Striped Crochet Blanket in Scheepjes Stone washed XL

My One Week "Spring Cupcakes" Attic24 inspired Striped Crochet Blanket in Scheepjes Stone washed XL

For anyone who follows my crafting journey (mainly crochet) on my second Instagram account - @craftsadore you may have seen I've been working on a "Spring Cupcakes" Attic24-inspired cosy stripes crochet blanket for one of my daughters for the past week.

My one week Cosy Cupcakes Stripe Blanket from Lucy Attic24 blog free crochet pattern

Well, today it's I'm super excited to have finished it, and I can't even express how happy I am with it (I honestly couldn't stop smiling all the way through making it :D), for two main reasons:

Firstly, normally the multi coloured blankets are outside my comfort zone, but these Scheepjes Stone wash XL colours are soft and "my kind" of colours - most of my yarn for this blanket came from the Mandala Madness Crochet-Along official pack, but for some reason the colour choice for that project did not agree with me... so I decided to do Mandala Madness in my own colours....and since I had all this beautiful yarn left in my stash, I wasn't sure what to do with it...until I lined all the balls up in a semi-coordinated colour sequence (pink, brown and yellow go very well together)... and my daughter wholeheartedly approved...I was super excited too - they just go so beautifully together...

Secondly, if you EVER tried to crochet a full size single bed blanket (rather than a baby size one) you'll know it takes A LONG time, a lot of hours and sometimes it may take weeks, months or even a year to finish one. Since I've got 5 kids (and myself and my hubby) to make blankets for this year (UK weather is mainly grey and damp so blankets are essential to snuggle under whilst watching Netflix etc. :))...I don't really want to spend a year to finish one - I need a FAST blanket, because the minute I finish one, the next kid  in line is asking - "Mum, are you going to do mine next...." no time to waste :) 

Therefore imagine my excitement when this blanket have been finished in under a week!!. Disclaimer - I am a full time mum, and when I start a project, I usually stay up well past midnight to work on a more sane / normal crocheter may take a bit more time than a week ...but still, it's much faster than months or even years.

The reason why it's so fast is because I've used Scheepjes Stone washed XL yarn, which is "Aran" weight and works up much faster than a DK yarn that is normally recommended for this "Attic 24" striped blanket (free pattern on Lucy's blog). Having previously done a "granny stripes" blanket for my other daughter, also from Lucy's Attic24 blog, in Stylecraft Special DK, which took over a month of long hours to complete, I will now stick with Aran weight in the future... although if you're looking for a cost-effective blanket, Acylic is cheaper than cotton (Stonewash is mixture of cotton and acrylic) and you could also hold 2 strands of DK double...

Cosy crochet blanket in cosy colours and cosy yarn

For anyone who's interested in making one of those Lucy Attic24 cosy crochet blankets, I'd like to share the following top 3 tips / improvements to her otherwise super relaxing free crochet pattern:

1. Chainless Foundation Row

Start with a chainless foundation row instead of chaining individual chains. It is much faster and much better at producing a nice foundation row - there's lots of great YouTube videos if you don't know how to do it. For projects where more than 20 chains are required - I ALWAYS substitute it with chainless foundation row instead. It's a life and time saver skill. Also, since that way you're doing 2 rows in 1, you can tell straightaway how wide your project is going to be, instead of waiting to do the second row...

Chainless foundation row - much faster than chaining 200ch!

2. The Right Yarn & The Right Hook

DK yarn will work up slower than Aran, and Chunky is obviously even faster. For Scheepjes Stonewash DK the recommended hook is 5-5.5mm. I have recently learned that I am a tight crocheter, so in order to loosen my tension I have used 6mm hook for this project - the result is a super soft blanket I am super happy with. Check your tension - each colour stripe aka a 2-row DC (treble in UK) crochet stripe is about 1" in my blanket

My first Attic24 granny stripe blanket turned out too short (photo below) and I had to do extra week's work to add extra stripes to make it longer :( Now I know I should have used larger hook and "lifted" my golden loop a bit more...

My Granny Stripe blanked in Lucy Attic24 sunny pack DK Stylecraft yarn took ages

3. Chainless Row Start aka Starting Stitches and Standing Stitches

Since working on some crochet-along projects I've learned to use Standing and Starting Stitches - great technique if you don't want to have "thin" stitches that chaining 3 at the beginning of the row creates - best YouTube Tutorial imho is by moogly blog (she also does left-handed versions of her tutorials, which I appreciate very much) It took me a while to master it, but it's so much faster and neater so I do recommend you give it a go.

And every time you start a new row, start with a Standing Stitch instead of chaining. Great tutorial on here and again, on moogly blog YT channel.

My Cosy Stripe Blanket Ta-dah moment

So finally, for anyone who's interested on big my "Spring Cupcake" Attic-24 inspired blanket is, the colour sequence and the number of balls of Scheepjes Stonewash XL used (roughly, as I wasn't keeping a detailed yardage count), here is my "ta-dah" moment :)


Using chainless foundation row method, I did enough dc stitches to end up with 46 "granny clusters" of "doubles" (UK trebles) AND + 1 so a total of 139 dc stitches (you NEED that extra 1 stitch so the next row works out properly when you start your granny clusters as per Lucy's pattern notes). Using 6mm hook I ended up with a 112cm/44" wide blanket. You need to do as many stitches as you need to reach the required width (total number of stitches must be divisible by 3) but remember to add that extra 1 stitch.

Finished size 63" by 44" including border (160x112cm) unblocked (I don't bother blocking striped blankets) which is big enough for single sized UK bed (as modelled by a spare matters in the kids playroom :)). If you want it longer, you could add extra stripes, but I've run out of yarn :)
Single size bed cosy striped crochet blanket

Colour Sequence

My colour sequence was largely governed by the fact that I needed to use some yarn from the Mandala Madness 2016 Cal pack, and I also had some single balls of other Stonewash XL colours -  the break up the monotony of brown-yellow-pink and which my daughter calls "sprinkles" in our "Spring Cupcakes" blanket colour design :)

Cosy stripes colour sequence

(note: after the first 33 colour stripes, the colours repeat themselves, ending with brown, making a total of 67 colour stripes (each stripe is made up of 2 rows)

1 Brown Agate aka Brown
2 Rose Quartz aka Pink
3 Corundum Ruby aka Ruby
4 Coral
5 Citrine aka Yellow
6 Brown
8 Pink
9 Green Agate
10 Citrine
11 Ruby
12 Pink
13 Brown
14 Citrine
15 Green Agate
16 Amazonite
17 Ruby
18 Pink
19 Brown
20 Citrine
21 Green Agate
22 Amazonite
23 Yellow Jasper
24 Lemon Quartz
25 Pink
26 Ruby
27 Boulder Opal
28 Citrine
29 Pink
30 Garnet
31 New Jade
32 Canada Jade
33 Citrine

Start the sequence again from 1 Brown as no. 34, and finish with Brown as last stripe no. 67.

Yarn Used

Each colour stripe (i.e. 2 rows) takes about half a ball. So you will need:

1 x New Jade
1 x Canada Jade
1 x Boulder Opal
1 x Coral
1 x Yellow Jasper
1 x Lemon Quartz
1 x Carnelian (or Red Jasper)
6 x Brown Agate
6 x Citrine
7 x Rose Quartz (Pink)
4 x Corundum Ruby
3 x Green Agate
3 x Amazonite

total 36 balls, you will have a small amount left

Weaving in the Ends

I leave weaving all the ends in before I start the border. There's not as many to do as there would be if you were making it in DK yarn, and I don't like to stop crocheting in the middle of the project. It takes the same time, weather you do it after each row or at the end of the project, but imho it takes faster to do it at the end as you get "into the rhythm" rather than switching between a hook or a needle. In the end, it took me half a day to wave in the ends...

Whilst I love Scheepjest Stone wash XL yarn, the only criticism I have so far, is the huge number of knots in the actual balls, which I had to cut off, which meant extra tails to weave in randomly in the middle of the stripes of my blanket.

Border aka Cherry on the Cake

For my blanket border, I opted for the "Spot on Edging" aka linen stitch from Lucy's blog, with the modification of starting with a standing sc stich (dc UK terms) instead of chaining - so much easier!

Base Round - in pink - just over 1 ball used
Round 1 - in brown - half a ball used
Round 2 - in carnelian - half a ball used
Round 3 - in brown - half a ball used

Hope that helps if you're considering making one of Lucy's Atttic24 crochet cosy stripes blankets, but much faster, in Aran weight yarn :)

Attic24 cosy stripe blanket in Aran Scheepjes Stonewash XL yarn

Many thanks !
AC @ CraftsAdore (my crafting Instagram @craftsadore2)

All our Custom American Girl Dolls

All our Custom American Girl Dolls

For the very first time - all our custom American Girl dolls in one video! As one of my daughter briefly explains how each custom AG doll was made (subtitles are available!), I just wanted to thank all our subscribers and fans for continuing  love & support - I can't believe we've reached 5 K subscribers....I still can't wrap my head around it...

All our dolls are shared between myself (aka AC aka mum, an Adult Collector and doll customizer :)) and my 5 kids - yes, we do have a lot of AG dolls between us, but most have been rescued second hand off eBay, often in a poor state, restored, given a little makeover and now have a second chance to be loved by my kids and I :)

If you're interested in restoring and possibly customizing an American Girl doll, there's lots of 'how-to' tutorials on our YouTube channel in a "How-To" playlist, but adult involvement is highly recommended!

Many thanks for watching!
AC @ CraftsAdore

P.S. some of our current American Girl customs will get new wigs, or become boys :) - I haven't fully decided yet - so we will do either an updated video or individual makeover videos as and when that happens....

P.S.2 You may or may not have noticed that we've been a little bit quiet on our YT channel recently. Rest assured we'll be back very soon - it took us awhile to get all the dolls changed into Spring outfit, and we couldn't figure out how to put all our dolls together to have them all in one "family" shot - normally they live in our "American Girl Doll House", but putting them all together "in one shot" was a bit of a challenge. I think we finally figured it out...but then some kids got "Spring bugs" and couldn't film....but they're slowly getting better... and we're nearly make sure you're subscribed to our channel to get a notification once the 'All our American Girl dolls - Spring 2016' is finally published !!! AC xx

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Frozen Inspired Crochet Dress for American Girl Doll or other 18 inch dolls Free Crochet Pattern

Frozen Inspired Crochet Dress for American Girl Doll or other 18 inch dolls Free Crochet Pattern

I got inspired by our Frozen Custom American Girl Doll, Elsa, to make her a crochet dress. I know cold never bothered her anyway, but a little handmade crochet dress never hurt anyone :)

The dress is an improvised extension of a free pattern for a top for an American Girl doll or other 18" dolls, already available on Ravelry, so you need to refer to that pattern for the top part first - this free crochet pattern is amazing and so versatile and I totally recommend :).
Frozen-inspired crochet dress for our Custom American Girl Doll Elsa

I am happy to share my pattern notes to extend the free pattern for the 'SC top' to make it into this American Girl doll frozen-inspired crochet dress pattern for free, providing that you follow this copyright notice:

Copyright Notice
Feel free to share a link to this pattern by linking to my blog and giving copyright credit to the original pattern owner for the SC Top pattern, and the rest to © CraftsAdore, but do not copy the pattern and claim as your own. The pattern is as-is, and I cannot provide any individual support on it. This pattern may not be used to produce items for commercial purposes - you may crochet from this pattern for own personal use only or for charity. Please feel free to share your finished project by adding your comment to this post or tagging me on Instagram. ❤ Happy Crocheting ! 

Since my dress is totally improvised to fit my specific American Girl doll (originally Grace Thomas), you may need to adjust the pattern slightly to increase or decrease extra stitches, as not every American Girl doll is the same size (older dolls are more "chubby" and newer dolls are more skinny), and other 18" dolls may be slimmer/different shapes

I use US Crochet terms:
sc = single crochet (double in UK terms)
dc = double crochet (treble in UK terms)
ch = chain
hdc = half double (half treble in UK terms)
dec = decrease 2 stitches together to make 1 st
inc = increase in 1 stitch to make 2 st in one stitch

Yarn used: Paton Baby Aran in blue and Hook H / 5mm. Any other Aran / Worsted 10ply yarn can be used - you can check your tension by trying it on your doll. I used DK weight yarn for the "belt" and trimming which seemed to work well together.

Top – make as per SC top pattern, up to the Row 15 in blue, then change colours to White for the "belt" i.e. Row 16&17 (I used same white for belt and edging)
Frozen-inspired crochet dress for our Custom American Girl Doll Elsa

Row 16 SC in white, then continue in white:
Row 17 *(SC, CH1, DC) in next st, skip 1 st * repeat till last 1 st. 1 sc in last st. (basically the same as row 21 of original SC top pattern).   Switch colour to blue.

Row 18 - continue in blue: Ch4 for button loop, then SC every other st to end up with 45 st again at the end of the row. (note: if you want to use ribbon as "lace" closure for the dress, you need to do loops on either side of the top)

Row 19 - DC all round, but increase in the beginning (2 DC in first stitch) and every 10st or so till the end, to end up with 50st.
Row 20 - SC all st till end
Row 21 -  DC all st till end, join in the round at the end
From now on, you'll be trying the dress on from time to time every few rounds to check how long you want it and how much decreases to do to fit the doll (it fits legs first rather than through the head...)
Continue in pattern of 1 DC row followed by 1 SC row (it builds up in length quite quickly)
After 5 times of (1dc+1sc) rows in total as counted from white belt, check the fit, and dec evenly to 45 st in SC row by sc2tog (I use invisible decrease)
After total 9 (1dc+1sc) rows, dec to about 40st and continue in pattern of 2 rows consisting of 1dc+1sc rows till ankles are reached. Once happy with length, fasten off and do finishing touches as follows:

Finishing touches:

For Sleeve edges  I used 4.5mm / 7 hook and white sparkly DK yarn – SC all round, and then
*SC, CH1, DC, skip 1 st * all round

For Neck  edges – just SC all round in white DK / 4.5mm hook.

For white frilly bottom edge: white yarn and hook as for sleeve & neck edge:
Round1: SC all round,
Round2: HDC all Round,
Round 3: 2HDC in each st all round. 
Round 4-5 Then 2DC  in each st all round for 2 rounds

Weave in all ends.
Sew on the buttons on the back (alternatively you could have done "button loops" on both edges of the top and use a ribbon to tie it as "laces")

Due to the tight nature of this dress design, your doll won't be able to sit in it, but she'll look super cute standing :)
Frozen-inspired free crochet dress for our Custom American Girl Doll Elsa

If you make this free crochet dress for your American Girl doll or other 18" doll, don't forget to tag me on Instagram : @craftsadore so I can see your makes :)

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Our Huge" American Girl Doll House" Tour 2016

Our "Huge American Girl Doll House Tour" 2016

I call it an American Girl Doll House but it's more like a collection of IKEA Pax wardrobes, which house our AG Doll collection...Our AG "doll house" is nowhere near finished, as I want to take my time with it, and decide which "rooms" will house which dolls, and what AG furniture do we want to collect, but here it is anyway - our first ever American Girl doll house tour, yayy!! I hope it will inspire someone how to display their American Girl Dolls collection - Ikea PAX wardrobes are relatively inexpensive, the shelves can be adjusted to any height, which makes it perfect for some taller AG Furniture....You may be able to guess which part of the doll house is most enjoyed by the younger kids (hint - the spa and the kitchen...), and which rooms are strictly mine and off limits to the youngest ones (aka top rooms and especially white-bodied dollies :))

As we improve the rooms, we'll be doing updated room tours, but I don't expect to add any more rooms - after all, 21 big rooms (and 4 "box rooms") should be more than enough...

Thank you so much for watching! AC & the kids x

P.S, and if you'd like to see some rooms in more details, check out our American Girl Doll House Room Tour playlist on our CraftsAdore's American Girl Dolls Channel.

Monday, 18 January 2016

My New Year Resolution - Crocheting cute animals out of Edwards' Menagerie Patterns by Kerry Lord

My New Year Resolution - Crocheting cute animals out of Edwards' Menagerie Patterns by Kerry Lord

My New Year Resolution for 2016 is to increase my crafting productivity, as well as continue with my passion for American Girl dolls!

I decided to start the year by concentrating on just one project, and one type of craft, rather than spreading myself thin and doing lots of different ones. And when I say just one project, I mean all crochet animals from Edward's Menagerie book by Kerry Lord / TOFT UK. And when I mean all, I mean as much as I can - some are harder and some are easier (I've done the bunnies and elephants before) - but I am definitely planning to attempt all of them, in the bid to improve my amigurumi skills.

My first make, Bridget the Elephant is now completed:

You can join me on my second YouTube channel, CraftsAdore Crafts, as I vlog about my crafting journey this year, and show you the progress. I am also on Ravelry and on Instagram @craftsadore2

And so that our main YouTube channel is more clear as to what it's all about, it has been renamed to CraftsAdore's American Girl Dolls Channel :) where my kids and I plan lots of AG dolls videos so please make sure to subscribe! I predict a very busy & fun 2016 year!

Friday, 18 December 2015

American Girl Doll Eye Swap Tutorials

American Girl Doll Eye Swap Tutorials

In addition to our original "American Girl Eye Swap" Tutorial, we've made a series of separate eye swaps tutorials - each one showing each of 8 different face molds.

American Girl Doll Eye Swap Tutorials - Eye Swapping Different Face Molds

All our American Girl Doll Face molds eye swap tutorials can be found here:
❤ Classic Mold ❤ video tutorial (which is the main tutorial - you MUST watch this one first!)
❤ Addy Mold ❤ video tutorial
❤ Asian / JLY 4 Mold ❤ video tutorial
❤ Josefina Mold ❤ video tutorial
❤ Kaya Mold ❤ video tutorial
❤ Jess Mold ❤ video tutorial
❤ Sonali Mold ❤ video tutorial
❤ Marie-Grace Mold ❤ video tutorial

In each one I perform an eyeswap on that particular mold. Some face molds are easier and some are harder, so I recommend to watch them all to make your own judgment!

American Girl Doll Eye Swap Tutorials - what can go wrong

Eyeswapping is a great skill to have if you want to create your own unique doll BUT there are lots of things that can go wrong. To support this series of videos, we've added a quick info video on what can potentially go wrong when attempting to eye swap an American Girl doll

American Girl Doll Eye Swap Tutorials - Top Tips

Before we begin please remember that customizing your American Girl doll whether it’s eye swapping or wig swapping will invalidate your guarantee with the American Girl doll and they will most likely refuse to accept any doll to their Doll Hospital if they have been customized.

I'm an adult doll collector, and I do all the eyeswaps and customisations, and I want to share with you the dos and don’ts of eyeswapping as it has become increasingly popular amongst the American Girl doll collectors

First of all, it’s NOT for younger children – American Girl dolls are expensive and I would not want to encourage anyone to try it on their brand new doll. Besides, you need at least 2 dolls to swap eyes with.

It is cheaper to find a doll in bad condition, to use her eyes, rather than look for just the eyes. On the other hand, unexperienced 'eye swappers' are more likely to ruin the eyes during the popping out process, so it may be easier to acquire the eyes by themselves, already 'popped out'.

Tip 1 Hot Hot Hot

Since the eyeswapping American Girl Doll uses hot water, wear gloves that can protect from heat. The doll's head will get REALLY got - I use a washing up glove on the hand I'm holding the hot head with, but the other hand I have free, so I can hold the eye.

Tip 2 Dolls with Holes

For dolls with pierced ears, cover the ear holes with a duck tape, to stop the water from coming out through the holes. I'd recommend you take the earrings out as they'll get VERY got, but put them back on after the eyeswap is finished, because the earrings holes can get smaller as the vinyl cools down.

Older dolls may also have holes in the top of the head, which you may not see, if the wig is still on, or even broken eye sockets – (you could test it by pouring the cold water in first ) so to avoid the hot water leaking out of the head during the heating up time – use a bag (a freezer food bag or a sandwich bag is best) – stuff it in the head, and pour the water into that bag. But do note that the heating time may need to be increased by an extra minute or so, depending on the thickness of the bag.  

(whilst I hear people use a hair drier to heat up a doll, I've never done that so I cannot comment or recommend it)

Tip 3 Heating Time Varies

The heating time will vary depending on the type of the mold and the vinyl – some older dolls require longer time and some shorter, and some require multiple reheats, and the vinyl cools down much faster than others. 

Any doll with neck rim like on the photo below will be guaranteed to be an older doll (from around 2000-2005, I can't tell for sure) that has harder vinyl that takes longer to heat up and cools down faster - so I recommend NOT to eyeswap that one if you're a complete beginner!

I would say newer / more recent dolls are easiest to eyeswap - anything from about 2009 onwards as the vinyl is lighter/thinner and more easy to work with.

So as a general rule, I heat up the head for 2.5 minutes at a time, then try and see if the eyes pop out – if the eye does not come out easily within 10-20 seconds, then don’t continue to struggle - reheat the head again with water inside the head (remember the bag tip – it may take longer if you use a bag!) and try again. 

I never heat the head longer than 2.5 minutes at a time if the eyes are still in (I may reheat it longer when it's time to put the eyes back in - it's safer without eyes in). 

The eyes will be VERY hot if you heat the head multiple times, so I take the eyes apart into their 3 parts immediately after we take the eyes out, to help them cool down faster. 

Sometimes the second (or even third time) you need to heat up, it only needs an extra minute, rather than 2.5, depending how soft the head still is. You need to use your judgment – if you’re struggling to get out the eye within 10-20 second maximum then do NOT struggle – stop and reheat again. 

And if the eye moved out of place – as in it gone/flipped backward – use the nail tool to push it back properly IMMEDIATELY – this is because if the plastic “front” eye is in contact with the hot vinyl even for a short few seconds it WILL melt – it needs to be “protected” from the heat in it’s plastic & metal casing.

Tip 4 Time is precious but don't panic

From the time you pour out the water out of the head, to when you start doing your popping in/out of the eyes, don’t dawdle – have all your tools ready in advance – time is precious, as with every second the head will cool down more – making it harder to do the swap = but on the other hand don’t panic – you can always reheat & try again!

Tip 5 Melted eyes

There’s not much you can do with completely melted eyes, where the backing “fell off” and the plastic eyes are misshapen – if it’s only a little bit melted the eye can be still used but you may need to use a craft knife to cut off a little bit of misshapen plastic if it stops the eye from closing. Best advice to avoid melted eyes in the first place is NOT to struggle taking them out – reheat the head until it’s soft enough to pop the eyes out straight without much struggle. The worst face mold that can cause melted eyes is Addy's mold so make sure you watch that one!!

Tip 6 The Right Tools

DO NOT use any other methods of heating up like microwave – the eyes have metal parts in them and you WILL melt the eyes. I also do not use hair driers for the fear of melting the eyes or the eye lashes. I ONLY  use the hot water method. The water will not “seep out” out out of the sockets – they are solid “enclosures” – only once I have seen broken eye sockets though…and used a bag as shown above.

Tools you use are very important – I have 3 different length wooden spoons to hand, and a nail tool – I don’t use anything else but I have seen people using knifes (gasp), embossing tools and so on – but anything that YOU find comfortable to hold is fine. 

The reason why I have 3 different lengths spoons is because some molds have different socket positions – Addy’s mold in particular, has very deeply situated eye sockets and you need extra long wide handle to be able to reach it to push the eyes out – some easier face molds like Classic one, I use a shorter spoon.

I use the short nail tool as it’s the short and comfortable to grip, and you need to have it close to the eye so it doesn't “slip about” and scratch whilst you position the eyes into place. 

It is not GUARANTEED that you won’t scratch the eye lids – most likely. on your first go, you will – and even most experience eye swappers will scratch the eye lids sometimes – or the paint on the older dolls will just chip off more easily during eye swap – it’s not the end of the word – most customizers are just so happy with the completed eye swap, they don’t care and it doesn't bother them, or you could retouch the scratch with some acrylic paint – there’s tutorial on that on our channel too.

Tip 7 Wonky eyes

In the ideal word, the eyes would just pop in straight back, you push them down, and they are perfectly aligned. Whilst it can happen (and more experienced eyeswappers can do that :) ), chances are it won’t happen for most of us. 

Personally I found Josefina & Kaya mold the easiest, where the eyes seem to pop and be adjusted more easily then in other molds. The second easiest is classic mold. Other molds may take longer to adjust. The trick is to try to push it in at this angle, horizontally to the nose, and if it isn't and you have too much adjusting to perform (i.e. the eye is wonky / way out of line), you'd be better off popping it out and reheat and try again. Always let the eye to cool down between eyeswaps.

In my tutorials, you’d see me adjusting the eyes whilst the head is on the table – this is so you can see it on the camera. In real life I hold the head upright, up to my eye level – it’s so much easier to actually see what you’re doing!

So remember: If the eyes are TOO wonky, it’s better to take them out and try putting them again more straight (which basically means start the eyeswap from scratch) – that’s because the more you push it around, the more chances of the eyes coming apart from it’s backing inside the socket.

Tip 8 Face molds are different

Some Face molds are easier than others. If it’s your first time learning to eyeswap, firstly use a doll that you don’t mind ruining, and learn by just popping the eyes in and putting them back in. The best ones to learn on are Josefina mod, Kaya and Classic, in that order. The worst ones to try on are any Asian molds – Jess, Jly 4 . The hardest is Addy mold and I do not recommend her for complete beginners! When I say some molds are "similar" to Josefina mold, I don't mean they look the same - I mean that in terms of eye swapping / eye sockets they are very similar.

Tip 9 Broken Eyes

Do not let the eye “fly out” across the room or on the floor. It may break – the eye consists of 3 separate parts, which meant to come apart, plus the metal back weight which is glued on to the plastic part – The plastic part – i.e. the actual eye, is the most vulnerable and easily ruined by the heat.  If it’s in it’s plastic and metal casing, it’s protected during the heating up process, but if in direct contact with heat, it will melt within a few seconds! 

If the eye 'flies across the room' when popping out, you can break / have crack in the eye or worse break the tiny plastic “rods” that help the eye rest on the plastic casing and “rock” / open & close. There are ways to fix it – you can use a very small seed bead for example to glue it on in place of the missing rod, but you may find that they eye will not “shut” anymore. 

The 3-parts – metal, plastic backing and the eye, meant to come apart, and I usually take them apart immediately after popping the eyes out for two reasons – first to let the eye cool down faster, and two – to check if the plastic casing has not been misshapen during the pushing out – if so, put JUST the plastic backing part ( it is typically black, but I have seen white or pink too) into hot water for 1 minute, and then use back of the wooden spoon to flatten it – if not flat, the eye will not “close” properly. 

Sometimes the eye rattle too much sideways – that may be because the little plastic pin inside the backing was flatten accidentally – it needs to be straight up so make sure you don’t accidentally flatten it with the spoon if you’re trying to fix the backing!

Sometimes 3-parts of the eyes “fall apart” during the putting back in stage – it helps then to glue them in place together around the metal rim to the plastic backing – you need to let the glue dry completely (I use the glue pictured above).

If the eyes are broken/beyond repair then you'd need to look for another pair - eBay, Facebook groups, forums etc are a place to look for. Sometimes maybe you have one eye left that it's a good one - you can sell/donate/exchange it - somebody else may be in need of one eye - you never know!.

Tip 10 Pop the Eyes Back in - They WILL go in!

I always wear kitchen glove when doing eye swap on the hand I hold the dolls head, but not the one I use to push the eye in – as it helps control the eye direction better, but saves my other hand from burning as the head is HOT HOT HOT! 

The doll’s head needs to be squished, to get the eye in, and not the correct angle of the way the eye has to go in. The important thing to remember at that stage is NOT TO PANIC – that eye have gone in before therefore it WILL go in again – there’s no particular rush, but normally it’s up to 20 seconds before the head is too ‘cold’ and too hard, to get the eye in. 

So your priority is to get the both eyes in, and then to do final adjustments as you have at least 1-2 minute to do adjustments before the head is too cold. 

Or if you prefer, put one eye in, adjust, and then reheat the head again for the second eye. What you must NOT do, is to reheat the head if the eye is not adjusted at least to have NO plastic eyeball in contact with the vinyl. 

Remember: the timings are approximate – some older dolls have harder vinyl that cools down much faster so there’s less time to adjust the eyes completely, and will need an extra 1 minute to reheat to complete the eye adjustment. Just don’t panic-  panic ruins eyes!

To adjust the eyes, you push in on the metal part in the direction you want it to go – I usually go one on each side of the eye, as it’s literally tiny movements that will push it into place. The adjusting is easier if the head is still soft so reheat if necessary (only 1 minute will most likely be enough),

To adjust the eyes I usually hold the doll’s head up to my eye level, so I can see better what I’m doing, rather than leaning over her on the table.

Tip 11 Stand Up & Push!

Stand Up! This job requires some strength, and it may not seem obvious, but standing up gives you more power to pop the eyes out, and ESPECIALLY when putting them back in. Use your body strength as well as your fingers. It will hurt anyway but it should not hurt that much if the head is properly heated up & you're standing up!

Tip 12 Take a Break!

Don’t do it if you’re tired, stressed or there’s other people trying to watch you!! As fascinating as it is, tell them to watch a YouTube AGSM video, instead of gawking at you – it’s stressful enough without additional audience lurking over you. If you’re stressed or tired, you’ll try to rush it, so leave it for next day, when you can come back to it with a fresher mind. Some eyeswaps I've done over the course of 3 days as the doll did not want to co-operate / I was tired, but we got there in the end :)

Tip 13 Cracked Vinyl

Sometimes the vinyl around the socket looks like it “split” during the pushing in stage – you can minimize the damage by using micromesh to smooth it out but there’s always going to be some “scarring” – which funnily enough it’s easier to fix if the eyes are out. For me, the couple of times it had happened, it happened to be just above the eyelashes so it’s not that visible once the eyes are in. 

When you watch the eyeswap, it may look like the doll is being squashed / hurt - if the vinyl is soft, it should not hurt it.

Tip 14 Not all Eyes are the Same

You may find there is some variance between eyes - sometimes they look too sunken, sometimes they still stick out / i.e. you can see the metal rim still showing. There's been occasions that I had to give up on my idea of a Custom American Girl doll because they eyes did not fit properly and did not suit that particular doll

That's it for today. I will be updating this blog occasionally as I remember more tips :)

DISCLAIMER : I am an adult American Girl Doll collector & customizer. Always ask for permission to do any customizations to your doll (if applicable) and do not repost this blog or any of the photos included on here - all Photos & Videos Ó Copyright CraftsAdore - but you may share the link to it :)

Monday, 7 December 2015

How to Tell American Girl Doll's Age - How old is your American Girl doll

How to tell American Girl Doll's Age / How to "Date" your doll 

When buying second hand pre-loved dolls or older dolls, sometimes you won't know for sure how old the doll is, is she a real Pleasant Company / Pre-Mattel doll or a recent American Girl doll? How to tell real American Girl Doll from Fake one ? There are several indicators to look out for - some are obvious, and some you may not know about!

Here's a quick guide my daughter and I did recently to help new collectors tell the age / date their American Girl Dolls - hope that helps someone to avoid paying extra for a "Pleasant Company Elizabeth" and demystify why some dolls have no stars on limbs / are the fake or real AG doll / why is there a 2008 body tag on a GOTY 2005, for example. I know we could have made it longer and go on about more characteristics and differences but it would be too long to watch :).

Many thanks for watching! AC

Monday, 30 November 2015

American Girl Doll Josefina Montoya

American Girl Doll Josefina Montoya

Josefina Montoya is the 6th Historical character released originally by Pleasant Company in 1997, and revamped in "BeForever" rebranding in 2014. She represent 1820s history of New Mexico, before US ownership.
I love American Girl Doll Josefina Montoya so much, we actually ended up having 3 of them - one BeForever from 2014 (who now have been customized) - here's here original opening video below - and 2 "transition" Pleasant Company historical ones from about 2000-2002 (only kept 1 historical "cannon", and the other one, who was in a very bad condition, was restored & customized)

Here she is having her meet braid taken out:

BeForever Josefina's earrings bothered me, because they were sticking out at an odd angle, and I wanted her to be able to wear any "human" sized earrings, so here's how to take Josefina's Earrings out tutorial:

There is a slight variation between early Historical & BeForever Josefina, mainy the eyebrow placement which may be higher on some dolls.

American Girl Doll Caroline Abbott

American Girl Doll Caroline Abbott

I love Caroline Abbot so much, we have in fact 3 of them, only one is kept "cannon" and the other 2 have been customized. Caroline was released in 2012 as 13th "historical" character in the American Girl Dolls line up, and revamped in 2014 as part of "BeForever" rebranding. She was officially archived in 2015.

There is a small difference between Historical & BeForever Caroline Abbotts though (I've decided to keep the historical Caroline from 2012 as "cannon"), as shown in this video:

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