A Downton Abbey Tea

Kit has been rather upset about the end of Downton Abbey earlier this year.  She’s watched the DVD’s over and over again, but she hates the fact that there will be nothing new.  I suggested that instead of being upset, perhaps she should throw a party with a Downton theme to it and have a good old fashioned day of pretend.  She thought it sounded like a good idea and decided to give it a try.

She was busy making sure everything was ready.  Lots of cookies, sandwiches and other goodies were set on the table to eat.  And of course tea, and she decided to set out some lemonade as well just in case someone didn’t like tea.  Doesn’t it look wonderful?

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After everyone arrived, Kit said a few words to welcome everyone. “I’m so happy that all of you could join me for tea today, everyone looks so nice all dressed up. Enjoy your day!”
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Alya, Louisa and Marie-Grace checked out the tables and chose where they wanted to sit.
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Raynia and Shivan checked out the goodies!
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Raynia was so happy that the trip she and Evil Twin made happened to coincide with the tea so she could come.  She borrowed Felicity’s dress just for the occasion.

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Shivan channeled the Dowager Countess for her outfit:
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Louisa said she was happy to be invited because not only was it fun, but she got to wear her pretty summer dress one last time before it got too cold.

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Alya was impressed with all of the different foods there were, especially the deviled eggs.

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Before everyone left, Kit wanted to make sure I took pictures of everyone dressed up.

Raynia, Louisa and Marie-Grace
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Alya, Shivan and Kit
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And one last picture of Kit, doing what I call her Martha Stewart impression! Good job Kit!!
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Later that night, Raynia and Shivan were hanging out in Alya and Shivan’s room, getting ready for bed.
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“That was really fun!” said Raynia.  “Now when I get home, I’m going to have to watch Downton Abbey again so I can see how we did with our etiquette.”

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“Try living here with Kit, I swear she has it on a 24 hour loop!”

Behind the scenes of the Valentine’s Day party

For those of you who do photo shoots/stories on your blogs, you know just how hard some of these can be, and how much work is involved. I thought it might be interesting to those who don’t do these to hear from one blogger what goes in to one. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I bow down to anyone who does these all the time, or does them with large numbers of dolls. 6 dolls for me is a lot of work, I can’t even imagine much beyond that.

As for the story itself-for me, there is a little planning involved, but not a ton. Usually I get an idea and it kind of develops on it’s own, based on things I find or already have, and how much time I have between when I come up with the idea and when I need to post it. The Valentine’s Day post came about when I did the New Year’s Eve slumber party post, so I had a good six weeks to get things and thoughts together. Several of the stories include elements and incidents that come directly from experiences I had as a young girl (and even a few as an adult!)

I’m also someone who keeps their eyes open constantly for things I can use for my dolls, so picking up items I can use for these is an ongoing thing. Some of the items used for this post were purchased even before Christmas, they were items that I saw and thought “oh, I can eventually use that!” Which ones? The walking dinosaur ($1 at Dollar General), the Feng Shui book ($2 at a local bookseller), and the Strawberry Shortcake doll ($4 at a local discount retailer). The sparkly trim used to decorate in the kitchen was something I found in the Christmas clearance stuff at RiteAid one day for all of 33 cents, couldn’t pass that up!  The bead trim I picked up at a local craft store for $2 when I went to look for Christmas clearance stuff, didn’t find much of that, but at least found something.

Doll food-I think we all have some of that! I did add a few things, but not a lot, the bulk of it was stuff I had:
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The macarons, chocolate cookies and the little sandwiches were pieces I had from various OG sets. The cheese and crackers, Hershey Kiss cookies, almond bark, peppermint bark and the little tomatoes are all from Pippaloo, purchased a while ago.  The balloon with the chocolates I picked up at Dollar General for $3, I am hoping the balloon holds air for a long time!  I thought it was perfect for this project, and a lot cheaper than the one that AG has.

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The cake stand here you should recognize as the piece I bought at Joann’s for the Broke Girl challenge. The cupcakes? Those are REAL chocolates, sold by a place we love called Philadelphia Candies. They make these for every holiday and one day it just popped in to my head that they would be perfect as little cupcakes. Best part was I got to eat them once the photo shoot was done. 🙂

I made a lot of stuff for this shoot as well:
The skirts that Rebecca and Abby wore along with the headbands that they and Kit were wearing. I used the mini skirt pattern from Liberty Jane that I featured here before and just lengthened it. The headbands I made up as I went along.  I also made the tablecloth and the runner.
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I made the heart shaped lollipops myself out of toothpicks and Model Magic. I then filled a clear plastic shot glass with the clear beads that I bought to use as ice cubes, then stuck the toothpicks in it, I was pleased with how well they stood up in this. Easy, huh?
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I also made all the little petit fours from Model Magic as well as the heart shaped cookies, the icing on the cookies is puffy fabric paint with a little added glitter. The Hershey’s syrup is a lip gloss I picked up at Claire’s a while ago and the Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream container is an individual sized ice cream I bought at the grocery store and then “tortured” my husband by making him eat it. (yeah right!)
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Several of the gift items were super cheap, costing only a dollar: the gorilla came from Dollar Tree, the box of chocolates from Rite Aid, and the Peace Sign bag from a local craft store. The other items were a few dollars more, but not much. The Hello Kitty was part of a set I purchased at Walmart (the candy was dreadful and quickly ended up in the trash!), the bunny slippers from Hobby Lobby. The “Keep Calm” and “Hello Kitty” books I picked up at Barnes and Noble. The two most expensive things were the Downton Abbey figure and the skating bag, but both worth it. I got the Downton Abbey piece also at Barnes and Noble and the skating bag from Etsy seller If Dolls Could Dream. She didn’t have a skating bag available, but when I asked about one, she quickly whipped this one up and liked the idea so much, she made it available for sale on her site for others as well (just in case you are interested). I had seen the Downton Abbey building online before and almost bought it, but held off. Once I saw it in person, I just had to have it for Kit.

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Let me just clarify that most of what I bought for the “presents” part wasnt pre-planned either. It was primarily stuff that I came across in my travels and thought “hey, that would work!” or something I wanted for my dollhouse anyhow. After I had everything purchased, I sat down and figured out who got what based on various things.  Only the skating bag for Rebecca and the Downton Abbey set were bought with a specific doll in mind.  The paper bag idea actually came from an experience I had in the work place when we did a Secret Santa exchange and discovered one of the guys was cheating, so everyone had to put their stuff in a plain brown grocery bag.  Real life meets doll life!

One of the most time consuming parts in doing these is all the prep work-dressing the dolls, setting everything up, etc.  I usually start out by picking out the clothing for the dolls and dressing them.  Posts like this are a little more difficult when there is a specific theme involved.  With this one I wanted them all dressed in pink or red, so I had to go through my doll clothes and figure out what I had and went from there.  Then comes the fun part–dragging all the stuff to the area where I want to do the photography.  Right now the weather is dreadful and gloomy, and my dollhouse is in a place where it gets very poor light, so I decided to move the dining area to a better place.  My dining room has a nice big window which faces north, giving me better light.  My sewing cabinet was the perfect place to set everything up.  However, it made it impossible for me to sew for a few days while I had this set up, so I had to be sure that everything I needed was already done! I will admit that having the dolls up off the floor like this made me nervous, I’m always concerned with someone doing a face plant and getting “injured”.

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Rebecca and Abby chatting while waiting for me…

 

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See, it’s really a sewing machine cabinet!

 

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Tables and chairs out of the way on the floor beside aforementioned sewing machine.

While doing this, the dining room was a mess, but I can deal with it for a little while!

A chair full of dolls:

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“Get your toe out of my ear!!!”

Finn and Coconut waiting for their closeup:

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After everything is done with the photo shoot comes the fun part:  writing all of it.  And editing/cropping photos.  I usually take way more photos than I need, I’d rather do that than realize that I was missing something as I start to write, and have to stop to go re-photograph.  Depending on circumstances, I will take several photos of the same shot, with or without flash as well, and then decide which one is best afterwards.  I know it sounds like a lot of work, and I’m not going to lie, it is.  But to me it is worth it, and I think back to what a pain in the neck film was and what a blessing digital is!

Oh, and then there’s that whole cleaning up the mess thing.  I do that last, once I’m sure that the post is exactly how I want it and not before.  Thank heavens my husband isn’t a neat freak or anything.  It can be a real disaster area at times.  When I was working on the “Sled Dog” post, I had a laundry basket full of dolls and dogs sitting in the living room for a day or so.  (which reminds me, the sled is still sitting in the dining room, oooops!)

So, that’s it, a day (or two or three) in the life of a crazy doll blogger.  I hope if you took the time to read this, you perhaps learned something or got some ideas of your own.  For me, it’s a creative outlet, and a whole lot of fun. I wish I had more time to “play” like this, but life has a bad habit of getting in the way and we do need to eat.

Also, for your enjoyment: I uploaded a short film showing how the Downton Abbey “house” actually works.  I think it might be the only video of this around!

 

Cousin Felicity Comes To Visit!

My sister came to see me a couple of days ago, she lives about 2 hours away and we don’t get to see each other nearly enough.  She arrived Thursday evening and left Saturday afternoon.  Usually we just hang out and go shopping, but this time before she came, I asked her if she would like to make a Downton Abbey dress for her AG doll.  She thought it sounded like fun, so we spent some time on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning making dresses.  I told her to bring Felicity with her, and was I ever glad she did.  Not just because I just wanted to look at her doll, but another reason.  I knew that the older AG dolls tend to be a little larger than the newer ones, and I wanted to be sure that the dress fit correctly.  My gosh, it is such a good thing that she brought her along for a proper fitting, because it definitely wasn’t going to fit!  I was absolutely stunned at how far off it was because my Samantha doll is an older PC/AG doll, but the dresses weren’t this far off on her.  I even had her cut the pattern just a bit bigger to be on the safe side.   I was really puzzled, so I decided to get out my tape measure.  Turns out Felicity is a good 3/4 inch bigger around than even Samantha!  That doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but if you convert that to human sized measurements, that’s somewhere between 2 1/2 – 3 inches which can be the difference between one size and another in certain styles of clothing.  YIKES!  After thinking on it we came up with a way to solve the issue and it worked well.  However, it leaves me with a bit of a dilemma on what to do about a dress I was going to make off this pattern to donate for a raffle, not sure exactly what size I should make it :/   We determined that Felicity was purchased sometime in the late 1990’s, anyone else have this problem with dolls from that era as well?

Anyhow, we each picked different fabrics out to make the dresses from.  I think that both versions turned out really cute, I can’t decide which is my favorite.  Marie-Grace really wanted to model it alongside her cousin Felicity, so I said sure, I really think it looks great on her:

Front of Felicity’s dress: (her hair kept getting in her one eye!)

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Back of Felicity’s dress with the insert:

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Felicity and Marie-Grace together:

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I can’t decide which one I like best!  Which one do you like?

Felicity in the car ready to leave:

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Marie-Grace showing the front and back of her dress.  I think the blue shade in the dress brings out the blue in her eyes even more!

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I just have to say that I am really glad I decided at the last minute to get Marie-Grace, it’s a shame that they decided to discontinue her.  I think she is probably one of the prettiest dolls that AG has done.  I will be curious to see if they do any dolls in the future with this face mold.

I hope all of those reading in the United States are having a great Labor Day weekend!  It’s raining here, ugh.