Guest Post: Plastic Canvas Dollhouse by Mel Dawn

We’re excited to announce our first guest blog post by our friend Mel Dawn! Mel is a writer and crafter based in New Westminster BC, with a love of cats, Doctor Who, and a passion for creating unique pieces with plastic canvas. Below Mel shares with us one of her plastic canvas projects, a custom made dollhouse!

Don’t Turn Away, Don’t Look Back, and Don’t Blink: You Don’t Want to Miss This Craft Project!
by Mel Dawn

Many people collect action figures from the Doctor Who, Marvel, and DC Comics universes, but then are puzzled as how to display them. A collection should never be stuffed to the back of the closet. Over time, you may think you’re imagining the words, “We must escape the bat cave! Exterminate! Resistance is futile!” and loads of other phrases to guilt you into unpacking your geek collection.

Perhaps it’s time to help your lonely action figures find a home. But with a quick scan of eBay, you realize you can’t afford the Tenth Doctor’s TARDIS interior and console room. But you can afford to make your own action figure dollhouse.

It took me two years to make this miniature dollhouse from plastic canvas and yarn. It was actually a Mary Maxim kit, but you can buy plastic canvas from most dollar and craft stores. It doesn’t take a lot of yarn to make—you can use your yarn scraps from finished knitting projects.

Before I started, I didn’t have any specific dollhouse in mind. You can create an idea from Dollhouse, Doctor Who—the house from Blink, a haunted house, or headquarters from Deadpool.

I actually kitbashed my dollhouse. Finished, it’s 14 inches wide by 17 inches tall, but originally the pattern called for it to be around 12 inches by 12 inches. I wanted it to fit not only my action figures, but my Dawn Dolls too. These toys are about six inches tall, though I do have a smaller scale of action figure—Melanie from Doctor Who—who is about four inches tall—in the living room of my dollhouse, as well as a red Dalek. But David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and the Weeping Angel—made by Nick Norris on his 3D printer—stand about six inches tall.

I decided to make the rooms wider, and taller. I actually had to buy extra plastic canvas as the kit didn’t contain enough. I also didn’t follow the guidelines for yarn colours. I kept the colours of the kit in the bathroom and kitchen/dining room areas, but I changed the bedroom to mauve, and the living room to burgundy and red. I also had to use my own yarn as there wasn’t enough in the kit to create the new size of walls.

Plastic canvas is a lot like cross stitch, but you work your stitches on a rigid form of canvas instead of flexible canvas material. You also need to use yarn, though there are smaller gauges of plastic canvas that can be worked with embroidery floss. I worked with the Darice seven count plastic canvas (7 holes to one inch), the largest scale I’m aware of. These come in rectangular sheets, but you can buy other shapes and sizes such as hearts, circles, and squares too.

The stitches are worked a lot like on cross stitch, but instead of creating an X, you create only a row of //////s. You can work a variety of different stitches with your pattern, much like cross stitch, but with my dollhouse it was most //////s.

You can see in this photo where I have first done all the stitching for the front panel of the house. I have also added the brown overhang. The windows are stitched with yarn, but can be cut out.

In the next photo you can see the inside panel of the walls, as well as the left wall attached, and one short inner wall between living room and kitchen. I also made a rug for the living room. This was a pattern I found online. That’s one nice thing about making a project—you can constantly add to it over the years.

Here is the finished inside of the dollhouse. If I did this project a second time I would have added a sturdier form of plastic canvas between the floors and the walls, because you can see it sagging a bit in the photo. Or, you can accept it as the nature of the materials you are working with.

You can see how much fun it is to add your own action figures to the scene. The pattern I had also came with instructions for making the furniture. Again, I had to modify the pattern so the furniture fit the scale of the action figures. I also found patterns online to make other furniture, such as the burgundy chair in the living room.

The dollhouse even has an attic. I made a pirate’s trunk to fit up here. I added a rod to the closet, and made the bathroom cabinet open up.

In this photo you can have a better look at the burgundy chair that I made from a smaller scale of canvas mesh (ten count), so there are more stitches per square inch.

I found a clock pattern, so the kitchen has a clock above the fridge. The kitchen is a bit crowded, and I never made all the furniture that the dollhouse was supposed to have. I also eliminated a third room on the second story, a nursery. In hindsight, I should have made a cat room.

This project took me about two years to make, but others may work it faster if they have no other projects on the go. I still have other patterns I want to make, such as a dining room hutch. The playing options are endless, and gamers can even think up ways to incorporate the house into a game.

Plastic canvas is about 99 cents per sheet. You can buy special plastic canvas needles, scissors, and yarn, to make your plastic canvas crafts easier to make. Patterns and kits can be expensive, but you can create your own patterns and designs. Most people who try the hobby get hooked after the first few weeks. If you’re like me, you’ll end up having several folders of project ideas on your computer.

Thanks again to Mel for sharing her dollhouse with us! If you want to see more projects made by Mel or learn about her writing services, please visit her blog website.

Baby Groot Around Vancouver #3 – Naramata

Hi everyone! I’m finally going back and writing up some of my pending Baby Groot Around Vancouver posts that I’ve been meaning to do for awhile. Today’s post is Baby Groot’s first trip out of the Lower Mainland – to Naramata in the Okanagan Valley last September. Come and join Baby Groot as he goes to the beach, picks apples, and indulges in some wine tasting!


The Okanagan Valley is located is the interior of British Columbia, roughly half way to Alberta and at the south end of the province. The region is known for its hot and dry climate, and is a popular getaway spot for locals in the summer. Kelowna is the biggest city in the area, but we headed instead to the small town of Naramata, located at the south end of Lake Okanagan.

So, what is there to do in the Okanagan, you ask? There are lots of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and swimming in Lake Okanagan, but our main goal was the wine! The Okanagan Valley is well known for its fruit trees and vineyards, and you can’t drive two minutes along the ‘Naramata Bench’ without tripping over another winery. The honest truth is I don’t actually drink wine, but my friends do and I enjoyed coming along for the ride (and taking a lot of pictures of Baby Groot with wine grapes). I did try a tiny bit, too – the fruit wines weren’t bad, but I’m still not a big fan. Plus it was fun watching my friends steadily get drunker throughout the day. 😉

We headed out of Vancouver after work on Friday September 4th, and immediately hit about 2 hours worth of gridlock. Trying to get out of Vancouver at the start of the last long weekend in summer? Not the greatest idea, but we didn’t have much choice. Normally a 4 hour drive, it ended up being more like 6 and we got in after midnight.

Baby Groot was tired after the long drive. Time for bed!

Saturday morning we headed to the weekend farmer’s market in Penticton, the main town 15 or so minutes from Naramata. It was huge! So many booths with fresh produce, yummy looking baked goods, crafts, clothing… lots to look at, and hard to resist the urge to buy All The Things.

And then it was on to wine tastings! I’m pretty useless on a wine tour given that I don’t drink, and I don’t drive so I can’t even be the designated driver, but I came along anyway to hang out, take Groot pictures, and enjoy the scenery.

Pretty vineyard scenery!

Selfie time

This place had a neat shop that kept me amused while the others did their tasting – they have a bunch of red heel related merchandise, including actual shoes!

Groot found some grapes

Groot likes the grapes. 🙂

 

Thumbs up for Ruby Blues Winery, if only for their cool shop and bus!

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening just hanging out, eating, and drinking wine. Well, they were drinking, I was watching with amusement as they got increasingly drunk by the end of the night. My friends Andrea and Amanda do a weekly Buffy the Vampire Slayer podcast called ‘Tiny Fences‘, and at approximately 11pm they decided it would be an awesome idea to record an episode. I might have encouraged them. 😉 I definitely recommend checking out their podcast, and if you enjoy it you can sign up to be a Patreon – and gain access to “Tipsy Fences! A Buffy Podcast”. It’s 5-10 minutes of ridiculousness.

Baby Groot got a little drunk too…

The next day was beach day on Lake Okanagan. By early September it was already getting a bit chilly and the water was freezing so I didn’t last long, but it was still lots of fun.

Monday came and it was time to head home… but first, we picked a ton of apples, plums, and pears from our friend’s orchard – fresh fruit right off the tree, so good! Groot helped too, of course.

Groot found pears!

 

Climbing the tree to get at the apples, Groot got a bit stuck.

He made it! But he can’t reach the apples, poor guy. His arms are just too short.

That was a lot of effort, time for a nap now.

Saying goodbye to Naramata

And that’s it from me for today. Next up, my Nova Scotia trip from September as I try to get caught up on my backlog. And coming very soon – New Zealand! I take off in just under a week and am getting very excited. I plan to bring white, orange, and grey yarn and churn out BB-8s while I’m there. 🙂 And many, many Groot photos will be coming. Groot is heading to Middle Earth!

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce Crochet Doll

My main project right now is supposed to be making dolls for Vancouver FanExpo 2016 (in November), but I took a break to make a doll for myself that’s about 13 years overdue – Wesley Wyndam-Pryce from Buffy & Angel. Click on the cut below for more doll pictures and a lot of gushing about one of my all time favourite characters. Honestly this was largely an excuse for me to Google pictures and animated GIFs of Wes look bad-ass…

I was 16 and just starting grade 12 when I discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer, after watching the season 7 premiere as it aired. I’d heard good things, and I was channel surfing, so I decided to check it out. I had no real idea what was going on, but I liked it and I went back and watched the first 6 seasons & seasons 1-3 of Angel to catch up. That was my first term of grade 12, marathoning Buffy and Angel thanks to old download services like Kazaa because they weren’t even on DVD yet and there was no other way to catch up. I caught up on both shows by December/January. It’s amazing I ever got into university, hah. I missed a few key episodes of Angel season 2, as well, because I just couldn’t find them (like Reunion, and I think Reprise as well – BIG ones, guys!).

I don’t recall at what point I completely fell in love with Wesley. I don’t have any strong memories of my feelings when he first showed up in Buffy season 3. Probably vague amusement combined with finding him a bit annoying, because let’s be honest, he’s not the most likable in Buffy season 3. At least not the first time through – in rewatches, I still love him because I understand where he’s coming from and I know where he will be going. I just rewatched season 3 and I wanted to give him a hug the entire time, because he tried his best and the Scoobies didn’t exactly give him a chance.

My adorable dork in season 3 of Buffy. Still looks suave and sexy with that sword. 😉
And then we moved on to Angel season 1 and got this. <3

 Definitely by the end of Angel season 1 I really liked the character, and by the time we got to late season 3 and into season 4 I was gone. I caught up to the show between 4.07 and 4.08 and watched the rest live, and I don’t think I’ve ever been as invested in a show or a character as I was at the time. Season 4 has its issues, I know, but Wesley’s character arc was so fascinating and well developed that it made up for some of the other crap in that season. I shipped the hell out of Wesley/Lilah, and on the fanfic side Wesley/Angel, and analyzed every episode and Wesley scene to death on my old Livejournal. I was obsessed, and I still consider Wesley to be without question my favourite character from the Jossverse.

This picture pretty much sums it up – character development in a nutshell. And it’s all completely organic from start to finish. He doesn’t just change into a badass overnight, it takes years to develop to the point where it makes total sense how he got from A to B.

So, fastforward years later, and my old obsession has risen its head again thanks to my friends Andrea and Amanda and their awesome Buffy podcast Tiny Fences. Amanda’s never seen the show and she’s about to meet Wesley, which is both exciting for me and nerve-wracking because I realize that season 3 of Buffy doesn’t exactly endear him to most people. But that usually changes when they get to Angel, so I will try to be patient! Amanda can’t read this post yet in any case, because spoilers (and if you are reading this, Amanda, then bad on you!).

And thus, I have at last made myself a Wesley doll. Season 4 Wesley, complete with sexy brown jacket, stubble, a gun, and yes, the scar. Bad-ass, dark, I’m-gonna-fuck-you-up, slightly unhinged Wesley. My favourite kind, although I also adore dorky lovable Wesley from the early seasons. Basically I love him always.

The pattern is based on patterns from the book ‘AmiguruME’ by Allison Hoffman. Check out her blog here, she has lots of cool stuff. I really like the book, it’s got techniques and ideas for making specific kinds of tops, pants, shoes, accessories, etc and it’s a great reference for designing dolls.

Ready for a fight. Because gun-wielding Wesley will never not be hot.

Case in point

Case in point 2 (the way he caresses that rifle… does things to me)

And of course he wouldn’t be season 4 Wesley without the scar!

“I had my throat slit and all my friends abandoned me.” My baby. 🙁

 For the old shipper in me…

They just both look so angry lol. But also cuddly.

 Then Spike wanted in on the action (he’s a very simple doll I made back at Halloween to bring with me to a local Once More with Feeling sing-along, since I was dressing as Buffy).

Yeah I’ve definitely read this fanfic.

I kind of want to make a Lilah, too, because they are my forever AtS OTP. But first, I have lots of Star Wars dolls to make for FanExpo! Maybe one day.

Hope you enjoyed my Wesley love session and the doll. 🙂 I enjoyed making him and it’s nice to finally have a doll version of one of my favourite characters of all time. I’m re-watching season 5 right now, and will definitely need to cuddle him coming up. Anyway that’s all for now, thanks for reading!

Happy Deadpool Day! Celebrate with a FREE cross stitch pattern!

I suppose I could start off my apologizing for being a bad blogger and not posting anything in a very, very long time. I could do that… but I think I’d rather celebrate the new Deadpool movie that opens today. The film has been getting good reviews so far, and I’m really excited to go see it tomorrow! It doesn’t hurt that it was filmed locally in beautiful Vancouver and stars beautiful (and equally Vancouver-ful) Ryan Reynolds.

I especially loved all of the marketing leading up to the release of this movie. Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool tweets, passing it off as a Valentine’s ‘date’ movie, and of course the ridiculous and brilliant use of emojis to spell out ‘Deadpool’.

Ah, the good old ‘Skull-Poop-L’. A friend suggested this would make a great cross stitch pattern, and I agree! So I put a little something together and am offering it as a free download so everyone can get their Deadpool fix!

Stitch up your very own Skull-Poop-L to hang on your wall and cherish forever. Yes, it’s that special.

> Click here to download the pattern

To view the pattern, you will need a pdf reader. I like Adobe acrobat reader, but there are many programs that will open a pdf document. The pattern is a single page, so it’s ideal for displaying on a tablet or computer and for zooming in to see the chart closeup. If you do want to print this pattern out, I would recommend using a colour printer to ensure the chart symbols are as easy to read as possible.

I hope you enjoy this pattern! I’d love to see what you create with it, so tag me on Instagram or send me a Tweet! Please keep in mind the pattern is free for personal use only. Items made with this pattern can be given as gifts, but not sold for profit (online or elsewhere). Thank you and happy stitching!

Les Miserables Crochet Dolls – Valjean and Javert

 Recently I learned that a friend of mine has never seen Les Miserables, either on stage or the movie version, and as a big fan of the play I had to take it upon myself to fix that. So this afternoon a few of us got together at my place, made pancakes for brunch, and watched Les Mis! She enjoyed the movie and I kept my word and didn’t sing along (out loud), and I came away from it feeling inspired to A. make this blog post about the Les Mis dolls I made for my friend Elizabeth last year, and B. read a lot of fic…

Javert is either trying to punch Valjean or hold his hand. Possibly both. Their relationship is complicated. 😉

I blame my getting into Les Mis on a few things: my cousin Laura, Elizabeth, someone on my old Livejournal, and everyone in Dartmouth, NS who went to see Skyfall of December 26th, 2012. Which sounds strange, I realize, but bear with me. We were visiting family in Halifax that Christmas, and on Boxing Day we decided to head to the movies. My cousin Laura is a big theatre fan (and a theatre director herself!), and she along with most of my family were going to Les Mis. She was super excited about it, but I didn’t know anything about it (beyond vague knowledge that it’s a Broadway musical about historical France) and had little interest. So Dad and I were going to go see Skyfall, but when we got to the theatre it was sold out and we decided to tag along to Les Mis.

I know these stories usually end in “I came out of the theatre in love and was instantly a huge fan”, but it’s not really true. I enjoyed the movie a lot and was glad I went, but then I mostly forgot about it until one year later when someone on my LJ randomly posted about the movie and linked to some Valjean/Javert fic. I ended up rewatching the movie, reading a TON of fic over New Years 2013/14 (I think I read around 200,000 words over the course of a few days), and getting completely hooked.

Since then I’ve seen it live on the London stage (approximately five hours after my plane landed after a 9-hour overnight flight from Vancouver, I was very tired), live in Vancouver last summer, and have listened to the 10th Anniversary Concert soundtrack approximately a billion times (or at least certain songs). Seeing it on the London stage utterly blew me away, even though I almost fell asleep during “I Dreamed a Dream” (I was really tired ok). You could have heard a pin drop in the audience during “Stars”, it was mesmerizing.

Anyway, the reason I blame Elizabeth although she wasn’t involved in me originally getting into it, is because she’s my main Les Mis fan friend and totally helped to enable my growing obsession 2 years ago. 😉 As thanks, I made her these little Valjean and Javert dolls for her birthday last year! They’re based on the stage version rather than the movie version, mainly the Wilkinson & Quast versions. I do still enjoy the movie, but after seeing it on stage and listening to the 10th Anniversary Concert soundtrack so much, I find it hard to listen to Russell Crowe… I do think he does a good job of acting the part and bringing emotion to the role, but his singing voice just isn’t that strong. Nothing can really compare to Quast’s version of “Stars”, though!

Yes I embroidered 24601 to his chest. Because I could. 🙂
 
I had a lot of fun with the hair and sideburns, I must say

I want to make some for myself now – I may have to! It was hard giving them away, although I do get to see them when I visit her. 🙂

 And as a bonus, check out below what she made for me in return last month for my birthday! So cute!!

Cross stitched pixel art of Valjean and Javert, I love it!

Ok that’s all from me tonight – coming soon, the much overdue Baby Groot in Naramata post!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – BB-8 Crochet doll & Christmas ornament (and bonus Han & Leia dolls)


So, December 17 was my 30th birthday and, of course, it was also Star Wars day! I will confess up front that, although I definitely like the movies and respect their importance in nerd fandom and pop culture, I’ve never been a super huge fan of them. I didn’t see them as a child (tragic I know!), so I didn’t finally see them until I was 15 (just before Attack of the Clones came out). I’ve always enjoyed them, but I’ve only seen them a handful of times each and haven’t memorized them like certain people I know. 😉 Still, Star Wars day being on my birthday was pretty cool. No spoilers, but I really enjoyed the movie and am looking forward to seeing it again at some point.

And of course, when I enjoy something… I have to crochet it. Especially when that something has a super cute character that is essentially two balls on top of each other and thus can be made in just a few hours. So this was my Christmas Eve project, made while hanging out at my parents’ house on Bowen Island – the newest droid in the Star Wars universe, BB-8!

He took me a good chunk of the day on and off but was basically pretty quick and easy. I’ll get a pattern written up one of these days. I need to adjust the head shape to be more domed, and I might do the orange circles differently. I used a black safety eye for the main one, and a smaller googly eye for the other one. 🙂

I finished him in the evening, and then before I went to bed I started this little guy. I want to make Christmas ornaments to sell at FanExpo Vancouver 2016, which will be in November so the perfect time for some early Christmas shopping. This was super fast, like I made most of him in about 45 minutes around midnight on Christmas Eve, and the rest in another 30 or so minutes on Christmas morning. The orange circles are very quick and rough, and when I make them to sell I’ll be more careful and plan them out before I stitch them on (then they will actually all be circular…). He needs a second eye too, because I had limited craft supplies on Bowen. But anyway, he is cute and I enjoy him!

While we’re on the topic of Star Wars dolls, this is as good a time as any to post pictures of the Han and Leia dolls I made for my friend Nic last year. She got married in Australia in February, and she’s a huge lifelong Star Wars fan. They had Han and Leia cake toppers, too! So of course I had to make her dolls to include in the reception.

Han and Leia wedding dolls

The bride and groom with Han and Leia

And that’s it for now! I hope everyone had a great holiday break, and Happy New Year to all!

Baby Groot Around Vancouver #2 – Groot’s First Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. I’ve spent the last few days at my parents’ house on Bowen Island hanging out with family, playing board games, and eating far too much. It was Groot’s first Christmas and he had fun getting to know our Christmas tree (a fellow tree for him to talk to in monosyllabic speech!):
 

Christmas Eve – Groot awaits Santa Claus…

Groot also made another new friend – Groot pillow! My cousin bought this for me at a craft fair in Kingston, Ontario and I have no idea who the artist is unfortunately. I tried Googling ‘Groot pillow’ but didn’t have any luck. If by some miracle the artist ever finds their way to this page, please send me an email and I’ll add a link to your website! It’s super cute and I love it. 🙂 
Groot and Groot pillow! We are Groot!

The last weekend before Christmas was our NerdHQ annual Christmas dinner – tons of Italian food, lots of friends and fun, and Groot.. had a bit too much to drink. Oh dear.

Groot with the holiday Groot Funko Pop – and a bottle of beer.
Too much beer, can’t move now.
Groot found wine! No, Groot, drinking wine is not a good cure for being drunk on beer…

Groot did perk up later, though, to enjoy a screening of the sublimely ridiculous Canadian short film Treevenge partway through dinner. A NerdHQ Christmas tradition now, Treevenge is… well, pretty much exactly how it sounds. Christmas trees come to life and exact bloody, bloody revenge on the humans who cut them down and decked them out in ornaments in tinsel. There is a lot of blood and silliness. I am slightly concerned that Groot enjoyed this film so much, quite frankly. Especially since he was plotting with my Christmas tree just a few days later… uh oh.
 
Check out Treevenge here and prepare to be traumatized and never look at a Christmas tree the same way again.

Don’t get any ideas, Groot!

Groot also got to experience snow for the first time! December 17th was my 30th birthday, and a few of us went snowshoeing up on Cypress Mountain – so of course Groot had to come along. This was my first attempt at snowshoeing since I was about 8, which was not a pleasant memory (the snowshoes were practically as tall as me). Now the snowshoes are much smaller and it was way easier and more fun. It was snowing the entire time and very pretty walking through the snow-covered forest. We’re going to go up again on Grouse Mountain next weekend, so more Groot-in-snow photos are coming!

Getting ready to head up into the trails

So much snow!

Even more snow

We found a little tree hollow on the trail. Me and Groot hanging out in the snow.

Coming up next – Star Wars crochet!

Baby Groot Pattern

Hi everyone! Exciting news, I’ve finished my Baby Groot crochet pattern! It’s available at my Etsy Store . The pattern is $4, and includes 13 pages in PDF with instructions and photos. This is my first real pattern that I’ve written up, and I tried to take into account everything I’ve learned from reading patterns over the years so hopefully it’s clear and easy to follow. If you find any errors or have any questions please email me, I’m happy to help and to improve on the pattern.

Also, if you make a Baby Groot then I’d love to hear from you and see pictures! Please send them my way, or post them on your blog and send me the link – I would be so excited to see other people making my Groot. 🙂 And travel with Groot photos would be even more awesome – take a picture of him in your home city in front of a landmark! I have a few Baby Groot travel photo ops that I still need to post, I swear I will get those up shortly. And it’s only a few more months until Groot goes to Middle Earth, I mean New Zealand. There will definitely be pictures of Groot at Mt Doom. 🙂

You can download the pattern at my Etsy Store or on Ravelry. Thanks everyone!

Baby Groot Crochet Pattern

We Know Nothing: Monologues of Ice and Fire Pictures

Last weekend I went to see We Know Nothing: Monologues of Ice and Fire, a Vancouver-produced comedy show featuring my blanket! The show was very entertaining and lovingly poked fun at Game of Thrones. My blanket got to hang out on stage for the entire show, draped over the chair that seated ‘George RR Martin’. Well the actor playing him, at any rate – I can only dream that one day the real one would sit on it. 😉 Anyway, I got a few pictures after the show of me with my Jon & Daenerys dolls sitting in the chair, plus there’s some official photos below of ‘George’ in the chair (thanks to the producer Keegan for sending me these!).

Photo shoot on stage after the show!

“George RR Martin” (sort of) sitting with my blanket

Game of Thrones Blanket Pattern complete

I’ve finished uploading the grid patterns for my Game of Thrones blanket, so if you want to make you’re own then you’re all set now! Below are the rest of the houses (I posted Stark, Lannister, and Baratheon previously), and you can find them all plus instructions on my patterns page. Enjoy, and if you download one of them then I’d love to hear! Also, if there are any problems with any of the links or patterns please let me know.

Targaryan

Greyjoy

Tyrell

Martell

Tully

Arryn