Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Batcat Colouring Book Free Download

This is a little colouring book I made in 2008. Yes way back in 2008, kids.

Each image is an ink drawing on paper that I scanned, then brought down to my local copy shop and photocopied. I then brought them home and hand assembled them into little zines. They had a glossy postcard cover, I think I still have about 100 covers in storage.

It is a very simple little story of a day with Batcat around his house, hanging out with his little mouse friend. I made it mostly for children, this was before adult colouring came back into fashion!

This one is numbered. I don't know if i always did that. I always signed and drew a little batcat though!

In total there are 10 half page illustrations. I recently got the idea from a friend on instagram that it might be a nice time to have activities or colouring things for kids to work on during the self isolation phase of the pandemic. A great idea! These things already exist and why not! I started a Gumroad account and uploaded them.

So you can get them for FREE on Gumroad. This site also has a feature where you can choose an amount to pay to the artist if you feel like it on items like this, so thank you if you choose to add a small amount.

The pages print out on 5 full sheets of paper. I included the colour cover too, so if choose you can make yourself a little book/zine like I used to do. Its family friendly, safe for all ages. Have fun!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Repaint of older paintings

Reworking an older painting in Procreate. 

I decided to try a repaint in Procreate on the iPad. I started with my painting of a Batcat Tea Party that I did some time in 2006. I used to sell prints of this on Etsy. The new version is now available.
The older version. It was ink and acrylic paint on illustration board. I don't even know if I still have the original painting of this in a drawer somewhere...

I used to do a lot of painting, both for selling online and even just as personal work, but a few years ago I had a back injury and spinal surgery that made painting in the same way I used to difficult. I don't really do work in this style anymore. 

I didn't spend much time thinking about reworking it in a serious way, just basically using it as a sketch and drawing over top. I only added one element, the batcat in the tree branches drinking a pop. At times I actually thought, that it was like those adult colouring books. But with about 10 layers in Procreate.

A closer look.

I think it was pretty successful! I do miss the gamble of painting. There is so much you don't control, and the best parts of my paintings were always accidental. I LOVE SPLATTERS! But digital painting has a LOT of marks in its favour! Obviously, UNDO. But also its relaxing, you can do it anywhere, you can stop and start with no prep, you can have multiple versions...CATS don't walk on it and leave footprints! And Procreate keeps stats on your work. This took about 20 hours, and had 24,000+ strokes.

I already have a few other images I think I may try repainting. 

Monday, March 2, 2020

Free Printable Bat Garland Download

I used to sell printables on Etsy that were made from my own digital illustrations. I have since changed my second etsy shop's focus to selling vintage items, so I have a little stockpile of printables just gathering digital dust...Why not just put them out into the world for free?

You can download these bat garlands for free, and print them for your next Halloween party, or maybe just to spooky up your gothic home. Available in four colours. Scroll down to see the download links

Make sure to download the PDF by clicking the link, not just save this little photo to your computer. The PDF is way better quality, you will be prettier and crisper bats!  These will print well on a 8.5 by 11 inch standard size paper.

Here are some photos of the garland after I printed it.

I printed on thick, matte photo paper to get these images. You can also print on thinner paper and then glue it to thicker card stock before printing. 

Please only use this for personal use, not commercial applications. Feel free to pin and share this post.

I also uploaded this to my Gumroad account. You can download it there for free, or also consider paying a small fee if you choose.

Buy my product  

Hope you have fun making your very own string of bats!!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

How I make dolls from custom printed fabric

I thought it might be helpful to make a post about how the majority of my dolls are made. Both for people who buy my dolls, and wonder about it what goes into it, and for people who are trying to make their own dolls.

I just took pictures as I was making a Batcat doll that I sell in my Etsy shop.

This is my character, which I do a lot of different things with. This doll was designed in Adobe Draw, which I used on my iPad Pro. In reality, most of my dolls are being designed in Procreate on the iPad now. But the process is pretty similar.
Here is in the the app. Its a very simple design. I decided on the body shape and the arms and legs, tail and wings.

Its very easy to get clean black and white designs with this app. You can see I keep things on different layers so I can move them around.

Ok this isn't really a pattern design tutorial, so I am breezing past all the hardest and most important bits of doll making, which is designing the doll and getting everything worked out! I often make a pattern, have it printed, sew it,  then make corrections. Once in a while a doll comes out perfectly but, in my experience there are always some tweaks you want to make.
So obviously if you are going to me trying to MAKE your own doll, expect it to look wonky, too fat, too skinny or something the first time you make one. Its just how it goes.

Ok next step after you draw the doll parts. I upload the image I drew in Adobe Draw to Photoshop on my desktop computer.  I add a light outline and a bleed in the same doll colour around all the pieces. The "outline" isn't necessary if your doll is a more simple design, like straight legs or round head, but for designs that have detail, like those little bits on the side of the batcat's head, I find the outline helpful. I will show you why later on. 

 So once all the doll parts have their bleeds, its time to assemble them in a file to be printed. You can get fabric printed at Spoonflower, which has a lot of different options, so deciding what kind of fabric you would like FIRST before designing this layout is helpful, as they are different sizes. This layout below is for a Fat Quarter (1/4 yard) of Minky fabric.

 You can see there is a front and a back, and each arm and leg and the tail also has a front and back, which are mirror images of each other. The wings are the only part of the doll that one have one piece as I add faux leather as the back. Also a lil seal friend!

You can choose to have only this Fat Quarter printed or you can fill up a whole yard and you get more bang for your buck.

Ok our fabric has arrived! You can see I get it printed by the yard. I wash and dry the fabric as suggested by the manufacturer. Minky looks the exact same after washing. 

Next step I take is backing it with interfacing, which you can see on the roll at the top of the photo. Why do I use this? Minky feels really nice and soft and fuzzy, but its a PAIN to sew. It stretches and is super slippery. It also lets fibers from your stuffing poke through your doll, which when the doll is black looks SO BAD. This solves all these problems and is cheap and easy and will make your life better. You can use any interfacing really I use a sew in one, but I actually spray it with temporary quilt adhesive to make it stick while I am making the dolls. 

I then cut all the pattern pieces out quickly, I will cut some of them out more carefully later as I sew them.
I am going to sew and stuff all the arms, legs, tail and wings before I sew the body.

Here are two parts of an arm. If this was a simple doll with a round hand i would simply pin them together and sew around the edge. 

But this Batcat paw is a bit more complex, he has little fingers. How do I sew that? Well I use my little USB powered lightbox (or I used to pop it up against the window) to trace the outline that I had added in Photoshop to show me where to sew. Another way is to actually sew around the outline on just the top paw piece, which will transfer your line the bottom of the interfacing. 

 I have started using quilt clips to "pin" everything lately and its way better and way faster and just amazing?!? Minky is soooo slippery and these little clips hold on super tight. You can buy them for cheap online, my local Fabricland store has them for 5x the price I paid. 

So I match up the two paw pattern pieces by cutting out the one I traced the sewing line on, and matching it to its partner. I then clip it all and sew around it, leaving the end open for stuffing.

You then have to trim all around it and *carefully* snip into the fabric at every curve so when you turn it right-side out, the fabric can stretch and not bunch up. Just snip carefully in between those batcat toes. Leave about 1mm not snipped so you don't hit your sewing line.

 Here is one turned right-side out. You can see the tools I use for this. I have a Letraset rubbing tool that I have literally used on every doll I have ever made, I stole it from my dad when I was a teenager. Guess its *vintage* now. If you want something like this, there is a tool called "That Purple Thang" that is really similar. I also often use a little pair of pliers along with the Letraset tool. Minky really slides against itself well, so turning things right-side out is actually really easy.

I do the same process with the wings but use a piece of faux leather. This is really unforgiving and a total PAIN to turn right-side out. Do not recommend. Also cannot use pins at all with this fabric, as the pin holes will show. So right sides together, sew around the shape and leave a little place for turning right-side out.

 All the parts are sewn and stuffed (plus a bunch of random other Crow doll legs.) After they are stuffed I quickly sew the tops closed. No need to be careful or pretty about it as that part is hidden inside the doll.

Moving on to the body of the doll. I have started attaching the dolls wings and tail at this stage, but you can certainly do it after by hand sewing them on. I did that for most of my dolls for years.
You cans see that Minky fabric makes TONS of fuzzies. Your house and clothes will be a mess.

Ok If you haven't made a doll before, here is probably where you are like, what is happening?? 
I have matched up the front and back body of the doll and sewn around the perimeter BUT leaving arm and leg holes. PLUS I left one small opening (look where the tail is coming out of the side of the body) open for stuffing. Make sure if you attached things like the wings or tail already that they don't get caught up inside when you sew. 

This part can get tricky.  Since you are making this doll inside out, legs and arms can easily get sewn in backwards. Take a minute with each doll part you sew in and think about how it will be when it is turned the right way out. I honestly some times have to  think of my own body folded like this doll is. I have made hundreds of dolls by now and I can still make errors.

You can think of it like "the front of the legs should be touching the front of the body" while I am sewing it. Same for the arms. You will understand when you do it the wrong way round by accident!

Here is where I am going to add the leg. Imagine this same position, but the leg is stuffed inside the doll. I then sew across the line I have traced.

This is the point where you will become super annoyed. (And also start thinking, why did I decide to make a blog post about this mess??) Anyway, each arm and leg has been sewed in its proper place, and each one makes it more difficult as there is only so much room in an inside-out doll. But just sew one one at a time. You may need to have some arms and legs poking out of the stuffing hole while you sew. 
 THEN clip the curves like you did with the arms and legs, this is super important and the doll will not look nice unless you ease any curves. 

Then pull them all out through the hole while you hold your breath.....

PHEW! Everything is in the right place and it looks great! Its the evening now so the photo makes it look a bit scruffy, but you can brush him up a bit and it all gets nice and black again. Now just stuff through the stuffing hole you left, and do a nice and neat stitch by hand to seal up the hole. Minky is pretty forgiving in this way as well.

Here it is! 

Hope this helped you understand how my doll is made. I have made A LOT of them, but I use only a normal household sewing machine and you can get all these materials at your local fabric store. You could do the same sort of doll and give it a hand sewn or drawn face. If the "sewing the legs while inside out" part is super scary, just hand sew the legs on the outside. 

Just remember you can use the seam ripper if you do something wrong! I certainly do. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Double Sided Bunny Doll

Two Sided Black and White Bunny Rabbit Doll! 

I made this doll last year. I was wanting to do a doll with two different faces and this one is ...sort of that, it has the same bunny but opposite on either side. It turned out GREAT!

This year I decided to size up the pattern, because it was just so teeny tiny (THOSE SKINNY EARS! THOSE TINY TOES! They were so hard to turn right side out after sewing!) and the whole thing was hard to sew. Plus I just think its better bigger! I think it worked well before but its so much more big and floppy and satisfying now.

The original smaller doll beside the new, larger size. I didn't change anything really, just printed it at a larger size on the fabric. I actually draw my dolls at a huge size then downsize them for printing, just in case I want to make them larger some day.

I personally think its one of my better dolls, but that is just preference, because I made this for me! Often the dolls I like the most are not the most popular ones. who knows why? Like all my printed fabric dolls, I made this to be in stock continuously, I can make as many as I want.

Here is the pencil sketch I took a photo of with my iPad.

I drew the bunny in Procreate on the iPad, with an Apple Pencil. In the past I would have used Illustrator for this sort of thing, but using Procreate worked really well! I actually created the bleed around each piece in Procreate, kind of drawing them separately then "assembling" the bunny you see above from the individual pieces. 

I then send it to my computer so I can work on the pattern layout in Photoshop. I lay them out in a file that is the size of a yard of minky fabric. I try and keep all the legs going in the same direction so the fabric lays the same way when its assembled.

I try and squeeze as many dolls as possible onto my yards of fabric, so sometimes this step can take a while.

I might do a more in depth post about how I actually cut and sew each of my dolls in the future. I have it down now, I have made A LOT of dolls this way lately.

This doll is available at my Etsy shop! If its currently sold out you can click the restock button to be notified when I get another one in stock. You aren't obligated, it just gives you a heads up. Thanks for visiting!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Spooky Skeleton Cat Dolls

A new pattern test today!

Two spooky skeleton cat dolls are fresh in the blacklilypie etsy shop today. 

 These dolls are a slight variation on my Soft Skeleton Doll that I have been making for a few years.

The green eyed one has a green spatter all over him, on the back as well. 

Sometimes pattern tests come out with a lot of little quirks that have to be ironed out. I mean, that is why you do a test...but once in a while a doll comes out perfectly, exactly how you wanted it to on the first try. Even though I started with my older skeleton pattern, I still drew this one out in full in Adobe Illustrator.

I think I might do a few more colour variations of this doll. I like how the spatter pattern makes the black and green one feel special. A halloween themed one? White cat body with pink bones? 

If you want to look at more photos, or buy a skeleton cat, go to my Etsy shop. If the doll is currently sold out, you can click to be notified by email when its back in stock.