Thursday, March 26, 2015

Just BELT Her!!!!!

With longer hemlines and wider shapes, it stands to reason that belts will be taking on a much more prominent role where accessories are concerned. From straight leather straps to wide corsets, we saw all shapes and sizes of belts worn. Okay, so what's the big deal when making belts for dolls? How about.....buckles!

Yes, you can order them online or, if you're lucky, you might find them at doll fairs. Most of what you'll find, however, is a choice of oval or square basic buckles. carries a better selection than most ranging in price for about .50 - $1.00 + shipping. When you make as many clothes as I do, that can get rather expensive!

With that, I set out to make my dolls a variety of belts. I had so much fun, I ended up with enough content for two posts. This one features ideas for belt buckles, straight or curved belts. The following post will feature corset belts as well as a couple of ideas for chain belts.

Basic Belts

There are two types of belts, straight and curved. The straight belt is a narrow rectangle which will fit around the waist. For that you only need to cut a strip of material or use a ribbon.
On the other hand, for a pair of low riding pants or jeans, you will need to make a curved belt that fits flat against the hips.
I make the first pattern using tape, right on the doll.
1. I apply tape around the hips of the doll, then press in place so that it hugs her curves.
2. Mark the top and the bottom edge of the hips, center front. Here I've marked a rather wide area since I will use this as my curved belt sloper. I can always cut this down later.
3. Mark the sides.
4. Mark the center back.
5. Now, very carefully cut the tape away from the body, being careful not to distort the shape. I used a toothpick to move the tape away from the body just enough for a tiny pair of manicure scissors to slip in and cut.
6. Flatten the tape pattern onto graph paper.
7. Depending on the type of belt you make will depend on how much you should extend your belt from the edges. Be sure to maintain the arc of the curve. Remember to leave a margin to fold the belt over the belt buckle as well as the overlap on the opposite side.
Basic Oval Buckle.
You should invest in basic jewelry pliers available at most crafts stores. I've used 16-20 gauge wire for this post, but you can use whatever size depending on your needs and the scale of buckle appropriate to your doll.

1. With the flat edge jewelry pliers, cut off a small piece of wire then catch it in between the blades. Bend around one side.
2. Continue to bend around the back and around the second blade.
3. Clip off the excess.
4. Adjust it so that the buckle is balanced and clip away any additional excess. You could stop there, but if you want a more substantial buckle, continue with the next step.
5. Take a hammer and smash your buckle flat.
6. . One end of your belt wraps around the center spoke. The other end feeds through the oval.

Double Loop Buckle
You can also make variations of the basic oval. Instead of stopping your oval at the bottom of the buckle, continue to wrap the wire around the first oval. The top (black) belt shows what it looks like with the wire wrapped a couple more times. I wanted to make something even fancier, so I made a double oval buckle, but with irregular loops, I later hammered flat.
1. The leather strap wraps around the center spoke.
2. Fold over the edge and glue flat.
3. I added grommets. If you're wondering where I found grommets so tiny, take a trip to your crafts store and look in the "Scrapbooking" aisle. I puncture the leather with a big needle, then widened the hole until the grommet fits through. A quick squeeze of the pliers will set them in place.
4. This is a straight belt that I wanted to hang off the doll's hips. So instead of threading the belt through the loops, I made a small hook which I added to the buckle so that it can hang onto either of the holes.

Square Buckle

1. I find it easy to draw a box before I begin as a way of guiding me on the size of the square I want to create. Bend the wire at a 90 degree angle for each of the four sides.
2. Now, lets make the center spoke which serves as a small hook. Cut off another small piece of wire. Using the round nose pliers, make a loop on one end.
3. Attach to one side of your square.
4. The spoke should extend slightly beyond the width of the buckle. You can leave it straight or bend the end under slightly.
5. Prepare the belt. Make a slash in the middle of one side.
6. You will slide the spoke in the middle, then fold the edge over and glue down at the back.
7. I cut two tiny strips which I made into belt loops. Using a large safety pin or needle, poke holes in your belt so that the mid-spoke can pass through and be held in place.

Decorative Buckles

While searching for ideas to create more interesting belt buckles, my "ah-ha" moment the moment I stepped into a jewelry supply store. Those little clasps used as closures for necklaces make for some very interesting buckles for both your girls and your guys. If you want a bejeweled buckle, simply glue a flat sided jewel on top of the clasp.

You should also look out for "claw closures" and round eyes. You can get quite creative with your belts.
 1. Using a round nosed pair of jewelry pliers, wrap the wire around the pliers.
2. Make random loops.
3. I wanted to trap a bead inside, so I slid a bead onto the end and finished my loops. Be sure you have at least one loop for easy access.
4. Add your claw clip.
5. Take a strip of leather or ribbon and cut a point on one side.
6. The broader side is wrapped around one of the loops, turned and glued underneath.
7. The other side will be threaded though the hole at the base of the claw clip, turned under and glued in place. You could stop there. But I decided to add a tassel.
8. I took a tiny scrap and cut in a little fringe.
9. I fold the top edge over one of the loops and glue down underneath. Then I wrapped a bit of wire around the base.

Stay Tuned for Part II: Corset and chain belts.

Follow us on Twitter: @FashDollStylist
We're also on Pinterest:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Doll's Eye View: Paris Fall '15 Trends Part II

In this, part two of the French Catwalk shows, we focus on the more "wearable" aspects of Paris fashion week. Still, I would like to point out that these are press presentations (costing tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Euros) and it is essential for the designer to "make a statement" about their fashion philosophy. So what walks down the runway in Paris will always have a creative edge. Otherwise, the more conservative merchandise remains back in the showroom.

50 Nuances de Grey

From capital to capital, across the ocean, there's no escaping it...grey is a major color to contend with next fall. Designers in Paris like to dip it in textured warm and cool tones for everything from car coats and jackets to eveningwear.


Flashback to the 1960's Mod Squad, look for black and white checks and windowpane plaids to invade Fall wardrobes. What's interesting here is the mixture of checks with checks, plaids with tweeds in looks ranging from kicky mini-suits to below-the-knee wrap skirts.

A Study in Black & White
Fashion Illustrations courtesy of Richad Vyse:
Straight off the drawing board is a strong graphic look complete with sketched placed prints, cut-out shapes or simply a look sporting a juxtaposition of stripes.

Study in Black & White
 Following in the theme of the Arts & Crafts, these are fun party dresses using recycled materials, and even origami. Okay so Yang Li did it with something that resembled garbage bags, but for our girl, Olympia, we translated the look using a polyester taffeta.
This fabric is so much fun to work with. I started out with a basic foundation, then simply crunched the taffeta to get the shape and tacked it in place.

Coat Check
There are some straight overcoats, however, look for belts to play a major role in creating pretty, feminine silhouettes especially with fit and flair silhouettes.

Panting the Night Away
Essentially, these are party pants and, as you can see, they come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors!!! Instead of making dolly another P.M. dress, consider updating her wardrobe with fancy pants, instead!
Pretty Lady
 Don't get me wrong, dresses aren't going away, any time soon. Keep them simple with lots of flair!

Give Her the Slip
Another MAJOR trend which followed us everywhere was the slip dress. Long or short, worn by itself or over a shirt as a jumper, here are a few more variations of this new, hot trend.

Slinky Around
 She is one long, drink of water......look for evening dresses that melt over the figure. Fabrics which will help you get this look include rayon/lycra knits, silk charmeuse. We also like the combination of a shimmering satin teamed with the same fabric that has been crinkled or texturized.

Velvet Underground
 Velvet makes a comeback for the most romantic of looks.

Fashion month is over and there are lots of new looks to explore. Our tutorials resume beginning with the next post which will focus on next season's hottest accessory: Belts (including ideas for buckles)! Stay tuned!!!!

Follow us on Twitter: @FashDollStylist
We're also on Pinterest:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

THAT (Green) Dress!!!!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you this special message.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all of my Irish friends (including those of you with Irish roots). In keeping with my annual efforts to post something "green," I offer you that dress exceptional dress spotted on last month's Academy Awards' red carpet. Worn by Scarlett Johansson, the Atelier Versace gown wasn't so much a standout by it's rather simple design as it was for its color.....EMERALD green!

In the United States, one rarely sees green dresses in the stores because, according to many buyers, the American market doesn't find it to be a flattering tone. You'll find this same phenomena elsewhere in the world like.....Asia. What you, the consumer don't see is that, after the catwalk shows, there are meetings amongst the design houses, magazine editors and the retail buyers to determine what will actually be ordered. In many cases, this means the clothing we see online or in some newspapers will be changed to suit the tastes of the various markets around the world. But this sublime, jewel of a dress and its statement necklace was part of Versace's Haute Couture line and as such, there are no market constraints to consider. Like that, we were able to see such a beautiful color grace a most prestigious red carpet which inspired the Dolly version worn by Muriel.

And now we return you to your regular scheduled program.........  We'll be right back with Paris Fall trends part II!

Follow us on Twitter: @FashDollStylist
We're also on Pinterest:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Doll's Eye View: Paris Fall '15 Trends Part I

Ahhhhh....PARIS!!!!! This is not the place to seek superficial trends. Paris is the capital of fashion where talent from all over the world come to display their own ideas, their own distinct identity. Though there are lots of "safe" clothes at all price points, Paris is generally known as the place where designers take chances with their creative energy and ideas are born. True to form, this market is a monster to watch, dissect, digest and then interpret!

Long Night's Day
In this the first of two parts, we take a look at the more fashion forward aspect to what happened in Paris last week. In a word, fashion is BIG! There is lots of volume, from looser silhouettes softly draping over the body to much longer hemlines that drop straight down to the ankles. In some ways, this is a look that mimics the Japanese movement of the early 1980's when silhouettes shifted from "girly" to androgynous. This time around, there are more feminine touches thanks to belts and long gloves.

The sweater dress is taken to the extreme as hemlines drop to the ankles. Note the super wide corset belt which helps pull off the look!

The Style That Shagged Me
Frayed edges, fringe..shaggy looks are all over the catwalks from sweater dresses to skirts. For the dolly version of the Damir Doma dress (featured in the first photo up top), I used a small bit of men's thermal underwear and sweat socks to concoct the look.

Downtown Abbey
This is a look reminiscent of Manhattan fashion of the 1970's when free and easy silhouettes had lots of richly toned fabric that swirled around a woman's calves as she made it down the street. One of the most important accessories of this season....the belt! (In fact, I'm working on a post on belts!)
The New Dandy
Pant suits are back. But this time around, the mid-section is pulled tight into the body, releasing lots of volume around the shoulders as well as below the belt. Normally, I don't feature clothes so complicated, but I thought this look was so elegant, it was worth exploring. The key the jacket or coat to the waist and put lots of flare and material into the skirt. As far as the "complicated structure around the shoulders...take a tip from our dolly version.... attach a matching "scarf" to the neckline of the jacket and drape it around the shoulders!
Make Your Point
We also noticed garments that came to a point! Pointed hemlines, collars with exaggerated edges, asymmetrical jackets. It's a detail that adds a strong element of drama even to the simplest of looks.

Poncho Villa
Adding to the swashbuckling looks of dandies and fluid damsel dresses....look for the poncho to make a grand entrance. Looking for an easy way to make a poncho or here.

Urban Warrior
Completely covered, think leather skinny pants, quilted swing jackets or even a simple coat cut from a bright, ethnic patterned fabric.

Mixed Media
The silhouettes here are all pretty simple, but really the news here is the mixture of pattern and print and sometimes texture. There is a underlying color that ties the two different patterns together. The message is....don't think matchy-matchy all the time. Have fun. Cut the coat out of one pattern and the pants in another!

Bad Girls
A flash back to the transition between the sexy 1980s and the grunge that prevailed in the 90's. These are for those of you with rebellious dolls who, well......don't do elegant. Take a closer look at those slashed pants on the Saint Laurent girl. It's the feminine version of those we saw in the menswear collection last month!!!

Pants Story
Speaking of pants......skinny is no longer the only to go. Next fall there is a wide range of trouser widths and looks to chose from. What is really happening here is that the market is transitioning to broader pant silhouettes. You'll still find skinny least for the moment. But if you make only one pair of trousers... add more width when drafting your pants pattern.

These weren't the only trends we saw in Paris. There were many more interesting as well as elegant looks which we'll feature in our next (and final) Paris Part II report, coming up shortly.

Stay tuned!

Follow us on Twitter: @FashDollStylist
We're also on Pinterest:

Monday, March 9, 2015

Doll's Eye View: Viva Italia! Fall '15 Trends

Compared to past seasons, it's pretty calm in Milan. Think of it as cleansing the palette after a great big smorgasbord dinner. It could be the result of Europe's economic crisis. It might also be a backlash after years of indulgent design. Or maybe fashion just needs to take a break and reconnect with real people and their lifestyles. Nonetheless, there are some very wearable and stylish ideas, even within the simplicity of the season.
At first glance, you'll notice a wide variety of hemlines ranging from micro-mini to ankle length. The truth is, longer lengths are now the look of choice. While there still are super short fashions, the look is always completed with thigh high boots, leggings or dark opaque hose. This is the way the market attempts to prepare you for a major shift in hemlines as they move past the knee landing on the lower leg straight down to the ankles! What does this mean to you? Unless your dolls start chanting "mini-skirts forever," be prepared to think of creating slightly longer dresses and skirts for them if they are to stay in the height of fashion.
Look familiar? It should. It is a longer version of a Patrick Kelly knit dress we featured after last year's exhibition!!!
Tired of all the grey and black? There's lots of bright, in-your-face crayon colors in Milan! Though those tent shape dresses and capes are super short, note the matching thigh high boots (which you can substitute by making spats)!

What I love about European fashion is how the designers incorporate fine art inspiration into their collections. The op-art mini dress and boots, by the way, are completely beaded!! When shopping for fabric, don't be shy about buying bold "art" prints especially for with simple garments.
 The classics are back. More importantly, there are some really pretty patterns and prints used for coats, trousers, jackets and skirts. Here, paisley makes a come back.

 Like everywhere else, furs are pretty common place for next Winter season. What's new are furs in novelty colors and patterns. And yes....there is that fur skirt...this one cut from Mongolian lamb worn with short jacket. Our dolls just love the pattern on pattern effect of the Cavalli coat and dress. For the Dolly Designer version (in the opening photo), I used leopard printed vinyl square I bought at a local craft store to make a raincoat. Hint: when mixing prints, make sure there is at least one color in common.
Leather dresses, skirts, coats and suits are a seasonal favorite, particularly in Italy. Instead of resorting to black, think chocolate. This is a leather group with whiffs of everything from light creamy white chocolate to the deep dark 85% cacao variety. What's really new here....the Tod's leather skirt with appliques.

 Plaid and sweaters.....a classic university look makes a comeback. Skirt are pleated, straight and wrap around the hips like a sarong. Again, notice the length AND notice the over the knee boots! My dolls also have their eyes on those fringed handbags!!!

A very "grown-up" look with an obvious "girly" charm.
After five never looked so good. These are precious clothes for special occasions. Heavy, chunky lace replaces Chantilly. Garments are fur trimmed and evening trousers make a big splash. But again, the silhouettes remain simple.

 The slip dress is ever present in Milan! Here we see it cut from evening fabrics and even leather (Trussardi camesole).

We're arriving at our final destination......Paris. It's a hectic ten days and there's plenty to take in, so our report will be in two parts. Our team will be back shortly with Part I!

Follow us on Twitter: @FashDollStylist
We're also on Pinterest: