Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dolly Couture 101: The Classic Draped Couture Gown (VIDEO)

Dolly Couture inspired by Zuhair Murad.
 After having featured posts on the Charles James exhibition in New York and the most recent Haute Couture week in Paris, I thought this would be a good time to revisit couture "draping" techniques we posted a while ago. This time I've prepared a video:

For the 12" fashion doll, you'll need a length of fabric roughly 36 by 18 inches. Use it width wise and not length wise as stated in the video. Should you misjudge the amount need (which is what originally happened in the video) you can simply sew on an extension which you will steam press until barely noticeable.

Here are the important things to keep in mind:
1. Find a photo of a dress that inspires you and keep it in sight while you're working.

2. Analyze the design to discern out how it was made. Decide where the dress will close (side, back, front). Use hooks & eyes. And make design decisions as to what you'll do with the back since you cannot see it in the photo.

3. Make the foundation out of a sturdy, woven fabric. It should not be stretch nor too soft. Try to match it to the color of the dress or to the background color of a printed fabric. Complete it right down to the closure and put it on the doll. The gown will be built directly onto the foundation.

4. The foundation can be a full sheath dress, a strapless mini (like mine), a corset or one-shouldered. It depends on the ultimate design of the dress and the amount of control you'll need over the movement of the folds. You can use a facing around the neckline or completely line your foundation, but it must be finished complete with the closure BEFORE your begin the drape.

5. Your thread should match your fabric.

6. You can use almost any material for the dress fabric provided it is not too thick nor too stiff. Hint: natural fibers are easier to handle than synthetics.

7. Take your time when stitching the fabric to the foundation. Work from left to right, from top to bottom. Carefully remove the pins as you finish each area. Then, remove the pinned dress from the doll prior to stitching down the folds. Try to slide the needle between the layers so they remain as invisible as possible but don't pull your stitches too tight. It will shrink your dress. (Been there, done that!)

8. Don't despair if the result is not a line for line copy of the original. Often, the imperfections make it more interesting AND it allows you to take ownership of the original dress!
Use this technique for an all over draped dress or in small areas like over a part of bodice or corset.

As you work, think of this as soft sculpture where you "mold" your creation with fabric atop a wireframe base (the dress foundation). The possibilities are limitless! Once you get a feel for it, let that inner couturier take over and explore your own designs!!!
The photos just above and below are from the post, "Fit to be Tied" we did last year. A single necktie provided enough fabric for each of these two lovely dresses.
Start with a basic, strapless sheath gown and add the "draped" segment to the bodice and allow it to trail down the front to get this dolly version of an Alexander McQueen dress worn by actress, Sandra Bullock.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Doll's Eye View: Fall/Winter '14 Paris Couture

A study in stripes, Isabella wears a dress inspired by Zuhair Murad
Simplicity seams to be the norm when it comes to current Paris Haute Couture trends. Think of it as "cleansing the palette" from all the bling-bling that littered the catwalks a decade ago. That said, I still feel that couture, by its nature, should be something really special. You know, clothes that make you feel like a princess or a queen!

The Versace dress in the middle can be interpreted in numerous ways.
For this, the Fall/Winter Haute Couture collections, there were quite a few grand looks that remind me of the "good ole days" of yesteryear. Sumptuous ballgowns with dramatic drapery and intricate embellishments.

Moreover, much of what I saw easily translates into incredibly gorgeous clothes your doll will die to wear. Though I have demonstrated how to do the foundation with the draped silhouette over, I will soon post a video to help guide you through the process more easily. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy my dolls' picks from the Paris Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2014 trends.
Indian Summer Days
 Okay, it does look like Spring. And we can get started with these dresses while the weather is still warm. I love the throw-back silhouette to the 1950's with this trio of dresses by Giambattista Valli. You can achieve a similar look with the flared, princess line dress
As we progress into Autumn, these neat and tidy looks is the best way to face cooler temperatures. I like the little touches of fur at the neck and hem, the embellishments on the capes, and the look of brocade for evening suits and coats, whether they're the basic straight coat or the redingote.
At Jean Paul Gaultier, we loved the details that render the classics thoroughly feminine. A great big ruffle around the neck of a black silk wrap coat, fur at the neck and hem of a fishnet covered cape. And a touch of lace peeking out from a slim black velvet gown. I also love the idea of the dip dyed herringbone suit.

Armani rhymes with elegance. A simple cape or jacket gets a feminine touch with the addition of a ruffle. And flocked tulle adds a fairy-tale princess allure to the classic evening gown.

We can always count on Elie Saab for red-carpet glamour. Start with a metallic lace, flared princess line gown then toss a fur boa over her shoulders. The boas here can be made with a rectangle of faux fur held together with a satin ribbon!
An Armani look easily moves from the catwalk onto the doll!
And there's always feathers! A flame red feather boa over a slim silk evening skirt....dolly's ready to paint the town...RED!!!
Many fabric stores now offer a wide variety of faux fur and shaggy fabrics. This is a simple fur coat cut from a white shaggy material.
Black and white is a natural choice with dramatic results. We especially like the black and white prints at Valentino and Zuhair Murad. Does the middle dress look familiar? It's quite similar to this one we showed you how to make a few months ago.
 Our absolute favorite collection this season was that of Zuhair Murad. Glamorous, chic, most of what we saw on the runway is easily translated into gorgeous eveningwear for the doll. All of the photos below can attest to that!
Gowns of this type begin with a foundation with the fabric draped and stitched on top like the one we featured here.

A similar dress to the one worn by our Lupita, we've cut this one using a devore satin, then cinched in the waist with a silver belt.
This is a basic, strapless dress with a satin ribbon belt. The pouf of lace is stitched to the belt.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

A la Bastille (Day)!!!

To all of our Friends in France.......have a safe and thoroughly sparkling Bastille Day!

After the strolling from one street ball to another, giving into the sizzle of the merguez at the foot of the Eiffel tower, being mesmerized by the fireworks across the river at Trocadero, and sipping a few glasses of chilled champagne with their colleagues in Paris.....
The girls will be right back with their Doll's Eye View of the Fall/Winter 2014 Haute Couture catwalk shows. They've got some really nice dresses for you!!! Stay tuned!!!
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Good Foundations: The Pants Sloper for Ken (VIDEO)

Before the girls get back, I thought I would post one more video for Ken. Prior to this, we did a basic pant pattern for Ken with just one seam. It's fast and easy, but there are times when you may want a better fit or a different look.

Once you have removed the muslin from the doll, flatten it out and smooth out the lines.

Now, transfer to graph paper. More than likely there are adjustments to be made.

You must check to make sure the side seams of both the front and back pattern pieces are of equal length. If one is shorter than the other, note the difference then make the shorter side a bit longer and conversely, make the longer side a bit shorter until both sides line up perfectly. Repeat for the inseam. And don't forget to draw in the "straight of the grain" lines!
You will need to add the "fly front" flap to the front of the pants sloper. Mine here extends 1/2" (1cm) from the center front seam and goes down where that line begins to curve.
For a simple pair of pants, I've decided not to make a belt. Instead, I'm mimicking the Mattel method....that is, I extend the waist 1/2" upwards. I will fold it down and then topstitch the "belt" as well as the design of the fly front.
Underneath, you can either use a dot of Velcro, or better, a hook and eye for the closure.
Adjust the width of the pants on equally on both sides from the hips down to the hem to make them wider or more narrow. It is always good to make a pair in muslin or cotton first to verify the desired fit.
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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Good Foundations: The Slim Bodice Sloper for Ken (VIDEO)

 This post came about after seeing a need to revisit Ken's basic slopers when I tried to make a jeans jacket and a vest for my beloved male fashion dolls. Normally I use the man's shirt as the base for all of their shirts, tops, jackets and coats, but suddenly I discovered there was too much volume for an otherwise skinny garment. Mind you, men's patterns are traditionally drafted after meticulously taking measurements. But in my effort to make this process as simple as possible for all of us, I decided to take a few steps back and re-begin by making slopers for the Ken doll much in the same way we did for the girls.

I will point out to you immediately that I have not allowed for any ease because I wanted something very close to the body to make that St. Laurent "embroidered" leather vest and eventually slim fitted shirts or jackets like the leather shirt-jac worn by Zac in the photo above.

 Measure and mark the male doll much in the same way as you did with the girl doll. Wrap a piece of yarn around the circumference of his neck, on top of the shoulder between the neck and the tip of the arm. Mark the entire armhole. Then mark his chest, his waist and then the top of his hips.

Prepare two rectangles of muslin (large enough to cover half the front from under the chin to just below the hip), making a vertical line, intercepted with a horizontal line.
 After you have followed the instructions in the video, remove the muslin from the doll. Smooth out the lines then transfer to graph paper. Make sure the shoulder seams are equal in width and that the side seams are equal in length and in form. Make the necessary adjustments on the graph paper. Use this draft for your basic bodice sloper. After you design your garment, be sure to add seam allowance which thus transforms it into a real pattern.
For my vest, (1) I put the muslin pattern back on the doll then with a narrow tape or ribbon, I design the shape of the vest front. Again, (2) transfer your markings to paper and add seam allowance. Here in the final version, (3) I have cut this in leather. I overlapped the seams and glued in place. The seam allowance here has been cut away from the front, the neckline and the armhole.

I used beaded stickers (normally reserved for scrapbooking) for my "embroidery."
The drape of the sleeve is identical to that for the Barbie doll.
I began by preparing a rectangle of cotton muslin. It should be a little longer than the length of the doll's arm and three times the width of the doll's open hand. (For the Ken doll it will measure about 2-1/5 by 5 inches). Fold in thirds and pin. Cut a groove on the under side (where the fabric is overlapped). Slide onto the doll's arm and pin onto the bodice using the armhole markings as a guide. Then pin the underarm seam together. Mark. Then remove and transfer to paper. Make sure the underarm points fall on the same level. Make sure the underarm seams are equal. Adjust if necessary. Add seam allowance to transform into a pattern.
With this very simple bodice sloper and the addition of the sleeve, I was able to make Zak's form fitting, "European-cut" leather jacket. I simply added seam allowance to my sloper to the side and shoulder lines, then extended the center front by 1/2" (1cm).
I did sew the seams by machine. I stitched each seam twice for strength, glued down the seams inside the garment. Then (using a mallet or hammer) pounded the seams and around the armholes of the sleeve to eliminate bulk.
Using this same sloper, I was able to make a pretty successful jeans jacket for Ken which I will post very shortly!

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Up next: The girls are back with Fall/Winter 2014 Paris Haute Couture!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independance Day!

To all of our American friends, FDS wishes you a safe and happy July 4th holiday!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ken's Eye View: Paris Spring '15 Menswear Trends

In this our third and last installment on Spring/Summer 2015 menswear week, the guys top their trip off to Paris. Less colorful and more sensible than the other two sets of catwalk shows, they noted how blue will be a big color next year! White continues on as a major trend for next summer. However, there is a symphony of patterns and prints that can be added as statement pieces to help you keep your Ken doll in his best peacock mode!
As many young designers have lost their way in their flights of fancy where clothes are made for catwalks but not for actual lifestyles, it is interesting to see how traditional fashion houses have found refuge in today's iconic garments....jeans. From a distance, not much has change. But look up close and you notice a plethora of details and treatments. My Kens like this a lot because they can exert their creative style in a modern way without looking ridiculous.

Where jeans leave off, this trend favoring a variety of creative blues continues. Here, you can start with a basic silhouette then use special techniques to make the overall look different. Think patchwork, patterns, dip dye, tie dye, applique....all in a palette of denim and indigo blue.
Speaking of indigo. Again, there are so many different ways to change up a garment. It's all in the details. You can begin with a sports jacket with jeans, but use textile techniques to rough it up a bit like slashing, over-dying, dip dying. Then also consider a few changes with your silhouette. A short jacket with super wide trousers or a jacket with an asymmetrical closing.
A nice alternative to the classic blazer, jackets are getting shorter. But consider the fabric....reptile or tire embossed vinyl, textured silk or a short jacket with a smattering of tiny bangles. Leave the collar off. Close the jacket off to the size. Wear all this with short pants....the newest look made famous by "Happy" singer Pharrell Williams.

The easiest way to get into the groove where prints are concerned is by cutting your guy a jacket or pair of jeans with a spatter printed cotton. Moreover, you can take a bit of acrylic paint and create your own textile print. Dip an old toothbrush into the paint then flick it onto the fabric. Keep your silhouettes simple. And if your doll screams over these very busy looks, dress him in just one spatter garment over a pair of black jeans or shorts.

Once you get used to the look, have fun by creating a variety of abstract art prints splashed over the traditional sports jacket and trousers. You can also use "Jouy" cloth (3rd suit from the left)....or a patchwork carcoat over a pair of light denim creased jeans.
These are vary daring looks that begin with a simple garment. These are interesting because embroidered fabrics or even upholstery jacquards can be used to make Monsieur Ken a most outstanding evening suit. We also love the photo car coat by Undercover. Create your own print using transfer paper. And don't be afraid of color!

After all of the crazy prints, loud colors and creative cuts....it's time to cleanse the palette with neutral tones. One note here....try using the unconventional fabric like viscose or rayon knit to create a fluid outfit like the one by Dries van Noten.
And here we are, once again, with what we are predicting will be a MAJOR trend for next spring/summer: White on White. From the "tennis" suit of Umit Benan to the safari jacket and slacks from Christophe Lemaire, whatever you make, let it be white!

Renauld loves his casual Friday jeans suit a la Dior Homme!

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