Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Easy Straw Hats

Happy Summer Solstice! Now that the sun is out in full force, quite naturally, your girls will need straw hats!!!!

The other day while strolling through my local crafts store when I spotted packages of raffia which brought back memories of a project we did at a school I worked for in Paris. The seniors had to make their own accessories for their mini fashion collections. One girl made a series of hats made from raffia which I later bought. The process for making straw hats is pretty simple. You braid the raffia, shape it over a form and sew the braids together.

For this project you will need a small bit of raffia. A little goes a very long way so buy the smallest package available. You will need the hat forms we created in a previous post. You can find that tutorial by clicking HERE. And then needle and thread.

1. We start by preparing the raffia. You want to pull apart the strands.
2. The width of braid you want to create will dictate how wide or fine each strand will be. Let the raffia soak in water for a few minutes.
3. Take three strands and braid together. Knot the braid on both sides.
4. Iron the braid flat. You should create a few braids. The bigger the hat, the more braids. For my sun hat, I made about 3-4 braids.
5. Fold one edge under the braid, then place on the top of the hat form.
6. Pin on the crown.
7. Now begin to wrap the braid around the form, placing pins to hold in place. When you run out of one braid, add another in by criss-crossing the edges and keep wrapping around the form. (See the instructions for the next hat for more detail.)
8. You might want to stretch out the braids a little for a looser weave.
9. With needle and thread, sew the strands together using the smallest stitches possible. The stitches will be visible so you will want to choose a thread perfectly matched to the color of the raffia. (Raffia is sold in different colors, by the way!)
 Here is how my hat looks on the doll from the side back.
You can add a little scarf to the crown and hold in place with a hat pin (or a pearl tipped straight pin).

Even though this is a rustic summer straw hat, you can transform this into something more high fashion.
Here is a simple cloche. I've left it natural, but you can spray or paint it with another color or a metallic.
 The steps are the same. The only thing which has changed is that I create a smaller braid (1/8" or 3mm) and I've used a hat form without a rim. Instead of making the hat form, you can use a small ball or object which comes close to the size of your doll's head. It should be made of something that you can stick pins in.
1. Again, prepare the raffia. Start by tucking one edge under the rest of the braid.
2. Pin to the crown of the form.
3. Wrap around the form, pinning in place.
4. One braid has run out. I added a second one. Note how I've criss-crossed the edges. This forces the edges to the interior of the hat. Wrap the braid around to hide the end of the previous braid.
5. To keep the edges from unraveling, dip each edge in glue and let dry.
 6. Continue wrapping the braid around the form until the very end. In this case, I have wound my braids close together for a "tighter weave."
7. Sew the braids together.
8. When you get to the end, clip the edge.
9. Then tuck the end into the interior of the hat and sew or glue in place.
 I like the simple shape of this hat. You can always add feathers, flowers or small bits of jewelry to it.
Or, you can take a bit of the raffia and add to the hat. Here, I've simply tied a few strands together into a bow and sewn it onto the side of the hat.

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day

To All the Doll Dads and the #DudesWithDolls amongst us......

We wish you a very happy day!!!!
Pssst...introducing the newest member of our team: Nathalie!! Isn't she pretty!!!

April & the Gang!

(The next post will be up shortly!)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Country Fresh!

This is actually a continuation of the last tutorial, "Angel Food." I've used the same fabric and the same inspiration: peasant blouses and dresses the girls saw in stores (like Zara and H&M)  all over Paris. Looking back at the Doll's Eye View report on Paris Fashion Week (Spring 2016), this "boho chic" trend was sparked by looks appearing on Chloe's catwalk show: cool, white cotton tops and dresses trimmed with cotton or crochet lace.

The real difference between this post and the last, is that the fabric in the other post has lots of fluff and bounce and these garments droop closer to the body. To achieve this look, you must first wash the fabric then resist the urge to iron it afterwards. These garments are also trimmed with either  (English) cotton lace or some sort of crochet trim. For these looks, I had some vintage crocheted trim on hand (that I had to bleach back to white). But you should be able to find something similar in the notions department of your local fabric store.

The standard peasant blouse has a "crochet yoke" and trim. Instead of going the route of a traditional drafted pattern, here is a quick and easy way of achieving the look without a pattern! Before we begin, cut a strip of fabric roughly twice the circumference of the doll's body wide by the length of the blouse you desire. For my blouse, this equated to 2.5" long x 9" wide (9x23 cm)

1. Wash the fabric in soapy water and rinse. Wring out the excess water. Allow to air dry.
2. When dry, seal the edges using an anti-fray product.
3. Trim the bottom edge with the same width of crochet lace. Set aside.
4. Take your trim and wrap around the doll.
5. Join the two ends at the center back of the doll then allow for overlap. (Later you will fold, sew and attach a fastener).
6. Cut two more strips of crochet lace and attach to the horizontal strip.
7. Stitch together at the front and the back. You now have a yoke.
8. Take the cotton strip of fabric you first created. Make a double row of running stitches. at the top. Pin it to the middle of the strip to the middle of the blouse then at end. Pull the threads to gather the fabric into the size of the "yoke." I have a detailed tutorial near the bottom of this post to better illustrate this process.*
9. Remove the blouse from the doll and stitch the back seam up to about the waist of the doll. You can press the seam open then attach snaps on the "yoke" and another about 1/2" (1cm) further down

Front to back, this is what your end result should resemble.

Here's another easy, breezy empire waist dress that's simple to make. All you need is a bit of crocheted lace, a length of embroidered cotton trim and a little string.
1. For the "bodice," I've used a one inch (2cm) crochet cotton lace. Again, I wrap it around the bust of the doll, joining the two edges at her center back. Be sure to leave enough to turn the edges down.
2. The skirt part is made using a 3 1/4" (9cm) wide embroidered cotton trim. I cut a length roughly 2.5 times the width of the doll. In my case, this measures about 17" (40cm). Make a double running stitch along the top edge. Pin the skirt at each end and then in the middle. Pull the threads to make the gathers and adjust so that everything is fairly equally spaced.  I have a detailed tutorial near the bottom of this post to better illustrate making gathers.*
3. Add a string to the center front point (which is used to tie around dolly's neck). Then stitch up the back to the waist and add a snap or two at the back.

 It's as simple as that!
Again, stitch up the back to about the waist. Then close the bodice with snaps or hook & eyes.

 Extremely popular is the tiered cotton dress. Again, you can make this dress without a pattern. This dress consists of three tiers, the first made with a 1-1/4" embroidered cotton lace trim.
1. For the first layer, I used a 1-1/4" (3cm) embroidered (English) cotton lace.
2. Wrap around the bust of the doll, leaving an overlap at the center back seam. Because this does not stretch, you will need to make a tiny dart under each bust to fit.
3. My second layer is a strip of cotton 1.5 times the width of the doll times the desired length which I have washed and dried first. (Again, it is recommended you use an anti fray product to keep the edges neat.) In my case, this is 7.5x2" (19x5cm).
4. Gather this second tier and sew onto the lower edge of the first tier.  I have a detailed tutorial near the bottom of this post to better illustrate making gathers.*

*Working with Gathers:

Put a double row of running stitches at the top of the strip.
1. Pin the center of one strip to the center of the other.
2. Pin the ends of the longer strip to the edges of the smaller tier.
3. Working from one side to the other, gently pull both lines of stitches at the same time. Be sure to pull the stitches made by the bobbin) as they are easier to manipulate.
4. Adjust the gathers as you go. The double stitches make it easy to do this and keeps things fairly stable.
5. Once everything has fit in well, place more pins in the gathered strip. Sew in between the two sets of stitches.

6. Here are the three tiers sewn together. Stitch the dress to about the waist. Use snaps or hook & eyes to fasten shut the dress.
7. Remove the running stitches that fall below the sewing line.

I decided to use 4 strips of ribbon for straps that tie over each shoulder.
Unfortunately, it's not as simple as tying each strap into a bow. I reinforce each bow by making a few hand stiches through the center knot..

When you finished, you might want to crush the dress in your hand to keep it close to the doll's body

Of course, the dress or the blouse is only part of the story. Aside from a jeans jacket, dolly will need something to toss over her shoulders on those cool days or nights.

You can create a crochet sweater without the skill! Use the same trim you used for the dress.


1. Prepare the trim. (My trim here is 2" (5cm) wide. Carefully cut two strips of trim of equal length. The length will depend on how long or short you want the jacket. Place it over the doll's shoulder until it falls at the desired length.
2. I close up the broken links with a few stitches to stabilize the edges first.
3. Here, I have used a thinner trim to finish what will result in the hem of my jacket.
4. Sew trim  to both raw edges
1. Place it over the doll's body front to back.
2. Leaving a space for the arms, lay the front edge over the back edge and pin.  Hand sew together with perfectly matched thread.
3. Repeat on the other side.
4. Join both sides together at the back. Pin, adjust, sew.
 When you have finished, no one will guess you did not crochet this yourself!!!
Same jacket, shorter length, narrower trim (1" 2.5cm). I used the same steps to make the jacket as explained above.
Here's the jacket, front and back.

I think this is a look your Barbies will adore this summer!!!!!

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

World Doll Day 2016

Today is World Doll Day. However you will not find a special post here.

Last year, some of us in the blogosphere, marked the occasion by answering an online survey where we were encouraged to name our favorite doll along with the reason. Well, I tried to answer this as best I could, but my dolls because enraged when they got hold of it. They felt it was insensitive of me to single out a few new dolls especially when others had been here for a number of years.

They vowed to take over the event and organize it themselves. So, this year, I gave them a couple laptop computers and a few smart phones and turned them loose!
Since I was not allowed to vote, nor to take the pictures.....I cannot post too much of their work on this blog. Instead I will invite you to check out their World Doll Day special event at www.fashiondolldiva.wordpress.com

But be warned! It is very long. They kept adding on all kinds of silly categories. Their photos are boring. (What can you expect when it's dolls taking pictures of other dolls! (Clearly the photographer did not have a good hand with dropping in backgrounds.) And the writing.....well.....miniscule fingers typing on a miniscule MacAirbook.....what can you expect!!!

In the meantime, we've prepared a new tutorial which will be posted almost immediately after this message!

Happy World Doll Day!

Pssssst. Spoiler alert. Grace won Top Doll!!!!!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Angel Food

The store windows of Paris are filled with the hottest trend for the summer....peasant blouses and dresses! Inspired by these looks, my project began. But soon after I cut the first dress, another, more romantic look emerged. Back in 1962, the "Angel Blouse" (also known as the "choir boy look" with its ruffles and flounces, was all the rage amongst teenagers of that era. And while I intend to return to a more gritty look, I decided, instead to work with this forgotten trend that is so very pretty on the doll.

For all of the looks here, I used a cotton voile and some very simple patterns.

The first dress begins with a classic 2-piece dress. The top is a strapless fitted bodice with a flared (or 4-gore) skirt attached.

1. Sew the dress and finish it.
2. You can use ribbon or make your own straps out of small scraps of the same cotton Folded, glued and pressed in place. I've pinned the straps to the dress then stitched them down. In this case, the straps are only attached to the front and tie behind the doll's head in the back.
3. Cut a diagonal strip of fabric that is twice the circumference of the doll and about 2" (5cm) long. Hem the edges.

4. Using a running stitch, gather one side of the strip then pin to the top of the dress. Adjust the gathers. Stitch the gathers in place with a backstitch.
5. You can stop there or... Make little sleeves. Cut a width of the strip. Hem both top and bottom, then make a tube by stitching the side edges together.
6. Make a running stitch at the top, pull the thread to gather. Carefully stitch down the gathers.
7. Sew the seam of the sleeve to the side of the dress bodice.

The one is a peasant dress that, in a shorter length, you can also make as a blouse and to wear over jeans, if dolly wants a more casual look.

1. Begin by cutting a length of fabric which is as long as you would like the dress. The width should be 2-4 times the circumference of the doll, depending on how full you want the dress. Pictured here, I made m dress 4x the doll's width.
2. For the sleeve, I cut two more rectangles that are half the size of the body of the dress. Altogether you have 3 rectangles which you should hem top and bottom. Fold in half and stitch each one down the one unique side.
3. Gather the tops of each segment. Adjust the body of the dress on the doll, then stitch the gathers down. The sleeve segments should be gathered at the top and the bottom.

4. You can then either stitch the sleeves to the body of the dress at the underarms or treat them as detachable elements which gives dolly two looks for the price of one!

Another very pretty look, inspired by the peasant wear we're seeing in Paris. This is a simple tent dress trimmed with a ruffle at the hem.
1. Start with the tent dress pattern. Click here for the tutorial. The dress is stitched at the side seams and the shoulders. I finished the armholes and neckline.
2. Next, take a strip of cotton which is at least twice the width of the dress's hem (or more if you want the ruffles to stand out more). Gather the top of this strip.
3. Pin to the dress, raw side to raw side. The ruffles will be pinned upside down on the dress. Adjust so that they are even. Then stitch down.
4. Finish the back seam. Then iron, near the seam at the hemline, (just above but not on the ruffles).

Finally is the "Angel Blouse" worn over jeans. It is a shorter version of the dress I just made but with a longer ruffle. Use the pattern for the tent dress but cut it down to a shorter length and leave the back open, closing it with a single snap or hook and eye. My ruffle here is twice the width of the blouse's hem and 1 3/4 inch (4.5cm) long.

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