Monday, April 13, 2015

Little Stuff....

I like to group my tutorials by theme, as you know by now. But throughout the year, I get little snippets of ideas that, by themselves, don't warrant an entire post. Some are super simple like my fingerless gloves. Others are ideas I've been playing around with for awhile. Some of these you might have seen before as accessories in my fashion report pix.

Baring Arms
I love opera length gloves when it comes to accessories. I use simple tubes of fabric which I make directly on the doll. As a rule, they have no fingers because the traditional Barbie gloves are really mittens and no one wears mittens to a formal ball. Making these are super simple and you can use anything you want: lace, cotton, silk, nylon stocking.... But if you want them to be form-fitted, you'll need a stretch fabric. Rayon/lycra stretch fabric is perfect!!
For the gloves pictured here, I used lace hem tape. Wide hem tape is perfect because you only need to cut two, but if, somehow, you don't have access to this size, then the regular 5/8" (2cm) tape is okay too. You'll just need to (1) stitch two pieces of tape together first. (2) Measure the length of the doll's arm plus enough to fold over at the top and bottom. (3) Wrap the lace, lengthwise, around the doll's arm then lay the front edge over the back and stitch in place.
Here, to the same lace glove, I've embellished it with beads at the top. Having problems getting the doll's fingers from getting caught in the lace. Simple. Put tape around her hands before feeding them through the gloves!

Some of you might still insist on gloves which cover the hands. So just for you, I made the classic Barbie glove.
 (1) Trace around the doll's hand. (2) Trace along both sides of her arm for the length you want to make. This is indicated by the red line. (3) Add 1/8-inch (2mm) to the top of the fingers as well as the thumb (blue line). Then add 1/8-inch (2mm) seam allowance. (4) Hand stitch using tiny backstitches. When completed, be sure to slash the margin the fingers and thumb (tiny red line). Now for the hard part...turn the glove right side out. Use a pin to carefully pull out the thumb.

Jewelry to go...
I'm not a jewelry designer. But that doesn't stop me from affording my dolls exquisite bracelets. Take stamped metal medallions, for example. Whether squares, rectangles or circles, they make fancy bracelets for my girls, simply by bending them around a pencil. You can leave them as is, or decorate them with tiny press on gems.

One evening while window shopping on Ebay, I saw necklaces that made me think of.....earrings. These elaborate "necklaces" worn by these three models are vintage earrings where I removed the findings, added an eye ring, then suspended from either chain or a metal hoop. Nothing could be easier!

Remember that post, "Wired?" I used wide twist ties to make bracelets which I decorated with rhinestones. Well....I started covering them with bits of leather, faux reptile and even added a stone. This a quick and easy way to make a stack of cuff bracelets that are cutting edge! Just remember to use a strong glue. And just in case you don't have access to those types of twist ties, cut off a small square of aluminum from a disposable pie pan. On Carla, I started off with a bit of aluminum and lined it with self adhesive Mylar (from a bumper sticker). The result is a sleek "chrome" bracelet. You can also glue on leather and other materials!

 The tiniest of charms is just perfect to make dolly her own charm bracelet!

Aren't mirrored sunglasses super cool!!! I took another piece of Mylar and transformed an ordinary pair of Barbie glasses into a cool new look for Pat.
The top photo shows the before and after pictures of my glasses.
1. I started out by peeling off the adhesive backing then laying it over the lens of the glasses. Use a sharp object to "feel" and press the Mylar into the seams of the glasses' lens.
2. You can either carefully peel it away from the lens and cut along the indications. Or take a very sharp blade and cut along the lines you've made along the lens' seams.
Mod Squad
I've been trying to make glasses for my girls for a very long time. I've looked all over YouTube, but frankly, I was not happy with cardboard templates decorated with sparkle glue. I did find something for American Girl dolls which I have modified into something we can use as a fashion accessory for Barbie. With the 1970's retro fashion all over the runways, I thought "Granny Specs" would be an appropriate way to accessorize my girls new look.
1. Cut off about 6 inches of 20 gauge wire. Slightly bend one end so that it can hook over the ear of the doll.
2. Bend the wire a little bit away from the front of the face on the side.
3. Mark the inner corner of the eye.
4. Then wrap the wire around a round nose pliers to make a look big enough to frame the eye and then over.
5. Mark the inner eye on the other side of the face.
6. Again, bend the wire around and over the second eye. Adjust so that the loops are fairly even in shape and size. Then bend the wire back to the other side of the head. Curve over the ear and cut away the excess. You can stop right there for the granny specs. Or, with the addition of a small wire bar, we now have spectator wire glasses.
Make a tiny circle to one side of the horizontal bar. Hook onto one of the eye loops on the glasses. Repeat for the other side. With the pliers, press each loop into the glasses.

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Belle du Jour Easter Bonnet

When it comes to wide brimmed picture hats, you won't find trends on catwalks, red carpets or Vogue magazine. Instead, you'll need to view, "Gone With the Wind" DVD, locate the nearest Baptist church or lookup the next"Concours d'Elegance" in your area for ideas.

I grew up within a very conservative Catholic congregation. And though my mother and I dressed up, there was no "style show" at our church on Easter morning. So, mom and I staked out the nearest Baptist church so we could enjoy a mighty fine parade of fancy head gear. Once, we even dared venture to New York City to participate in the Easter parade, but to our disappointment, it was a far cry from what we had seen in the 1948 film, "Easter Parade" with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. Much later, however, I had the pleasure of being invited to my first Prix de Diane, a "Concours d'Elegance" marrying haute couture, high style millinery and luxury vintage automobiles!

For this Easter, I had planned to do a tutorial on straw hats. Unfortunately I didn't plan my project in time to send off for the proper doll sized materials, so I decided to make my own straw out of raffia. The result was a hat more appropriate for the beach than church, which I will share with you at a later date. So instead, I decided to make something light and very girly.

The Hat Form
For this project (as well as the straw hat we'll make in the future), you'll need a basic hat form. Don't worry, we'll make our own. Actually, I made two. One is made from paper clay (so I could stick pins in it for the straw hats) and the other from oven back clay (to mold hats on). The hat form represents the shape of the hat you're going to make. Will your crown be high or low? Will it be round or square? You decide.

1. To keep things simple, I used a twist tie and wrapped it around the doll's head at the point where the hat will sit on the head. Twist it shut to that it really fits and forms a ring. Now remove it.
2. I formed a small ball of clay, then I put the clay inside of the ring. The clay should fit the ring. Not enough? Add more. Too much? Shave it down. Keep the twist tie on this part of the form until the very end so.
3. Decide how high you want the crown to rise off the top of the head.
4. Add enough clay to match the height of the crown.
5. Now make another ball and flatten out like a pancake. Make it as wide as you think you'll want your brim. (Although, if you decide you want the brim wider later on, you can always tape a round of cardboard to the existing form.)
6. Place the crown on the brim and smooth out the seam where the two match. You can add more clay if necessary. Bake the form (low heat for about 30 min).

La Capeline
Now it's time to make our hat. I wanted something sheer but let me tell you this. A light toned lace works best because we have to make a glue solution and that will turn shiny when dry. The glue will show up on light or dark tulle. With fabric, the clue leaves a not so nice looking residue on one side. All of this said, you can still use tulle or a sheer, but you will need to embellish them to hide the residue!

Let's get started.
1. To stiffen the lace you need a solution of 1 part craft glue to 1 part water. Stir until well mixed.
2. Cover your hat form with plastic.Cut out one, two (or more) circles. (They don't have to be perfect because you can trimmed this down later.) Dip in the glue solution and lay it over the hat form.
3. Stretch a (non-colored) rubber band around the crown of the form ad let everything dry.
When dry, very carefully remove the plastic from the underside. Carefully remove the rubber bank.
Trim if you need to. Embellish if you so desire. For this hat, I pinned a tuft of the soft scraps to one side. If the hat doesn't fit perfectly, use a hat pin (worked through the hair NOT the doll's head) to hold it in place.
Note: You can make a hat pin with a small bead glued to a straight pin!

Embellish, embellish, embellish!!!!
Unfortunately, the glue residue shows on the underside of the black tulle hat. In order to selvage the original hat, I added a big, fluffy black lace ruffle!
I cut off about 29-inches (73cm) of black lace and used a running stitch to get this very full ruffle, which is then hand stitched around the crown. Because the underside of the brim is still going to show when the doll wears it, I painted a few dabs of black acrylic paint (which dries matte) to hide the residue. I don't know if this works for other colors, but it does work for black!

What started out as an ivory tulle hat, turned into another one embellished with lace. This hat was made with two layers of tulle.
I cut away medallions of lace from a strip then hand sewed them on the underside of the brim..again in an effort to camouflage the residue.

Finally, I had the notion to experiment with paper. The steps are the same, but be warned, paper is VERY fragile. The good news is, if holes appear, you can repair them by adding tiny strips of paper! Instead of using rubber bands to hold it to the crown, use twist ties or wire and be very careful when removing them! It will still be shiny on the underside, but it doesn't detract from the look of the hat and that's what counts.

Looking for more ideas? Click here to see last year's hats.

And on that note, me and the gang would like to wish everyone a very HAPPY EASTER!!!

All text and images property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2015.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Chain Gang & Company

Chain belts are some of the easiest to make. Crafts and jewelry supply stores have a wide variety of chain suitable for the scale of the doll. And if that weren't enough, you can always your own outdated costume jewelry into something dolly will be thrilled to wear around her waist. Right now we are seeing lots of 1970's inspired fashion trends, all of which lend itself to.....chain belts.

Over her palazzo pants-jumpsuit, Roshumba wears a simple hoop link chain belt. Snip off a length of chain then add a claw "catch" to one end. This belt can be worn by all of my dolls since the catch can clip onto any of the hoops. For other types of chain, you should decide how you want the belt to hang on the doll, then add a eye ring where you want the belt to close on the body. You'll also need to think about what goes on the opposite end. For that you can add a tiny charm, pendant or even a tassel.

The "CHANEL" chain belt
In the halls of high fashion, when you think of chain belts, the name Chanel comes to mind. Keep in mind, this is a fashion company, so there is no one style fixed in stone for the belts or the bags. That said, there are a few iconic looks your fashion maven always wants and any of these featured below will fit the bill. Moreover, they are pretty simple to make!

Here is a simple chain belt with a tiny strip of leather threaded through the chain. Cut the chain so that it fits around the doll's hips plus extra (about 1.5 inches or 4cm) for the overhang. Cut the strip of leather (or narrow ribbon) roughly 1-1/2 times the length of the chain. Thread it under and over each loop of the chain. Hold the chain flat and try to keep it from twisting as you work. When you get to the end, fold the leather strip under and glue in place. (Sometimes I will thread it back through two loops on the underside and then glue.) Here I've added a small leather tassel to the end of the belt.
Many of the Chanel belts have one or two tiers of chain that drop over hips from the waist.
I work directly on the doll. I cut enough chain to go around the waist plus an equal amount for the overhang. For this belt, I used a claw catch, then wrap the chain around the waist of the doll, again allowing for an over hang. Place an eye ring where the belt should close. On the other side the hips, attach another eye ring. Pick up the excess chain and attach the mid point of the overhang to the new eye ring you've just added. Add a charm to the end point of the chain.

You can add as many tiers to this "bib" using the same principle. Looking for the purse to match? You'll find it here.
Don't be shy about getting creative. Here, I found my mother's old chain link necklace. By itself, it makes for quite a nice belt. But since my dolls like bling, I took it one step further, and linked a second chain to the original belt.

Check out the multitude of novelty chains available in crafts stores and jewelry supply shops. If you can't find something similar to the one featured below, make your own by adding tiny charms to a regular chain!
Here, Carla was happy enough with a single strand chain belt of tiny Buddha heads. However, remembering how much fun I had wearing "belly dancer belts," I decided I'd make a double strand belt. As you can see, I hung the belt directly on the doll and pinned it in place as I worked.
It's a Wrap!
Corset belts are big for Fall. And it's no wonder...Silhouettes are getting bigger, looser, longer. Dolly could become quite overwhelmed with such voluminous clothing. So it makes sense that corsets, waist cinchers, and wrap belts would be a popular accessory to feminize cool weather looks or give an edge to urban styles. Here, I show you two ways of making this corset belt.

 The easiest way to create the pattern is to drape it directly on the doll.
1. Take two small scraps of fabric and press it close to the doll's body. pin at each side.
2. Draw a line indicating the center front. Mark the sides. Turn the doll over and mark the center back. Now draw the shape of the corset.
3. Remove from the doll and trace the pattern onto paper (center front to side). For the front, fold along the center front line to make sure your pattern is symmetrical. Adjust if needed. For the back, cut along the center back. You will need to do the back in two parts.
4. Since I'm working in leather, I only need to add seam allowance to the side seams and the back center seam. You can also reverse and have your center front open (with lacing up the front,) if desired.

I decided I want this corset to fit all of my 12-inch dolls. So instead of adding Velcro or hook and eyes down the back, I punched in eyelets, then threaded a tiny strip of leather which wraps around the back and ties in the front. You can leave it like that, or give it an extra zing by adding a fob watch chain.

All I've done is to take a bit of chain then add S-links at both sides. The S-link is just that---wire fashioned into an S shape. Squeeze one end to close over a loop. Leave the other end open. This little chain-ette hooks onto the top of the corset and onto the belt.

 This is another (no sew) variation. Again, I've draped this directly on to the doll. It is a one-piece belt that wraps around the back and ties in the front. The widest part is in the front, but then it progressively gets narrower at the back. If your leather isn't wide enough to do this in one piece, then glue on extensions. She can wear it as is or.....layer on a straight black strap (as seen in the above photo).

The Waist Cincher
This is super simple and the perfect belt to wear with peasant shirts and full gathered skirts. Cut a rectangle of leather the width of the doll's waist. Add the metal eyelets and laces.

The Bow-Tie Belt

This looks like a single piece of leather wrapped around the doll's waist. However, look again and note how "perfect" the belt fits around the doll.
The secret is in the pattern (7-3/4 inch or 19cm) which resembles a double sided spoon. The narrow part (3/8" or 1cm) fits around the waist but the ends are cut much wider and shaped into petals with points at both ends. Cut the belt out in fabric first to be sure everything fits correctly. Then be sure you use a very lightweight leather, pleather or vinyl. You can make this in fabric but you'll need to hem or line it.

The Fringe Belt
This look combines two hot trends of the season--belts and fringe. Again, super simple, this is a 1/2inch (2cm) wide strip of suede (or ultra-suede). I've cut fringe into both sides. You can also cut it  bit longer so that the belt wraps around the doll's waist twice.

Finally, I wanted to add an edgy belt using unexpected materials. The black belt is made from a rubber (appliance) gasket. The white, from a wide rubber band. Both are cut in half on an angle. Then, using a blade, I made a slit in the middle parallel to the side of the band. Feed one side of the strip into the other and voila!!!!
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