Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fancy Feet

Okay, this is what you've been waiting for!!!! This is a post that started in Paris and took me to a place far beyond my comfort zone. I am not a cobbler and frankly, I had to look at a lot of men's feet to get some ideas for this project. My recent purchases of FR Homme dolls necessitated this project. Like many of you, I rarely buy dolls brand new because of the cost factor. After acquiring Xavier, a nude, second-hand FR Homme doll, I was thrilled!  You can count on me to make clothes for him but then I had a real problem! He had no shoes!!!

The FR Homme dolls have bigger feet than those of Ken which meant there would be no sharing amongst the "men" in the house. I returned to Ebay to shop for shoes. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the prices of those FR Homme shoes. OMG!!! Sticker shock!!! I was quite anxious to put gorgeous Xavier to work, but did not feel like ordering then waiting for shoes from China (less expensive--but still). And, this being winter, I couldn't get away with sandals. After MUCH experimentation, (and a few tears) I've come up with a basic shoe which is fairly simple to make and can be modified to create a number of styles. And yes, you can also use this tutorial to make Ken shoes, as well.

Sock It To Me!
After crudely making the first pair of shoes for the quilted jacket project, I realized there was something missing. My guy needed socks. The FR Homme dolls all wear socks with their shoes! I cut off a small piece of my panty hose measuring 2-3/4 inches long (70mm) (or shorter for ankle length socks) by about 2 inches wide. Drape over the foot and leg, then stretch as you pin around the form.

Near the toe, there will be a wedge which you will trim away. Mark your pins before removing them and create your pattern.

Sew the seam, then turn inside out.

No Biz Like Shoe Biz!
Let's start with the easy part: sandals. All shoes begin with tracing the foot to create the sole. Depending on the type of shoe you want, you should extend the toe. For sandals, I add another 1/8-inch but for an enclosed shoe, I've added a full 1/4 inch because it has to accommodate the doll wearing socks.
The simple sandal is very easy. Take your sole shape, trace onto a piece of non-woven material then cut.
For my orange and black sandals, I took a rectangular scrap of leather, glued each side to the underside of the "upper sole." Then, I mounted this to the (lower) sole cut from a thicker leather scrap and added a heel cut from the same leather.
Variation: I added a heel to the back of the sandal. This is a dome shaped piece of leather. Again attach to the bottom of the upper sole then add the lower sole and heel.
The FR Homme has separated toes which made me anxious to make flip-flops for him. Here, I've used ultra-suede for the upper sole and cut then strips to go over the top of the foot.
 Again, for the sandal, I extend the length of the sole by 1/8 inch. I cut the upper sole out of my material. I created the lower sole and its heel out of a scrap of thick leather. You can also use rubber or create the sole out of oven-bake or air dried clay. Set aside. Place the doll's foot on top of the upper sole and place a pin in the space between the toes. Mark.

 I cut thin (1/16 inch) strips out of my ultra-suede. Using a very large needle (for sewing carpets) I thread one end of this strip through the eye of the needle. Pull to the other side. Remove needle. Thread the other side through the needle an push through the same hole. Pull to the under side to create a loop.
Now thread a longer strip through the loop. Again, thread the end of the strip through the needle then poke through the upper sole on the side of the foot, about 7/8-inch (23mm) down from the toe look. push through the bottom of the sole. Repeat on the other side.
Adjust the flip flops to the foot. Clip the excess and glue in place. Glue on the lower sole with its heel.
Now for a "real" shoe! The one I made for the quilted jacket project was cut from the same fabric. Personally, I was amazed at its outcome. The pattern is quite simple, consisting of the sole and heel, the top (vamp), the upper sole and the side/back panel.

1- Cut shape (out of cardboard) for the upper sole. The toe has been extended by 1/4 inch (7mm). I've also cut a lower sole out of thicker leather or rubber. The lower third part of the sole is traced off to create the heel.
2-The "vamp" or the top of the shoe is a dome shape measuring about 1-3/4 inch (35mm) long by 1/3/8 inch (37mm) wide.
3-The Side/Back piece I've cut in one piece. It measures 5/8 inch (18mm) long by 2-5/8 inch (68mm) wide. Round off the upper edges.

Putting it together is simple. HOWEVER...clip notches into the seam allowance that folds under the upper sole. AND...don't use craft glue. Instead, use a contact glue (rubber cement or neoprene). This is a glue whereby you glue each of the two edges. Allow to dry somewhat, then put the two edges together. Believe me, using the wrong type of glue or omitting the notches will make this project FAIL!
For the shoe that laces together, begin by attaching the top to the sole first. Next, attach the side/back. In this instance, you will NOT glue the side to the front. The sides are left open. I used carpet thread for shoe laces. Thread the big needle with the carpet thread and pull through each side "flap." Tie the thread into a bow. Cut away the excess.
For a "pull-on" or loafer type shoe, the procedure is the same only the side and back are attached and the doll slips into the shoe. You can add tassels, stickers or other detailing to make this shoe more special.
Making it is identical to the first shoe. Note how I've cut my notches into the vamp. Note how I've applied the glue to both sets of edges.
Use a little sandpaper to smooth out the edges of the soles. Also, sometimes the glue can make things messy. So I use a bit of acrylic pant to "clean" things up.

One Last Thing....
After using fabric, I immediately turned to leather without a lot of success. This is because I was using the wrong type of glue and the fact I was not cutting in enough notches. I then moved to vinyl which I found was easier to manipulate. I was quite happy with the result, but decided to attempt leather once more, this time with much success. This is to say, it doesn't matter what you use.
Once you get the knack of making prince charming's foot gear, you might want to create a "last." Traditionally, made in wood, I've made mine out of oven-back clay. This mimics the silhouette of the shoe and you build your creation over it.

The foot is essentially a triangular shape. I took a smooth ball of clay, shaped it into a triangle then tried to match it up with the doll's foot to get the same volume. I also use the sole to ensure it will be long enough for the shoe. When your last looks about right, pop it into the oven to harden. You can always sand it down if it's too big somewhere. I then build my shoe around it. The last was so easy to work with (without having to turn poor Xavier upside down and on his side), I've decided to make a second one for the other foot and use the pair instead of relying on the doll's feet. You can also make several lasts, each one with a different shoe or toe style. For example, instead of this rounded shaped shoe, you can create another with a squared toe, then drape your pattern around it.
Once again, here are the steps for this very basic shoe:
1) Make your sole by tracing off the foot, then adding allowance beyond the toe to accommodate the foot with the sock.
2) Cut out your pattern pieces and be sure to clip lots of notches around the edges that will fold under the sole. Apply a contact glue to those edges as well as those of the underside of the upper sole. Wait 10 minutes.
3) Starting with the back/side piece, fold the edges to the underside of the upper sole. Press.
4) For the loafer/slip-on shoe, put a spot of glue on the topside edges of the back/side piece (red marks). Attach the top to the upper sole. Place a spot of glue on the underside edges of the top piece. Press the front to the side. For the shoe with laces, omit this step.
5) Apply a layer of glue to the underside of the upper sole.
6) Also apply glue to the top of the under sole. Wait 10 minutes. Attached to the top.
7) Apply glue to the heel area of the underside of the lower sole as well as to the heel. Wait a few minutes. Press together.
8) Use a bit of acrylic paint to "clean up" any mess left by the glue.

Here are all the patterns I used, together. (My graph paper is using a 1/4" grid.)

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Friday, December 5, 2014

It's a Doll's World!!!

There's nothing like Christmas to bring out the child in all of us! In Paris, there is much to see and do at the end of the year as it relates to dolls. Quite naturally, a visit to the doll museum (Musee de la Poupee-impasse Berthaud 75003 Paris--behind the George Pomidour Centre) is a must. Not that you have to see the exhibit, but the gift shop is definitely worth the trip. New on the shelves this year....formally owned Fashion Royalty dolls (male and female)! Of course they still sell, Tonner dolls, vintage Barbies and an assortment of other types of dolls and accessories.

Another major must-see are the department store windows on Boulevard Haussmann (behind the opera) at Christmas. Paris' premiere stores traditionally fill their windows with animated toys and dolls. While Galeries Lafayette entertained tiny tots with stuffed animals, Printemps department store used rag dolls to help hawk Burberry products.

Sophie Hong, a superstar Taiwanese fashion designer with a store in the prestigious Palais Royal arcade (3 Galerie de Montpensier, 75001 Paris) , uses dolls(all year long, actually)  instead of full size mannequins to show off her luxurious line of jackets and coats cut from shellacked, texturized silks resembling more like distressed leather. Below are the dolls that reside on the shelf and desktop, but you can see more of Sophie's work on her website.

On the 224, rue de Rivoli next to the Hotel Bristol is the Librarie Galignani 75001, Paris. For the moment, in the windows are 1/3 scale reproductions of Christian Dior couture garments. It's all about promoting a new book on the iconic French designer. One word: AMAZING!!!!!

We also visited "Paris Creation," a doll event organized by Dollexpo. For one day at the Novetel hotel just outside Paris in Bagnolet, you turn back into a kid again as you stroll through aisle after aisle of artists' dolls, teddy bears, miniatures anddoll making supplies. I do wish it lasted a tad bit longer. Incidentally, they also organize a fashion doll fair which, next year, takes place at the same hotel on March 15.

The girls and I also enjoyed watching Barbie and friends make an appearance on France 2 TV's "C'est au programme" starring Sophie Davant. The discussion was centered around the worth of vintage Barbies and their clothes.
And so, our trip has come to an end. But before me and the girls board our plane back to the U.S. to join the rest of the doll family for the holidays, we'd like to share you with a few addresses, should you visit Paris anytime soon:
Haute Couture fabrics at reasonable prices:
Au Bonheur des Dames 8, rue Pierre Picard, 75018 Paris (Metro: Anvers) at the Marche Saint Pierre. There's another in the neighborhood at 1, rue Charles Nordier, 75018. Minimum purchase is 50 cm.
There are lots of fabric stores around Marche Saint Pierre (metro Anvers). The two largest stores are: Dreyfus (2, rue Charles Nordier) and Tissus Reine (5, place Saint Pierre 75018 Paris), both of which are five stories tall. Dreyfus also has a separate trims store just next door.
Leather scraps:
Gentleman des Cuirs 4 bis, rue d'Orsel 75018, Paris. (Metro Anvers). This is also situated in the Marche Saint Pierre.
BHV-Marais: 52, rue de Rivoli. 75001 Paris. (Metro Hotel de Ville). Downstairs of this department store on the basement level near the Metro exit and the shoe repair supplies, you'll find a small corner hung with fancy leathers. Underneath is a bin with scraps priced at rock bottom prices.


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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Puff Dolly & the Quilted Northerns

Anyone living in the temperate zone knows that winter is not far away. In fact, if you're in the U.S. it arrived a bit early. Here in Paris, we are having one if the mildest November's on record. But still, the temperatures have started to dip and the Parisians are out en masse, with their "doudounes:" parkas, bomber jackets and quilted coats.

I have wanted to do this post since last year. However, I could not find quilted material scaled to the doll's proportions. I finally found a quilted material in just the right (doll) scale at "Reine" one of the Marché St. Pierre's big fabric stores. Chances are you won't be so lucky, so let me share my idea.

Typically, the stitching marks off square inches (25mm). Cut off the amount of fabric you need for your complete outfit. Then stitch midway in between the squares! I will warn you that this material--consisting of two layers--was not the easiest to manipulate. Also, you might want to add a bit more ease in your patterns for a looser fit.

For the parka, I used the basic jacket/coat pattern. Click here for the draft. I added a hood. You'll find it here. I added elastic at the waist on the inside of the jacket. First the elastic to fit the doll's waist. Pin each end to the opening of the jacket. Find the midpoint of the jacket and that of the elastic and pin. Now stretch the elastic in between the pins and pin again. I made two rows of stitches. Stretch the elastic as you sew so it lays flat against the jacket and stitch in place. I used hook & eyes to close and a bit of fur to trim the hood.

Here's what this looks like front to back.

The quilted coat uses the same pattern but in a longer length. I also applied a stand up collar.

Use a single strip of fabric the width of the neckline + 1/4" (3mm) by 1-1/4" (30mm) long. Stitch to neckline then topstitch. (A)

Turn down and stitch the opening of the coat from the edges of the collar to the hem. Clip out a square where the collar will fold over itself (B). This is to eliminate bulk. Topstitch. If you have done this correctly, the collar will cover slightly the seam where it meets the neckline on the inside of the coat (C). Topstitch. I used a snap (size 1) to close the collar and hooks & eyes (size 1) to close the coat.

The bomber jacket was made using the bodice sloper. Ignore the darts. (Before proceeding, stop and make the hood.) Drop the armhole by 1/4" (3mm). Square off the sides and bottom as shown.

This jacket has raglan sleeves. Draw a curved line from the middle of the armhole to the middle of the neckline. Label the points as shown. Cut off and place to the side. Now, extend the CF by 1/2" (12mm). Repeat on the back sloper, being careful to label the points as shown. Cut away. Finally, take your sleeve pattern and place those shoulder bits against the top, placing each one's armhole against the top of the sleeve on each side of the center seam. (Be sure to note the front and back of your sleeve so that you'll attach it correctly to the jacket.) Note there is a dart at the top of the sleeve.

Add seam allowance.

Exceptionally, stitch the sides of the jacket first. Then stitch the dart, then the underarm seam of the sleeve. Match the fronts to backs, right side to right side and stitch together.

For the knit trim, I cut off a cuff from a sock the width of the doll's lower waist. You can also take a bit of thin knit and fold in half. Close up the ends with stitches.

Just as you did with the elastic, stretch the knit and pin to the bottom of the jacket. Stretch flat to the jacket as you stitch in place. Use a hook & eye to hold closed.

This is what this looks like front to back.

Leave as is or add fur trim around the hood and cuffs. By the way, Joan's got matching spats.

The men's jacket uses a basic jacket pattern. To give this a bit more bulk; I straighted the lines at the side so that the jacket doesn't hug the silhouette. I've added a stand up collar in the same fashion as I did for the woman's coat. You're probably noticing how the sleeves have extensions at the hem. This is because Xavier is my first FR Homme doll and I miscalculated the length of his arms!! He's also more muscular than Ken which is why the sleeves are fitting him somewhat tight. Xavier has matching mocassins which, when I get this pattern a bit more pefected, I'll share with you later.

Keep warm!

Don't feel like using elastic? The belt the jacket for the same look!

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