Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ribbon Dance

Admit it. You, like the rest of us, hoard ribbon. Golden Christmas ribbon with the wire edges, satin ribbon wound around a box of chocolates, or perhaps it's the designer tape wrapped around that special gift of perfume! Okay, so sometimes you do recycle it when offering someone else a gift. But if you're anything like me, somewhere, you have an entire drawer of it. Even if you don't, there is always the ribbon aisle in the local crafts store calling out to you. After all, there are lots of uses for thin, medium or extra wide....ribbon. And it's all so very pretty!!

Last November, I entered a photo of a doll to Doll Observers' monthly challenge. Inasmuch as the theme was based on the color gold, I decided to use Christmas wrapping ribbon to make my red carpet dress for my Barbie. Super simple, this dress consists of two lengths of 2.5 inch ribbon joined at the side seams and a third length of crushed wired ribbon attached to the neckline. Because the ribbon was sheer and my doll more prudish than singer Rihanna, I made a simple skirt out of an opaque gold ribbon. It too, consisted of two lengths of tape (front and back) pinched in over the curves of her butt and opening at the side. Before submitting my photo, I played with the hemline. Like a Victor&Rolf couture dress, you can add as much "movement" as you want, or simply create silhouettes otherwise impossible.

I made a second dress for another doll, this time noting down exactly how simple it is to concoct such a spectacular "couture creation."

Spectacular and spectacularly simple! This dress is handstitched using gold metallic thread.
 I begin by cutting two lengths of ribbon, the length of the doll. Figure in a little extra to turn down the edges for hems. I sew one of the side seams together until about the waist line. I then wrap this around the doll, taping it to her. Overlap the other side seam, pinning in place to the waist.
Pinch in darts under the bust. Then, working from side to side, overlap the side edges so that you end up with a nice sleek fit. Once it fits according to suit your tastes, hand stitch everything. Though you're stitching this on the outside, the gold thread blends in with the ribbon. Anna, the doll modeling this dress, has a pretty full bust line and the ribbon did not wrap completely around her. It's not a problem because the collar will camouflage this and can be used to compensate the gap. I had about 2 feet of ribbon left which I softly pleated then crushed. Pin to the neckline of the dress and tack in place. Be sure to play with the collar. The wire allows you to do almost anything you desire.
One of the most iconic dresses created by Gabrielle Chanel was her ribbon dress. Created in 1924, it consisted of embroidered ribbon which hung freely from a relaxed "garconne" silhouette. It has since been reinterpreted by Karl Lagerfeld in 1984 then again in the 1990's. Each time, Lagerfeld used clipped lengths of ribbon attached to an underdress. Lagerfeld's interpretation inspired my own modern version of this iconic dress, slightly fitted with black satin petals left to unravel. Moreover, it is quite easy to make.
 You begin by creating a basic sheath dress. For the sake of uniquely working with ribbon, I created my sheath dress using 2-inch wide black satin ribbon. That is wide enough for any 12-inch doll's basic pattern. But it will force you to make a dress with a center seam. So you might just want to use regular fabric for your foundation. Finish the edges, but leave the center back seam open.

For the petals, I used 5/8-inch (15.87mm) black satin ribbon cut into 1-1/4 inch strips.

 Pin the dress on the doll and pin the first layer of petals starting at the bottom. Place each petal next to each other from end to end. Remove the dress from the doll (but keep her close by). I've machine stitched this row down. Pin down the next row, staggering it so that the middle of the petal falls in between two petals beneath. Do this until you reach the waist, stopping to check from time to time, how it is looking on the doll. You can stop at any point, but I decided I wanted my petals to rise above her bust line. Once you go higher than the waist, it is wise to hand sew the rows so that you don't distort the fit of the dress.
Once you have added the last row, you will need to finish the top edge of the petals. Here, I've added a horizontal ribbon to cover the top row stitches. Then I've added a tiny bow to one side. To be quite honest, you might consider making a strapless dress which is less complicated. Of course the dress is completely open down the back. Carefully fold back the petals and either hand stitch from the hips down OR you can plan to sew hook and eyes at strategic points (neckline, waist and hips).
The wonderful thing is, the petals completely hide the back closure! Again, make this dress your own. You can do this using the shift pattern which will give you a more 60's look or simply add the petals to the hem. You can make a top using the bodice sloper and add petals so that it can be worn with a skirt. Or you can add petals to a pair of trousers!

One more thing.... you'll notice my petals are unraveling. They are suppose to. But if the fray bothers you, use a fray control product on your petals.

Now we get to real challenges. Proceed at your own risk!!! This project involves using tiny 1/8-in (3mm) ribbon which is basket woven.
1. Cut a length of ribbon long enough to wrap around the doll. It should also be long enough to also fit over her hips! This dress will wrap around her with only one seam. Decide where that should be. In my case, I've decided the opening should be on the side, under Olympia's arm.
2. Decide the length you want the dress to be and cut strips. Glue these strips to the top horizontal ribbon. This keeps them from moving while you work.
3. Cut enough horizontal strips needed to cover the torso. Weave each horizontal strip in and out of the vertical strip. Pin each row to the end vertical strip.
4. Place on the doll to check the fit. The last horizontal strip is likely to be unstable. I glued a strip over it on the back of the garment. It doesn't completely stop it but the strip doesn't move as much.
5. Take a length of 5/8-inch (15 mm) ribbon cut to the length of the back of the dress. Glue base, then stitch it to the side edge up to the top of the loose ribbons. This provides a base to put hook & eyes, snaps or Velcro.
6. Take another piece of 5/8 (15mm) ribbon, cut to the width of the top of the dress. Fold in half and glue baste in place to the top of the basket weave. Fold it over and stitch down. I put a small bow for back interest.

The end result was a bit too straight for my taste, so I carefully bent the ribbons under the bust a little to each side and hand stitched in place. This adds a bit of shape, and if you do this carefully, it is not noticeable.
Though less flamboyant than the others, this dress, made from Hermes gift tape, was the most challenging. Inspired by the Herve Leger bandage dresses, I wanted to make a real dress that looks as though the doll has simply been wrapped in ribbon. It involves cutting a series of strips that fit over the body and sewing them in place. Easier said than done, especially since these strips are not stretch!
As if this wasn't difficult enough, I decided to add a little front interest by crisscrossing the strips over the bust. Should you be crazy enough to try this out, be sure to tape the top strips to the doll's body and to pin the cross point at the back. Again, you much decide where the closing will be. And once again, I've decided it should be on the side.

Cut the length needed to wrap around the body plus a little extra at the opening.
I wanted a bit of a fit between the doll's busts, so I pinched the tape in the front and tacked it in place. Later I added a tiny rose at that point.

From there, it is a question of adding a row of tape which I pin to the row above. As you work, you will need to stop and adjust the tapes for fit. I worked with the dress on the doll. From time to time, stop and check the fit. Adjust the pins until you have arrived at the desired length.

I measured out two vertical strips of tape which are pinned then stitched to either edge. This hides the horizontal rows and provides a finished surface for hook & eyes or snaps.

You can really stop there, but I felt the end result was a bit too simple, so I made a tiny rose which I added to the middle of the bust. Then I took more tape and folded it into loose loops and pinned on the side of the dress near the closure.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Capped Off!

With next season's menswear trends focusing on jeanswear, I decided I needed the appropriate accessories for my Ken dolls. Finding sneakers and boots are easy to find on Ebay, but surprisingly, I was not able to locate a decent baseball cap. Eventually I was able to find a mini-tutorial which posted a picture of a pattern. That helped somewhat, however, I wanted to better understand how to actually create the pattern so I could make it for difference sizes of doll heads.

Now for those of you living outside of the U.S, your dolls can probably live without this head gear. But for all of you who are Stateside, you know very well that in addition to his Nikes, American Ken dolls (no matter their lifestyles) need their baseball caps!

Instead of having you measure and do math, I found it easier to use strips of paper to figure out the two basic measurements: the circumference of the doll's head and the height of the crown. And that is how we begin.

1. Cut a strip of paper which is wide enough to wrap around the doll's head from ear to ear and long enough to reach from his eyebrows to the very top of his head. Mark and tape in place.
2. Next, take another strip and place on top of the head at the very center. Mark where this strip meets the top of the other strip. This is the circumference of the width of the head.
3. Take the (longer) strip and fold in half. Then take that half and fold it into equal thirds. Cut one of those squares off the (side cap) strip. Take the top cap (shorter strip) and fold in half.
4. With the box you cut off the side strip, glue down then divide in half and mark.
5. Take the top cap (which you previously folded in half) and place it on top of the box at the midpoint.
6. Create a triangle by making diagonal lines from that top point to the sides of the bottom square. Add 1/8-inch seam allowance to complete this, the top of the cap.
8. Cut six pieces out in the fabric of your choice using this pattern. You can also cut out two more pieces using iron-on interfacing if you want to add a little stiffness to the front of the cap. (I used it for the light blue denim but not for navy blue or beige cap. It all depends on the look you want, but in examining my dad's baseball caps, I discovered all of his has some sort of stiffening in the front.)
9. If you are using the iron on interfacing, adhere it to two of the pieces, but trim away the hem. This will cut down on bulk around the hem of the cap.
10. Put the cap pieces together in pairs. Stitch down one side of each pair. Press the out seams. Then one by one, put the side of each pair together, stopping to press the seams out. Do this right until the last seam. I make one straight, tiny stitch at the very top where all of the triangles intercept. (Note: it is easier to press the seams after stitching each section as opposed to stitching up everything then ironing last.)

11. Turn the hem under and glue in place.
12. Place on the doll's head to check for fit. Now it's time to make the "visor."
13. Place the cap on a sheet of paper.
14. Trace curve of front third of cap, then mark the midpoint.

15. Decide how long you want to make the visor. Mine is 3/4-inch but yours can be longer or more shallow. Draw a line from the midpoint of the cap to the tip of the visor. Draw a horizontal line.
16. Draw straight lines from the endpoints of where the visor will join the cap.
17. Draw in the curved lines of the visor. Then draw seam allowance underneath the lower curve.
18. Trace these curved lines to the other side of the middle line.
19. This is the pattern for the visor. Cut one of these out of Bristol board or some other heavy weight paper.
20. Add seam allowance around the outer edge of visor and cut two of these out of your fabric.
21. Stitch the two pieces together wrong side out. Glue the Bristol board directly to one side of the fabric and use a dry iron to set. Trim one of the seams a little bit. By staggering the layers, your visor will press flatter!
22. Turn everything right side out. Press very well. Stitch around the bottom seam allowance to hold everything together. It will also cut down on fraying.

23. Clip around the curve, then bend the seam allowance back.
24. Glue to the cap.
25. Hand stitch. To finish the inside, I've glued in bias time around the edge.
Finish off with the addition of a brad or sticker at the very top. You can also add tiny badges, ball club initials, or emblems in the front of the cap or on the visor!

These fit my Barbies as well! can simply make the visor and glue a ribbon or twill tape around it to make a sun visor!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Blue Collar Fashionista

Oh that ubiquitous jeans jacket...... This garment which started for the blue collar worker a century ago, has enjoyed a long illustrious path throughout fashion history. Once reserved solely as a uniform for truck drivers and farmers, it became the ultimate anti-establishment symbol to Woodstock hippies and 70's activists, this after surviving the "cool factor" of the 1950's thanks to iconic rebels like James Dean and Marlon Brando.
The guys check out the cars at Detroit's "Woodward Dream Cruise." This year's event is Aug. 16.
Whether we see it in the pages of the glossies, the fact is...the jeans jacket has never gone out of style. It is now a classic, a necessary fashion staple. And it is also an amazing garment that keeps us cool in the summer and warm in the winter. No other garment can boast the same! In the recent  menswear collections, the jeans jacket was, once again, the focus of Spring/Sumer '15's hottest trends. With that in mind, I thought it necessary to get my guys up to speed. Again, this is not difficult to make. You simply need the patience to carefully mark each pattern piece then double check that you are assembling this together correctly. Again, I am hand-holding you through the entire process. Not just with the pattern but with the assembly as well.

Before we get started, I would like to point out that my jacket is the most basic design. There is no one look. You can have as many panels in your jacket as you feel you can handle. Just be aware that for a 12-inch doll, real estate is scarce and you do have to worry about bulk created by seams. So you might want to keep the number of seams to a minimum. With the male doll, you don't have to deal with darts. Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle whereby you cut the basic sloper into pieces, add seam allowance then sew everything back together. So feel free to cut your center seams on the diagonal or design the yoke to have western style V-shape or design patch pockets instead of flaps. Anything goes so long as it is cut from a denim looking fabric. Once again, working with traditional denim is likely to make you cry. I've used the same silk twill I used for the jeans.

Trace your men's bodice sloper onto paper.

1. Mark off the front yoke. Mine is simple. I've marked it 3/4-inch down fom the CF, indicated by the red dotted line.
2. Decide where you want the front panel to be. Mind is 1/2-inch from the center front line and is perpendicular to the yoke (red line). Remember, you can also make this a diagonal line.)
3. The top of the waistband will be at the top of the hips (red line).

4. Straighten the side by connecting the lower armhole point to the top of the waistband (blue line).
5. For the front placard, I extend the center front by 1/2-inch (green).
6. For the waistband I would like it to be 1/4-inch long (blue line).
Now we will either cut and paste down or trace off the individual sections to create our patterns pieces.
7. Cut or trace off the yoke, front, side front and placard. Add seam allowance.

8. Let's design the back. Again, I begin with the back yoke. Mine is 3/4-inch down the center back line (red). I've divided the back into two. The line is 3/4" from the center back (red). The top of the hip falls at the same point it did in the front.
9. Straighten the side seam by drawing a straight line from the armhole to the top of the hip (blue).
10. Mark the waistband by making it 1/4-inch long (blue)

11. Cut and paste or trace the yoke and bodice sections. Trace the one side to the opposite along the CB so that you have the full yoke and the full center back panel. Add seam allowance to each pattern piece.
12. Cut and paste or trace off the front and back waistbands. Join them together at the side seam making sure the back is first, then the front. Double the length of the waistband. (I added an additional 1/4-inch to my 1/4-inch band.) Now double the width by folding your paper at the CB to trace off the other side so that the waistband is in one piece. Extend the CF line (on both outer edges)  by 1/2-inch on both ends. Add seam allowance all the way around.

13. Trace off the sleeve. Cut off 1/4-inch from the bottom to make the cuff. Trace this and double the length. Add seam allowance to this and the rest of what's left of the sleeve.

1. Attach the front panel to the side front. Topstitch
2. Tack the pocket flap in place over where the front seams join.
3. Attach the front yoke.

4. Press with seams pointed upwards.
5. Topstitch
6. Attach placard to front bodice.

7. At the very top of the placard, turn the edge down and tack or glue in place.
8. Now fold the placard over the seam onto itself.
9. Topstitch.

10. Attach the side back panels to the center back panel. Press both seams to one side.
11. Topstitch.
12. Attach back yoke. Press seam upwards direction.
13. Topstitch.
14. Join jacket together at shoulder seams. Press seams to one side. Topstitch.
15. Shave 1/8-inch from cap of sleeve (to flatten it slightly).
16. Set sleeve in armhole and sew. Press flat.
17. Topstitch top of sleeve.
18. Fold garment down as shown above. Pin then stitch underarm seam of sleeve and side seam of garment. Press seams open.
 19. Turn garment right side out. Attach waistband.
 20. Press seams down. Turn side edges inward, then turn waistband over seam onto itself and topstitch.

21. Pin length of 1-inch fabric, preferably cut on bias along the neckline of the jacket from edge to edge. (The rectangle of fabric for my collar measures 3-3/4 inch wide by 1-inch long. Place wrong side to wrong side of jacket. In effect, you will attach the collar to the inside of the neckline, allowing it to roll over to the right side of the jacket.

22. Fold the sides under as well as the top edge. When you have finished it will extend in between (but not on) the placards. Press. Topstitch. Add mini brads or pearl stickers for the "metal" buttons.

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Oh my! What's that on his head??? Why, it's a baseball cap and we'll be back with the pattern and a mini-tutorial for anyone who wants to make one for their special doll! (It also fits Barbie!) Stay tuned!!!!