Sunday, February 18, 2018

Dolls' Eye View: Paris Spring '18 Couture

It was hard, but after looking at all of the mayhem on the Paris couture catwalk, the girls were able to get their hands on a few beautiful gems. What you will notice with these spring 18 looks....lots of one-shouldered effects, luxury fabrics (satin, silk), novelty lace, and in some cases, silhouettes with lots of volume and movement.

Fancy Pants
It starts with daywear into early evening with a few very smart pants ensembles. We loved the simple elegance of Armani's classic blazers, teamed with silk and satin trousers. But where we were really blown away....Jean Paul Gaultier's trompe-l'oeil striped pant suit.
Making this pant suit for Nadja was no small feat. I started with a basic bodice and literally created a jigsaw puzzle of pattern pieces which had to be reassembled. It's worn with a small shrug which I made with a lined rectangle.

Scarf Tricks
We were also intrigued by Armani's dresses that resembled silk scarves wrapped around the body or suspended from the shoulders.
So....with another lined rectangle of silk, Angelina's dress was constructed by simply wrapping it around her body and pleated in the front. I pinched in darts at both sides of the dress so that it softly conforms to her silhouette.

So Sixties
Just because it's couture doesn't mean the couturiers can have a little fun. Many of these looks recall both the innocence of a Jackie Kennedy style suit and the crazy black and white op-Art theme of 1960's. Again, the work of Jean Paul Gaultier comes to mind. We liked the op-art print, the tent dress as well as the simple white gown with bold plates of aluminum spots.

Flight of Fancy
Look for feathers to jazz things up.
Here, we took a white flared evening gown and added "wings" to Joan's shoulders. In reality, these aren't feathers, but rather--shaggy fabric which gives the illusion of feathers scaled to the doll.

Snow Angels
Unpretentious, modest.....nothing better says summer then a cloud of soft white fabric. The silhouettes are quite simple, cut using generous proportions and choir girl lines.

Sparkle & Shine
Star that you are.....Fabrics that sparkle, shine...silhouettes that play up the glamour of your diva...these are all classic but very powerful looks for next summer. Look out for clear sequins, metallic satin (if you can find it), sheers with "jewels" or sparkles.
Waris wears a gown we made by draping liquid silver lame over a matching foundation. This is fabric usually reserved for theatrical curtains and extremely hard to sew. But the results was more than worth my sore fingertips!

Color Revolution
Typically we don't see a lot of color on couture catwalks. And what we do see, usually doesn't work all that well. But there were a few jewel tone colors: amethyst, tourmaline, topaz and ruby. What we also love here are the generous proportions and fabrics that move (chiffon) and detailing (flocked sheers) that pump up the glamour of the look.

Midnight at Maxim's
It's the year of the shoulder. Look for lots of one shoulder tops and dresses, bare shouldered gowns...even tops that crisscross around the neck. These are head turning, dramatic looks carved out of classic black evening materials.
What could be more dramatic than a diagonally cut top and full skirt accented with black ribbons! Vanessa's dolly version was quite simple. The one shoulder top was draped over a constructed one-shouldered foundation and tied at the shoulder. The skirt is a full circle skirt with an opening at the side front.

Glam Tram
 Again, this theme makes the case for old fashioned glamour. The girls love the lushness of these dresses. These are girly-girl dresses complete with frilly fabric, feathers, embroidery and even a fancy draped sleeve.
But the dress, my girls fought over is this Ralph & Russo pink, asymmetrical, satin gown enhanced with streams of tassels. We love how the shoulder "falls off" the shoulder. But we simply love the tassel trim over one arm and diagonally across the hem of the skirt. Because there are no tassels in the size and scale I needed...I had to make them by knotting together a few strands of fine cord.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

One-Sided Point of View

While we were busy wrapping everyone in tulle and celebrating our anniversary, the Haute Couture designers in Paris strutted their stuff and the New Yorkers have begun what will be a month long marathon of global fashion weeks. While the girls are off to make their reports, I wanted to do another tutorial based on a recent trend taking the fashion world by storm: one-shouldered necklines!

L-R: Vionnet, Armani Prive, Dries Van Noten, Gillian Anderson in unnamed designer, Mary J. Blige in Alberta Ferretti, Greta Gerwig in Oscar de la Renta. Photos:
This seems simple enough, but often simple is very hard to do well and I thought this would be a good exercise to help you understand how and where you can alter a pattern to bring your own ideas to life. Most fashion schools teach pattern making two ways: using measurements, pencil and ruler on the table and "draping" or "3-D Design" whereby you create the pattern in cotton muslin directly on the dress form. As a student I loved pattern drafting (something I developed while working with commercial patterns as a teenager), but today most students prefer watching the design come alive on a mannequin in front of their eyes.

Flat Pattern Drafting Method
The pattern for this garment begins with the basic bodice sloper. Whenever you are creating an asymmetrical design, you need to work with the full front bodice (or foundation). This is as simple as tracing a mirror image of the sloper on the opposite side of the center front (CF) line.
What I have learned about making patterns for dolls is how easy it is to miscalculate where things fall on the body. If the neckline is too high it becomes a more prudish version of your original design. Too low often results in the design falling off the doll's tiny frame.
1. Until your eye becomes accustomed to your doll's proportions, I highly recommend you place the paper pattern against the body and draw or fold the neckline. Note: I've folded and taped the darts to get a more accurate idea of how the neckline with impact bodice.
2. From the shoulder to the opposite side beneath the armhole of the front bodice, draw a diagonal line. The upper part with be cut away and discarded.
3. Take the back bodice and place the shoulder line against the shoulder line of the front bodice. Mark where the back neckline will start based on what is happening in the front. You want a smooth transition from front to back which is why we do this.
4. I've flipped the back right side up. Now design the line of the back the way you want it.
5. You're not finished yet. You must now match the right back to the left side front and mark where the necklines should meet. Draw your diagonal line. Be sure you label "left back" and right back" on the pattern pieces). Add seam allowance, lay your pattern against the fabric and cut one of each pattern piece.

Draping method
This is the exact same garment as above which will yield the exact same end result. It's just a different approach to pattern making.
We are making what's called a "toile" or a "muslin" out of unbleached cotton. No muslin, no problem, you can use paper though it is a bit trickier to work with. (But be very careful not to tear your pattern as you work.) I start with adding seam allowance to the front and back slopers then making my "shell." Transfer the paper pattern to the muslin, cut out then stitch together pieces, using a basting stitch or a long machine stitch. Mark the center back seam and pin down the center back.

1. After you have created your shell, place it on the doll and sketch out the the lines of your neckline.
2. Note how wide or narrow your shoulder will be.
3. You will need to decide what happens when the front meets the back under the arm on the side where the shoulder will be cut away.
4. Unless the opening is on the (short) side of the garment, you will need to figure how the left and right side come together at the center back to ensure a smooth line.
5. Once you are happy with the look and the fit, you will need to carefully take your toile apart. Trace all markings to a new sheet of tracing paper to create your pattern.
6. Add seam allowance.
The one-shouldered neckline is almost always diagonal. That means it is very easy to stretch out of shape while you are stitching the garment together. As a way to control what happens to that diagonal line and provide a bit of structure, you can add support with a tiny strip of "iron on interfacing." For those of you not familiar with this product, it looks like a cotton fabric on one side and has a raised pebbly surface on the backside. The pebbly surface is placed against the wrong side of the garment and you iron on the cotton side. Here, I cut a very tiny strip (roughly 1/8" (3mm) and placed it along the stitch line. When you are ironing this on, be careful not to scrub, but rather to press (up and down movements). Once in place, you can attach your lining. If you don't plan to line the garment, fold over and hand stitch in place as I've done here.
Here's my one shouldered silhouette side front and back. Use the same method for any dress or for when using the sloper for stretch garments. (If you have a good quality stretch fabric, you may not need the interfacing.) You can leave the arm bare, set in a sleeve or add embellishments, depending on your design!

On Dorian, I took a scrap and made a little puff to which I attached a train (using a narrow rectangle of fabric). The oversized print of this silk really makes a statement!
Which method should you use and when? Aside from an answer like, "whatever you feel comfortable with," I personally see the flat pattern method for simple or "classic" looks, whereas the "draping" method is good for free style "original creations like the one featured below.

I loved the neckline of the Oscar de la Renta dress worn by actress Greta Gerwig at this year's Golden Globes. It really isn't that hard to recreate in that it's based on our simple one-shouldered neckline.
1. Start by making a toile (sloper with seam allowance cut out of muslin). Place on doll body.
2. With a pencil, design the neckline. Here, I'm drawing it directly on the muslin. The strokes should be big. If the details are too fine, they will be lost when you add the lining!
3. Again, the body is a 3-dimensional object, so you will need to figure out what is happening on the side.
4. And you will need to decide what will happen in the back.
5. Once you are happy with the design, cut away the excess to get a better look at what's happening.
6. In my case, I was happy with the neckline, but once I cut the top away, the right side didn't hug the bust the way I wanted. So I pinched in a tiny dart to make it fit. Once you are happy with the fit and the design, it's time to take the toile apart and make our paper pattern.
Please note: Exceptionally, I have designed this so that the front is connected to the back at the shoulder line. What that means is, the front and the right back bodices will form a single pattern. I did this because the part going over the shoulder is narrow and I wanted to avoid bulk at that point. Just be aware that when you do this, 1) the pattern piece will take up more fabric, 2) the back will fall on the other words...the back will have a bit of stretch.

Make your paper pattern. Flatten out the toile and trace all markings onto tracing paper. Make any adjustments to maintain symmetry of the darts. Be sure to label the pattern pieces so that you know what they are and how they attach to each other. This is especially important with asymmetrical patterns. Add seam allowance.

This garment is best lined! Use a very lightweight material.
1. Sew the right back to the left back (blue dotted lines). Sew the lining to the garment along the neckline (red dotted line).
2. Turn the garment to the right side out. Very carefully press along the neckline.
3. While this is still flat, I turned under the armhole of the garment onto itself and pinned in place. Then I turned under the lining onto itself. Hand stitched the two together. Now complete the rest of the garment by stitching the sides together.

I only made this design as a top which means it can be combined with any evening skirt or trousers for a dramatic look!

Before I close the subject, you know I always like to present a "simple solution" for those who might feel this tutorial is a bit intimidating. There is another look I've seen on the runway. It falls along the lines of the Alberta Ferretti gown worn by Mary J. Blige. It consists of a strapless dress and a single sleeve. You can either make the dress using the sheath pattern, or craft a tube out of stretchy fabric and add the embellishment of your choosing.

Off the Beaten Track
1. Let's make our base. (Can be applied to any style of strapless dress.) I started by using the pattern for the one-piece camisole.
2. Make a tube by cutting a rectangle of fabric big enough for the doll to get her arm through it. Hem the top and bottom. Make one stitch down the edge and turn right side up. Slide this onto the arm.
3. Pin where the top of the sleeve meets up with the top of the camisole, then stitch it under the arm.
1. You can use ANYTHING you want. Here, I took a rectangle of silk and hemmed all four edges.
2.  Softly hand pleat it with your fingers, pin along the neckline and tack in place. It will go under one arm and over the opposite arm.
3. Tack it on top of the sleeve as well as under the arm.
4. Continue to tack it to the neckline in the back
5. Tack it to either side of the center back seam. The top or dress can be closed with snaps.

E-Z 1-Shoulder looks
1. Adding a strap to this top acts as a support for any embellishment you might want.
2. A cluster of silk flowers gives a feminine aura to my otherwise austere camisole.
3. A tiny bit of faux fur really glams things up. Here, I've added a sleeve to the camisole underneath.
And just look how a single ribbon can spruce things up!

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

High Five!

Five years already! Today, as Fashion Doll Stylist celebrates its fifth blogoversary, I'd like to stop and reflect back on how our doll world has changed.
Tyra, a Tonner, was the first fashion doll I bought (2007).
Not many years ago, there were few choices of doll types on the market. And those that existed shared the same, exaggerated wasp waist body proportions along with stiff, straight limbs. Compared to our vinyl divas of today, not only does Barbie and her friends like to show off their "belly button" torsos, they also enjoy full articulation and a variety of proportions from curvy to svelte. They also have skin tones almost as diverse as the human race itself! The Fashion Royalty dolls have removeable hands and limbs allowing us to more easily dress them or so that they might wear garments with narrow sleeves. 
Barbie Basics Collection 001. These girls marked the beginning of my collection (2010).
And, there are more doll communities now. My early days saw me hanging out at (Simon was the first to befriend me on Twitter!) That is where I discovered the existence of Integrity Toy's Fashion Royalty and Superdolls' Sybarite beauties as well as other beauties that followed--Modsdoll, Kingdom dolls.

S.I.S Barbies (2011). I fell in love with them as well as all of their sisters and cousins. They immigrated massively into my heart & house.
Over the years, social media has made it easier to meet other collectors and the wide variety of dolls in their possession. Though blogs continue to play an important part in my life, I've do appreciate platforms like Instagram which allow for an easy exchange of ideas and exposure to the talents of others. As a result of all this mingling, I've taken note on the audaciousness of many collectors in their efforts customize their own dolls. As we see what others can accomplish, it gives us the courage to pick up a paintbrush and change a doll's makeup, pick up a needle and change a doll's hair or even breathe new life into a stiff old Barbie by snapping off her head and mounting it onto a taller body of articulated  limbs!
A 1990's Barbie and her cloned buddies (Kirat, Maria and Cheryl) were gifts that came to me back in 2011 when friends discovered I played with dolls!
I'm impressed at how easy some folks mix action figures with their fashion dolls. This comes as Mattel's offerings have become quasi-banal and Integrity Toys dolls, though exquisite, have prices through the roof! It's as though doll collectors are taking control over their collection and recreating the dolls they can't find or cannot afford in the marketplace.
Ingrid (r) and Donyale (l), I bought as blank faces to attempt my first repainted dolls.
Each year, I swear I will cut back on the number of new dolls I bring into the house. I lie. I'm a sucker for a pretty face and last year, more arrived than the year before! There was a slight difference, however! Many of the new dolls literally came to me head first! I bought heads then added the body of my choice. The water color pencils and chalk pastels allowed me to capture the "fresh scrubbed" look I see on the world's catwalks. In a couple of cases, I bought blank faces and filled in the details myself. I didn't stop their either.
The wig doll, a novel idea, allows you to change up her look to suit the fashion!
I bought "wig dolls," those daring divas with painted on hair that allow for a quick change of wigs and looks. One doll and six wigs equals....six dolls for the price of one!
Morgan was my first attempt at rerooting. 
And then there was that doll head I bought to try my hand at rerooting. The tutorials looked soooo easy! And perhaps had I started out with a soft head Barbie, it would have been the case. Many packs of broken needles later....I finally rerooted a head that the previous owner had given up on! (Morgan is eternally grateful!)
Rebodying a doll like Radiah (Hard Rock Cafe Barbie), gives a doll a whole new personality.
Giving a doll a new articulated body often results in a totally unique and more vibrant addition to the family. That is what I discovered after rebodying my Hard Rock Cafe Barbie. She went from being a star to a superstar thanks to a taller, articulated body that allowed her to better express herself and rock those edgy fashions!

Veronica (FR Veronique Fresh & Delightful)
While on the subject...13 new models came into the house last year. In order of their arrival, they were: Veronica, Meagan, Natasha, Radiah (the last of my "holy grails), Morgan, Ingrid, Donyale, Jamal, Emanuela, Helen, Lynn, Joan and Zoe.
Meagan, (FR Dasha)
Natasha (Kyori Sato Belle du Soir 2006)
Radiah (Hard Rock Cafe Barbie)
Joan (FR Fashion Fantasies Isha-2017)

Helen ( IT JWu doll-2009)
Morgan (FR Dania Zarr 2010)
Emmanuela (FR Natalia Fatale Queen of the Hive 2006)

Lynn (FR Adele Makeda-Paparazzi Darling 2013))
The very kind words you leave on my comment list are always appreciated. But know that I also learn from many of you with blogs. Thanks to our friend, Jaye, another blogger who inspired me to customize playline Ken dolls as a way of increasing the number of male doll options currently available. Jamal, a Ken Fashionista, went from well scrubbed scholastic to bad boy chic thanks to pencils, pastels and a photo of an old college boyfriend!
Zoe (FR Natalia Fatale Queen of the Hive)

Jamal (Ken Fashionista-2017)

And thank you, Phyllis for showing off that grandmother Barbie whose hair you flocked to create a chic, grey bob! Not only did the link to the tutorial you provided introduce me to flocking, the success you had with your doll inspired me to create a super short "Ellen" bob for one of mine. That's how the look for Zoe came about.

 Since I don't have tattoos myself, I would never have thought about tattooing a doll had it not been for BlackKitty who came up with the idea of using nail art on her FB page! And, Olla, at some point I would like to be able to crochet half as good you! (But first I have to learn how to do it!)

As much joy as the doll community brings, there is a certain level of sadness built in. Ours is an ethereal world. People come and go. Change of lifestyle, loss of interest or simply life getting in the way of doll play? Last year we lost our fellow blogger, Vanessa (Fashions Dolls at Van's Doll Treasures).
Vanessa's fashionably dressed Dasia.

I loved her dolls (Dasia, in particular) and her fashions which were incredibly well made. While my dolls are tall, svelte and super easy to dress, Dasha was "real people" and I loved how Vanessa made clothes both stylish and perfectly suited to her morphology. I will miss Vanessa and Dasha. But I also miss others who have stopped blogging for reasons unknown. Friends like Billa of Billa's Dolls & Fashions, Linda from Darkroom Dolls and Marta from All4Barbie.  Fortunately the world is big and doll lovers are everywhere. So while we miss our old friends, we are happy to meet and greet new ones (like my new friends from Poland, and points beyond)! 
Olympia (lower left) was my first FR (Monogram) doll. Soon more
Royals entered into my doll "kingdom."

Over the past five years, together we have made designer fashion and fancy handbags, belts and hats. We've spoiled our girls with furs, transformed their hair with hairpieces, and pampered them by redoing their makeup, bleaching out skin stains and untangling their matted hair. When I look around my room, nearly every doll is wearing big name designer wear--labels that have eluded my own wardrobe! So with all of this in the tank, where do we go from here? Simple... Fashion will always be around as long as there are designers making new clothes and sending models down catwalks, celebrities prancing across red carpets and....Fashion Doll Stylist keeping an eye on all of this to better help you to fulfill your fashion fantasies through the medium of dolls!

The first guys to enter my collection (FR Hommes) and Ken.

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Violetta, my one and only JamieShow (Demi Couture) doll. She's also the only BJD in the house!
All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2018. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you.
Ordinarily I don't collect My Scene dolls, but we rescued them from being thrown in the trash and over time they grew on me. They also let me practice my repainting and hairstyling skills on them!