Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Ragtime Melodies


There is something called "artwear." Generally found at arts and crafts fairs, these are hand made, one-of-a-kind garments and accessories created by regional artisans. Most of the time these items are not fashion. However, from time to time, designers are influenced by a craftsman's technique and translates it into high fashion. A few years ago, I saw a shaggy jacket during menswear week that I thought could be interesting. So, for this first tutorial of the new year, I have revived the "rag jacket" and scaled it down for my dolls. This is super easy to make and takes almost no skill. 

The concept is simple. In essence, It's a rug knotting technique used to create a jacket or shawl. You begin with a netting material at the base and an old garment cut into slivers. Tie each piece onto the honeycomb cell of the base. There is no sewing. It's as easy as tying a simple knot! My base material in this case is the plastic nettin that encased my Christmas turkey. Sometimes vegetables are wrapped in the same "material." But if none of your food comes wrapped in such a material, an old fashioned hairnet (generally found at beauty supply stores) will work as well! 


You need to use the most simplest patterns as possible. I really wanted sleeves, so I created a very simple "boxy" pattern that is joined along the underside of the sleeve and side of the garment. But frankly, the simple tube  we used to create our shrugs or a stole is less complicated and will render almost the same look. 

Here is the pattern I used. It was created by stretching out the doll's arms (for width) and deciding the length of the finished garment and drawing a box around the whole thing. There is a slit at the center front. Usually whenever I've used such a pattern, there is a horizontal slit at the neck. However, the netting is so loose, you don't really need to introduce a slit.

Cut a piece of the netting so that it covers the pattern. You will use the pattern to help guide you as you tie on the slivers of fabric. What I discovered is that it is better if you make that cut along the center front line. You can "finish" the front edges with fabric ties.
1. It's very simple. Whatever your fabric or material source is, cut them into slivers. For this jacket, I cut up an old pair of my dad's jeans into slivers that are approximately 1/2 inch (1 cm) by 4 inches (9cm). They don't have to be even. If the fabric frays, all the better. But if you want a more "controlled" effect, you could use ribbon, for example. You could even cut up non-woven materials like tulle, vinyl, even dryer sheets. 
2. Get comfortable. Put on a good movie or two. Pour yourself a glass of wine or put on a pot of coffee. You're going to be working on this for awhile. Tie each piece around the cells of the netting. Continue until you have covered the area. 
3. Put this on the doll and cut more ties.

4. I use more fabric slivers to tie the underarm and sides of the jacket.
5. Once I have finished, cut away the excess netting. Then tie on more slivers to hide the cut plastic edges.
6. And Voila! Here's Nicki and her new jacket. Very 1980's! But very versatile. With jeans and sneakers it's an extravagant daytime look. With a short circle silk skirt and thigh high boots...it's urban high fashion. 
I will say this. The jacket is heavy. What I learned is that you do not have to tie up the entire surface of the netting. But where you see gaps (around the neck and sleeves, for example), you can "modify" the fit simply by tying the cells together. The look of this jacket will change depending on the material used.


By changing the fabric to a lightweight metallic, my 80's jacket is upgraded to something that could walk the Met Gala (US Vogue Magazine's annual high fashion red carpet event at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art). 

Katoucha wears it over a silver lurex gown. Of course before finishing this post, I wanted to try one more variations. What happens if you use yarn?



1. This is your ordinary wool yarn. I cut it into pieces of 6" (15cm) in length). I cut two pieces which are then folded in half and cut to make four pieces. I thread the four pieces of yarn through each cell and tie. Eventually I smooth the yarn so that it is all moving in the same direction. 
2. Since this is a stole, the base is a simple rectangle. When finished, you can add two longer lengths of yarn as ties to hold the stole around the doll's neck or shoulders.
3. When finished the backside looks like this. 
4. If you want, you can add on a lining. Here, I've used a piece of panne velvet as my lining. Turn the edges down and pin in place. Then hand stitch the lining in place.

And voila....Samantha looks stunning in her shaggy shawl!  Stay safe. Have fun!


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Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year 2021

 

Let's face it....2020 was brutal. We had a difficult time getting inspired but somehow....we marched on! Hopefully 2021 will be much kinder to us! On behalf of all the dolls who reside chez moi... I'd like to wish all of you in dollyland a very Happy New Year filled with the dolls of your dreams!










Big hugs and well wishes for a happy, healthy New Year filled with love and especially.....pretty dollies!


April and the gang......

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas 2020

 It has been a most difficult year, indeed... But through the wonder and delight of dolls, we made it through to celebrate yet another Christmas holiday. Thank you for faithfully following my blog. I am inspired by your continued visits, your kind words. On behalf of my family of vinyl divas, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas full of dolls, happiness, but most of all...... good health! Stay safe. Dolly hugs.

April and the gang....

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Gabrielle Chanel-Fashion Manifesto

 

Me and the girls had really looked forward to returning to Paris this autumn. After two years of closing down for expansion and renovation, the City of Paris Fashion Museum (aka Palais Galliera) finally opened its doors to a glorious exhibition, “Chanel: Manifesto de la Mode." Unfortunately Covid hit and the French borders closed. The show still opened in October, but without the usual large throngs of American and Asian tourists. But scarcely a month later, the museum was once again closed due to a new set of lockdowns and curfews. And that’s really unfortunate because the show, which looks at the work of Mademoiselle Gabrielle Chanel, is a wonderful tribute to the woman behind one of France’s most celebrated fashion icons of the 20th century. 

I, personally, was not able to see this show. But a crew of dolls who remain in Paris…upon learning there was an exhibition featuring the work of Chanel— called on some of their contacts and voila! They were able to see the show and then filed this report. I should point out to you, though. They got all dressed up in the Chanel inspired outfits I've made for them over the years. These were not those designs by Mademoiselle herself, but rather, her very successful successor, the late Karl Lagerfeld! Nonetheless, for those of you who love Chanel (and what fashionista doesn't), this exhibition is an enlightening insight to the woman behind the famous brand.

Portrait of Chanel by Horst P. Horst (1937)

“Genius is the ability to foresee the future,” Coco Chanel often said. But even Mademoiselle, as she was often called, could never have imagined that 50 years after her death her name would be the worldwide symbol of chic. One of the best known fashion names of all times, Chanel is unique. It is the only house that has remained faithful to the spirit of its namesake without compromising the original image. Suites, bags, watches marked with golden intertwining double C’s, perfume inscribed with the number five—all have remained on the hit parade of best selling luxury items around the world for nearly a century. 

Chanel focused her efforts on the world of high fashion and introduced comfort, ease and practicality in clothes…concepts totally foreign to fashion at that time. She first opened a millinery shop, but set her sights on something bigger within a few short years.  With the help of a wealthy boyfriend, she went from hats to dresses in Paris but closed it at the onset of World War I. She reopened after the war and by 1928, launched her couture house at 31, rue Cambon (which still stands and serves as the Parisian flagship). She rose to become a major force in fashion until the onset of World War II. Her success was based on the simple observation that what she liked for herself would appeal to other women. Involved in a scandal with a German soldier during the war, she retreated to Switzerland in exhile and did not reappear on the fashion scene until  1954. Then at the age of 71, she made the bold decision to reopen her fashion house. She was greeted with hecklers who insisted she was out of touch with modern times and would never success. But once again, she regained her throne in fashion after  her lady like dresses and boxy suits became best sellers, particularly in the United States. She died in January 1971 and with the arrival of (the late) Karl Lagerfeld, the notoriety of the brand was revived and lives on today.

The exhibition which is scheduled to reopen on January 6 through March 14, 2021, is comprised of 350 garments divided into ten themes, each with a different portrait of Gabrielle Chanel. 

It sprawls over an exhibition space measuring 4500 square  feet over two floors of the newly renovated Palais Galliera. It is largely chronological, recounting Chanel’s  early beginnings with emblematic pieces like her sailor blouse in jersey (1916). From there, it tells the story of her little black dresses and then explodes on a glamorous note with her own renditions of the Roaring Twenties’ flapper girls. 


The second part of the exhibition is most familiar to modern fashionistas: Chanel’s braided tweed suits, the two-toned shoes, the quilted handbag, the costume jewelry and pearls which round out her iconic signature.  The extreme simplicity of her suit was a manifesto of Chanel’s vision of the modern woman. Every aspect of its construction was designed to respect the female anatomy with a perfect balance of the silhouette and a concept of elegance. The jacket was made so soft and light, it felt more like a cardigan. Instead of nipping the waist, the skirt rested on the top of the hips, angled slightly backwards. It was comfortable, mobile and allowed complete freedom of movement. 

Chanel saw accessories as an essential element of a harmonious silhouette. They supported her vision of fashion. Launched in February 1955, the “Chanel  handbag” is recognizable by its shape, the flap with its twist lock clasp, but most of all, the quilting. The shoulder strap is a jewelry chain or chain threaded with leather to prevent the metal clinking, allows the bag to be carried in the hand or slung over the shoulder. Joining the Chanel bag as a must-have accessory is the Chanel pump. In 1957, the two-tone sling back shoe added the finishing touch. The original shoe was beige and black and the perfect marriage of function and form. The beige leather gives the illusion of lengthening the leg while the black toe protects against traces of the weather. The asymmetrical strap and the moderate height of the heel were designed for comfort and freedom of movement.

This exhibition is an invitation to discover a universe and a style that are truly timeless. For your fashion pleasure....The following link takes you behind the scenes at the museum for a close and personal look at this exhibition.


But wait there's more. My dollies' friend sent still photos of several iconic looks. Take your time, savor the moment. Enjoy!
Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree

Photo: Olympia MacKendree


If you have the opportunity to visit Paris before March 14, and would like to see this exhibition, be sure to reserve your ticket online at: 
http://www.billetterie-parismusees.paris.fr/

Portrait of Gabrielle Chanel:
 © Ministère de la Culture – Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine,
Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / André Kertész


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