Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Dolls Eye View: London S/S 2020 Fashion Trends

 A little bit here, a little bit there....London fashion right now is all over the place. I suppose the problem is Brexit...Great Britain's planned exit from the European Union with all of its woes. Word is, many companies are looking to relocate their businesses somewhere else in Europe out of fear of potential problems down the road. In the meantime....what do you do! Design a collection with the idea of making a fashion statement or.....put together a collection of tried and true clothes guaranteed to sell! As a fashionista this makes finding something new and interesting difficult. The girls had to contend with pretty much a continuation of what we saw in New York...lots of chaotic concept clothes in odd shapes and mishap color palettes or.....seen that-worn-that (already) styles. Still, upon very close scrutiny when the girls were able to a find those few rare "jewels."

Neutral Territory
There is a lot of fashion left overs from the 1970's these days. Most of it me and the girls can really live without. On the other hand, we kind of like that decade's palette of neutral beige, ecru, brown and nature kissed hues. The girls agreed that the classic safari or sportswear separates: jackets, shorts and trousers are always a good bet. We even threw in a floral printed dress with "faded" prints in tones of off-white, coral and jade.
So if we have to go back in time to simple style, Giselle decided she'd opt for the timeless look of a short-set (safari jacket and cuffed shorts) worn under a chocolate brown micro coat. (Pssst....we also made her these lace-up boots in brown leather!)

The New Pants Story
 What we could appreciate in London was seeing a wide variety of pant silhouettes. If nothing else, we can have fun with pants. It's not just about skinny jeans here, but rather....loose trousers gathered into waistbands, wide pants of varying lengths and even the combination of shorts worn under sheer straight pants.

One-Armed Bandit
The one-shouldered look we saw last year, really takes off for next summer. There are lots of ways and many different shoulder treatments to explore!
Noor opted for the sleek look of a simple black jersey dress with a sheer, bias cut square added to one hip.

What's Your Point

And if you haven't noticed already...there are a lot of asymmetrical details to the hottest summer looks...especially those destined for party wear. The girls love how they almost look like puzzles that come together into sexy dresses with points over the thighs. 

Floral Kaleidoscope
Here is where things really became interesting. At first glance, this appears to be an extreme, even outrageous look. But when I stopped to think about it, I saw the resurgence of a popular trend from the 1980s....a proliferation of floral prints worn in "maximalist" mode. It started with the collection of Duro Olowu....vintage prints put together into a single outfit that somehow work together. The Erdem outfits may have you wondering...."who wears this." But again, this is about drawing inspiration from the essence of the concept, then simplifying or scaling it back into something charming, if not beautiful!
No, I would never wear Richard Quinn's dress, but I imagined how cute this look would be on a Barbie. Kimora made me promise I'd scale the look down into something she would actually wear. I also liked the idea of the matching stockings....but I went one step further and saw them as matching thigh high floral boots instead. So Kimora's outfit is a simple halter neck top and opera length gloves worn over a micro skirt bouncing with two rows of ruffles!

The original ensemble appears to be made from strips of brocade...perhaps even vintage ties. What we loved about the look is how three different prints could work so well together. Naturally I don't have those prints. And to be honest...the patchwork is too much work for a 1/6 scale ensemble. But the real message here is taking two or even three completely different prints and marrying them together into one beautiful ensemble. The trick to making it all work....be sure there is one color shared by all prints! Inspired by Erdem, I went a step further by incorporating a "pop of color" via her gloves and shoes.

Fringe Benefits
Well... you know already how I feel about fringe! I love the use of long fringe here!. The black fringe top over the white fringe under skirt is sublime!

Easy Does It
At the end of the day...we are talking about summer clothes. So instead of super fancy, why not dress dolly in cool, easy to wear silhouettes that drop from bared shoulders and swirl around her calves. The overall silhouette is flared or one that cascades loosely from the bust or hips!

Marpessa loves the sheer simplicity of what appeared to be a strapless indigo denim dress dotted with tiny colorful daisies. For Marpessa's dress, I used a blue silk (with a twill weave) resembling denim. The dress is comprised of a strapless bustier top joined to circle skirt. Initially I had planned to add tiny white daisies cut from trim. But I soon discovered the scale was too big and there is much more embroidery detailing on the original dress than I had the time to reproduce. So instead..... I added medallions cut from a piece of beaded lace and sewed on tiny silver sequins to the body of the dress.

We're only half way through our fashion journey. Next stop......Milan!

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Doll's Eye View: NY Spring/Summer 2020 Trends

There was less New York Fashion Week, this season which was probably a good thing. Between the great big, floppy silhouettes, yards and yards of flounces, ruffles and flaps contrasted by many, many terribly ordinary "been-there-worn that" styles..... there was not a lot to love. Right now, there is something called "maximalism" where stylists are mixing the 1970's, 80's and '90's into a single ensemble, I call.....one hot mess. I had to send the girls back to New York a second time just to come up with enough looks for this report. My die-hard fashionistas braved traffic jams and crowded subway trains in search of a few morsels of fashion they thought they could live with..

Lady Sings the Blues
Blue is big, especially when inspired by vintage fashion. Look for light blue denim, indigo, 70's tie dye, batik and dip dye...

Summer Breeze
What caught our attention in particular was the mix of tie-dye and jeans. Katoucha wears her own version of Pam & Gala's look. There really isn't anything fancy about this, just a simple, long sleeve top and matching straight legged pants pushed up to the knee and topped off with a classic jeans jacket with a fluff of feathers on the cuff. 

When you remove all of the over-the-top looks from New York Fashion Week, a lot of what is left looks more autumn than spring. But this group features cut-outs, lace and lattice fringe that we imagined would look like summer itself on a nice, warm, breezy day.

Liu couldn't resist this dress. She loved the almost tissue paper feel to a simple, crisp white dress slashed into ankle grazing strips. The dress itself is made from cotton voile. The pattern is the simple foundation pattern without the dart stitched down. The trim is a double layer of the same cotton voile cut very carefully into 1/8" strips. You can use a little Modge Podge or white craft glue on the edges to keep them from fraying.

Modern day "She-ro"
In the spirit of Marvel superheros comes our female fashionista warriors. I'm not really sure why this is spring/summer, but we were intrigued by the harness and the belts worn over jackets.
For Samantha, we created this in three parts. The long sleeve dress with funnel neck has an asymmetrical hemline ending in garter. I cut this dress out of a thin, navy jersey. Instead of stocking and boots, we simply gave her navy stocking boots (which look less winter). Over it all is a simple, (black) jersey sarong skirt and a black leather criss-cross harness belt which fastens in the back.

Botanical Gardens
Ah....finally....spring is in the air! Me and the girls LOVED these dresses with their oversized floral prints, incorporated bows and bare shoulders. Even when the designer opts for basic white and black.....he tops it with a floral lined maxi-coat! This is how we wished the entire fashion month would resemble!!!

Le Bandeau
Le Bandeau.... it's a tiny little bra top....really a big "band-aid" looking bare midriff top paired with trousers or skirts. Hmmmmm..... the problem for me is that the look doesn't look complete. The model is just too....well.....naked. I began with the look on the right. Before I completed this dress, I took a look at dolly's dress and felt there simply wasn't enough "fashion."

Instead, I decided to make the look on the left. The skirt is a better example of a sarong skirt, but the top was just too simple. So for Sofia, I added a "twist" to my bandeau. Still though, the look didn't look complete, so I added a Chinese satin brocade kimono coat to the mix.....

In Stark Contrast
Relax, you're in style! Simple, easy with a graphic slant, the girls like all the black and white (or silver) color blocking that is going on here.
Dorian's version of this Brandon Maxwell ensemble consists of a one shouldered top, a slim skirt and a great, bit sash that wraps around the waist and descends diagonally across the hips into a long train. Again, nothing really extraordinary here, just the ease and elegance of a classic style.

On the Straight and Narrow
Again....nothing to sit up and cheer about, but rather, easy glamour girl column dresses that draw attention to a beautiful body underneath. These are the type of go-anywhere dresses that never goes out of style.

Pampered Princesses
Not every evening look is slim. Full skirts, fit-and-flare.... here is another way to celebrate night time glamour with girly verve. We loved the pleated bandeau top worn over a super-full gathered skirt. But we also thought the cut-out embroidered cotton lace dress in blue made for an interesting play of a classic silhouette.

Pretty in Pink
Ah....another breath of springtime (not to mention Barbie's fave color)! So soft and tender. Think pink! While you can opt for something structured like the little pink pant suit, be sure to take advange of the softer side of things by opting for silky, flowing, airy, body flattering fabrics. If I had the time, I would love to make this entire group.
But I settled on this extraordinary gown by the house of Oscar de la Renta. This is my girl, Stella...a 16" Tonner (Antoinette Spice) doll who had been "sleeping" in the cellar. She came upstairs to get a pair of boots made for her but also reminded how I had promised to make more clothes for her and her friends. The strapless foundation as well as the over-skirt are made of a peachy-pink tulle. I did not have anything I could use for the embroidered flowers. Instead,I cut out floral medallions from a piece of lace and stitched them in strategic spots over the front of the dress.

Next stop: London! We can't promise you a lot. With everything that is going on with Brexit and the like... it is a not an easy time for British fashion. But count on our girls to come up with a few of the more interesting styles that appeared on the catwalks there! See you in a bit!

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Shoe Biz: Final Thoughts

Mission Accomplished! I can now make my own doll shoes! For those of you who think this came easy for me...well let me show you one my very early attempts at shoe making. (All the rest were tossed in the garbage years ago!)
Since mid-July, I have made 64 pairs of shoes and boots! And it was well worth it. If for no other reason, let me show you this.
On the upper left hand corner: A pair of FR Shoes selling on EBay for $24.99 plus 4.49 shipping. On the right....the ones I made for pennies!!! Over time, I have spent more than $650 on shoes! So I am really looking forward to saving money! Better yet, I have finally broken my addiction to shopping for doll shoes and, consequently, have removed both the Barbie and the Fashion Royal shoe search from my Ebay feed!

As far as that "expensive" jar of epoxy clay (roughly $22)... After 64 pairs of footwear I still have this much clay left! By my estimates I figure, there must be at least a couple hundred more pairs of sole making material left in the jars!

If you have different size dolls or dolls with feet of different sizes or shapes within the same doll family, like I do, there is no excuse for any of them to go barefoot.
In my collection, I have 16" Tonners, 13" IT Color Infusion dolls, Fashion Royalty with FR1, FR2 and FR13 feet as well as Barbie Model Muse, playline Barbies and one JamieShow Demi-Couture doll. While some can share shoes, others cannot. Now, everyone can have a basic shoe or boot.

Okay, so you might still continue to buy Barbie shoes. But there are still instances when you might want to make perhaps boots, which are hard to come by or a special pair of shoes to match a very special outfit!
For anyone who has Integrity Toys' Color Infusion dolls, you are quite familiar with the challenge of finding footwear for her. They are a half inch taller than the Fashion Royalty line with large hands and big, wide feet. It's nice to know I can now include these dolls in my posts now that I can make shoes for them! But before I close, let me offer a few final tips for creating successful 1/6 scale footwear.

Don't Get Unglued!
I can't emphasize enough...choosing the right glue for this project is so very important. I use rubber cement for gluing a lining onto the insole, for gluing the interfacing around the toe area of the upper and for adhering the upper's turned down edges to the underside of the insole. This glue allows you to re-position the edges as you stretch the upper over the doll's foot without having to commit. But this is the only point you can use rubber cement. Anywhere else...your shoe will fall apart. Use your extra strong glue (but never "crazy glue") for adhering the middle sole to your completed upper. Or...if you are still working with polymer clay, use it to adhere the completed upper to the outer sole. On the other hand...the outer sole created with epoxy clay has glue built in. So it will automatically adhere to the completed upper as it dries.

Ralph Rucci inspired over-the-knee boots with stiletto heels and back lacing

Be inspired
Chanel inspired vinyl boots.

First, teach yourself to make one or two basic styles really well. Those will become your "go-to" shoes when you need something fast. Then once your confidence and skills have grown, go on...look at photos of shoes you'd like to make. But have reasonable expectations. There's not that much real estate on a doll's foot!  If you see human shoes you like, capture the essence but keep it simple! Don't get bogged down with the details. Keep embellishments to a minimum. Look at your shoe and ask yourself....would I wear all that junk on my feet!?!

Valentino Haute Couture inspired chiffon wrapped shoes
Dior Haute Couture shoes inspired vinyl stillettos with leather toe and back quarters
As you clean up after making a pair of shoes, be mindful of every tiny scrap. Is it a discard or is it an interfacing?! Sure the boots can go into regular envelopes, but if you have shoe patterns, put each pattern in it's own separate plastic or cellophane bags so the pieces don't get jumbled up!

Inasmuch as my mission was to create simple high heeled shoes to compliment my dolls' wardrobes, I did not include wedgies, chunky heels or square toe pumps. I was not more creative with the uppers because my aim was to make easy-to-make simple shoes. So is this the end? Maybe not. From time to time, should I see something truly interesting, I'll explore the possibilities and propose a new session of Shoe Biz.

Oh my goodness...so much has happened while we've been busy these past two months. Fashion Month is currently in session! We'll take a minute to catch our breath, reorganize and return with our first fashion report!

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Friday, September 20, 2019

Shoe Biz 7: PUMPED!

You really do not need this tutorial. Most of what you need to make a decent--or even a highly creative-- pair of footwear can be found in the previous five posts. But for the sake of consistency, I decided to include this last tutorial on the basic pump. I made LOTS of shoes in preparation... 14 pairs to be exact! And the one thing I learned in the process.. it is VERY difficult to make something so simple. After spending all of the necessary time and effort to get it just right, the end result is always the same...another boring pair of shoes. But who knows... perhaps someone out there has a valid reason for wanting to make this basic style. So for the three of you out there in dolly land, this tutorial is for you.

There are patterns galore on the internet for the classic pump. But after downloading and trying a few, I discovered copying someone else's patterns make little sense if there is no real connection to your own doll's foot. Let me explain.
With the sandals we made a few weeks ago, there were straps to hold the shoe to the doll's foot. We created mules soon after, but there again, we used straps to secure the shoe to the foot--unless of course, you lose the straps and instead, use a bit of double sided tape inside the shoe. With the classic pump, you now have to construct a shoe that hugs the curvature of the heel (blue), the bend of the toes (green) and supports its elevation (red), thus allowing the doll to stand in them.  In the beginning my soles were too wide (another reason for why shoes don't fit) and the back quarter (the part covering the doll's heel), did not fit the foot due to bulk and the fact the angle was wrong. (The back of shoe should be at a 45 degree angle!). So, for this final project, I tried two different ways of constructing the pump as well as a slingback and a two-piece shoe. This does not really give you different styles, but rather, several options for fit.

Construction of the Basic Pump

Simply copying a pattern you find on the internet and putting it on your doll's foot does not work. You really need to create a pattern made specifically to your doll's foot.

1. Begin by covering your doll's foot in paper tape. Draw the lines of the shoe directly on the tape! Be sure to include the bottom edges of the foot and around the toes. Include the center back and center front lines of the foot.
2. Carefully remove the tape and place on a sheet of paper. Try not to stretch the tape as you peel it away from the doll.
3. Using a piece of tracing paper, smooth out the lines. I often fold along the center front lines and redraw to make sure there is some symmetry from left to right.
4. Unless you are happy with a rounded toe, you should elongate your pattern at the toe. Add roughly 1/16-18" (2-3mm).
5. Create your final pattern. Add seam allowance around the bottom edges of the upper as well as at the back of the shoe.
1. Prepare everything you need to construct your shoe. We are creating the basic pump with a seam at the back as shown here.
2. You will need your pattern.
3. Cut out in your chosen material, sew along the back seam, turn right side out and be sure to glue on the interfacing.
4. Curve the upper around a pencil.
5. Cut the notches out along the lower edge of the shoe.
6. Line the inner soles.
7. Cut out mid soles
8. Cut out soles
 1. Turn the foot upside down and place the lined inner sole on the foot. (If need be you can apply a tiny piece of tape to the foot to help keep this in place while you work.)
2. After sewing together the upper, use a bit of rubber cement to the underside of the back seam and flatten. Cut notches out along the bottom edge of the shoe.
3. Using a sharpened pencil, curve the upper.
4. Apply rubber cement to the bottom of the inner sole as well as along the notched edges of your shoe.
5. Stretch the shoe over the foot and press the seam allowance onto the bottom of the inner sole.
6. The rubber cement allows you to play around with the edges as you work. You can always add a bit more should it no longer adhere. But take your time to get a good fit. Tip: Sometimes I use a needle and thread to help me pull both sides together. All of the stitches will be hidden under the middle sole.
7. Pinch the material around the toes as you bend it under a bit. 
8. When its just right, be sure everything is well glued in place. Use a dowel as a rolling pin to press the glued area in place. 
9. Add your strong glue (E6000 is a good choice) to the upper and cover with the middle sole.
10. Press well to be sure everything is covered and adhered.
11. Use your "rolling pin" to press everything together.
12. If there is extra peaking out from the sides, you can trim it away.
13. Now finish it off by adding on your soles and paint!

The challenge of using a pattern with the back seam is dealing with bulk. And if your chosen material is anything but super thin, this area at the back of the foot could look more like a giant boil. I noticed that Integrity Toys sometimes employs another type of pattern for its classic pumps where you do not have to deal with a back seam at all.
This is a "J" shaped pattern that stretches from one side and around the back to the original point. You can leave a gap or join the two edges. The interesting thing here is that you do not have to deal with sewing a back seam and all of the challenges surrounding it. 
The pattern is created on the doll's foot in the same way as the first shoe. The finished pattern resembles the letter J. I created an interfacing which is the same at the outer shoe but without the seam allowance. Be sure to cut it slightly smaller than the outer so that it does not peak out from the edges.
1. For this shoe, you need to line an insole and your main pattern piece which has an interface glued in.
2. Again, it is put together in the same fashion as the first pump. Rubber cement to the bottom of the insole and around the notched edges of my upper.
3. Press in the edges, stretching the shoe so that it fits snugly around the foot. Play with this until you get it just the way you want it. You can always trim away the excess at the inner side point unless you want the two sides to meet.
4. Press firmly into the rubber cemented sole to make sure everything remains together. Finish the shoe as usual.

The Slingback Shoe

There are a good reasons why you don't often see slingback shoes for 1/6 dolls except for the hard plastic shoes Mattel makes for their Model Muse Barbies. It's because they are very hard to make for such minuscule proportions. But here we go...

This pattern has the straps joined at back of the heel.
1. Again, this shoe begins by creating a pattern directly on the doll's foot. I covered the foot with paper tape and drew the lines of a slingback including the back strap that goes around the back.
2-5 Here's the pattern as it evolves from removing the tape and placing on paper to the addition of the seam allowance.
6. Create an interfacing by tracing off the area around the top of the shoe (minus the seam allowance.)
7. Glue the seam allowance (about 1/8" or 3mm) to the upper and complete your shoe.

Only half the shoe will be glued to the inner sole. The back turns into straps that wrap around the back of the doll's heel. The straps have to be quite slim in able for the shoe to really look like a sling back shoe. They will be too tiny at that back point to sew. So, I overlap and glue using a strong glue. 

But as in the case of the classic pump, you can divert the trouble spot to the outer side of the shoe. a point where many human shoes have closures.
The pattern (and the construction) is exactly the same except I have lengthened the one of the straps so that it can wrap around the heel and join the other on one side of the foot. For this shoe I used a very fine, very thin grade of leather.
I made a tiny buckle (the same as when we made belts) which I added to one strap. One strap wraps around that middle prong (you can tape in place while you work then glue at the end when you are happy with the results). The other is threaded in and out of the outer circle. The trick is to play around with the straps until the buckle ends up on the side just under the ankle. Clip away the excess. Glue down the strap holding the middle prong.
Honestly...I spent way too much time for....not a lot of joy! So I was determined to find a shortcut here. So I cut another pair of shoes....this time I cut out a very 1940's "toe hole" at the tip.  

I used the same pattern as I did for the white shoes. But instead of making a little buckle, I used a small eye ring which I slipped onto the strap. The two straps are overlapped on the side and glued together. The excess is removed and the eye ring is slid in place. It all boils down to convenience over...authenticity !?!

Still in my effort to make a more standout pair of pumps, I explored the two piece shoe. That consists of the toe and a back quarter. I've had shoes like this.
1. Paper tape on the back of the doll's foot. The pattern is drawn directly on the tape. 
2. The bottom edges of the foot should be noted as well.
3. Peel the tape off carefully and place on paper.
4. Create your pattern by adding on seam allowance along the bottom.
5. Make a test to make sure this fits. Make any adjustments. 
6. The toe is the same we created for our mules and sliders in the ShoeBiz 4. 

7. Here are all of the elements needed to create this shoe.
8. Turn the edges under. Add glue and cover with the middle sole.
9. The completed shoe is here.

 Personally, I didn't find this shoe all that flattering except as, perhaps, a shoe to be worn under trousers. Moreover, I had a very difficult time getting this shoe to fit the foot snugly. I became so frustrated, I looked for a way to cover all of this up and create something more exciting....which led me to the next one.

This is the exact same shoe, but created using silk for the base and strips of chiffon that wrap around the foot and ankles! I also added platform soles and killer stilettos.
1. Begin by making the 2-piece shoe as shown above.
2. Cut two strips of sheer fabric, roughly 3/4"x11" (3x27cm). Fold each edge towards the center and glue or sew in place.
3. Before added your middle sole, wrap around the shoe, criss-crossing over the foot and wrapping around the ankle.
4. Tie into a bow.
5. Glue the middle soles onto the uppers. Create and add the soles but without the heels.
6. I wanted a small platform shoe. So I began by rolling a small ball of clay.
7. Place on the bottom of your shoe.
8. Press down until you have the volume of platform you want.
9. You want to blend the addition of clay into the sole of the shoe by smoothing it out around the sides.
10. Continue to smooth the class all around the sides and the toe.
11. You will also need to make a smooth transition between the bottom of the shoe and the arch which has a thinner layer of clay. Cut away the excess and continue to smooth until everything is well blended together.
12. Now, determine the size of heel you will need by placing the shoe on a flat surface and measuring. For the size of my new shoe, the heel is about 1/8" taller than normal. Add the heel and complete the shoe.

You can also combine the one piece pump with the 2-piece shoe for a very sophisticated look. Inspired by a Dior shoe that appeared a couple years ago on their Haute Couture catwalk show, I came up with this design. The base of the shoe was cut from vinyl using the pattern for the classic pump with the back seam. Over it, I glued on pieces of thin leather using the technique for the 2-piece shoe, then completed the shoe by adding on the middle and outer soles.

Well folks...that's it for my dolly footwear tutorial series. It has been a great summer. And, this has been the most fun I've had since creating this blog. To make it easy for you to find these tutorials at a later date, I've added a side bar (look under Tutorials--upper right side of this page). I'll be back shortly with a few final thoughts while the girls put together their fashion reports from Fashion Month, now in progress!

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