Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Dolls Eye View: Golden Globes 2019

This year's Golden Globes Award show had a Versailles moment. Strolling onto the red carpet were celebrities clad in good old fashion glamour. Yes, of course, there were some misses....as usual..but there were quite a few hits which is why my girls love this event so much.

Lady Gaga in Valentino Couture
The star of the night for us was Lady Gaga's "Marie Antoinette" powder blue gown. It was grandiose in style, sumptuous in cut, borderline historic costume which blew everything else out of the water. And at the end of the day....it was the way my girls like to see red carpet fashion. Let's not forget..these are actors receiving international press awards for being the best in the world of film and television art. The performers could and should have as much fun, passion and drama in the way they put themselves together as they do on the screen. Frankly...Lady Gaga delivered in a gown from Valentino Couture!!!
I was so captivated by this dress, I did an extensive search to see as many views as available. After a hundred or so photos, I concluded, the look could be replicated fairly simply. For the dolly version, I used a strapless princess line dress with long rectangular train. The sleeves are separate from the body of the dress and simply slide onto each arm. I created a small tube, then a simple pouf (rectangle gathered on the top and bottom) which is then stitched onto the tube. (This is similar to a sleeve we made for a jacket which you can find HERE.) I added ribbon which wraps around the wrists into a bow because I thought it added a sweet  touch to a dress that could easily waltz around the Hall of Mirrors at the Chateau Versailles in France.
But the strapless dress with train was not enough. Lady Gaga's gown had lots of volume on either side due to another train. So I shaped and gathered another 1/2 yard of fabric at the top and tacked it to the back of the dress. I needed the dress to pouf out over the hips, so I added a double layer of ruffled fabric underneath the train over each hip. If you look closely in the first photo, you see this peaking out a bit (which is why I made the ruffle in the same fabric as the dress.)

Note: I wanted to make this dress out of silk taffeta, but did not feel like driving 20 miles to the nearest fabric store. So I settled on some acetate lining I had on hand. The result was still pretty. The only thing I didn't like was Lady Gaga's hairstyle. Though the idea of tinting or adding light blue streaks to Morgan's hair was something I had considered!

Gemma Chan in Valentino Couture
While it wasn't quite as grandiose as Gaga's Antoinette dress, Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians star), clearly was on the same wave length. Here I did have some silk taffeta on hand. Gemma's gown, another beauty from Valentino Couture was a mixture of old and new. We liked the halter neck bodice over shorts tucked quietly under miles of a voluminous skirt. When I looked at the dress carefully, I didn't like so much the little bit of draping details in the front of the dress. So I cleaned up the look with a simple halter neck top that ties in the back over a simple pair of shorts and a big circle skirt. I also did not want to cut a real train, so I cheated. I took a square of fabric, folded it into four, gathered the center point and tacked it underneath the train so I could get the look for this photo shoot. Later I can remove it so that it's simply a more modern (and shorter) 3-part dress.

Katherine Zeta-Jones in Elie Saab
This is a standard classic, draped couture gown--which is why I selected this look. It starts with a foundation made from the same fabric as the outer dress. The rest is pure drapery. All the folds are carefully held in place onto the foundation with tiny "invisible" stitches. She gets in and out of the dress at the back.

Allison Janney in Christian Siriano
Again, I like this idea of a simple dress with a dramatic details that transforms it into a work of Haute Couture. I also fell in love with the color of the fabric Christian Siriano chose for his dress. (I found and old blouse and recycled the fabric for this project.) This is a strapless, fishtail gown. The sleeves are two tubes attached at the underarms at the side of the dress. Another width of fabric is folded into tiny drapes and stitched along the neckline and over the sleeves.

Thandie Newton in Michael Kors Collection
Now we've come to the Hollywood goddess portion of our program... We have a LOT of silver dresses in the house. But my girls' eyes always get really big whenever they see metallics! This Michael Kors Collection gown worn by Thandie Newton was a little bit sad, but had a lot of potential. From my point of view, the skirt part of this gown should have been a bit more fitted which is what I did for the dolly version's 2-piece gown. It is a simple wrap around blouse I cut a bit short (into a bare midriff top) over a slim evening skirt. We also though Ms. Newton could have used some jewelry and a silvery shawl. (Stylists...where are you??!!!)

Keri Russell in Monique L'Huillier
Under normal circumstances, I would have fitted this onto a doll with a smaller bust line than Natasha's. Again, however, this dress was chosen because it is silver and we liked the dramatic drape in the front. The original dress is intriguing but the neckline--for our tastes--drops too far down past the waist and looks a tad bit matronly. I made this dress out of stretch light silver lame in two parts: a fishtail evening skirt joined with a top that made from a piece of fabric literally draped over the torso of the doll. It was an interesting exercise in draping. The result....well....I'm not so sure I would make this dress again....but all my dude dolls are looking at Natasha and smiling! 

Lena Waithe in Prada
There have been other actresses sporting pant suits in the past, though admittedly, the severity and starkness of the Prada tuxedo worn by Lena Waithe did call for reflection. Is this an expression of gender, a statement in support of the #MeToo movement or simply, a personal decision to opt for comfort and sobriety over decorative fashion. In any case I wanted to respect Ms. Waithe's choice by not altering her look too much. So, I dressed Zoe in a tuxedo suit and turtleneck, and added just a touch of glamour with a more edgy necklace and a faux fur stole.

Emily Blunt in Alexander McQueen
This is a nod to all of my super talented dolly friends who are soooo good at crochet. (You know who you are, Olla, Kamelia!) I have neither the skill nor the patience for this art. What I can do is to take vintage lace trim and make a mock crochet dress out of it. The Alexander McQueen dress worn by Emily Blunt is a work of art in silver. We loved the way the dress ends in a lacy trim of its own. For Ingrid, I used two types of crochet lace. Two strips are joined together at the sides and fitted over the body into a slinky sheath. Another, more loosely crocheted trim is added to the hem and over strategic areas of the body. The dress opens from the neck down one side to the hips and is fastened with hook and eyes. Note: For more ideas on turning lace trim into a dress look HERE.

Kiki Layne in Dior Couture
Kiki Layne in Dior Couture reminded me of the kind of tulle dresses we made last year for our younger Barbies.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Behind the Design: The Moschino Staple Dress

There was a really fun dress we spotted at the Spring/Summer '19 Moschino fashion show. And, it was a dress that solicited lots of attention! Inspired by fashion atelier objects, it was a basic black sheath dress covered with rows of needles. I wanted to make this dress but knew I would not be able to find needles this tiny. So, I gave a lot of thought as to what I could use that would capture the look. After much reflection, I settled on...staples!

Making this dress is simple enough. But you'll need lots of time and patience and, of course, lots of staples!

This project starts out with a basic strapless sheath dress. In order to replicate the look, I did alter the neckline a bit but a simpler neckline will prove to be easier to make. Stitch the dress together at the side seams and iron flat.

I used the biggest staples I had )1/2' (1cm) in the house and a stapler in good, working condition. Cut strips of felt a tiny bit smaller than the staples. In this case I chose felt because I wanted to staples to hold onto something without sliding around too much.
Cut each strip from edge to edge of the dress.
Cut enough strips to cover the dress from the neckline to just above the hemline. \
Begin stapling from the midpoint of each strip to the edge. Repeat on the other side. Be careful not to staple on top of the preceding staple or you will eventually have problems with the stapler. Adjust the staples...pushing them together AFTER they have been stapled down.
 Once you have enough stapled strips, begin pinning each strip from the bottom of the dress up.
 Hand stitch each row onto the dress until you have covered the entire dress. If you have designed peaks over the bust line, make tiny strips and carefully fit them in and hand sew. I finished off the top of the dress with a strip of tulle.
When you have finished, fold one edge down and hand sew over the seam allowance of the other side, as close as possible to the staples.

I purposely chose silver staples for this dress, but remember, you can always opt for copper staples if you want a bit of color! And...Contrary to what it seems, I did not come close to using up a whole box of staples! On the other hand, this dress does have a bit of weight to it.

Up next.....the first red carpet event of the year. The Golden Globes!!!! Stay tuned!!!

All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2019. Please ask permission first before reposting and please always credit us. Thank you.

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Monday, December 31, 2018

New Years Bling

As you know by now, the biggest social event in my house is my dolls' Black and White Ball each New Year's Eve in my living room. It started out as a party atop the piano, but I acquired more dolls than piano top space to accommodate everyone. So...we extended the party to the cocktail table and then atop the buffet in the dining room. And now, there are parties all over the house!!!

Throughout the year, while replicating designer fashions, red carpet gowns and the like, my girls "ear mark" the dress they want for this ball. Over the past couple years, I have made so many gowns and party dresses  that every single doll in the house is dressed and ready to rock the New Year in. But still....there are always last minute requests for "special" items. And since I haven't posted too many tutorials lately, I decided to do one last one before the year's end. And though you might not be able to make one of these dresses in time for tonight's party....don't forget...the red carpet season is just around the corner!

Sequins are small round discs in contrast to paillettes which are super-sizes sequins that usually come in a variety of sizes, shapes and materials. Popular back in the 1960's, these sweet little dresses were guaranteed to get you noticed at any party. In fact, a dress we spotted from the spring 2019 fashion collection of Ashish (UK), served as the catalyst for this post. Take a close look. The first thing you notice is how simple the basic dress is! 

For this project, I used three dress foundations: a one piece tube I made directly on the doll from a folded over rectangle of fine tulle, a strapless stretch lame sheath, and a basic foundation sheath made from (woven) white cotton. Again, the focus is not the silhouette of the garment, but rather, the overall effect and sparkle of the paillettes! 

Basic Tube Dress
Personally, I prefer to use some sort of stretch material in a matching or neutral color as a base for these dresses. When I made the first one, I selected a medium grey fine tulle and decided to make it directly on the doll. Here's how I did it:
1. Cut a rectangular square large enough to fit around the doll's body, then add an additional 1/2" (1cm). The length will be whatever your desired length is times 2. So for this doll, my rectangle measured 7" (18cm) long by 5" (13cm) wide. Fold in half vertically (the fold will be at the top), then stitch each side by about 1/4" (5mm)
2. Turn outside in. You can press this down with an iron on low setting and a press cloth. 
3. Wrap this around the doll, folding over the seam allowance at the back and pin down the center.
4. Turn over to the front. You notice how the tube dress is gaping around the torso.

5. On each side of the body, fold the excess towards the back to form a long dart. Try to keep the two darts fairly even in terms of volume.
6. Pin (dart going towards the back) then hand sew this down using a back stitch. Be sure to tie a knot at the start of this dart and another at the end so the dart stays secure. Don't worry how this will look because the paillettes will eventually cover this.
Inasmuch as this was the first dress I made, I simply started sewing on the paillettes, starting from the hemline and working upwards. I wanted the look of scales overlapping each other in a downward direction. The first line of paillettes were stitched on the center front of the dress. When I arrived at the top, I knotted the last one, cut the thread, then began again, using the first column as a guide.

The result was exactly perfect though me and the doll were pretty happy. A lot depends on the look you are going for. If it is going to be tiled like shingles, then you need to add in guide lines like we did in the dresses later on in this post.

But if, for example, we were to use irregular shapes or simply wanted a random look, then the helter-skelter way in which we worked will suffice. By the way...notice how on one side of the center back, I have overlapped the paillettes whereas on what will lie underneath that seam I have purposely left an empty margin. Use snaps or hooks and eyes to close along that seam allowance and fold the one side (our right) over the other (our left) for a perfect fit.

But let's get back to the basics.... Here's a close up look at how I sewed on the paillettes.
1. Double thread the needle, tying a knot at the end. Start by pushing the needle from the underside of the fabric. 
2. Make two tiny stitches and another knot.
3. Pull to tighten then add your first paillette.
4. Pull the needle through the hole of the paillette, then wrap the next stitch to the side of the paillette.
5. Then, poke the needle through the hole again, this time from the back but at the top of the paillette. You want to anchor the first and last paillette this way. Pull the needle through.

6. Place the needle about 1/2 the width of the paillette away and make another stitch.
7. Place the needle through the hole of a new paillette then repeat step 5. That is, place the needle through the back of the paillette and pull through the hole.
8. You want to keep repeating this step until you have completed an entire column. I tend to work from bottom to top, but depending on the effect, you can also work side to side--especially if you have paillettes with holes at the top.
9. When you have the last paillette in place, wrap the needle around to the side to near the hole in back of the paillette, back through the hole and again push the needle to the underside.
10. Make a couple of tiny stitches and knot. Continue until you have covered the pattern piece.

Working with stretch
You don't have to work with tulle. A stretch fabric is also good to use. What could be interesting is to team up paillettes with either complimenting or contrasting colored fabrics. But with stretch fabrics comes another challenge. How to get the paillettes on without contorting the fabric. 

If we were working in couture for this kind of work (as well as beading and embroidery), we would have to transfer the pattern to the fabric then put everything onto a frame prior to adding the first paillette. But for the sake of simplification and coming up with a technique that is fairly easy, I did away with using a frame for most of the dresses. The purpose of working on a frame is to avoid the fabric from shrinking and buckling from all of the stitches. For the most part, I found working with a frame to be very time consuming, super difficult to stitch together the garment after everything is in place (especially if it has darts) and for me, the outcome wasn't worth the effort for the look I was attempting to achieve. HOWEVER...when it comes to working with stretch fabric....I found the frame to be most helpful.

1. You can use a wooden picture frame or make something yourself. Here I've used painter's stirring sticks which I taped together at just the right proportions.
2. I transferred my pattern onto a piece of gun metal silver lame jersey. I chose this fabric to compliment the hologram (otherwise known as 3-D) paillettes in a discount store in Paris. First I used chalk to mark the cutting line of a strapless jersey pattern onto my fabric. I put guide lines in: a yellow thread (use a broad running stitch) marks the center front and back of the dress; the blue lines indicate the stitching lines. Attach this to the frame, using tacks (the red dots) to hold in place. Don't stretch the fabric. You just want to keep this taunt enough to stop the fabric from moving or shrinking as you sew on the paillettes. 

1. Again, I wanted the look of scales. So I started at the center front line near the hem. Attach the first paillette using the above instructions. Secure the first one in place, then work your way up.
2. I apply the second one so that the hole is at the top of the edge of the one beneath.
3. Continue along that center front guide line until you reach the furthest edge.
4. Stop, knot. Then begin the second column at the bottom. 
5. I like to work from the center front towards the side, using each row as a guide. 
6. Note how, not only have I overlapped each paillette from the top, but I have also overlapped slightly on each side.

7. When finished, it will look something like this
8. Cut along the cutting lines. To sew, fold down the side seam of the front and lay over the side seam of the garment back. Hand sew in place. Repeat for the other side. You can use a a strip of tulle (or similar product) to finish the top of the dress as well as the hem. The dress foundation is stretch, so it will simply slide on and off the doll!
Okay so now we are at the stage where I can hear some of you saying....why on earth would I want to spend time sewing on "sequins" when I can buy already made fabric. Well.....first of all, most stores won't sell less than 1/2 yard or 50 cm, so you can make only what you know you'll use. Secondly, you can customize. I've made dresses here where I've simply covered them with the same paillette, but you, on the other hand, can mix, match, create patterns or simply apply on part of the garment!
For example, you can apply a few rows of paillettes as a trim. Think what you could do to the hem of a dress, skirt or even bell bottomed pants or calypso sleeves with spangles!

Embellishing woven fabrics
For my last experiment, I made a basic sheath dress from a non-stretch cotton. What I should have done was to either remove the darts or to have chosen a shift or tent style dress. Out of habit, I made this dress to fit the body..which is really why one would use stretch. Nonetheless, I completed what I started, darts and all. What is good about using wovens is that you can add a lining to your garment afterwards.

1. I made this dress from a simple white cotton. I wanted the focus to remain on the paillette in its natural state. But after you make that first dress, don't hesitate to play around with your paillettes and different colored backgrounds. The darts and the side seams are stitched. There are plenty of guidelines to help me through the process which we have described earlier in this post.

2. Here's a tip: As you approach the sides, be mindful of these curved areas. Leave them until the end. Then add the paillettes in to fill the space.

3. When you have finished and it's time to close up the shoulders and back seam....fold the top shoulders down and lay them over the back shoulder seam allowance in such a way that the rows of paillettes are relatively close to each other.
 4. When you have finished, you should not see the seams. At the back center seam, fold the center seam of the left side of the back down and lay over the seam allowance of the right side and stitch down, leaving enough room for the doll to get in and out of the dress.
For a sleeveless dress, fold the armhole seams inside and baste. Do the same around the armholes of your lining. Pin the lining face to face with the garment around the neckline and hand sew in place. Slash the curves around the neckline. Line up the armholes of the lining and the dress, hand stitch together with tiny hidden stitches. Close the dress with a hook and eye at the neckline.

And so, my dolly friends.....that brings us to the close of 2018. I've enjoyed sharing all my creative dolly endeavors with you. On behalf of all my Barbie divas and their Ken companions, my Fashion Royalty princesses and their handsome FR Homme princes, my sultryTonner dolls and even the three  audacious My Scene dolls who somehow sneaked into my home and heart.... 

Happy New Year!
We'll see you back here in 2019!!!

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my visitors who pass by this blog, whether you're a faithful follower looking for ideas and patterns to create something fabulous for your doll or a passer-by who simply likes looking at the pictures. Thank you all for visiting my page, for your support and for all the lovely comments you leave. At this time me and the dollies at Fashion Doll Stylist would like to wish each and every one of you (and your dolls) a very, creative, fun-filled, Merry, Merry, dollicious Christmas!

Five years ago, we shared a poem with you that we felt was time to offer up once again. In celebration of the holiday, here's our dolly rendition of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. (Our sincerest apologies to the original author, Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863).

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even the dolls in my house.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that April would soon pass with lots of new clothes by there.
The dolls were perfectly posed on their stands,
Though a few, thinking to grab a few gifts, tried to flex their hands.
Adrianna, Estelle, Radiah and Nichelle, all the Barbies were ready,
Veronique, Jordan, Sofia and the other Royals held steady.
Away to the door they flew in a flash,
With hopes of peaking at their new stash.
The light on the sewing machine provided just enough light,
For the dolls to see lots of party clothes for any festive night.
When, what to their wondering eyes should appear,
April holding miniature designer handbags, fur coats, and leather gear,
So much so, the dolls all began to cheer!
April’s eyes-- oh how they twinkled! She was definitely feeling merry!
She made us all something lovely to wear in tones of red cherry!
A seasoned fashion pro, she is a diva, thin and chic,
In contrast, we are plastic, barely 12 inches and at times, quite meek.
As the dolls strained to see what else was there,
April laid out suits of clothes for the dude dolls on a nearby chair.
One thing was clear, as we looked to see more,
None of this came from any store!
Leather suits, sheepskin coats, spats and leather skirts,
And yes there were Chanel suits and Versace medallion shirts.
Lace bustiers, Easter hats, red-carpet gowns, and corsets galore,
How could we ask for anything more!
April spoke not a word as she continue to work,
Laying all of our clothes out, then she turned with a jerk.
She thought she heard us, so she ducked out of sight,
But just before going to bed, she whispered:

"Merry Christmas to all, and to all my dollies, a good-night!"
Hello Dolly: My Christmas Dollies 2018

My apologies for the lull in postings and the lateness in responding to your comments. I've been battling a succession of colds over the past month. However, I'm feeling much better and already working on one more tutorial which will be up in just a few days!!! Stay tuned.

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