Thursday, May 23, 2013

Doll Couture: Simple Drapes

At the "Paris Haute Couture" exhibition, one dress in particular, caught my eye. It was a faded boudoir pink velvet dress by Madame Gres, lush with the type of intricate, sculptural draping for which she was best known. My purpose if this posting is not to do a "how to make a complicated couture creation in 10 easy steps" (impossible feat), but rather, tips on interpreting the draping you see in these exceptional works of (fashion) art.

Photo: Gres dress courtesy Musee Galliera

A simple undergarment, well fitted to the doll's body is essential. It will support your most whimsical ideas. You can use the corset, the maillot, or a strapless version of the sheath dress for your foundation (everything is found in the index). If the drapes are to radiate from the side, the closing of your undergarment should also be on the side. Otherwise the back seam is okay. The rule is: the longer the garment and the more control you want over the body of the dress, the longer the foundation you will need. In other words, if most of your draping is over the bust, a corset will suffice. However, if you plan to do a lot of fancy draping or work over the skirt or body of the dress, you will need a dress length foundation (over which you attach and tack down another piece of draped fabric).

To illustrate my point and to get you started, we began with a 3x3 foot (or 1x1 meter) sheer scarf. Fold this in half and pinch in the middle to make a point. Take a small bit of wire--which you have bent into a necklace fitting the doll's neck--and wrap the point over the wire and tack in place. You can also use a ribbon (using Velcro on the ends to close).

My doll is wearing a strapless maillot (April14 post), made from a stretch material to ensure easy removal of the gown from the doll. Put the wire (with attached fabric) around the doll's neck. Wrap the fabric around both sides of the doll then pin it in the back and stitch it in place (with tiny stitches). One idea is to grasp each side and tack on each side. I've added a rhinestone to give the look a more glamorous look.

Here's another idea. After attaching the wire necklace around the doll's neck, I grabbed the fabric and twisted it to one side. Hold this close to the doll's body as you pull out the ends of the fabric and wrap them around the body, tying in the back. If you want to make this permanent, you will need to tack the drapes to the foundation, being careful to leave enough length at the ends so that you can wrap and unwrap them without totally unraveling everything else. Just be careful not to "sew" things down too much. You want to keep your drapes light and lively.

It helps when you have a photo of something you would like to emulate.

For the white dress, I used a longer foundation. Again, I twisted the fabric and pinned the drapes in place. I then adjusted them, tacking them at spots where I wanted to introduce direction or control the amount of fullness. Both dresses can be easily slipped on or off the doll. When finishing your dress, consider using hooks and eyes for your closures.

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