Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Good Foundations: The Slim Bodice Sloper for Ken (VIDEO)

 This post came about after seeing a need to revisit Ken's basic slopers when I tried to make a jeans jacket and a vest for my beloved male fashion dolls. Normally I use the man's shirt as the base for all of their shirts, tops, jackets and coats, but suddenly I discovered there was too much volume for an otherwise skinny garment. Mind you, men's patterns are traditionally drafted after meticulously taking measurements. But in my effort to make this process as simple as possible for all of us, I decided to take a few steps back and re-begin by making slopers for the Ken doll much in the same way we did for the girls.

I will point out to you immediately that I have not allowed for any ease because I wanted something very close to the body to make that St. Laurent "embroidered" leather vest and eventually slim fitted shirts or jackets like the leather shirt-jac worn by Zac in the photo above.

 Measure and mark the male doll much in the same way as you did with the girl doll. Wrap a piece of yarn around the circumference of his neck, on top of the shoulder between the neck and the tip of the arm. Mark the entire armhole. Then mark his chest, his waist and then the top of his hips.

Prepare two rectangles of muslin (large enough to cover half the front from under the chin to just below the hip), making a vertical line, intercepted with a horizontal line.
 After you have followed the instructions in the video, remove the muslin from the doll. Smooth out the lines then transfer to graph paper. Make sure the shoulder seams are equal in width and that the side seams are equal in length and in form. Make the necessary adjustments on the graph paper. Use this draft for your basic bodice sloper. After you design your garment, be sure to add seam allowance which thus transforms it into a real pattern.
For my vest, (1) I put the muslin pattern back on the doll then with a narrow tape or ribbon, I design the shape of the vest front. Again, (2) transfer your markings to paper and add seam allowance. Here in the final version, (3) I have cut this in leather. I overlapped the seams and glued in place. The seam allowance here has been cut away from the front, the neckline and the armhole.

I used beaded stickers (normally reserved for scrapbooking) for my "embroidery."
The drape of the sleeve is identical to that for the Barbie doll.
I began by preparing a rectangle of cotton muslin. It should be a little longer than the length of the doll's arm and three times the width of the doll's open hand. (For the Ken doll it will measure about 2-1/5 by 5 inches). Fold in thirds and pin. Cut a groove on the under side (where the fabric is overlapped). Slide onto the doll's arm and pin onto the bodice using the armhole markings as a guide. Then pin the underarm seam together. Mark. Then remove and transfer to paper. Make sure the underarm points fall on the same level. Make sure the underarm seams are equal. Adjust if necessary. Add seam allowance to transform into a pattern.
With this very simple bodice sloper and the addition of the sleeve, I was able to make Zak's form fitting, "European-cut" leather jacket. I simply added seam allowance to my sloper to the side and shoulder lines, then extended the center front by 1/2" (1cm).
I did sew the seams by machine. I stitched each seam twice for strength, glued down the seams inside the garment. Then (using a mallet or hammer) pounded the seams and around the armholes of the sleeve to eliminate bulk.
Using this same sloper, I was able to make a pretty successful jeans jacket for Ken which I will post very shortly!

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  1. It took me three tries to get the sleeves right for the older Ken dolls whose arms don't move away from the body but I really like it. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hmmm... a lawyer that plays with dolls!!! I suppose its a nice way to de-stress!
      Yes, those older Ken dolls are hard to work with. But once you spend the time to make those basic slopers (patterns) and get them to fit your doll perfectly, it means whatever you create will also fit your doll perfectly!


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