Thursday, October 30, 2014

BOO !!!!

To all of my friends and visitors who have come to my own glorious corner of this doll planet.....

Fashion Doll Stylist wishes you a very stylish HALLOWEEN!

You know by now, our girls are only interested in high fashion.....And so with shopping bags in hand, they decided to go "trick or treating" at their favorite high end shops to beg for goodies. Inasmuch as they were headed to the upscale section of town, they thought they should get a bit dressed up. Quite naturally, they accessorized their look with a more trendy version of the witch's hat!

Me and the girls have arrived back in Paris where we plan to do lots of window shopping, galleries, restaurants, fairs (including a doll fair) and fashion exhibitions which we will be more than happy to share with you.

However, prior to leaving the States, the girls participated in a photo shoot paying dolly homage to the late Oscar de la Renta. That's coming right up! Stay tuned!!!!
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Thursday, October 23, 2014


The jumpsuit is one of those trends that appeared discretely on the catwalks about a year ago. Slowly we're seeing more and more of them as a younger fashionista discovers them for the first time. I'm old enough to have worn them before and can verify that nothing is easier or faster than leaping into high style with this one piece garment. When styled in tailored lines, it goes to work. In a cheerful cotton, it takes off to play. Cut it short for a summertime "romper" or from a bit of fancy fabric for a formal affair.

This season, my eye was immediately drawn to the sleek, simple lines of Haider Ackermann's silk jumpsuit. Cut close to the body, it glides over the body in an unbroken line with just a hint of a slight drape over the collarbone. I admit I was pleasantly surprised to see how this translated to the doll so beautifully. And though that pattern is most illogical when compared to that for a full scaled woman, I decided to include it in this post along with a range of other options to show the versatility of this garment.

Your jumpsuit can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. It's as simple as making a bodice, making a pair of pants then joining them together along the waistline. Be careful when choosing the fabric or the doll you dress. The  2-part  jumpsuit  will add bulk to the doll's waistline unless you use a thin or soft fabric. Needless to say, press, press, press!

Dolls with the older Barbies or FR bodies (hourglass, swivel waists) like Anna pictured here in a grey wool outfit easily wear this type of jumpsuit. (It helps to balance their exaggerated proportions.)

But if you want a jumpsuit without the waistline detail, it is a simple matter of combining the foundation or bodice sloper with that of the pant sloper into a single pattern piece as shown below.
Take the 2-dart foundation garment  (see video) you created from an early tutorial. (Click on the highlighted words throughout this post to bring up the proper tutorial for slopers you have not already made.) Lay it over the (2-piece) pant sloper (see video), lining them up at the waist. Trace complete foundation and add the rest of the pants to arrive at your basic jumpsuit sloper. If you sew this as is, stitching up the darts, you will end up with a fitted jumpsuit with a narrow pant leg. You may have to adjust the shoulders a bit depending on the doll. Since I wanted a bit more volume, I put a dot 1/4 inch (6mm) to either side of each pant leg at the hem. From the hip point to the hem, draw a line down to that point. Add seam allowance.

For this jumpsuit, inspired by the one shown at Haider Ackermann, I left the darts open and redesigned the neckline by shaving off 1/4 inch down from the Center Front. I pinched the fabric at both shoulders to create a bit of a drape and hand stitched. But I discovered the overall fit was looser than I wanted, so I added tucks where the original waist darts were. These are simple tacks at the waist which line up with the pant creases. You simply pinch the fabric and tack down on the inside.
For my fashion report, I had made another pattern. However, it is not logical in terms of standard drafting techniques, but guess what. It worked! It was slim and gave me the same proportions as the one in Ackermann's show. And it worked better than the basic jumpsuit because I had cut away much of the dart fullness.
I began with the 1-piece pants sloper over which I laid the front and back bodice slopers (1). Note how they overlap at the sides. Make sure the Center Fronts and Center Backs line up. Again, I added 1/4-inch (6mm) to each side of the side edge at the hem. I draw my line from the inseam point to the hem.(2). At the top, I trimmed away 1/4-inch (6mm) from the collar and around the armhole. Now, trace off the silhouette then add seam allowance. Stitch the shoulder seams together then the inseams. Press those seams, turn one side right side out and slip it inside the other half, matching right side to right side, center front to the center back. The wrong side will face you. Stitch down the CF to the CB, leaving enough space for the doll to get in and out. I closed this one with snaps in the back. But you can also sew in a tiny zipper (which I did for the black jumpsuit).
I used a China silk and it came our perfect! Around the neckline and armholes, I rolled the edges and used tiny stitches to hold in place. I pinched the fabric at the shoulders and hand-stitched in place.
And then there was this gorgeous Ralph Lauren jersey pantsuit. For this I combined the pant sloper with the dartless knit bodice sloper.
Trace off the pants sloper onto paper. (1) Draw a vertical line down from the apex of the dart. Cut along that line (but don't cut out the dart). Fold the dart closed. The pattern will open at the bottom. Tape down. (2) Repeat for the back pant sloper. (3) Trace this along the outer lines. The back will be wider than the front at the hem. For this reason, you will need to balance them out. Note the difference in width between the two (see green line). Add half the width left over to the front (between green line and red line). Subtract the same amount from the back. Both pattern pieces will now be the same width at the hemline.
Trace the new front and back pattern. (4) Lay the dartless jersey dress sloper (see video) under this pattern, lining it up at the waist. Redraw the armhole and smooth out the sides near the waist. I have extended my armhole from the edge of the shoulder to half way into the shoulder line. The original photo called for a standup collar, but I have not had much success with this type of collar for my dolls, so I chose to do a "funnel collar" instead. (5) This is done by curving my line from the neck/shoulder point up by 1/4 inch (6mm). Make a horizontal line across to the center front. It will be perpendicular to the CF. (6) Now trace all external lines for your pattern and add seam allowance. I used a 4 inch(skirt) zipper down the back. HOWEVER, it is better to order a dedicated 4 inch doll zipper because the zipper pulls on the regular human zippers are out of scale. The neckline is held in place with a hook and eye. Also....the success of this jumpsuit lies in the choice of fabric. In this case, I have used a rayon jersey which has lots of drape!

Here, I've restyled this jumpsuit by pairing it with our Dolly Givenchy "embroidered" jacket and a 1970's style chain-link belt.
Without the collar, cut from a fancy material, you have an entirely different look!
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Behind the Design: The Altuzarra Lattice Skirt

While preparing the fashion reports, time is of the essence. In my effort to keep them newsworthy and relevant, I have a very short amount of time to recreate the catwalks then create a few dolly versions of the latest styles. Unfortunately, however, I don't have time to prepare tutorials. My dolly version of the Altuzarra leather lattice skirt created quite a buzz. And while there was a request for a tutorial of this skirt, it also occurred to me that, from time to time, I should, perhaps, do more "style analysis" to help you better interpret catwalk styles into scaled down versions for your dolls.  If you recall, I did this in the post "Dolly Couture 101: the Classic Draped Couture Gown."And so, from time to time, I will feature a mini tutorial, "Behind the Design" whereby we stop, examine a garment then bring it to life.
I love the simplicity of this look by New York design firm, Altuzarra. The top is a simple, wrap jersey sweater folded over a bra top. Underneath the latticework, the model is wearing what appears to be panty-cut shorts, though it could be worn over almost any pencil slim garment. What really makes this look, however, is the skirt. At first I thought of creating this skirt gluing leather strips on sheer then cutting out a pattern. But upon close inspection, it was apparent, there was no understructure to this skirt. The strips of leather are attached to each other. The design of the skirt is incredibly simple. It is a straight skirt. For my dolly copy of the Altuzarra top, I used cashmere knit (cut from mom's moth eaten skirt) and the wrap top (with the addition of sleeves). The bra is made from a tiny bit of black leather. For the white version, I used a cotton shirt, knotted in the front over the white cotton bra top we made in a post on swimwear.

Early on, I did show you how to make a 1-piece skirt pattern suitable for non-woven materials and leathers. And so that it where I began. In creating this pattern, make sure it opens in the front instead of the back.

Once you have transferred the drape into the paper pattern, simply lay it on the table and use it as a guide for the leather strips. You will create the skirt on top.
You could do this skirt using 1/8-inch ribbon. However I think the leather adds a bit structure and class. The first skirt I made was from a leather scrap. The second was cut from white ultrasuede. Do NOT cut your strips randomly. They won't be even. Instead, measure out 1/8-inch spaces, draw the lines on the wrong side of the leather, then carefully cut them out. A metal ruler and Exacto Knife makes for perfectly eve strips. But scissors are okay.

Next, lay the strips diagonally over the pattern. If you are working in leather you should lay them right side up. Adjust so they are evenly spaced. Take more strips and criss-cross with a second layer on top. Carefully lift one strip at a time from the top layer, adding a dab of glue (with a toothpick) then lay the strip in place.

Continue until all of the strips have been glued together. Trim the sides and tops close to the edges of the pattern (leaving a little extra just in case you need it later). Now, cut one more strip the width of the hemline and glue alone the bottom edge of the skirt. Cut two more strips the length of the skirt and attach to each of the sides of the skirt. Leave the top edge free.

When everything has ben glued in place and is dry, press with a cool iron. Place on the doll, overlapping the center front strips. Cut one more strip to fit the doll's waist + enough extra for the seam allowance of the skirt on both front edges. Tape the edge of this strip to the front top edge. Then carefully, adjust the spacing at the top of the strips to fit into the waistband. Work from front to back. Take your time.
The above three photos shows what this will look inside of the garment. Note: The Barbie Basic and Model Muse dolls have slimmer hips than my black Barbies who have more curves. That's why my two lattice skirts look a little bit different. After you have glued everything in place you can glue in small strip of sheer seam tape to "clean up" the edges. Let it dry well and again, press with a cool (low-heat) iron.

Your doll can wear this over a dress or skirt. I cut a long strip of leather for a tie-belt which is knotted in the front. I do believe the original model in the catwalk shot is wearing shorts. However, I wanted to be sure of having a smooth, sleek look underneath, so I made a simple micro-mini skirt with a piece of stretch lycra. This consists of two seams, no zipper and was constructed right on the doll.
The completed skirt can be used for a number of different looks. Below, here is Chystele wearing it with a 1-piece strapless bustier and matching fringed poncho made from chamois cloth (found in the hardware store) we created a while back.
Coming up next.....the jumpsuit! (Pssst....that's easy too!)
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Monday, October 6, 2014

Doll's Eye View: Paris S/S '15 Pt. II

This was one of the best fashion seasons for Paris, a market known for its elegance, grace as well as subtle creativity. We saw lots of cool, pure silhouettes, updated renditions of iconic classics as well as pretty little dresses with lots of feminine charm.
Pants are quite important! And guess what....there is a return to the jumpsuit. But all of the craziness of past seasons has been tempered into soft and simple styles that will be very easy to replicate for dolly chic. The garment does not have to be complicated to transmit high fashion statements. The Haider Ackermann jumpsuit is proof that more often than not....less is more...even when it comes to doll clothes!

And that rain slicker we made a few months back, will be very much needed to complete dolly's wardrobe. But as you'll notice further down, she'll also need a silk trench coat as well!!

It's as if the designer took brush in hand and with a single stroke....designed any one of the above looks. Take a close look at the length. Note how everything is long, lean and not at all stressed! Fluid silks and rayon based knits will help you achieve these looks. Notice the absence of bling!

This is a story of cloudy grey skies and the styles that take both their color and the threat of storms as their inspiration. Belted trenches, hoodies and the contrast of shiny and matte fabric in light grey-.blues and foggy greys will be essential for next Spring's April showers styles.

Stripes, an annual staple in Spring apparel trends, continue on. Here mattress stripes make for kicky little suits and swing coats. When tipped on the diagonal, stripes make a dramatic turn.

And yes, the stark black and white ensembles we first saw in New York were all over Paris. We particularly loved Balmain's graphic black and white tracks.

Pretty little dresses fit for a princess. Laser cut lace, sheer silks etched with monochromatic patterns, these are looks expressly kept simple so that the fabric can be best appreciated. While you will not find these fabrics in a store, the Valentino dresses give us a really good reason to collect vintage crochet, lace encrusted linen napkins that can be cut up and reassembled into an equally precious dress.

A short cut to show stopping dresses, these pretty little dresses have lots of fit and flare. The little black dress is draped in drama.

Black is the new black when it comes to formal wear. While dresses with subtle beading continues to please, trousers have come out of the closet in a big dramatic way! Again, notice the absence of bling. Beads are still there, but are tiny, monochromatic and used for quiet accents.

Another fashion season has come and gone. Sometimes it seems as though it would never end. That's because there are so many catwalk shows. According to a recent report in the New York Times, New York fashion week hosted 277 catwalk shows over eight days. London was 82 shows and five days long. The shows in Milan's lasted a day longer with its 137 shows. And finally Paris, the fashion capital of the world, had the longest marathon lasting 9 days with 93 shows....which, incidentally, does not include a bevy of "off-calendar" young designer presentations which could easy boost those numbers another 20 or so shows. Moreover, I stop at Paris because, the four I cover are the most important of the estimated 2,500 fashion weeks worldwide! And so it's all over, until the beginning of the year when menswear than Haute Couture recommences.

When looking over the collections, I pay less attention to "labels" and more to the clothes themselves, choosing a selection I think could be easily interpreted into duds for our vinyl divas. That's why you see less of Dior and company and more clothes from lesser named brands. I also try to find things that are little bit different than what we've explored before. The doll faces on the catwalk models, I feel, help visualize how styles might look on the doll. But when choosing a look, be sure to remember that your interpretation will be limited by the doll dimensions as well as the choice of fabrics. Still, no matter what you choose for inspiration or the outcome of the garment you make, know that it will be in style and light years ahead of anything Mattel or many doll clothes designers produce for the market!

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Doll's Eye View: Paris Spring/Summer '15 Pt.1

As with all seasons, fashion month ends on a high note in Paris. The official calendar was nine days long. Unofficially, the week is slightly longer thanks to young designers trying to make their way to the forefront of the style industry. This "week" is so big, so supercharged with gorgeous clothes, outrageous (but beautifully handcrafted) concepts and everything in between, I am forced to divide this report into two parts.

What distinguishes Paris fashion from the other markets is the strong feminine sensitivity that permeates much of the clothing designed here. We saw many very pretty clothing which will easily translate into clothes for your divas.

 We also look for modern day versions of great classics. Creative twists on familiar styles.

These are easy, breezy summer cottons with lots of flirty volume. They take their cue from peasant dresses. Crocheted doilies, frayed linens, sheer cotton voiles, all embellished with laces or bits of vintage embroidery.

Simplicity with a twist. An urban palette, these outfits are drenched in earthy tones of sand, clay, sky blue, concrete grey. Silhouettes are uncomplicated, layered, long and lean.
 What would summer be without a vacation to a far away land. Exotic prints from the Far East instantly jazzes up simple shapes. Note the A-line tent dresses and larger trousers!

It's the 2015 version of the 1960's all in vibrant colors and patterns. Again, note how simple the shapes are. Tent dresses and shifts. Simple tops and skirts or pants in acid toned blocks of color!
 And while we're having fun with the 60's..... It's all origami and waffles for these Japanese Barbie Girls!!!

The black and white theme we saw in New York and Milan, is alive and vibrant in the French capital. Here, it's translated into flirted little silhouettes with bold graphic prints. This is a situation where the style is all about the sharp, smart fabric.

And of course, there are lots of "grown up" styles for sophisticated divas. What we enjoy about Paris is there are many variations on the original theme. We love the asymmetrical antics of Yohji and Gaultier, the soft skirts of Chalayan and the leggings under the pleated skirt suit of Chanel.
The wonderful part of this market is the presence of bright, bold COLOR!!! Tangerine, cherry, or watermelon, it's a hot, tangy look for day or night.

Our eyes are so accustomed to skinny jeans, we thought it important to show the latest trends in pants. While the narrower versions are still around, larger pants are making a really big statement next summer. The rule seems to be..the bigger the pants the smaller the top. Note the great, big pants from Leonard worn with a tiny bra top!

Next summer is about effortless dressing. The wrap...worn a dress, jacket or coat is another big trend. Silhouettes overlap and are held in place with a small belt. The Hermes dress above is a great big T-shaped garment that slips over the held and is belted on the hips. The key to making these looks work for the doll is in the choice of fabric.

White is a way to brighten fancy night time affairs especially when they have this much sass and class. Long, sleek jackets are worn over lean straight trousers. But the girls were especially attracted to the fettuccine dresses whose fringe resembles fabric run through an old fashioned paper shredder!

We are not finished with fashion week quite yet! Stay tuned to our Doll's Eye View of Paris Fashions Part II!!!!

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