Saturday, November 22, 2014

Puff Dolly & the Quilted Northerns

Anyone living in the temperate zone knows that winter is not far away. In fact, if you're in the U.S. it arrived a bit early. Here in Paris, we are having one if the mildest November's on record. But still, the temperatures have started to dip and the Parisians are out en masse, with their "doudounes:" parkas, bomber jackets and quilted coats.

I have wanted to do this post since last year. However, I could not find quilted material scaled to the doll's proportions. I finally found a quilted material in just the right (doll) scale at "Reine" one of the Marché St. Pierre's big fabric stores. Chances are you won't be so lucky, so let me share my idea.

Typically, the stitching marks off square inches (25mm). Cut off the amount of fabric you need for your complete outfit. Then stitch midway in between the squares! I will warn you that this material--consisting of two layers--was not the easiest to manipulate. Also, you might want to add a bit more ease in your patterns for a looser fit.

For the parka, I used the basic jacket/coat pattern. Click here for the draft. I added a hood. You'll find it here. I added elastic at the waist on the inside of the jacket. First the elastic to fit the doll's waist. Pin each end to the opening of the jacket. Find the midpoint of the jacket and that of the elastic and pin. Now stretch the elastic in between the pins and pin again. I made two rows of stitches. Stretch the elastic as you sew so it lays flat against the jacket and stitch in place. I used hook & eyes to close and a bit of fur to trim the hood.

Here's what this looks like front to back.

The quilted coat uses the same pattern but in a longer length. I also applied a stand up collar.

Use a single strip of fabric the width of the neckline + 1/4" (3mm) by 1-1/4" (30mm) long. Stitch to neckline then topstitch. (A)

Turn down and stitch the opening of the coat from the edges of the collar to the hem. Clip out a square where the collar will fold over itself (B). This is to eliminate bulk. Topstitch. If you have done this correctly, the collar will cover slightly the seam where it meets the neckline on the inside of the coat (C). Topstitch. I used a snap (size 1) to close the collar and hooks & eyes (size 1) to close the coat.

The bomber jacket was made using the bodice sloper. Ignore the darts. (Before proceeding, stop and make the hood.) Drop the armhole by 1/4" (3mm). Square off the sides and bottom as shown.

This jacket has raglan sleeves. Draw a curved line from the middle of the armhole to the middle of the neckline. Label the points as shown. Cut off and place to the side. Now, extend the CF by 1/2" (12mm). Repeat on the back sloper, being careful to label the points as shown. Cut away. Finally, take your sleeve pattern and place those shoulder bits against the top, placing each one's armhole against the top of the sleeve on each side of the center seam. (Be sure to note the front and back of your sleeve so that you'll attach it correctly to the jacket.) Note there is a dart at the top of the sleeve.

Add seam allowance.

Exceptionally, stitch the sides of the jacket first. Then stitch the dart, then the underarm seam of the sleeve. Match the fronts to backs, right side to right side and stitch together.

For the knit trim, I cut off a cuff from a sock the width of the doll's lower waist. You can also take a bit of thin knit and fold in half. Close up the ends with stitches.

Just as you did with the elastic, stretch the knit and pin to the bottom of the jacket. Stretch flat to the jacket as you stitch in place. Use a hook & eye to hold closed.

This is what this looks like front to back.

Leave as is or add fur trim around the hood and cuffs. By the way, Joan's got matching spats.

The men's jacket uses a basic jacket pattern. To give this a bit more bulk; I straighted the lines at the side so that the jacket doesn't hug the silhouette. I've added a stand up collar in the same fashion as I did for the woman's coat. You're probably noticing how the sleeves have extensions at the hem. This is because Xavier is my first FR Homme doll and I miscalculated the length of his arms!! He's also more muscular than Ken which is why the sleeves are fitting him somewhat tight. Xavier has matching mocassins which, when I get this pattern a bit more pefected, I'll share with you later.

Keep warm!

Don't feel like using elastic? The belt the jacket for the same look!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ragdolls of the Opera

Each year, my dolls and I look forward to the Frimousses des Createurs exhibition. Fashion designers and artists are called upon to dress a rag doll which will be auctioned off by UNICEF to raise money for vaccinations of poor children in Darfor. So not only do we get our fix of beautifully dressed dolls, it's all for the most noble of causes.

This year the theme, Opera, was chosen as the point of inspiration for all art work and dressed dolls submitted. The exhibition, free of charge to the public, is being held for one week (November 18-23) at the Theatre de Chatelet (place du Chatelet), situated in the center of Paris just a block from Hotel de Ville (city hall). On November 24, an auction will be held to sell these one of a kind dolls. Last year's event raised more than 185,000 Euros.

Inasmuch as her name has something to do with the opera, I chose "Aria," a Barbie I purchased last year at the Musee de la Poupee to escort you around this exhibtion. She photographed the most interesting dolls today, which I am happy to feauture below.

To see the ensemble of art work on display, or obtain more information on this event, please consult the website set up just for this occasion at: A free app is also available in the iTunes Store, as well.

The temperatures are dropping and we've been busy putting together some cold weather clothes your dolls are going to want to keep warm. Stay tuned! It's coming up shortly!!!!

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All images taken on location and text by Fashion Doll Stylist.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Golden Years of French Couture

Paris is where I recharge my (creative) batteries with long walks and window shopping in fashion neighborhoods, trips to fabric & trim stores, gallery hopping and visits to premier exhibitions on style. A trip to the Palais Galliera, one of the city's two fashion museums, is always a must. After a one hour wait in line to see, "Paris Fashion: 1947-57," me and the girls (all dressed for the theme) were good to go. This exhibition, divided into three sections, provided an up close and personal look at the heyday of French Haute Couture via 100 period garments and accessories, vintage magazines, newspapers and television footage.

Greeting us at the entrance of the "Galerie d'Honneur" were a series of serene daywear. Wool suits in dark neutral colors with jackets either cut flat and wide or structured to follow the curves of the body, were often worn over straight skirts or others styled in a burst of pleats.

The actual "New Look" suit designed by the late Christian Diir himself--an ecru hourglass jacket over a black, knife pleated skirt--was on display along with accompanying magazine articles so dramatically photographed.

The "Grande Galerie" was transformed into a sumptuous parade of cocktail dresses and ball gowns, all of which invited the visitor to come close and marvel at their complex construction, delicate embroidery or intricate beading.

Dior's New Look was an extravagant reaction to the restrictive measures in place during World War II including rationing of fabric and narrow, more masculine silhouettes. Sensing a renewed desire for luxury and femininity Dior created looks with cinched waists, round hips, draped dresses and full, voluminous skirts comprised of up to 100 meters of fabric! In fact, 1950's fashion ushered in 30 glorious years for the French economy, supported in part, by the house of Dior. It was a period of prolific creativity which, once again, helped Paris maintain its reputation as fashion capital of the world.

The exhibition not only focused on the more glamorous aspects of madame's Charles de Gaulle era wardrobes, but also featured daywear, lingerie, swimwear and accessories.

The period between 1947 and 1957 articulates two important historical moments in the world of style: the revolutionary bomb dropped by Dior's New Look just after WWII and the first steps of a young Yves Saint Laurent, responsible for moving fashion away from the pretension of haute couture and towards a simpler, more youthful, off the rack direction.

The garments on display--as seen through the work of Dior, Balenciaga, Chanel, Mme. Gres, Pierre Balmain, Jacques Fath, and lesser known designers--not only illustrates the fashions of that period, but also reveals the social values of that decade's upper classes.

This exhibition is now closed: However, I invite you to see it for yourself thanks to the video produced by France 3 Ile de France TV.

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