Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Happy Feet

As you well know, I spoil my dolls. They have designer clothes, designer belts, designer handbags. You think they have everything, no? NO!!! They don't have....designer shoes!!

This is a short post with a simple idea of transforming ordinary doll shoes into...designer footwear.

Add a few strokes of bright red nail lacquer to the soles of any doll shoes.....instant Christian Louboutin!!!!

For Chanel, it's as simple as painting the toes of any Barbie pumps.
Simply tape around the toe and paint the rest. Be sure to wait for the laquer to completely dry before removing the tape!

Interesting to note: It's not so easy to find the classic beige Barbie pumps. On the other hand, black seems to be plentiful. So you can tape over the toe and back strap and paint the middle of the shoe for a complete two-tone effect.

One of my favorites, is the black on black. I used a less shiny black pump then painted the toe with a black nail lacquer. Totally discreet. Totally class!

Don't forget to glam up a pair of boots for your diva!

I fond a vintage pair of Barbie "go-go" boots. I printed a Chanel logo on a sticker. Using a pair of tiny manicure scissors, I cut around the double C's and pressed it on the side of each boot. Chic!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer T's

It's summer. It's hot. And all your doll wants to wear is a simple T-shirt and a pair of jeans or shorts. While preparing the last "Kenswear" report, I was quite surprised to find I had never done a tutorial on making Ken a proper T-shirt. Far away from the extravagance of Haute Couture and all the other fancy duds, the T-shirt is an ubiquitous fashion staple. There is, however, a lot to making a perfectly fitting T-shirt. Since all of my guys need T's and tanks to wear under their blazers, jackets or--now in mid-summer--all alone with shorts, I took my time to make the perfect pattern.

One thing to note: the items on this page have no back closure. So when planning the neckline, you will need to insure your garment will fit over the doll's head. Should you decide you want a crew neckline or that you want to get him in and out of this garment more easily, you will need to plan a seam down the back, and close it with velcro--the way Mattel makes its dolly T-shirts.
For this project, I cut up an old T-shirt to make both the pattern as well as the finished garment. Any 2-way stretch cotton knit will do. 100% cotton is the most versatile because you can dye it any other you want. You could even cut up old socks for more interesting textures. There are a lot of steps here, but please don't be intimidated. I wanted to hand-hold you through this tutorial to ensure the best results possible. If you have previously made a form-fitting sloper for your Ken doll, you use that as a base, cut in a neckline, add seam allowance and skip to step 19. Otherwise, continue on.

1. Cut a square of T-shirt material and tape over the front of the doll.
2. Here is a back view of what it will look like on the back
3. Draw a line down the center front of the doll on the fabric. Also, design your neckline. Since this is a tank top, I've made a scoop neckline down to the middle of his bust line. Note: A photo of an actual tank top will help you gauge out deep you should design your neckline and armholes. Unless you plan to skip the trim, be sure to cut a little deeper than what you want because you will add the knit trim later. Cut away some of the fabric around the neck so that you can work better.
4. Draw around his arms. Then mark where the side seams should meet.
5. Take a second square of fabric and tape to the doll's back to hold in place while you work. Un-tape the front and carefully, fold it over the back at the sides.
6. Mark where they join at the sides
7. Pin the front to the back at the shoulders.
8. On the back, draw in the armhole and neckline.
9. Draw the center back line in the center of the doll.
10. Adjust the side if necessary, then mark the side seams. When making adjustments, use a different colored pencil so you will remember the most recent corrections.
11. Cut away any excess of fabric around the neck or armholes.
12. Pin your shirt together to check for fit. Be sure to mark the hemline. Now remove from the doll.
13. Unpin the shirt. Your T-shirt pattern will look like this when you've taken it apart. We now need to make sure it is symmetrical.
14. Put tracing paper over each pattern and trace off.
15. Fold along the Center Front line.

16. You will notice it is uneven from side to side. Redraw the neckline. Decide which side is the way you want to go, then trace the "right" side onto the opposite side of the shirt.
17. Open the pattern and verify. Make corrections. Just be sure each side is symmetrical to the other.
18. Now overlay the front to the back and check to make sure the shoulders and the sides match and are of the same length.
Add your seam allowance. If you plan a "rough cut" tank top, you won't need to add seam allowance around the neck or armholes.
19. Cut your pattern out in fabric. Pin baste it and put it on the doll to check for fit. Adjust if needed. But whatever you change, be sure to make those adjustments on your paper pattern. (So if, for example, you need to take in an additional 1/8 inch at the side, you should indicate that on the paper pattern.)
You could stop there and simply turn down the edge (or leave it rough). Lamar, in the opening photo, sports a simple tank made from a rayon/lycra knit. Since the edges don't ravel, I've left the edges along. Otherwise, continue on for Marlon Brando "Streetcar Named Desire" classic tank.
20. What differentiates a T-shirt or tank from a "top" is the ribbed edging around the neckline. Unfortunately, I have never been able to find this trim sold in any retail stores, so I began collecting it by cutting it off of old T-shirts. You could also make your own by cutting strips of ribbing from lightweight socks. Most ribbing measures about 1" (2cm) in length which is longer than you need.
21. Once I've removed this trim from a T-shirt, I fold it in half then carefully press it. (Press without scrubbing so you don't overstretch the trim.)
22. Stitch the front to the back and open out.
23. Fold the armhole edges over and glue in place.
24. Carefully pat so as not to stretch.
25. Repeat for the neckline. Turn down and glue in place. Afterwards, press carefully with an iron.
26. For a circular neckline, I take my knit trim and begin pinning it, starting at the center back, then around the neckline. When you finish, simply overlap the trim slightly at the center back. Take the time to adjust everything, making sure nothing is stretched and that the knit is fairly uniform around the neckline.

Here is a closeup view of what the finished result will look like.

27. When you have finished, take your iron and carefully press (don't scrub) the neckline.
28. Sew one side seam. Then turn up your hem. Check to make sure the edges will match once the other side is stitched. Adjust if necessary, then glue or stitch down. Sew the other side. Press out the seams. 

Model T
Again, what distinguishes a real T-shirt from an ordinary top is the ribbed knit edge. This also helps to keep the neckline from prematurely stretching out.

I've not added a logo or clip art to Sean and Zak's T-shirts, but here is where you can have fun with iron-on decals or stickers
1. For my T-shirt, I began using the basic sloper I had previously made for my Ken dolls.
Trace off the top, from armhole to armhole. I lowered the armhole by 1/4 inch (5mm). From the bottom of each armhole I drop a straight line down to the hemline. (I added an addition 1/2 inch (1cm) to the bottom of my sloper.)
2. Cut in the neckline. I've chosen a V neck which is about 1-inch (2cm) from the bottom of the neck of the original sloper. I also lowered the neckline in the back by 1/4-inch (5mm)
3. Add seam allowance.
4. Make a sleeve pattern. Put the front and back slopers together at the neckline/armhole point. Angle them so that there is a wedge opening of 1/4" (5mm) at the top.
Draw a straight line (red) from the apex of that V-opening.
5. Trace the armhole of the front and back + 1/4" (5mm) on each side.
6. Decide on the length of the sleeve. Here, I've drawn 1" (2 cm) lines down from each point. The lines you draw should be parallel to that straight (red) line. The shape this forms is now your sleeve.
7. Add seam allowance.

Because this is a V-neck, my start point for adding the trim is at the lower point of the V. As with the Tank top, I folded under the edge and glued them in place. I start at the bottom of the V, pinning the trim around the neckline, being careful not to stretch the trim nor the neckline. The end point of the trim is simply overlapped over the start point. You can stitch them together at the back.
My oversized T-shirt from the menswear report was certainly noticed. Getting the look was super easy! 
The pattern was created simply by laying the doll down and spreading out his arms. I made a T formation behind him which took into consideration the volume I wanted to create. I made a simple T shape behind him.
I checked to make sure my shape was symmetrical from side to side. I made a "keyhole" by making a slit at the midpoint of the garment (at the shoulder line) which is 1-3/4" (4.5cm). At the midpoint of that line, I drew another slash line running vertically 1-3/4" (4.5cm) from the midpoint of this line. You can decide to put this opening at the front or, in my case, at the back.
You can either make a note to lay out this pattern so that the top of the pattern falls on the fold of the fabric, or you can create a simple pattern piece by tracing off the T, then flipping it vertically and adding it to the original pattern at the shoulders like the pattern you see above. Fold the edges over and close with hook and eye.You can also turn it into a tunic by leaving the seams at the sides from the midpoint down.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Doll's Eye View: Paris Fall '15 Haute Couture

As a former fashion journalist, I can say that I have personally attended the couture shows of Mr. Hubert de Givenchy, Mr. Valentino Garavani,  Mr. Christian Lacroix,  the late Mr. Yves Saint Laurent,  the late Mme, Gres, and even the house of Dior designed by Marc Bohan, John Galliano and the late Mr. Gianfranco Ferre  where I was mesmerized by the genius construction of their clothes, the luxuriousness of imported fabrics and the mind blowing detailing of hand embroidery. I've loved the stories each of these legends told through their creations, marveled at how their love of art, exotic travel were woven into entire collections. But that what then and now is now, and sadly, recent seasons lack the richness of ideas, the cleverness of cut, the fantasy of color and fabric of yesteryear.

In essence, there are few "real" clients who shop this market, anymore. Pop stars order specially designed stage clothes. The houses lend their creations to Oscars celebrations. Even the super rich confine most of their purchases to wedding gowns. That Haute Couture week (barely five days now) continues to exist is thanks to invitations extended to young designers and non-French houses. And while there is nothing wrong with that, the very notion of couture--research of cut, fabric and color--seems to have been overlooked. Today, there is very little difference between Haute Couture and Ready-to-Wear.

Outside of a few key couturiers, I wasn't inspired by much of what I saw. There is too much effort to design the types of styles likely to end up on someone's red carpet and not enough research into special cutting and fabric. Too many things were predictable. Been there, seen that! And then there were those items that left me wondering...."who wears that!" Be that as it may, I may a selection and in a couple cases, styled them differently so that it made sense to me. After all, that is the point to these see, to analyze and to reinterpret into a 1/6th scale suitable for my dolls.

There are too few couture houses from 20 years ago that still exist today. Karl Lagerfeld, the couturier behind the Chanel label, continues to be faithful to both the art of couture as well as the brand image. What makes this collection work is the fact that the Lagerfeld knows well the tastes and lifestyle of his affluent clientele. Chanel is one of the few houses to feature couture daywear--most notably the famed "Chanel suit."

Fabric research is a key element in both  of these Italian couture houses. Donatella, who took over Versace from her brother, caters to the entertainment industry. As such, her clothing is on the flamboyant side. I've not always liked her collections, but for the last few seasons, she has employed an interesting play of ribbon and strips that wrap around the body. The two dresses here remind me somewhat of the basis for one of the ribbon dresses we did last summer. Armani, on the other hand, is a favorite amongst professional women who like the classic lines and supremely luxury fabrics of his creations. The cut and fit of his clothes is flawless, only matched by the gorgeous fabrics he uses.

An interesting group of dresses that for me, is more ready to wear than couture. I kept asking myself if this is really couture. What I do like is the very modern feel to this collection. I'm not sure if today's woman really wants to walk around with points flapping in the wind. And my other reproach is his lack of fabric research. These are cut from velvet which is clearly a trend. But what a shame he didn't get creative with the fabric.

I was intrigued by the asymmetrical tunic. It is more complicated to drape than it appears, but my question is...who wears this and where? Though I used velvet, I chose an artsy print and teamed it with colorful leggings. The result--an interesting rendition of a bohemian-chic look lifted straight from Rosalind Russel's exuberant character in the movie "Auntie Mame"

On the left, an interesting take on the slip dress by Bouchra Jarrar. Again, this looks more ready-to-wear to my eyes. On the right, very pretty dresses that remind me more of prom dresses or bridesmaids dresses than couture.

The original dress reminds me of a prom dress with a corsage. With the simple addition of a silk organdy stole over Brie's shoulders makes it more dramatic.

No longer designed by Valentino, the master himself, there are some very pretty dresses here. Again, I wish Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, the two designers now in charge with the artistic direction, would research more interesting fabrics or consider embellishments...something, anything to make it more....special.

For my dolly version, Kate wears the classic look of a simple, floor length shift dress cut from panne velvet. Square panels hung diagonally from each shoulder serve as a shortened train.

Fresh, flattering and now right feminine, this is what couture should be. The floral prints are exquisite. The fit and flare dresses are full and lush. This is an absolutely beautiful collection that works well for the doll.

A beautiful collection of red-carpet dresses, there is lots of old school Hollywood glamour.

Carmela wears the dolly version which starts with the basic foundation. Around the bustline--a pleated panel tacked down at the side and around the arms. The skirt part (in two pieces joined at the back) is draped around the hips, allowing for an opening over one hip. The foundation allows you to control the "flow" of the drapes over the hips.

It would appear the foreign couturiers know a little more about couture than the French right now. Embroidered velvet, bejeweled tulle and chiffon, generously cut into sumptuous gowns..... Eveningwear for a princess! Now that's what Haute Couture is all about!

Jourdan wears a simple dress with a basic bodice and full skirt. Though the silhouette is simple, the dress is a stand-out thanks to the "bejeweled" organza fabric which was gathered over a layer of sparkle tulle.

At the end of the day, it's all about taking what you see then and making your own reinterpretation!

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