Friday, August 28, 2015


As much as I love the sophistication of discreet design, it's the child in me who continues to be attracted to things that sparkle and shine. At long last, this child decided to explore those packages of shiny foil that have caught my eye in craft stores for years. This project looks at foiling on fabric and I will tell you straight away, I had TOO MUCH FUN!!!! Moreover...I have lots of photos to prove it!

Foiling is a process whereby you apply tacky glue to a surface, allow it to dry, press a bit of colored foil over the design, then rip away to delight in the results. In an instant you can add a bit of glamour to any garment. What is absolutely incredible with this process is that even when you mess up (and I did many times), everything still looks fabulous!  I started off small. Went to something big. And before I knew it, I wanted to gild EVERYTHING.

Start Small
Foil is sold in either small packs of sheets or rolls and comes in a small variety of metallic colors. It differs from gold leaf in that it is simpler to use, does not require a topcoat and is more stable for use on fabric. For the T-shirts I found it more convenient to cut off small squares, however you don't really need to cut small squares because you can use the sheet over and over until all of the foil has been rubbed or ironed off the sheet. For glue, I used Mod Podge and tried glitter glue (which did not work well for me). But admittedly I'd like to try other types of glue because each fabric reacts differently. Nevertheless, I was pretty happy with the results obtained.

1. You can use a stencil. Google "stencils" to find a wide variety of free templates. Size them in your image editor and then print them out onto freezer paper. You can also draw your own directly onto the freezer paper.
2. Use an Xacto blade or smaller cutter with break of points to cut out your design.
3. Place the stencil on the fabric. You can do this on the flat unassembled pattern piece or an existing garment. For the latter, be sure to place a small piece of cardboard in between the layers to keep from gluing them together.
4. Press the freezer paper stencil onto the fabric using a hot (no steam) iron.
5. Apply a light layer of glue onto the design.
6. Immediately and carefully, remove the stencil (while the glue is still wet). Allow glue to dry. (The design will be clear not milky white.)
7. Foil has two sides: a shiny color sideup and a dull, pearly silver side down.
8. Place the foil shiny side up over the motif. The dull side will be touching the fabric.
9. Press with the iron for about 30 seconds. If your fabric is thick, you might also want to press the underside of the fabric. Let cool a bit.
10. Rip off the film. If there are spots or it didn't completely cover, you can lay a fresh spot over the design and iron again. Here, my star came out perfectly.
11. You don't have to use a stencil. You can also write or draw a design freehand directly with the glue. Allow to dry then repeat steps 8-10.

Simple & Sophisticated

Instead of fancy designs or stencils, sometimes a simple brush stroke is all that's needed to make a strong statement.
For Liu, my new Asian model, I made a long jersey tube skirt. I inserted cardboard to protect the bottom layer from the top. Then with a brush and Mod Podge, I made a long, inverted S stroke over the length of the skirt. The top has a quick scribble on one end of the top tied over her bust.

Stamped for Approval

This was not my most successful effort, though I still loved the result. I decided to try a rubber stamp (dragon design).

1. First, I plotted the design. I cut out my dress (a sheath with kimono sleeves) then pinned it on the doll. I cut out circles of aluminum foil and played around with them to see how I wanted to pattern to repeat. I pinned them where I wanted them to fall.
2. I unpinned the garment then laid it out flat. One by one, I unpinned each circle and pressed the glue moistened stamp onto my garment.

3. This did not come out exactly how I envisioned it because... You should use either a roller or a sponge to apply the glue to the stamp. But in my first attempt on another scrap of fabric, the result was a tad too light and I couldn't see my design. So this time around, I added much more glue---too much--which filled the crevices around the design of the stamp, resulting in circular blobs. I was still happy, but decided to re-foil the empty spots using a contrasting color of foil (copper) for a two toned effect. Hey, I'm happy, Helena's happy and that's all that counts!
My stamped pattern wraps around the neck and one sleeve.

Over Print

Here I began with a silk chiffon print shirt I had made for another project. I cut a rose stencil then flattened out the shirt. I painted on the glue and applied silver foil.
The photos don't do this garment justice. Though it's difficult to see the quality of the result in my photo, this is absolutely stunning. There is a silver silhouette of a rose over the sheer print.
I didn't stop there. I made a simple straight skirt out of a grey tweed. I simply made a few broad brush strokes to one side of the skirt.
Together with the shirt, this is what it looks like!

Uptown Girl

I could not stop. For my last garment, I made a couture gown out of copper toned silk organza. Then using my rose stencil, I foiled part of the dress.
I'm happy with the way the stenciled pattern came out, but I would like to try another type of glue the next time around. The Mod Podge created an "areole" around the design which I will later disguise by outlining it beads or some other embellishment.

Final Notes:
You can foil most any material including leather and rubber. You can also add foil to the tips of an existing textile patterned fabric and thus make it your own! 
Though the instructions on the packet of foil tells you to burnish the foil with a hard edge instrument or a credit card, it is largely a technique best for non-textile surfaces. Heat is better for permanently bonding the foil the fabric.
If you're very careful, the stencil can be reused, though you will need to put a layer of parchment paper on top to keep the iron from sticking to the build-up of glue.

Reuse the foil until all the metallic is gone.
The final result will be as thin or thick as the glue you lay down first. When dry the design is a wee bit stiff.
Create stripes or polka dots by using strips of double stick tape or glue spots.
You can keep reusing the sheets until all of the specks of foil have been pulled away from the cellophane.
When it comes to fine silks I would suggest making a small test before committing to the entire garment.
Finally, be matter how unskilled you think you are....foiling stirs the creative beast that lies deep within and provides an immediate and immense sense of satisfaction!!!!!

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sun Spots

The dog days of summer are fading fast. But there's still time to have some fun in the sun with this fast and easy project. Even if you feel that designing a textile print for your doll is more than you can handle, here is a way to express your creative side without being able to draw a straight line! It's called "Sun Stenciling" and it's easy!

For this project you will need fabric of your choosing. For the outfit pictured here, I used a China silk for the top and a medium weight cotton for the sarong skirt. You will need fabric paint, a foam brush and leaves or flower petals. Make a nice, flat surface to work on, protected with wax paper or non-cling plastic. You might also need a few straight pins and, yes, I almost forgot.....lots of bright sunshine, preferably between high noon and 4pm.

1. Make a paint wash--50 percent paint with 50 percent water. The paint should not be thick. Acrylics will also work though they might render your fabric a tad less soft.
2. Wet your fabric and lay it flat on the surface. Brush on your paint. You can mix the colors if you'd like.
3. Lay the leaves and petals on the fabric and press into the paint. Make sure they are in contact with the paint. You can use straight pins if the stems won't lay flat.
4. Leave everything exposed in the bright sunlight for a couple hours. Have a glass of wine; find something else to do around the house while the sun does its job. Then when the fabric is completely dry, remove the leaves. You could stop here and make your fabric into a garment now......or......

You could embellish! Here, I've used a 3-D fabric paint squirted right out of the bottle to draw "veins" in the center of the leaves. Let dry for a few hours and enjoy the satisfaction of having created a unique and creative fabric design all by yourself!!!!!
Don't put those brushes away just yet. I've got one more fun technique arriving on the heels of this one which I guarantee will "light up" your day!!!!! Stay tuned!!!
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Friday, August 14, 2015

First Impressions

For centuries, fashion designers only needed to concern themselves with the design, silhouette and construction of garments. And then came the 1990's a time when young designers in France were called upon to lend ideas for textiles. The truth is, most garments we wear today, are super simple in line (as you've learned through reading my blog) and the most important thing that differentiates one style from another is the fabric. This is all to say that, even  if you've only mastered one or two patterns, that's okay. You can make the same pattern look different by getting creative with the fabric, which, by the way, you can design yourself!

We've already explored a few fabric manipulations: permanent pleating, dip dying (aka. ombre) and printing fabric using your inkjet printer. There are other "old school" methods which I would like to explore over the next few posts. One of them is the method of copying an image to fabric using a transfer medium sold under a variety of brand names (Modge Podge, Liquidex Gel, Picture This, just to name a few.) While those iron-on transfu;er sheets are less messy and perhaps, easier to use, transfer medium does not not require a computer or printer. It is a product which interacts with printed images (produced by a powder toner source like laser printers and photocopiers) and binds permanently onto the fabric. It is pointless to use any fancy fabric since the end result ignores the original material's properties and simply leaves a new surface that lays on top which is somewhat less plastic than the results from the iron-on sheets. So feel free to use muslin or a lightweight cotton as your base.  One other thing--you can also apply a logo, photo or medallion directly to an existing garment so long as it is washable.

Full sheet image

Let's get started. For this project you will need some sort of "Transfer Medium" which can be found in crafts stores, along with a sponge brush, water, and a board or surface lined with waxed paper or non-cling plastic (to keep the mess to a minimum). There are a number of ways we can go with this. My first thought was to create a page of a print. For this, I used a photo of a rose with the intent of creating an abstract print to be used for a jacket. I planned to create the printed fabric, then lay out my pattern and cut out create the jacket.

1. Make a photocopy of your photo. Inkjet images will not work. You can also use images from magazines or newspapers so long as they use powder based toners. Apply the medium thickly over the image.
2. When you are finished, you should not be able to see the image. Place the coated imaged onto the fabric and with your fingers, smooth out the paper side, to ensure there are no bubbles or wrinkles. Wipe away any excess product. Allow to dry for several hours or overnight.
3. Wet the paper. Wait a minute for the water to be fully absorbed, then carefully rub the paper away from the image.
4. If the paper starts to dry out before you are finished, spray the paper with more water and continue. You know when you are finished with the paper no longer peels away. Allow your fabric to completely dry then lay out your pattern, cut and assemble.

Mistakes I made:  I did not everything out on the paper side and as a result, there were wrinkles in the paper which set in the fabric. I also did not apply an even thick layer. As a result, the wrinkles were imbedded in the final finish and, while rubbing the paper away, I rubbed part of the image away as well. Nonetheless, I decided I liked what appeared to be veins running through the image which,  I can opt to replicate or avoid the next time around.

One of the more lovely ways Barbie can wear pink!
Placed Motif
I made the skirt using a photo of a rose I clipped out of a magazine. This time, instead of the image covering the fabric, I wanted a "placed motif." I used a satin because I thought the contrast between the coating and the shiny fabric would be interesting. I positioned the image so that the center of the rose would fall at the center front of the skirt.
Proceed using the steps described above.
When you have finished, you will notice how "washed out" the image appears (middle photo).  I use a tiny, tiny bit of hand crème directly on the image to bring the colors back up. (bottom image)
Renee is wearing an ombre wrapped blouse we created in another post. I think the jacket and skirt with the two different rose treatments is quite interesting!

Spot Printing
That was quite an ambitious project. I would strongly recommend your starting with something making a logo or an image for a T-shirt.
1. You can download an existing image or use a photo you've taken already. For this project I'm using the Anne Klein logo and an existing tank top. Be sure you slide a small piece of waxed paper to keep everything from bleeding or sticking to the back side of the garment.
1. Cut out your logo.
2. Apply the transfer medium to the logo, smooth out to remove bubbles and pleats then allow to dry thoroughly.
3. When completely dry, wet the patch.
6. Gently rub away the paper.
7. Allow to dry
As you see, any image can be applied to either a light or dark garment. I will say that, until you master the technique, this medium tends to be quite messy, so you might want to stick to the light backgrounds for the moment. One other note: your image will be slightly "worn" so it's best to chose images that lend themselves to a "vintage look."
All the news that's fit to print.....Printing A la carte
For my "newspaper" garment, I decided to cut the photocopy to fit the pattern pieces, which was not only easier, but saved time. The processes are identical to those above. Just remember to
1. Make a mirror image of text!
2. Cover each piece thickly with product. Lay it on the surface of each pattern piece.

3. Let dry for several hours. Wet the paper and allow for the water to be absorbed.
4. Rub away the paper carefully. Allow to dry
Assemble the garment.

Sheer Patterns
I know this may be too messy or complicated for some of you, so I will give you an idea for your favorite iron-on transfer paper method. Let's think about creating a sheer fabric with floral appliques.

For this I used a polyester organza (also known as crystal polyester) and an iron-on transfer sheet on which I have printed out an assortment of flowers in two sizes.

I cut out each flower and scattered them alongside of one edge of my sheer fabric. The fabric is placed on a piece of heavy cardboard and each flower is ironed in place. The impression comes through to the other side. With this I fashion my dress which appears to have pressed flowers trapped within the folds.

More dolly textiles to follow! Stay tuned!

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers

After two and half years of cranking out a blog post every week to 10 days, my dolls finally unchained me from my desk and granted me two, much needed weeks of vacation which I spent wining and dining with family in San Francisco. Since I returned from my trip, however, I've had mucho problems getting back into my current time zone and shaking off the lazy habits I developed over 14 days. As a result, the post I'm working on is taking a little longer than anticipated. I promise, it will be up in a day or two and I guarantee you will enjoy it because I will be showing you more methods of printing your own fabric.

In the meantime, I've noticed the "Sisterhood of the World Bloggers" tag that has been going around the blogosphere. So, instead of waiting to be tagged, I decided to jump ahead and provide answers to the questions posed.

1. Do you collect anything other than dolls?
Yes. I'm a child at heart and as such, I also LOVE pop-up books. Below was an early attempt of showing off both collections.
Janice poses in front of the book, "600 Black Spots" by David Carter.

Brandy poses in front of Architect, Frank Ghery's Pop Up book.
2. Why did you start a doll blog.
I had a plan to write a book. Along the way, the blog took total control of my time.

3. What doll line is your favorite.
I love ALL my dolls. (Needed to say that to keep the peace in the dolls.) But as far as a line is concerned, I'd have to say Integrity Toys Fashion Royalty. It is a doll company that doesn't rest on past laurels. Their dolls evolve with the times. The W club is brilliant from a marketing point of view and I think this company has a strong fashion brand image thanks to its creative director, Jason Wu, a world renowned fashion designer.

4. What is your favorite doll accessory.
The original question refers to the American Girl doll, which I do not collect. However if I were 9 years old, Santa would be bringing me this doll and everything that comes with her. I love the concept of matching outfits for the little girl and her doll. Now, as far as what doll accessory is my favorite for the types of dolls I collect--that would be shoes. I find the ones produced by FR and Tonner to be exceptionally made. I still have not figured out how they make shoes with soles that tiny!

5. Do you know how many dolls you have.
I know exactly how many. It's not what the average collector has, but I'm too scared to tell the non-collector for fear they'll think I'm crazy. Moreover, I know I'm not nearly at the end of my doll purchasing!

6. Do you play any instruments?
When I was in elementary school, I studied classical piano for 6 years.

7. What is the most favorite place I've ever been.
That would be Paris France, my adopted country.

8. What is your favorite thing about yourself.
That I am a well balanced and creative person who still has a lot of common sense.

9. Favorite book or movie?
Cabaret with Lisa Minelli; Breakfast at Tiffany' with Audrey Hepburn and Alfred Hitchcock's Rear View Window with Grace Kelly.

10. If you could design your own doll, what would it look like.
I think the doll companies are doing an incredible job as it is. I wouldn't want to compete against FR or Superdoll (the Syberites). However...if I could design a special collection of dolls they would be based on supermodels past and present.

I now tag the following bloggers with the same questions as those above:
1. Billa (Billa's Dolls & Fashions)
2. Vanessa (Fashion dolls at Van's Doll Treasures)
3. Sarah (Sarah Plays Dolls)
4. Shasarignis (Shasarignis Barbie & Co)
5. Miniature Clothing

In the meantime, I should have the next post up within the next couple days! Stay Tuned!!!!