Sunday, October 25, 2015

Let's Talk "Chanel"

And while we're at it, Let's make fully line a simple jacket, as well!!

In the eyes of my dolls, this post is long overdue. Over the past couple of years, I've fed them their favorite designer in dribs and drabs. A handbag here. A few belts there. But it was in that pair of shoes with the contrasting colored toes that the dollies began tapping their toes as they wait for me to make that ultimate fashion item....the classic Chanel suit. (My Barbies and their 12 inch buddies just love them some Chanel!!!)

The problem has been finding the right fabric. Technically you can use almost any fabric. The house of Chanel is like any other. It puts out a biannual ready to wear collection that bends to current trends and though iconic references like quilting, chain, the camellia flower and boucle fabrics are usually present, there are also prints, leather, satin and any or everything else may be present. The "classic suit" is also defined by a contrasting braid or trim, gold buttons....or none of this. But it is that cream colored boxy jacket worn over a slim skirt made from a nubby fabric and bordered in black trim that my girls demanded. And at long last, I found something that actually works. Admittedly, it is not the easiest fabric. It frays terribly and tends to be unstable with the grain shifting as you cut or work with it. If you are not so lucky to find a fabric like this, consider a raw silk which has tiny micro nubs.

Now, lets get to the real reason for this post. It's a tutorial on how to fully line a jacket, coat or coat dress that opens down the front but doesn't have a lapel that folds out from the neckline. The technique is simple enough, but explaining it is the hard part. I made and lined four garments all in an effort to find an easy and comprehensible way of explaining it to you. And yes, I did make several mistakes because it is easy to lose your way. But once I completely mastered it, I found it to be an incredible (and super professional) way to line simple coats and jackets. However, if you cannot make heads or tails of this post, don't fret. In the next post, I'll be going old school by sewing a lining in by hand.

For the Chanel jacket or coat, the pattern is simple. I used the basic jacket.
If you have not seen that tutorial, I invite you to take a look because, in that post, I also feature a tutorial on how to set in and sew sleeves for doll clothes. It will be important for you to understand what that looks like so that you keep that technique in mind while you work to avoid confusion.

Let's begin. Cut out your pattern pieces in both the fabric and the lining.
1. Attach the front to the back at the shoulders of the fabric. Do the same for the lining.Press the shoulders then set in your sleeves. Be sure to use a running stitch at the top of each sleeve to help you ease into the armholes of your coat.
2.  Right side to right side, lay the lining over the fabric.
3.Pin the hem of the sleeves together,  the hem of the back, and then the hem of the front, up the front edge of the front, around the neck, back down the front edge of the other front panel.
4. Stitch those areas. The side of the front, both sides of both sleeves and both sides of the back will be left open.
5. Add a second row of stitches around the neckline for reinforcement.
6. Then make tiny clips. This will help release tension and aid you when pressing the neckline later.
7. On both front pieces, clip the edges diagonally at each point. This, also helps you to obtain a nice sharp point later.

 8. Take the front panel and slip it through the side openings of the sleeve and back.

9. This front piece will be turned right side out as you slip it through the sides. You will land in between the left side of the jacket back and the far sleeve.

10-11. When you pull this through, immediately identify the sleeve you just pushed through.

12. Find the sleeve and fold in half, right side to right side and pin.

13.Pin all the way down the sleeve lining which will lead you to the fabric sleeve which will lead you to the side of the coat. You may have to maneuver part of the coat as you form this loop. But by starting with the sleeve will help you to stay on track.
 14. Now, take to the sewing machine. You will be stitching in a loop. Sewing down the under arm seam of the sleeve to the underarm seam of the lining and then down the side seam of the lining and up the side seam of the fabric.

15. When you are finished it will look like this.
16. Repeat for the other side of the jacket.

17. While you are stitching the other side, leave a 1-inch (25mm) opening in the lining.
18. When you are finished it will look like this.
19. Now for the magic. Turn your garment right side out by pulling the right side out of the opening you left in the lining.
20. At first your jacket will look like this with the sleeves still inside.
21. Carefully pull out the sleeves.
22. When you see the sleeve lining, your sleeve is completely out. Repeat for the other side.

23. My sleeve board is a pencil wrapped in a piece of cotton sock. I poke this through the sleeve to help straighten it out, then I press down the underarm sleeve with an iron. Then PRESS, PRESS, PRESS.  The one drawback to this technique is that you cannot press the side seams as you put together the jacket. So you will need to really press your seams down as well as the neckline, edges and hem. Use a moistened pressing cloth if you are not using a steam iron.
24. One more thing... slip stich the opening in the lining close.

When you have finished your jacket, the inside will be as lovely as the exterior!

For the "Chanel" coat in the previous post, I made a slight modification to the basic jacket.
I extended the center front by 1/2 inch (22 mm). I then redrew a new V-neck by making a diagonal line from the shoulder down to where I wanted my neckline to fall.

I stitched on tiny buttons to which I added a rhinestone in the middle. The loop fasteners are the same as the thread loops used for hook & eyes featured here.

For the classic "Chanel" inspired suit. Find a fabric that has an irregular or nubby finish. Be aware that these fabrics tend to fray easily and the grain does shift as well. So don't cut anything on the fold and watch your grain lines.

Again, I used the simple jacket pattern. Decide on the length you want. It's line as described above. When finished, I used a 1/8" (3mm) satin ribbon sewing along the edge of the jacket and sleeves.

My patch pocket is simply a 1 inch square (25mm) folded into itself at the edges. A little piece of black ribbon lined the top edge and is glued in the back. Ad a gold stud (or button sticker) just underneath. The skirt is a simple straight, slim skirt featured here. It is fully lined as shown here!

Want the rest of the look? For the handbags, click here. For the belts click here.  To see how we created designer shoes, click here. And of course....the shopping bags are here! Enjoy!

Next up: Easier to comprehend, but more work--hand sewn-in lining for jackets or coats with collars and lapels.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Doll's Eye View: Paris S/S '16 Trends Pt. 2

There are some really nice (and wearable) fashions on the runways of Paris, proving once again---fashion week in the French capital has something for everybody. For me it provides an opportunity to reconnect with the classics which work very well with most fashion dolls' styles and personalities. The lines are more simple. The fabrics, noble. Moreover, within this group there were lots of little ideas I found interesting to exploit.

What we noticed throughout Fashion Month was an undercurrent of early '60s styles. A-lines, Tents, 2-Piece dresses, cotton lace, ruffles and super short hemlines all contribute to this new wave of freshness. Moreover, getting the look for your doll is super easy as well!
Here Sandi sports the dolly version of this simple tent dress.

Though there was more than enough black and white looks to go around, color did break through from time to time. And when it did, these deep, sun drenched colors looked best. Note also the story extends to easy to wear pants and jumpsuits with a variety of pant leg styles.

I love the idea of using the scarf as a base for the design of a dress. The basic silk square could be simply wrapped around the waist or suspended from the shoulders. OR....tossed over the shoulders and worn freely draped. OR....grouped with other squares then fashioned into a dress with an asymmetrical hemline. Thrift stores are filled with vintage scarves and pocket squares. This is a concept worth exploration!
Though the original Hermes ensemble was presented in a very casual style, Brie opted for a high fashion version. I cut the stripes off of a cloth belt and attached to a rectangle of white silk. Then, using the one-piece skirt pattern, created the sarong skirt pictured here. The top was made from the basic bodice sloper but without the darts. An extra front panel (black) hangs free from the neckline and one side seam.

Following the scarf group, this is a long, evening length version.

It wouldn't be Paris without the clean classic look of tailored coats and suits. New here: the reappearance of the coat dress. An edgier way to wear a tailored jackets: team it with the micro mini skirt or dress!
Dorian in a fully lined Chanel coatdress!!! A perfect match!

Okay, so we know you don't have access to these prints which is the main story here. But the idea is for you to look for these little "patchwork" prints or something that could substitute for the oversize "digital" print. Again, we see the trend of teaming a classic silhouette with RED stockings!

Pants take center stage next summer. Nothing is off the table when it comes to style. Harem pants, full pajama style pants, the look is easy, breezy and a look that's fun to wear!

Sitting at a café at the Bastille....a district where blue collar workers cross artists; where trendy restaurants stand next to art galleries, an opera house and small businesses. It's also an area known for the eclectic wardrobes of the passers-by. Look for ordinary gear worn with an edgy twist. The mix of leather and tech fabric. Ordinary clothes cut from extraordinary fabric.

Kara is totally cool in her look-alike Saint Laurent. This is an "in your face" look of soft meets hard.  A silver lame slip dress peeks from underneath a black leather blazer. And yes, just like the models on the St. Laurent catwalk....Kara is wearing a hot new accessory on her head----the tiara!

This voyage begins with fabric. Now is the time to look at brocade, silk shantung, embroidered silks in deep, jewel tones. Use them in an all-over look for a suit or dress. OR.....think of mixing a brocade with neutral tones like grey, ecru, navy, or beige! But remember, this fabric tends to be stiff, so you'll want to work in simple silhouettes.

Glamour is back but it's all about the shoulders.. A simple silk dress or sheath cut to the ankles has a bit of drama worked in via a sash that drapes off the shoulders.
Carmela chose a 1/6 scale of the Saint Laurent gown. Her dress is a classic "slip" dress with the added detailing of panels attached to the bra which drape down over the arms.

With that, our trend reports have concluded. There are lots of great ideas worth exploring in detail over the coming weeks. Stay Tuned!!!!

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Doll's Eye View: Paris Summer '16 Trends Part I (of 2)

After coming off my Milan Fashion Week high, my first feeling about Paris was that designers were all over the place with no collective voice. Add to that a small resurgence of androgynous looks from the 80's, baggy clothes hinting of the 1990's and tarted up looks from this, the "Kardashian decade," I found myself less than enthusiastic about a market that once dominated my mindset. It was only after Paris fashion week was over when I took a good look at the ensemble of looks I had chosen did I recall that France is a market where designers push fashion forward with experimental concepts. It's also a market that prides itself on luxury brands and timeless classics. And for this reason, I have chosen to divide my report into two: one for those of you with dolls who like edgy clothes and a second one for dolls with more classic tastes. For right now, hang on and tightened up those safety's going to be a bumpy ride ahead!!!!

Sixties Hi-Def
There is a strong hint of '60's "mod" in next summer's fashions. The overall silhouette is pretty simple--A-line dresses, shifts and shorts, but this time in 3-dimensional textures. This is fun fashion that invites the crafts person to take over the reigns. String objects together, consider placemats as suitable material for summer gear. Let your imagination loose!!!!

Urban Hipster
At the base of these looks are urban staples: jeans, short skirts, denim jackets and the like. But instead of the "same old thing" these looks all have an interesting twist. The jeans skirt has triangles of contrasting fabric sewing into an asymmetrical look. Black jeans has a lightning strike of silver foil.
Holy Moly
The story here lies in the materials. Instead of traditional cotton or silk, take a look around for perforated fabrics, lattice work, mesh, screen or punch a few holes (in a strategic design pattern). In short, take a look around for other types of materials (the mesh covering of that fruit or vegetable???) and consider them for dolly's next edgy outfit!

Musee d'Art Moderne
Art is always in and we love how the Europeans incorporate it into their collections. This is quite simple. Blow up a photo and print on fabric. Make a few brush strokes against a long silk skirt or add a few beads or sequins to bring a bird print alive.

Body Beautiful
This theme places the focus clearly on the body. The materials are a mix of old and new: macramé at Balmain, foiled leather at Estaban Cortazar. The shapes are simple and close to the body. But think out of the box when it comes to execution.
Waris wears a scaled down version of this super sleek look. the underskirt is suspended from one shoulder in a two-way stretch rayon/lycra jersey. The top is made from metallic leather that's been given a layer of silver foil. It's what I call--dressing for the 21st century!
Designer to the stars (including Rihanna & Beyoncé), the skirt produced by Balmain is macramé with a top made from jersey slats that crisscross over the body. Liu wears the dolly version. Her skirt is made from vintage crochet stitched together into this slim skirt. Like her full scale counterpart, bands of jersey crisscross over the body and are sewn into a panel at the back.
Couture Askew
At first glance these gowns are.....somewhat ugly.....but then look a little closer and see the beauty in the drapes. It's a wacked out version of high fashion. The materials are still noble (silk, chiffon, charmeuse), but the construction has an off-kilter look that I think would translate into some pretty interesting dresses for dolly!

Livin' Large
The look is voluminous, cool, but still quite chic. Think wide trousers, loosely draped tops and dresses that drop easily to the ankles in a couple sweeps of white linen. By working in black or white, these silhouettes just work! It's an understated way to wear high fashion, without the pretention.

Sex and the City
Sleek, sexy and thoroughly modern, there is enough 2-way stretch jersey to define a new millennium style, yet enough of the body revealed to keep things interesting. We loved how jewelry is incorporated in such a new way with this group. We love how the lines curve around the body to accentuate sexy parts of the body. Construction wise, anything goes. There are no rules (and even fewer when it comes to dolly's latest creations!) Think out of the box. But keep it simple. Keep it clean. Keep it MODERN!!!
Up next---A "softer side" side to Paris Fashion Week.

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Doll's Eye View: BELLISSiMA ITALIA!!!!

In a word....Milan fashion week was.....PRETTY!!! The experimentation that we've been seeing over the past few seasons has halted. Designers here did what they do best in Italy.....create clothes that flatter, feminize, pamper, exalt, and beautify the woman. Think lace, think ruffles.....think curvy, fit and flare clothes that show off the figure underneath. Not only would I want to wear them for myself, they are the perfect clothes that make any doll picture perfect! (And they suit the personalities of our favorite 12" divas so divinely well!!!!)

Short shorts is the coolest way for dolly to strut her stuff on hot summer days. This is a trend inspired by the old fashion bathing suits of the 1950's as well as the hot pants craze of the '70s. Most often they are cut like your grandmother's panties in cottons, lyrca or even leather, then teamed with a pretty blouse, a slouchy top or a bra and shirt.

Stripes are always in, but these take on a whole new dimension. Look out for shadow striped fabrics, "ethnic stripes" of zigzags or imperfect tracks, bar codes or even raffia stripes that move to a definite Carnival beat.

While the Americans still march behind Kim Kardasian, European fashionistas have been long following the more elegant lead of Princess Kate Middleton. In this most gracious style, you'll find some throw-backs to the early 60's, inspired by the timeless looks of Cristobal Balenciaga or Mr. de Givenchy. Silhouettes are simple, bold and clean, sometimes incorporating an element of surprise with an interesting drape like the jacket pictured here from Emporio Armani.
With Europe center stage in the saga of the immigrants, patterns and prints are foremost in the minds of many designers. We're seeing a contemporary take on prints featured here in all over effects and girly silhouettes. The message here....don't be afraid of experimenting with folkloric or ethnic prints for contemporary clothing. inspired by ethnic costume but translate them into something modern by using modern floral or fauna prints.

There's lots of spice added to the color palette of next summer's trends. When looking for fabrics, don't forget to include cinnamon, curry, mustard seed, paprika, chili pepper and lemongrass!!!! You have a pick of lengths. Fashions range from the super short-shorts to ankle length dresses. Pants range from narrow stovepipes to loose and easy pant legs.
As to be expected in heavily peppered with art. We like a simple shift made from a hodgepodge of materials fashioned together. Or think sculptural. A leather dress is draped over the body and tied into a serious of bows down one side for the sexiest dress ever. Consider a skirt with a high waist worn over a simple white t-shirt.

The little black with a fresh new twist! Consider a simple dress with a handkerchief hem, or a great big sarong with ruffled edges worn with a bare midriff top. Or it could even be as simple as a skirt or dress that wraps over the dress like big floral petals cut from rayon jersey or black stretch silk.

Feathers, touches of lace, these are more pretty ways to dress dolly for a night on the town.

Karen wears a taffeta blouse with ruffled sleeves worn over a simple marabou feather skirt.
Again, a very lady-like approach to fashion trends, these are clothes that are silky, soft, flowing and perfectly pretty! There are draped tops over shorts, Grecian style dresses cut from chiffons or soft fabrics (like rayon) that seductively wrap around the body. Even a soft pantsuit with wide trousers belted in a soft contrasting bow is a very pretty way to dress your doll.
Getting the look is as easy as tacking panels of ripped chiffon onto ribbon waistband then creating a bustier of medallions cut from lace, as shown here by model, China.

This is another story starts with colors inspired by desert sands. Jackets or coats are classically structured and worn loose or belted. Evening dresses flow freely over the body are cut from mocha, toffee, or sandalwood silk. Look for shadow stripes, devore or silk satins and consider  tent or shift silhouettes that freely hang from the shoulders to the ankles.
A glorious them of pristine white chiffon, lace--whether cotton appliques or re-embroidered. These are pretty little dresses that flutter, flatter but mostly show off the super girly side of dolly. Why, it's down right heavenly!!!!  (Finally--something to do with all that discounted lace trim you've been hoarding over the years!!!!)
Inspired by the early 1960's, this sheath dress has a bodice that flares out over the waist. Here Laeticia wears a dress cut from stretch lace that has appliques of embroidered lace stitched on top for an added dimension.

Next and final stop on our fashion bus.....Paris!!!!

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