Sunday, February 28, 2016

Doll's Eye View: London Fall 2016 Trends

Well.......... I received a phone call from the girls asking if they could maybe skip the London shows. "Everything is either too safe or too conceptual. We're having a hard time finding things we like here," they cried. "I'm sorry, girls. You'll have to find SOMETHING!!! After all, we've already promised our readers a report from London." You kind of expect a little bit of a grab bag when it comes to the catwalk shows here. But this season, the industry here seems to be lacking in direction. Are designers playing it safe due to a sluggish economy? Or are they simply lacking inspiration in the aftermath of terror attacks which has everyone somewhat morose. 

They had to dig, but like good little troopers  my girls still managed to deliver a few good looks like this mini swing coat heavily edged in white lace. (I added the lace to the sleeves for balance!!!)

Linear Equation

Long, lean, somber.... this is a simple and discreet way to slide into Autumn. What you should notice here are the trousers... cut in wider widths and worn under slim tops, jackets or coats.

The Shape of Jackets Today

This is a study in contrasts...a military style jacket with whisper thin lace. A super long tuxedo jacket worn as a coat over a little black dress. Leather biker teamed with an off-kilter pleated wool skirt. The message here...opposites are brought together into one look.

Organically Grown

Texture plucked out of the wilderness plays a dominant role next winter. What we like best here is the mix and match of felt patches on lace (can you say "dryer lint") , a patchwork of fur bits, the wild and woolly shag dress.

The Patriotic Act

Unapologetic, brash at times, playful at other times, red, white and blue are this season's "pop" colors used in a variety of looks, lengths and styles. And so, you wonder.. what's up with those Afros!!??!! It's about having fun on the catwalk, my dear! Our girl, Nichelle wears what will most likely show up on lots of red carpet events this year....a wrap around dress of 3-D sequins!

Madame La Diva

These are commanding looks that make a grand entrance in broad daylight. We like the unexpected look of a strapless glen plaid sheath worn with a matching shawl. But we also like the look of a short swing coat heavily bordered in white, flat lace or even a fur trimmed leather coat with hand painted flowers.

Nadia wears a mini version of McQueen's leather coat. We used a simple basic coat pattern  and cut it in leather then added a few squiggles of acrylic paint for the hand painted flowers.

In the Buff!

The real story here is color....soft, flesh tones that gently wrap around the body in dramatic capes, pants and eveningwear. Nothing is complicated or contrived. It's all about timeless style in beautiful classic lines and fabrics. Below, the dress is conceived as a piece of jewelry. Since I did not have time to think about embroidery, I used, instead, flesh tone lace dotted, strategically with adhesive pearls. The dress is based on a foundation sloper which is set against 2 layers of tulle which extend from the waist to the ankles. I used a pearlized glitter glue to add the small bits of "sparkle" to the skirt.

The girls are already on the ground in Milan.

Before we see their report on Italian trends, hopefully our other team will have something to report from the Academy Awards in Hollywood. See you soon!!!!

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Doll's Eye View: New York Fall 2016 Trends

This season I was reminded why I love New York fashion. Easy to wear. Comfortable and classy in an understated way, many of the items I saw is just the way I love to dress. What you'll notice right away is how simple everything is. For my dolls, this was a bit of a mixed bag. The clothes themselves were simple and quickly enough to make....but....once I finished, the finished look was well...understated, discreet and maybe a bit ho-hum. I still stand by those outfits and "off the catwalk" they are very easy to glam up. But knowing how many dolls out there like to "steal the show," I was forced to add in a few eye catching numbers. But at the end of the day, this was a fashion week that I identified with and could have easily made a few more outfits if it weren't for three more cities to explore.

Beauty and the Beast
Spotted cats, shaggy (faux) fur, reptiles, fuzzy collars...the animal kingdom meets sexy, slinky silhouettes (slip dresses in particular)!

What makes this look is the contrast in texture, fabric weight and color. By pure chance, I found a reptile printed, stamped bit of patent leather. This was VERY hard to sew. Instead I'd recommend a square of snakeskin printed vinyl from the craft store. The collar is a small bit of fur I found. by its nature, it is out of scale with the doll, but the only thing in my house that (color-wise) complimented the jacket. The end result resembles those sumptuous coats from the late 1930's.

Plaids and checks have become a fashion staple. Here, the designers took a novel approach to working with them. Instead of the traditional tartans, look for ginghams, windowpane or nubby plaids draped or sculpted to the body. The Herve Leger dress is stretch and could be easily replicated using striped socks.

The New Sweater Girl
This is the look of sweater looks today....soft, cozy, comfortable, yet sexy and even glamorous when given a touch of fur!
The Jason Wu dress is super simple and shows off the curvy hips of China, an S.I.S Barbie. The trend of bare shoulders continues. This is another look easily made from socks or knitted caps.
In fact, for this look, worn by Estelle, I cut up a knit cap to make this two-piece knit dress. I used my raglan sleeved sweater pattern for the top. The bottom is cut in one piece (as a tube) with a bit of elastic at the waistline. Here's a tip. The collar is a separate piece so the top can be work with or without.

Manhattan Daze
A tailored look is given a distinct girly edge thanks to touches of fur or ruffles. A sleek black jersey dress that works for a professional dinner....this is how today's diva does business in the big city. Look for menswear fabrics (stripes, tweeds, flannels), or jerseys.
A simple top made from the basic foundation worn with a fur collar and a pair of straight doesn't get any easier than this! In fact, with a small bit of faux fur, you can give a new look to existing clothes in your doll's closet!
A twist on the basic black dress. This stunning look was achieved using a basic knit pattern with funnel collar. After constructed, a diagonal slash at the neck was made, folding under and hand-stitching the new, asymmetrical neckline. If you want, you can pinch one side of the dress and stitch in place at the side seam to create a bit of shirring.

From the color to the easy fit, the word of the season is...soft!!! These are simple silhouettes cut from supple materials like soft jerseys in winter pastels and white.
Waves & Ripples
There isn't much in the way of real color this season. But patterns and monochromatic prints reign supreme. You can even make your own patterns by sewing together bits of heavy lace or ribbon to create an interesting material for a simple top or skirt.
Samantha jumped for this jacket and palazzo pants outfit. What is interesting here is the fabric. The original look is cut from a tiger striped print. My tiger stripes were made for full scaled humans. But look what happens when you cut it for a 1/6 scaled doll! The same print becomes an oversized, abstract print!

Like winter skies in the northern hemisphere, so goes the predominant color palette for next Fall. We noticed a lot dresses with longer hemlines and trousers running the full range from snow white to stormy black.
Grace love this black on black, two-piece dress. The top is the basic sweater with a wide neckline so that it slips down off the shoulders. The bottom is a tube skirt suspended from a strip of elastic. The super-wide, wrap belt pulls it all together. Everything is cut from a fine jersey knit and accessorized with long (fingerless) gloves crushed onto the arms and black rubber necklaces.

The Waldorf
Grand clothes for grand events, my girls really went for black lace which appears to be sheer. In effect, they are lined with a flesh tone lining which best shows off the beauty of the lace.

Lana Turner Syndrome

Diane von Furstenberg
This is about old school glam borrowed from the 1930's. Consider this: Furry collars, boas and stoles will be next Fall's HOTTEST fashion accessory. This Diane von Furstenberg look is simply a slip dress with a fur stole tossed over one shoulder. We like this look a LOT!!! And it can be worn over anything! If you don't find the time to make anything new for your girls, consider a fur stole!

This crazy fashion season is underway. The girls are already in London. And a second crew will be in Los Angeles for the Academy Awards next weekend while other teams set up in Milan and Paris. Stay tuned for lots of new looks and ideas ahead!!!

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Gifts of the HEART!!!

How do I love thee, let me count the ways...... My dolls work hard for me. They stand for hours, days, months, never complaining about the workload or even when accidently pricked with pins. And even when I fit a dress on one doll only for me to pull it off and photograph on someone else, they utter not a word. Instead they look beautiful and smile which makes me smile! So this year, to reward them for all of their dedication and hard work, I decided to do something special for Valentine's day. I went to.... Tiffany's.
In the film, "Breakfast at Tiffany's," Audrey Hepburn's character gleefully remarks, "how can anyone not feel happy at such a wonderful place!" I totally agree. When I lived in New York, I'd go to Tiffany's just to lift up my spirits and dream. Yes, there are lots of diamonds and gold baubles, but there's also the works of contemporary designers like Paloma Picasso and my favorite...Elsa Peretti, best known for her sculptural heart collection which is where we'll start.

What is interesting about the Peretti heart (lower left image) is its freeform design. What that means is that when you make your wire hearts, they don't have to be perfect. I bent a small piece of 18 gauge silver tone wire into a heart as best I could.  After forming my heart, I gave it a few whacks with a hammer to flatten, then hung with fine chain around the doll's neck.

Her heart collection is comprised of a variety of items, including belt buckles! For the red belt, I found a ready-made heart, but you can simply bend a  piece of wire (18 gauge in this case) into a heart. Make a V then bend each end towards the center. Cut a narrow strip of leather (or ribbon) and fold it over one side of the heart and glue. Then wrap the leather strap around the doll's waist and knot it on the other side. Pssst.....Notice on the doll's index finger is a ring. I took a tiny length of 24 gauge wire and wrapped it around a toothpick. With the wire pliers I crushed the coil down and pressed each end inward. You can also use tiny jewelry jump rings as rings for your dolls!

You can make your own chain by joining a succession of small hearts together. The bracelet is  a string of tiny hearts made from 24 gauge silver wire. (Note: If you make more hearts, you've got a chain belt!)
Simply loop each heart together and make an S link to hold the bracelet together. Her pendant is simply a fine chain with a pendant of two intertwined hearts.

Inspiration for the next set comes from my own jewelry box.  I love charms! The top photo is a bracelet I bought myself when I reached a milestone birthday. The middle image is a heart charm necklace my mother gave me for Christmas many years ago. And the bottom is one of my charm bracelets. Each charm represents something from my life!

Most crafts and jewelry supply stores carry a wide variety of chain. At a major US crafts store, I found a silver tone chain dotted with tiny hearts and rhinestones. I measured the chain on the doll and formed two rows for the necklace. Then with the remainder, I made a double chain charm bracelet.

Paloma Picasso, the daughter of the late renowned artist, is also a resident designer for Tiffany's.
I found this silver bird pendant (bottom image) designed by her. I also found the stamped metal bird (left) at a store in Paris. Instead of using chain, I made this silver neck wire which I felt was more contemporary, then added my bird.

Look for interesting pieces of pressed metal to make pendants, like this Chinese red medallion.
Simply thread a bit of carpet thread, embroidery yarn or thin satin ribbon through the medallion. Make a loop at each end in the back and attach an S link to close.

If you have Fashion Royalty dolls whose hands come off (handspeak system), beads with large holes make for very pretty bracelets. The hole should be about 3/8 inch (7 mm) though you might get away with a 6mm hole.

For 16" dolls, look for beads with a minimum of 1/2" inch (12mm) holes. And....consider small (human) rings, as well!

Diamonds are a Doll's Best Friend...

Trust me.... they'll settle for ANYTHING that sparkles including those glitter shoes we made in the last post!!!
On her wrist, I took an ordinary plastic Barbie bracelet and gave it a coat of glitter. Rhinestone letters or symbols (generally sold in crafts stores) slipped onto a strip of leather makes for a glamorous belt or neck cuff.

Hollywood! Holly Would!!!
Nothing says rock star like a pair of wing tipped glittery eyeglasses! These were made from two weights of wire, then coated with glue and dipped in silver glitter!

1. To make the glasses, I used a 18 gauge wire for the top and legs. Form an M that spans the width of the doll's face and a bit more.
2. Bend the sides back and place on the doll's face. Make any adjustments needed.
3. Now take a thinner this case I used a 24 gauge wire. Wrap around one corner. Form a loop and wrap around the center. Form another loop then wrap around the opposite corner and cut. Adjust the loops over the eyes and using your pliers, squeeze the thinner wire into each corner.
For this pair of glasses, I used a textured, novelty wire for the top. This makes for a nice looking pair of glasses by themselves. For the Hollywood version, I used ordinary smooth wire, then coated the finished frames with glue and glitter.

Jewelry isn't the only thing Tiffany's sells. There are also handbags, like this one in the store's signature color!

For tips on making this bag, look at this tutorial to see how we made one that's similar (the purple bag near the bottom of that post.)
Before leaving the neighborhood, a handbag in Valentino's window caught my eye.
Love this clutch bag and I had an extra bird. So I folded a small piece of leather into an envelope handbag and glued on the bird! The diagonal cut, I felt, made the design more dynamic!
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