Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Back to the Future: Homage to Andre Courreges

Earlier this year, Andre Courreges one of the icons of French high style left us. Courreges, one of the tenors of Sixties Couture was best known in the tenor of what was known as "Space Age" fashion.
Originally trained as an engineer, Courreges entered the fashion scene just as the youth movement began to impact music, art and fashion. The Americans and Russians entered a race to land the first man on the moon.The Beatles rattled the world with a new sound and look. Pop Art was all the rage to grace the walls in galleries around the globe. Meanwhile in France...newcomers like Paco Rabanne, Ungaro and Courreges joined this cultural revolution by challenging existing norms of Haute Couture with a look tagged "Space Age."

Though it looks rather conservative today, this "new look" was a stark contrast to the frills and drama of bourgeouis fashion houses like Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain and Balenciaga. Courreges was center stage with his Space Age Couture. And though he did produce a bit of gadgetry (plastic dresses, metallic skirts and geometrically cut jewelry with orb detailing), this was primarily to make a statement about his design philosophy and to create the backdrop of something much more profound. For this post (which took me two weeks to get it right), I wanted to focus on Courreges' contribution to modern fashion.
Years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Courreges who told me he loved the color white for its purity, symbol of cleanliness and illusion of space. Though there is a debate over whether it was him or Britain's Mary Quant who created the miniskirt, the Frenchman is known for his white A-line skirts and tent dresses worn with "go-go" boots (short, white, flat boots) and cloche hats inspired by astronaut's helmuts.
Courrege's work was a blend of old world clothing construction and minimalist aesthetics of the "mod" generation. Most of his signature looks featured basic shapes etched with topstitching, contrasting  piping or trim as a way to highlight the garment's architecture.
Pant Suit with Single Breasted Jacket

I begin with this little pant suit. It features a short, loose, hip length jackets (both in single breasted and double breasted versions) over a simple pair of stovepipe pants.
The basic jacket which was drafted from the bodice sloper was used for both the single and double breasted versions featured in this tutorial. (Click HERE for the jacket tutorial.) That jacket tutorial is a single breasted jacket. What that means is that the buttons will line up on the center front line and an extra 1/4" (8mm) is added to the right of those buttons+seam allowance. For the double breasted jacket, you extend the jacket front over to the other side of the bodice. The buttons will fall equally on either side of the Center Front line. Then an additional 1/4" (8mm) is added to the right side of the second set of buttons.
Take the basic jacket bodice and decide where you want the jacket to fall. Pictured here, I decided my jacket should be at the top of Samantha's hips. You can also plan your button placement. Now, finish your pattern by adding seam allowance. There is a small collar to this jacket. Mark on the neckline where that collar should fall. Then measure from that point to exactly the same placement on the other side of the neck to get your measurement for the collar. You should plan for the collar to fall on the bias (or diagonal) so that it will smoothly fit on the neckline.
I decided I wanted a facing (instead of a lining) for this jacket. (If you want to create a facing, click HERE for instructions).
Cut our your jacket. Using the same front jacket pattern, cut it out again, this time with iron-on interfacing. This will give the front of your jacket a nice clean finish and the body it needs to pull off the look. Trim off the seam allowance, then iron on to the front pattern piece.
Sew the jacket, first at the shoulder seams, then add the sleeves, sewing around the cap. However, before you sew the seams under the sleeves and on the side of the bodice, drape the jacket over the shoulders and measure for sleeve length. (The sleeves are short because it is worn with gloves!)
Pin the collar to the jacket along the neckline.
Baste in place, first. (This keeps it from slipping while you sew the rest together.)
Now pin, then baste the facing in place along the front edges and neckline of the jacket.
Stitch in place. Clip around the neckline (for ease).
Now turn right side up and press.
Single Breasted Jacket with A-line Skirt.

Next is the double breasted version of the same jacket. Since this jacket is always worn closed, I decided to do a edge to edge full lining. I chose a wool crepe for this suit.
1. The draft is identical to that of the single breasted jacket. It is simply extended from the center front to just past the bust on the other side of the doll's body. Again, I used iron-on interfacing, being careful to cut it away from the seams (before ironing).
2. Stitch the jacket together at the shoulders as usual. Hem and topstitch the sleeves while the garment is still flat. Now sew the jacket along the underside of the sleeves and the side seams of the jacket.
3. Construct the collar then baste it onto the neckline. The collar should be facing down.
4. Separately, sew together the jacket lining.

5. Pin the right side of the lining to the right side of the jacket. The collar will be sandwiched between the lining and the jacket. Starting at the side seam on the hem, stitch along the body, up the front edge of the front, around the neckline, down the opposite front edge of the jacket and on the hem, stopping at the side seam. Clip the front edge corners diagonally. Turn everything right side out and press.
7. Attach a safety pin to the hem of the sleeve lining.
8. Pull it through the jacket sleeve.
9. Turn the lining hem over. You can baste so that it doesn't shift.
10. Insert a pencil in the jacket sleeve. Adjust the jacket and its lining I use a toothpick to help me get everything down and in place.
11. Stitch the two together.
Hand stitch the lining with the jacket along the opening at the back. Then, topstitch along the outer edges of the jacket.
Add buttons. I used "brads" (found in scrapbooking aisle of your favorite crafts store). I puncture the jacket front with a large safety pin, then slip the brad in and fold the wings out. The jacket is closed with snaps.

A-line Skirt with Yoke.
You can simply draft an A-line skirt or a 4 gore skirt and be done with it. (Click HERE) But I decided to do a more complex skirt for authenticity. This one has a yoke in the front and back. (Full disclosure--I added an additional 1/2" (1cm) to the length of the following pattern.)
1. Starting with the front skirt sloper, draw a vertical line from the apex of the dart to the hem. Cut along that line, stopping at the apex (point) of the dart.
2. Fold the dart at the waistline. The skirt opens up at the hem to form a flare.
3. Draw the shape of yoke you desire.
4. Clip along those lines and add seam allowance to both the yoke and the skirt.
5. Repeat for the back skirt sloper. Draw a vertical line from the back dart to the hem.
6. Cut along that line and fold the dart closed. The skirt opens out at the hem.
7. Draw the yoke. Use the placement of the front yoke at the side as a guide so they will meet up when you make the skirt.
8. Add seam allowance.
9. Mark your pattern pieces really well so that you know which side is up and which side is the Center Front and the Center Back.
10. Attach the front yoke to the skirt front and the back yokes to the back skirts right side to right side. (Wrong side is facing you.) The top of the yoke should be facing down.
11. Attach the backs to the front, being careful to match them at the side seam yoke placement. Press well with seams pointing upward.
12. Topstitch above the seam. Stitch the back from the hem to 1/8" below the yoke.

 13. I added a waistband (waist width+ seam allowance x 1/2" high). To do this without creating bulk at the waist, I used fray check on all sides of the strip. I basted the waistband to the underside of the waistline. Then I folded it over to cover the front and topstitched it in place.
14. Turn up the hem. Baste then topstitch.

The "shift" was a simple and easy way to stay in style. This is essentially a sheath dress without sewing the darts. Click HERE for the tutorial. Important...look for fabrics with texture!
For the glasses, I started out with regular Barbie doll glasses. I simply covered the lens with pieces of auto-adhesive labels. The gloves featured on all dolls were made from the technique described in this tutorial found HERE. And Veronica's "helmet" hat is felt and was made using the tutorial HERE.
Tent dresses were the "look" of the 1960's. The tutorial for the basic tent dress is found by clicking HERE. I added more flare, then simply folded and pressed the accordion pleats in by hand.
All text and doll photos by Fashion Doll Stylist. 2016.
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  1. Woow, your ideas are great as always. :-) Good job my dear friend :)

    1. Thank you, Aya. I am very happy with how this post turned out.

  2. Niesamowite projekty! Piękne i oryginalne! Dziękuję za szablony, na pewno się przydadzą!
    Pozdrawiam serdecznie!

    1. Olla wrote: Amazing projects ! Beautiful and original ! Thank you for the patterns , for sure come in handy !
      Best wishes!

      Thank you, Olla. Happy you enjoyed this post.

  3. All the outfits are fabulous as usual! I'm especially drawn to the cream two piece suit. It's always nice to see great tutorials. I always pick up a tip or two that comes in quite handy.

  4. Thank you, Vanessa. As you well know, it is always the simplest things that are the hardest to do well. I really wanted to capture the essence of this designer and the authenticity of this era. Clothes back then were all very well made..even for ordinary people. So I didn't take any short cuts. When I'm doing something like this, I learn a lot myself. For example, the first pair of pants I made had piping. Unfortunately that added width to the doll's hips which forced me to cut another pair and trim using ribbon! Well...that's what makes this all so interesting!

  5. I don't know anything about Andre, but I want everything you made for your dolls. I really need to know about making patterns. I want to get good at it.

    1. Thank you, Jaye, for your kind words. You have come to the right place for tutorials. There are tutorials for everything beginning with slopers (basic patterns made to conform to your own doll's dimensions). If you click on Slopers under "Tutorials," it will take you back to the basics. Or, you can simply go back to my earliest posts. In any case, I have tried to keep everything as simple as possible so that the beginner can follow. Have fun!!!

  6. Hello from Spain: Fabulous tutorial. I really like the designs Courrieges. You sew very well. Nice photos. Lovely glasses!! Keep in touch

    1. Thank you, Marta. This was a challenging project, but at the end, I was very happy with the results. The 1960's is one of my favorite eras.

  7. I love all these outfits, April, you did an excellent job of scaling them to doll size. I was born in 56' and love mid-century and MOD clothes.....for my dolls,certainly not for me anymore!!!! Great job!

  8. Thank you, Chris. Without giving any clues to my age....I have worn almost everything!!! What is so wonderful about dolls is the ability to continue "wearing" fun styles from all eras via our favorite vinyl divas. It's like having the "fountain of youth" at our fingertips!!! (LOL!!!)

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  10. Wooooo K belleza me encanta todo lo relacionado a muñecas eres genial

    1. Ariana wrote: Wooooo K beauty I love everything about dolls you're great
      Ariana, welcome to my blog and thank you for your kind words!


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