Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Foot Loose!

The country fresh looks of the past few posts have been quite popular. But after the dresses, blouses and straw hats, there was still something missing......ESPADRILLES!!!

Now admittedly, shoes are a challenge for me. My Barbies' itty bitty, teeny weeny feet present quite a challenge for me. Still, what prompted me to push on was the Poppy Parker bodies I used to rebody two of my dolls. The have the swivel feet that wear both flats and heels.....and they are wider than Barbie's narrow feet. Practice makes perfect, so by the fourth pair, I got the hang of things. With a bit of oven bake clay, a little kitchen string and a tiny width of the same crochet lace I used for my Country Fresh post...... I set out to create espadrilles for my beloved dollies. (Applause, cheers in the background.)

Making the standard canvas type shoe was VERY difficult for me. So, instead I began by making a more abbreviated style with the lace which is where I will start here.

 For this project you will need some oven bake clay to make a wedge heel, Bristol or lightweight cardboard for the inner sole, a bit of lace for the upper and some ordinary kitchen string.
1. Start with a small bead of clay. A little goes a long way. Roll it between your hands to create a small ball.
2. Place it under the arch of the doll's foot.
3. Then shape it into a wedge that extends from underneath the toes to under the heel. Make sure the doll is standing straight while you are shaping the heel.
4. Repeat for the other foot. One of the most difficult things is to create a symmetrical pair of shoes. Inasmuch as we are making these by hand, there will be some differences between the two shoes. However, these are espadrilles which are rustic shoes...far from perfection!
5. While you do want to leave an imprint in the clay, you don't want too much of a crater. So smooth this out without changing too much the shape.
6. You can use a single edge razor blade to cut away or smooth out this part of the heel.
7. Work towards getting the shoe the same width as the doll's foot. Remember, we still have to apply the string which will add more width later!
8. Again, you can use a blade to help you shape the wedge heel. Take time to look at both and work towards getting them as equal as possible. When you are happy with the heels, bake your form according to instructions on the package. (230 F degrees (110C) for about 20 minutes is usually the norm.)
9. You need to make an insole. Do this by tracing the doll's foot onto a piece tracing paper. The transfer that tracing onto of Bristol (heavy weight paper or lightweight cardboard). Extend the toe a tiny bit. Flip to create a sole that corresponds to the other foot.
10. Trace the foot print onto a piece of fabric. One for each shoe.
11. Glue the fabric to the cardboard sole and shape as shown. Put that aside for the moment.
12. Remove the wedge heels from the oven and let cool. Then coat one heel with rubber cement.
13. Take the string and place one end on the back of the heel as shown.
14.Run the string along the edge of the heel as shown.
15. Continue to wrap around the heel.
16. As you arrive near the sole, you can simply make loops and continue on to cover the wedge until everything is covered.
17. Now you can come back and clip the loops and flatten them over the bottom of the heel.

 18. Make a sole out of a little bit of a leather or felt. You can trace the bottom of the heel to get this shape. Brush on rubber cement onto the sole. Then brush on the bottom of the wedgie. Allow to dry until tacky.
19. Then press the two together.
20. If there are gaps, you can always work in more string. To finish, I like to brush on a little Modge Podge (matte finish) to keep the string from moving.
 21. Place the doll's foot on the inner sole. Take a bit of the crochet lace and wrap around the top of the foot and under the inner sole.
22. Put a little glue on the backside of the inner sole to hold in place. Then make a few stitches to secure the upper in place.
23-24. Brush a strong glue onto the bottom of the upper as well as the top of the wedgie heel
25. Press together. (I put the doll's foot in the shoe and press down hard and hold until well adhered!)
The problem with wedgies, is that the doll's foot will slip. So we need something to help hold the shoe to the foot. Therefore, I had straps.
1. Place the shoes on the doll's foot. Cut enough string to wrap around the ankles.
2. Tip: in order to thread the string through the lace, I use a dental floss threader.
3. Slip the threader through the lace, then slip the string through the loop of the threader and pull through. For one style, I threaded a single string through the top of the upper. For this style, I slide the string through each side of the upper and pull through. I single or double know the side of the string that stays inside of the shoe, to block it from coming out.
4. Simply wrap around the ankles twice and tie into a knot!
 They're not perfect....but neither are espadrilles!

But what I really wanted to make was a pair of classic "canvas" espadrilles. Imagine, you could make them in any color or fabric!!! For my first pair, I used linen.

Create the wedge heel and the insole as shown in the previous tutorial.
1. Cut (on the bias) a strip of fabric 1-1/4" long (33mm)  (by about 7-8" (18-20 cm) wide--enough for both shoes). Turn one edge under, glue and press down.
2. Wrap around the doll's foot (which has been placed on the insole). Allow about 1/4" (6mm) and cut. The folded edge should be fall over the foot; the raw edged over the toes.
3. Take the remaining strip and overlap so that it falls underneath the top piece. Pin
4. Stitch this down.
5. Place back on the doll's foot and wrap the strip around to the other side of the foot.

7. Pin.
8. Stitch in place, then pinch the fabric around the foot.
9. Cut off the excess, leaving just enough fabric to turn under the foot (about 1/8" (3mm).
10. At this point, your shoe will look like this. At this point, place the insole on the doll's foot. Put a bit of glue on the bottom of the insole (to keep things from shifting). Fold the edges over the bottom of the insole. Hand stitch the edges together.
11. Put rubber cement over the bottom of the shoe upper that you've just created as well as on the top of the wedge heel. Allow both surfaces to dry until tacky to the touch.
12. Put the doll's foot in the shoe and press down.
13. Apply the string as shown in the previous tutorial.
14. Then coat with a little Modge Podge to set.
15. Again, create a sole for the bottom of the shoe. Apply a strong glue on the top of the sole and the bottom of the wedge. Press together. If you have gaps between the upper and the wedge heel, glue in another bit of string.
16. The finished shoe.

And here is the result. I made my first pair in white for versatility of use. But my dolls already have put orders in for espadrilles to match their summer outfits!

Even though these shoes are typically associated with a more youthful look, there's no reason to deprive your more sophisticated dollies. Here, Shakira's shows off her new shoes that match her favorite skirt!!!

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Easy Straw Hats

Happy Summer Solstice! Now that the sun is out in full force, quite naturally, your girls will need straw hats!!!!

The other day while strolling through my local crafts store when I spotted packages of raffia which brought back memories of a project we did at a school I worked for in Paris. The seniors had to make their own accessories for their mini fashion collections. One girl made a series of hats made from raffia which I later bought. The process for making straw hats is pretty simple. You braid the raffia, shape it over a form and sew the braids together.

For this project you will need a small bit of raffia. A little goes a very long way so buy the smallest package available. You will need the hat forms we created in a previous post. You can find that tutorial by clicking HERE. And then needle and thread.

1. We start by preparing the raffia. You want to pull apart the strands.
2. The width of braid you want to create will dictate how wide or fine each strand will be. Let the raffia soak in water for a few minutes.
3. Take three strands and braid together. Knot the braid on both sides.
4. Iron the braid flat. You should create a few braids. The bigger the hat, the more braids. For my sun hat, I made about 3-4 braids.
5. Fold one edge under the braid, then place on the top of the hat form.
6. Pin on the crown.
7. Now begin to wrap the braid around the form, placing pins to hold in place. When you run out of one braid, add another in by criss-crossing the edges and keep wrapping around the form. (See the instructions for the next hat for more detail.)
8. You might want to stretch out the braids a little for a looser weave.
9. With needle and thread, sew the strands together using the smallest stitches possible. The stitches will be visible so you will want to choose a thread perfectly matched to the color of the raffia. (Raffia is sold in different colors, by the way!)
 Here is how my hat looks on the doll from the side back.
You can add a little scarf to the crown and hold in place with a hat pin (or a pearl tipped straight pin).

Even though this is a rustic summer straw hat, you can transform this into something more high fashion.
Here is a simple cloche. I've left it natural, but you can spray or paint it with another color or a metallic.
 The steps are the same. The only thing which has changed is that I create a smaller braid (1/8" or 3mm) and I've used a hat form without a rim. Instead of making the hat form, you can use a small ball or object which comes close to the size of your doll's head. It should be made of something that you can stick pins in.
1. Again, prepare the raffia. Start by tucking one edge under the rest of the braid.
2. Pin to the crown of the form.
3. Wrap around the form, pinning in place.
4. One braid has run out. I added a second one. Note how I've criss-crossed the edges. This forces the edges to the interior of the hat. Wrap the braid around to hide the end of the previous braid.
5. To keep the edges from unraveling, dip each edge in glue and let dry.
 6. Continue wrapping the braid around the form until the very end. In this case, I have wound my braids close together for a "tighter weave."
7. Sew the braids together.
8. When you get to the end, clip the edge.
9. Then tuck the end into the interior of the hat and sew or glue in place.
 I like the simple shape of this hat. You can always add feathers, flowers or small bits of jewelry to it.
Or, you can take a bit of the raffia and add to the hat. Here, I've simply tied a few strands together into a bow and sewn it onto the side of the hat.

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day

To All the Doll Dads and the #DudesWithDolls amongst us......

We wish you a very happy day!!!!
Pssst...introducing the newest member of our team: Nathalie!! Isn't she pretty!!!

April & the Gang!

(The next post will be up shortly!)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Country Fresh!

This is actually a continuation of the last tutorial, "Angel Food." I've used the same fabric and the same inspiration: peasant blouses and dresses the girls saw in stores (like Zara and H&M)  all over Paris. Looking back at the Doll's Eye View report on Paris Fashion Week (Spring 2016), this "boho chic" trend was sparked by looks appearing on Chloe's catwalk show: cool, white cotton tops and dresses trimmed with cotton or crochet lace.

The real difference between this post and the last, is that the fabric in the other post has lots of fluff and bounce and these garments droop closer to the body. To achieve this look, you must first wash the fabric then resist the urge to iron it afterwards. These garments are also trimmed with either  (English) cotton lace or some sort of crochet trim. For these looks, I had some vintage crocheted trim on hand (that I had to bleach back to white). But you should be able to find something similar in the notions department of your local fabric store.

The standard peasant blouse has a "crochet yoke" and trim. Instead of going the route of a traditional drafted pattern, here is a quick and easy way of achieving the look without a pattern! Before we begin, cut a strip of fabric roughly twice the circumference of the doll's body wide by the length of the blouse you desire. For my blouse, this equated to 2.5" long x 9" wide (9x23 cm)

1. Wash the fabric in soapy water and rinse. Wring out the excess water. Allow to air dry.
2. When dry, seal the edges using an anti-fray product.
3. Trim the bottom edge with the same width of crochet lace. Set aside.
4. Take your trim and wrap around the doll.
5. Join the two ends at the center back of the doll then allow for overlap. (Later you will fold, sew and attach a fastener).
6. Cut two more strips of crochet lace and attach to the horizontal strip.
7. Stitch together at the front and the back. You now have a yoke.
8. Take the cotton strip of fabric you first created. Make a double row of running stitches. at the top. Pin it to the middle of the strip to the middle of the blouse then at end. Pull the threads to gather the fabric into the size of the "yoke." I have a detailed tutorial near the bottom of this post to better illustrate this process.*
9. Remove the blouse from the doll and stitch the back seam up to about the waist of the doll. You can press the seam open then attach snaps on the "yoke" and another about 1/2" (1cm) further down

Front to back, this is what your end result should resemble.

Here's another easy, breezy empire waist dress that's simple to make. All you need is a bit of crocheted lace, a length of embroidered cotton trim and a little string.
1. For the "bodice," I've used a one inch (2cm) crochet cotton lace. Again, I wrap it around the bust of the doll, joining the two edges at her center back. Be sure to leave enough to turn the edges down.
2. The skirt part is made using a 3 1/4" (9cm) wide embroidered cotton trim. I cut a length roughly 2.5 times the width of the doll. In my case, this measures about 17" (40cm). Make a double running stitch along the top edge. Pin the skirt at each end and then in the middle. Pull the threads to make the gathers and adjust so that everything is fairly equally spaced.  I have a detailed tutorial near the bottom of this post to better illustrate making gathers.*
3. Add a string to the center front point (which is used to tie around dolly's neck). Then stitch up the back to the waist and add a snap or two at the back.

 It's as simple as that!
Again, stitch up the back to about the waist. Then close the bodice with snaps or hook & eyes.

 Extremely popular is the tiered cotton dress. Again, you can make this dress without a pattern. This dress consists of three tiers, the first made with a 1-1/4" embroidered cotton lace trim.
1. For the first layer, I used a 1-1/4" (3cm) embroidered (English) cotton lace.
2. Wrap around the bust of the doll, leaving an overlap at the center back seam. Because this does not stretch, you will need to make a tiny dart under each bust to fit.
3. My second layer is a strip of cotton 1.5 times the width of the doll times the desired length which I have washed and dried first. (Again, it is recommended you use an anti fray product to keep the edges neat.) In my case, this is 7.5x2" (19x5cm).
4. Gather this second tier and sew onto the lower edge of the first tier.  I have a detailed tutorial near the bottom of this post to better illustrate making gathers.*

*Working with Gathers:

Put a double row of running stitches at the top of the strip.
1. Pin the center of one strip to the center of the other.
2. Pin the ends of the longer strip to the edges of the smaller tier.
3. Working from one side to the other, gently pull both lines of stitches at the same time. Be sure to pull the stitches made by the bobbin) as they are easier to manipulate.
4. Adjust the gathers as you go. The double stitches make it easy to do this and keeps things fairly stable.
5. Once everything has fit in well, place more pins in the gathered strip. Sew in between the two sets of stitches.

6. Here are the three tiers sewn together. Stitch the dress to about the waist. Use snaps or hook & eyes to fasten shut the dress.
7. Remove the running stitches that fall below the sewing line.

I decided to use 4 strips of ribbon for straps that tie over each shoulder.
Unfortunately, it's not as simple as tying each strap into a bow. I reinforce each bow by making a few hand stiches through the center knot..

When you finished, you might want to crush the dress in your hand to keep it close to the doll's body

Of course, the dress or the blouse is only part of the story. Aside from a jeans jacket, dolly will need something to toss over her shoulders on those cool days or nights.

You can create a crochet sweater without the skill! Use the same trim you used for the dress.


1. Prepare the trim. (My trim here is 2" (5cm) wide. Carefully cut two strips of trim of equal length. The length will depend on how long or short you want the jacket. Place it over the doll's shoulder until it falls at the desired length.
2. I close up the broken links with a few stitches to stabilize the edges first.
3. Here, I have used a thinner trim to finish what will result in the hem of my jacket.
4. Sew trim  to both raw edges
1. Place it over the doll's body front to back.
2. Leaving a space for the arms, lay the front edge over the back edge and pin.  Hand sew together with perfectly matched thread.
3. Repeat on the other side.
4. Join both sides together at the back. Pin, adjust, sew.
 When you have finished, no one will guess you did not crochet this yourself!!!
Same jacket, shorter length, narrower trim (1" 2.5cm). I used the same steps to make the jacket as explained above.
Here's the jacket, front and back.

I think this is a look your Barbies will adore this summer!!!!!

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