Tuesday, September 20, 2016

That Special Dress: Valentino



Fashion weeks are underway and while I await my girls' report on New York fashion, I thought I would revisit a dress from last season and use it to illustrate the principle of reinterpreting a design.

To the layman,  making a 1/6 of a designer's dress constitutes "copying." But as I've stated before....no matter how much you know about sewing and pattern making for humans, the tiny proportions of the doll forces you to simplify, stylize and reinterpret. By the time you've worked all of that into the design, the garment becomes your own. Sometimes I can get pretty close to the original but when it comes to embellishment.....that calls for my own interpretation. Also, there might be times when you see something you like, but think it might be cool if other materials were substituted. For those of you who are keeping a croquis book (sketch pad), this is why it is also important to note down garment details.

Last season (Fall/Winter 2016) I saw a Valentino gown I wanted to try. I love the way the feathers stretch out over the body like a bird in flight. For the doll this dress is a challenge. While the dress is simple enough, you will not find flat feathers small enough. (And even if you do, they will be too difficult to handle.) The first thing I did was to look at the photo and decide what it is about this dress I like. It is the texture and the movement of the feathers against the delicate dress. I first bought silver grey feathers with the thought of cutting them down. But I soon discovered the final effect didn't come close to the original. On the contrary, I thought I could get a similar effect using raffia painted silver.

We begin with a dress with lots of flare. I chose a floor length princess line dress. You can also use the basic 2-piece dress (bodice+flared skirt), but I didn't want to take the chance of bulk around the doll's waist. The original dress appears to be tulle--which is not so easy to handle. So I used a sheer nylon (from one of my mom's old nightgowns). I cut a double layer.
1. Baste the two layers together using a running stitch. Then assemble the front, then the back together.
2. Trim within 1/8 inch from the seam and press each seam towards the nearest side. (Don't press flat.)
3. Sew the front to the back at the shoulders. I am adding on sleeves. (Hem them first.) Then stitch up the sides.
4. At this point you can redesign or readjust the neckline. If you decide to line this dress, I would use a simple (sleeveless) sheath dress pattern and attach it at the neckline. In my case, I rolled and stitched the neckline (like a silk scarf). Though you see her body through the dress, remember, we are adding an embellishment which will cover all of her privates.
 
5. The basic dress will be your canvas.
6. Take a good look at the movement of the feathers and make a rough sketch.
7. With that sketch nearby, I begin to pin my raffia (or whatever material you chose to use) on my dress.
 
8. Pin a little at a time onto the dress and then sew it to the dress. Then pin a little more and then sew.
9. Because the top will overlap the bottom. I stopped to add strips around the waist.
10. I use a simple whip stitch to keep the raffia in place. I'm using a silver embroidery thread. The stitches will be visible and using silver thread will add to the decorative edge of this embellishment.
 I've stitched down the strands to a point. But then I frayed the ends so that it forms a ragged edge of fringe. When it's all finished, I add a few auto-adhesive rhinestones to the bodice.
 Here's the finished result. The original is more of a "bird." Mine is more rustic....perhaps the nest! One concept--two completely different interpretations simply by changing up the materials! And that's how some  designs are born!

Up next....the girls are back with their picks from New York Fashion Week!

All text and images, property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2016.


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26 comments:

  1. That was fascinating! The raffia version looks gorgeous, very much a fantasy dress.

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    1. Thank you S-P. When you change up the materials, you never know what the end result will look like until the finish. But I must say, I am pretty pleased. It looks more "Autumn" to me than the original dress.

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  2. I am always fascinated by your recreations of fashions from the Paris fashion shows. I love that you show us how you made them too. Your version of this outfit is stunning!

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    1. Thank you Phyllis. This blog represents my journey into making clothes for dolls and is my way of taking everyone along with me. In some cases I can apply my previous experience with full scale fashion, however the transition into 1/6 scale is littered with a lot of unknowns I've encountered. Consequently this journey has turned into a learning experience for me that I've had the privilege of sharing with all of you.

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  3. Hello April! I really like your reinterpretations of fashions. I don't know much about sewing, but maybe you could use fabric painted silver. Also, I've seen there are something like feathered ribbons, but probably those are very difficult to handle.

    Cheers!

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    1. Thank you Monstercrafts. Well, one of the things I liked about the original dress was the embellishment on an otherwise simple gown. Silver fabric would have resulted in something too flat. Not sure if we're talking about the same thing, but the feathered ribbons I'm familiar with still aren't small enough and the feathers are far too different from those in the original dress. Also, remember, the purpose of this exercise was to simply use a design as a spring board into something similar but totally new and different. In short--it's a way of showing you how to find inspiration to do something totally original!

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    2. Well, you actually inspired me, because it got me thinking what else could be used: tassel? yarn? I always want to learn to sew, but I just don't have the time. I'd love to invest in an unexpensive sewing machine and start with simple things. There are a couple of thins on your blog that I'd love to try.

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  4. Kreacja jest tak oryginalna i piękna, że jestem nią zachwycona! Sama jasna, prosta suknia może być kanwą dla różnych, najróżniejszych interpretacji! Wspaniała!
    Pozdrawiam serdecznie!

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    1. Olla wrote: Creation is so original and beautiful, I am delighted with it! Same concept, simple dress can be adapted for different interpretation! Wonderful! My cordial greetings!

      Thank you Olla. This reminds me of a project I assigned to my students in the Caribbean years ago. It was to take a French couture dress but redesign it using local materials so that it would have a Caribbean flavor. The results were exotic, unexpected, exciting!

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  5. Hi April, I love your creation and your interpretations of stil and fashion <3

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    1. Thank you Urszula. So happy you enjoyed this post.

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  6. Such painstaking detail. Great to see how you did that. It turned out really nice.

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    1. Thank you, Vanessa. There was a point when things did get scary. But at the end of the day, I'm happy with the result.

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  7. I like the look the raffia gives the dress. That was a good decision.

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    1. Thank you Sharon. I did start out with feathers which I tried to cut down to size. That still would not have simulated the look. So I decided to go totally in the opposite direction with raffia. Though I couldn't imagine what the end result would resemble, I am totally happy. The raffia makes it so special, so exotic.

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  8. wooow, wooooow and again... WOOOW! amazing photos!

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    1. Thank you, Aya. Glad you enjoyed this post.

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  9. Super Super, je vais essayer de faire la coupe de la robe. Je ne pense pas ajouter les détails qui la rend particulière, mais j'aime beaucoup la coupe. Puis, je ne sais pas si je l'ai déjà mentionné, toute mes créations Handmade sont sur mon blog dans la section COUDRE POUR BARBIE. J'ajoute régulièrement une photo de mes dernières créations.
    See you soon.

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  10. Merci, Shasarignis. C'est vrai, la robe de base est tres jolie. Je vais passer voir ton blog de nouveau. A bientot!!!

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  11. I apologize if this comes three times, but I can't tell if my post is getting saved. I think this dress is beautiful.

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    1. Hi Jaye. Thank you for your kind words. I have the comment moderation turned on to keep spammers away. But I did get all three of your messages. I do try to press the publish button as soon as I get comments from friends. The original dress is so pretty, it's almost difficult to go wrong.

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  12. Wow, that beautiful. You really do create cute little fashion treasures.

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    1. Thank you, Brini. I stay so busy making all of these things that sometimes I forget to take a step back to see what all I've done. But then when I think about the "designers" my girls are wearing, I am amazed! (Wish I had their clothes!)

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  13. Hi April
    as a Valentino Huge fan,i love this post.
    Congratulations for your rustic interpretation,fashion is about the details that makes the difference,and work in this size is always a challenge.
    Great choice of materials on this dress.cheers
    xx

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    1. Thank you M-C. I too am a huge Valentino fan for many, many years. And yes, as you well know, working on this scale is quite a challenge. Still, I do like a good challenge. Happily, I have not had to throw too many "experiments" in the trash! LOL.

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