Sunday, June 18, 2017

Return to Camelot

One of the things we noticed about fashion month was how pretty the sleeves were. After years of bare arms or straight sleeves, we are finally returning to fashions were sleeves make a statement. This evokes memories of  the early 1960's, a time when Americans carried on a love affair with Jackie Kennedy, the British were all agog with Carnaby Street "kicky" styles  and everything seemed so sweet and romantic. It was a time when dresses were pretty thanks, in part, to the graceful sleeves that adorned them.

Be forewarned.....this post is LONG! (But it is something many of you have been waiting for!) As with all vacations that come to an end, it took me a while to get back in the groove and it's hard to work with a heatwave in progress. But once I found my footing....well...you know me by now....there was no stopping the flow of ideas. I wanted a little something for everything, so while there are techniques for advanced dolly designers, there are also a few suggestions for the newbies who simply want to get in on the action without the sweat and turmoil. If you have not already made anything with sleeves, you might want to FIRST consult our tutorial on making a basic sleeve sloper by clicking HERE. And you need to review how to set in sleeves for dolly clothes by clicking HERE.

For Whom The Bell Tows

We'll begin this tutorial with the bell sleeve, named after it's shape that is narrow at the shoulders, swinging wide over the wrists. We start with the basic sleeve sloper with straight sides. If your sleeve sloper looks anything different from the one on the left below, you will need to modify it.

Move the (underarm) side seams so that they run at right angles to the hem (lines in red).

The Basic Draft

1. Using the hem as a guide, divide the sleeve sloper into four parts. Trace off onto paper.
2. On the paper, draw a vertical line, then lie your sleeve onto this line. Slash to within 1/16 inch (2mm). Tape the tip of the sleeve point onto the paper and spread the four sections so that the space is equal between each of the four sections. For my sleeve, I've spread them out 2 inches (5.5cm) of each other. You can choose to put more or less space between each section depending on the effect you wish to achieve.
3. Trace around this form to create your pattern.
4. Add seam allowance for your pattern.

For the next couple of dresses, I used the shift and the tent dress. The tutorial was featured in the post, "The Shift, The Tent & A Nod to Lily Pulitzer" which you will find by clicking HERE. The fabric is already pleated. You lay it out the same way as any other flat fabric, being careful not to distort the initial pattern as you cut and sew. Note: Since this fabric is a polyester, I flamed sealed the edges to keep them from fraying. You'll find that technique by clicking HERE.

Each dress is made separately and is joined only at the neck.

1. Begin by completely stitching together the outer dress completely with sleeves in the usual manner. Don't do anything with the neckline yet. Separately, complete the under dress except for the neckline as well.
2. We will now join the two dresses at the neckline. The under dress is not a lining, but a separate dress attached to the over dress. (I don't want the seams to show through the sheer outer layers). So when you are joining the two together, note that the finished side of the underdress as well as the right side of the over dress will both face outwards. The raw seams will be facing the body. However, the seam at the neckline will face down, thus creating a finished edge.
3. Tack the armholes of the inner dress to the sleeve seams of the outer dress so they stay together. 


In a variation of the same pattern, I have created a sleeve with a very pretty ruffled cuff. This is a basic sheath dress (click HERE for instructions), worn under a sheer tent coat. In this case, the two are separate items.

Begin by following the first 4 steps of the bell sleeve as explained above in "The Basic Draft."

5. For the effect I wanted, I lengthened my pattern two inches .
6. For the "cuff" I stitched in 3 rows of elasticized sheering as explained in the tutorial you'll find HERE. Set the sleeve in like any other sleeve and complete your garment.

Monica on Trumpet
If these sleeves look vaguely familiar, it's because, they are pretty similar to the bell bottoms we made a couple years ago. In essence, whatever you can do to a pant leg, you can do with a sleeve and vice versa!


Let's first determine where the elbow length falls.
Line up your doll against the sleeve sloper you've created for her.
Note where the elbow falls and mark this with a (red) horizontal line.
Also note that the right side of the sleeve is the FRONT, while the left side is the back. (We are making this sleeve in two parts so this is important to note.)

1. Using tracing paper, trace along the length of the center line, around the crown and down the underarm seam to the elbow line. Take a compass, put the needle point at the elbow line and the pencil down to the hem.



2. Draw an arc up from the hem, parallel to the elbow line.







3. Draw a horizontal line from this elbow point on the sleeve out to the arc.





4. For the moment, the end result should look like this.












5. Extend the elbow line to the left.










6. Using your compass, place the needle point at the elbow line on the center sleeve line. Stretch it so that the pencil point reaches the hem. Now draw an arc from the hem up to a point parallel to the elbow point.









The finished Front Sleeve pattern should look like this. Add seam allowance and set aside.

Repeat for the back half of the sleeve.


8. Trace along the center sleeve line, along the sleeve cap to the left and down to the elbow line. Place the compass needle on the elbow point on the underarm seam and stretch it until the pencil point falls on the hem. Draw an arc upwards until it is parallel to the elbow point.
9. Extend the elbow line to the right.
10. Place the compass needle on the elbow point of the center sleeve line. Stretch the pencil point until it reaches the hem and draw an arc up until it is parallel to the elbow point. Draw a horizontal line to join the two points along the elbow line. Add seam allowance to your draft.
11. Here is what the pattern for the one sleeve will look like. It sews up like this:

 12. Put the front sleeve together with the back sleeve and stitch down the center sleeve seam until you get to the elbow point. Make a right hand turn with her sewing machine (or your hand sewing) and continue stitching to the end. Clip down to 1/16" (2mm) away from the stitch line.



13. Press along the center sleeve seam. In effect, we have created a full circle  from the elbows out!






14, As usual with set in sleeves, be sure to put a running stitch at the crown to ease the sleeve into the armhole.



15. Be sure to line the center sleeve seam up with the shoulder seam of the garment.
16. Again, lay out the dress as usual and stitch together.










17. The underarm seams you will be stitching together look like this (red dotted line).






















If this seams a little too overwhelming for some of you, I've got a few simpler solutions. Instead of making modifications to the sleeve pattern, think of add-ons.

 A little lace goes a long way in the direction of Camelot!
I simply gathered a strip of 1 inch (2.5cm) lace and tacked it onto a slim sleeve for this very pretty look. By the way...that's a little scarf made from trim around her neck. Click HERE to see it up close.

 You can also start off with a basic short sleeve and gather a bit of fabric to the hemline. It's simple


1. Start out by cutting down your sleeve to the short length of your choice. Cut a separate rectangle 2-2 1/2 times the width of the sleeve hem,



2. Make a double row of running stitches. (Two rows make is easier to create even ruffles.) Place upside down against the hemline of the sleeve and pin in place.



3. This is what it looks like on the other side.





4. The raw edges of the bottom section will face up. Remove the bottom running stitch.






5. Voila, the end result. Attached the garment and sew as usual.







The Saint Laurent dress from the Fall/Winter 2017 collection drew quite a bit of attention. I promised I'd share my shortcut for the sleeves and here it is.

Under ordinary circumstances, this sleeve is made in three parts: the narrow part of an elbow length sleeve, a pouf gathered into the bottom of that sleeve and a cuff. You might still want to make such a complex structure if you are working in sheer materials, however for opaque fabrics, I used a simpler method: a pouf attached to a regular, narrow tube.

1. This begins with a sleeve attached to a completed garment and a rectangle measuring 3 1/2 x 3 1/2" (6.5x16.75 cm) In my original St. Laurent dress, I used stretch velvet which doesn't fray, so I was able to leave the edges as is. However, if you are using any other woven material, I suggest turning under and sewing or gluing the top and bottom edges. Make a row of running stitches along both edges.
2. Fold in half and stitch, thus creating a single (back) seam.
3. Draw the thread to create gathers at the top.
4. Draw the thread at the bottom to create gathers.
5.Slide this over the sleeve and pin in place where you want, adjusting the gathers to fit. If this is not on the doll's arm, you can use a pencil or paint brush handle to hold the sleeve in place as you work.
6. Stitch the puff along the stitching line on the top and bottom.

You can use a smaller or larger pouf depending on the fabric you use or the effect you wish to create.
As I said before, the stretch velvet used for Giselle's dress allowed me to work without having to roll down the edges of the pouf.
Following the steps listed above, I attached the pouf onto the slim sleeve by tacking it on along the gathered stitches at the top and bottom. But you may want to cover the top edge, So, I tied a narrow strip of the velvet and tied it over the stitches. You can simply tack on a tiny bit of ribbon and sew over the gathers to hide the stitches, as well.

An Audience with the Bishop

I've saved the most complicated for last. This is a classic bishop sleeve. Similar to the shirt sleeve, the it's body is voluminous and gathered into a cuff. Begin this sleeve by going back to the first four steps listed in The Basic Draft at the top of this post.


1. Look at the hemline of your sleeve and imagine it divided into into four equal parts. Draw a 3/4" line perpendicular to the hem on the left side (the back) of the sleeve.
2. Next, cut a small placket--a rectangle roughly 1/2" (1cm) by 2" (5.5cm) long.
3. Cut out your pattern and slash. Remember that you are cutting two sleeves and the slash you make will fall on each sleeve's back quadrant.
4, Take your sleeve and open the slash so it is completely horizontal. Pin the placket along that edge. On one side it will look like this.
5. On the other side, it looks like this. Pretty much uniform.
6. Stitch 1/8" away from the edge of the placket. As you can see (by the blue dotted line I've added) the edge of the slash opening is not as straight, it will dip in the middle. What's important is that you align everything so that your stitches are parallel to the edge of the placket. It will look like this on the sleeve edge.
7. But on the placket, it should look like this.
8. Slash at that mid point (of your sleeve slash point).
9. Remove a slither of the excess.
10. Turn the placket under at the stitching line and press.
11. On the front of the sleeve, fold this over itself and press.
12. Turn down the edge of the placket and stitch. Press.
13. Note how this looks, when you fold the opening shut. It's as if you are folding the placket down.
14. This is what it looks like on the back. The top will stand away from the surface.
15. Now, lay out your garment as usual, setting in the sleeves. Complete the rest of the garment.
16. Make a double row of running stitches just above the edge of the hem of the sleeve.
17. Now, let's make a cuff. I used a tiny piece of paper to measure the doll's wrist. Wrap it so that it's slightly loose. Note down that number and add 50% of that length. Factor in the seam allowance times 2.  Decide how long you want your cuff + seam allowance, then multiply this by 2. The cuff for my Barbie is roughly 1-3/4 x 1-3/8" (6 x 3.5 cm)
18. Stitch down both side edges and turn right side out. Press.
 19. Open up your cuff. Pin the gathered sleeve onto one side of this cuff. Adjust the gathers so they fall evenly.
20, This is what it looks like on the other side. Sew everythin gin place
21. Using the pressed edge of your cuff as a guide, fold the cuff over the inside of your sleeve.
22. Turn down the edge and pin over the rough edges to hide them
23. Stitch down.

The finished sleeve, the top lies over the bottom in the direction of the back of the body. Use a snap to hold it closed.
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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Happy World Doll Day 2017!


We haven't posted in a while because we were away on a much needed vacation. But we're back and ready to roll just in time to wish everyone in the doll community a very ....
 
Happy World Doll Day!!!
 
Our next post (a tutorial on fancy sleeves) will be up shortly!
 
 
April and the FDS models

Monday, May 29, 2017

Sock It To Me


With all of the numerous tutorials on the internet showing how to make doll clothes out of socks, I have been hesitant about doing one myself. That is...until now after the recent collections of Missoni began to resonate with me. This Italian high fashion house has been known for their eclectic mixtures of patterned knitwear for decades. It is the kind of look that comes and goes, but right now it all looks just right.

Though Missoni's jerseys are silky, fine and quite expensive, we can have fun by substituting socks as our principle source of material. You can either lay out patterns suited for stretch fabrics on the sock or opt to make the garment directly on the doll. Because this is such a simple and easy process, this post is not so much a tutorial (unless you're just picking up a needle and thread for the first time), but rather...a series of suggestions and tips.

Today, many socks are sold in color coordinated packs. This is helpful in that you can make separate items from all the patterns then comfortably mix and match them to create a wide variety of looks. But you can also plan to make a "set" out of a single pair of socks for a classic coordinated look. Most socks today are pretty thick, so you should select very simple patterns to avoid bulk.

Most socks have cuffs which allows you to decide whether you want the knitted band on the hem or at the waist. However, if it's not too thick, you can always cut the knitted edge off and sew it on wherever you desire.

The Basic Knit Dress
I've done a basic knit dress sloper on a previous post. You can find it by clicking HERE. As you see, it fits perfectly on the sock. Just be careful to line up the pattern against the vertical movement of knit.

This in itself can yield lots of dresses. I've simply turned down the raw edges and stitched them in place.

You can also alter the basic knit dress like I've done with this Patrick Kelly inspired dress. It's made from my knit sloper but elongated (orange line). After you've sewn the dress together, make a running stitch on both sides of the dress. Draw up the thread then make a few secure stitches to hold the gathers in place.

Dolly can wear as is, or with gloves. These are simple little tubes that slip over her arms.

The lovely thing about sockware is that you don't have to work with patterns. Simple shapes become serious fashions. Take this top for example.
1. First, I placed the sock against the doll to figure out how long I wanted my top. I've decided the cuff will fall at the hemline. Cut the sock (red dotted line). You now have a rectangle, raw side up, knitted side down.
2. On each side down from the top from this rectangle, measure 1" (2.5cm) from the top and cut.
3. Determine what will be the front and the back. Fold in half and make a slit at least 1" (2.5cm) down from the center of one layer of this rectangle (the back). And on the other layer (the front) scoop the neck out with a semi circle about 1" (2.5cm) wide. This is so that the doll can get in and out of the garment. Fold down the edges around the neck and back slit. Sew the top edges together along the shoulders. You can close the back with a single hook & eye.

I've 1-pc pants cut from a contrasting pattern.

Here's the result.We can also make a knit jacket. Here, Naomi wears a very pretty "set" made from a single pair of floral socks.

You can use a basic jacket pattern or the kimono (though you'll have to piece on the sleeves because socks aren't wide enough to accommodate the built in sleeve).

Again, my knit band is at the hem. So I need to think about how to finish the neckline.

1. You can cut off the toe of the sock. Since it stretches, we can make our own band from it to finish off the neckline.
2. Pin this to the neckline o the jacket and sew.
3. Fold over and stitch this down.
4. You will need to tuck in the edges and sew them closed.
5. This is a jacket to be worn open so I've not added any closures. You can, if you want, add a hook & eye on the front edge.

When the jacket is added to the pants suit, Aria has an eclectic look of three different patterns that all work together. Tip: If you are mixing prints on your own, make sure they all share at least one common color in common!

In this case, I've concocted my own mix. What all of these elements have in color is the metallic patterns.
The basic cape is super simple and easy to make out of a pair of socks. Even better...no sleeves! You can find the tutorial HERE.


After I finished the cape, I still had enough to make a basic knit dress. This made for stunning ensemble!

For simple pieces like straight skirts, tube tops and strapless dresses, you can make the garment right onto the doll. Here's how I do it.

1. Decide on the length of the skirt. Turn the sock inside out and put it on the doll. Stretch the sock over the doll's form and pin in place.
2. Cut away the access.
3. Press.
4. You can create a waistband out of the toe of the sock to finish off the top of the skirt.

I decided to play with texture by turning the sock inside out. I though it would make an interesting tube top, so I measured it over the top and cut off a piece of the sock. I stretched it over the doll and sewed it down the back.

I cheated a little here by making a gold and black patterned kimono out of a micro pleated fabric. Note how the three textures compliment each other.

The cape also provide an unexpected layer of interest over the black/white/gold chevron patterned dress which I made below.

Here again, I made this evening length, strapless sweater dress directly on the doll. Tip: You don't always have to work with the sock the way it is folded. To work around the heel, I slid the front of the sock against the center from of the doll.

1. Again, I stretch the sock over her form and pin along her contours. Stitch just in front of your line of pins.
2. Cut away the excess.
3. If you find the dress is not fitting flush against the doll in the front, pinch out the excess on both sides and pin. Adjust so that both sides at equal, making sure the center back seam is straight.
4. Cut away the excess and turn the dress, right side out.

The result is a pretty straight forward knit dress that can be dressed up with a wide variety of different accessories. Here I've added "gloves" (two small tubes over the arms).
I borrowed the kimono to dress up this look.


In a variation inspired by Missoni, instead of pinching out the excess on either side, I pinched the fabric at the bust line which gives an added sexy detail to the front of the dress.


If you're lacking time or money, you can buy a few pairs of socks, make some simple items then mix and match them into endless possibilities!

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