Sunday, April 30, 2017

For the FRILL of it!

At the age of 16, I was such a girly girl. My favorite color was powder pink, I styled my long hair into curls and I loved everything covered in ruffles and frills. Of course, I grew out of that phase and over time, into my current minimalist mode. So throughout this past Fashion Month, all the frills, the cha-cha dresses, the bouncy ruffles and flirty flounced---I felt a little overtaken by that teenage fashionista that lies deep within.

Of course, the ruffles we saw during Fashion Month are not granny's frills. On the contrary, they're all grown up. What's nice about these looks is that they are very easy to make and perfectly adaptable to lovely dolly dresses.

So what's the difference between a ruffle and a flounce? A ruffle is a made from a wide, straight piece of fabric (cut on the straight grain). It has a running stich at the top which is drawn up into gathers. A flounce, on the other hand, is made from a circular piece of fabric, is smooth at the top and wider at the hem. It has a tendency to curl away from the garment. You can also achieve similar effects by manipulating circles, triangles or squares pinched at the center.

That pretty, green Marchesa dress I made for Akira in my last post was quite simple. This is a basic sheath dress with the shoulders cut away to make it strapless. For instructions on how to make a basic sheath click HERE. To see how to modify into a strapless dress, click HERE.  I added a sash over the waist which I stitched in place. The real drama is at the back.
A double layer of flounces are sewn into the back seam at the waist to the hem. I used silk satin which also contributed to the beautiful way the flounces cascade down the back. Here's how to make the flounces.
 1. You begin by drawing a circle. The wider the circle the wider the band. If you want an uninterrupted flounce, you need to measure how long a flounce you need then plan so that the circumference of this inner circle is the same. Personally, I tend to cut two circles butt the ends together.
2. Next, how long do you want the flounce to be? The measurement from the inner circle to the outer circle should reflect that. So, whereas my inner circle began 1" from the needle of my compass, the outer circle is 1-1/2" further out.
3. Make a horizontal cut on one side.
4. Open the circle and clip the short (inner) edge. Attach to the center back seam and sew. But let's make another garment.
 The girls loved this skirt. You can use the standard wrap skirt or simply improvise by wrapping a bit of fabric around the hips of the doll, rounding the edges at the front hemline.

1. Here's what my wrap skirt looks like. Cut two. One will be the lining.
2. Make a flounce or two as shown above. Cut through on one side with a horizontal slit. Clip the inner circle, spread and stitch around the perimeter of skirt
3. When you're finished, it will look like this.
4. Right side to right side, pin lining to the skirt with the flounces pointed inwards.
5. It will resemble a pouch with the flounces on the inside.
6. Use the stitch line that was created when you attached the flounce to the skirt--as a guide. Leave about 1 inch at the waistline open (so you can turn the skirt right side out). Stitch that little seam up using a slipstitch and add a snap to where the two top edges of the waist meet in the front.

At first I was trying to imitate exactly what I saw in the Marchesa original. Carla's top is a simple tube of stretch velvet with one stitch down the back. I added a bow to one side of the waist. However, this isn't the best velvet for making pretty bows, so I decided to top off the look with a corset made of chunky black lace instead.

So your next question is going to do I finish the edges? Depending on the effect you're going for or your own taste, you can either leave them raw (if the fabric doesn't fray too much), make a single stitch around the edge---or give it a rolled silk hem. You do this by making a machine stitch around the edge, rolling the hem twice so you don't see the raw edges and hand stitching in place. Lots of work and patience!


 Back in Paris, I was most intrigued by the top of this Johanna Ortiz outfit. I love the bouncy ruffles that completely engulfs her torso. After much experimentation, my best guess is that it was created by a series of circles. Again, I've used stretch velvet, though you can use other fabric or even ribbon to make this blouse.
1. Again, I began with a simple tube top. It's stretched over the body with a single seam at the back.
2. The fabric is sturdy enough to stay up on the doll.
3. Trace and cut out a series of circles. I needed about 10 for this project. They are about 3/4" each.
4. Fold them in fours and sew the center point to the top.
5. Sew the subsequent circles close to each other in succession.
6. On each side, leave a slightly bigger space where the arm comes down over the body. Keep sewing these circles until you have completely covered the top.
7. My fabric was a bit thick and the circles kept opening up instead of draping down. If that happens, simply tack some of the circles down in spots so that it has the look you are going for.
8. The sleeves are simply, tiny tubes that slip over the arms. You can, if you'd like, tack them onto the top at the sides.

Her pants are basic trousers in a pinstripe cotton. I added a sash cut from a floral print over the waistline.


I love the red on red monochromatic look from Givenchy which I feels gives this ruffled style a modern edge. This looks more complicated than it really is.
 1. Begin with a basic straight skirt. Stitch down the darts and the side seams, but leave the back seam open for the moment.
2. I took an 18 by 1 inch strip of silk, hemmed it along the length on both sides. Make a gathering stitch at the top then pull the thread on the wrong side until the ruffles form and fit from one side of your skirt to the other.
3. Add a second row in a contrasting texture. Here, I've used red lace, but you can use whatever you have on hand.
4. Add a third row. I used the same silk as the bottom layer, but this time, I ran my gathering stitch in the middle of the strip. Stitch down to the skirt.
5. The skirt now looks like this. You can now stitch up the back, leaving enough space (about an inch) so dolly can get in and out of the skirt. Add the waistband and close with hook and eye or snap.
 For the top, I used the pattern for the tent. For instructions how to make a tent dress, click HERE. (Note: I added sleeves to this pattern which are slightly flared on either side. In the next post, I'll show how to make fuller sleeves which work well for this technique.)  I made this top a length which will fall just above the ruffles on the skirt when finished.
1. For this top, I decided to do a bit of smocking using elastic thread and a sewing machine. Hand wind the elastic thread onto the bobbin, being careful not to stretch it as you wind. Thread your machine as normal.
2. Mark and make your first stitch on the flattened sleeve. Sew with the right side up. The elastic thread should only be visible on the wrong side.
3. Make a second, then third stitch, using the previous stitches as a guide.
4. When you are finished, it won't look all that stretchy.
5. Gently pull the elastic thread  a bit (at the back) to draw up the gathers. Don't do this too much or it won't be as stretchy as you need.
6. It should look like this when you're finished.
7. Using either a steam iron or an iron and a moist pressing cloth, press the gathers.  You'll instantly notice how they shrink and they will now be more stretchy.
8. Repeat this time on the body of the blouse. I made four rows of stitches this time around. I place a pin where I feel the bottom row of stitches should fall.
9. Complete the garment as you normally would in putting together a doll garment with sleeves: Stitch the blouse together at the shoulders. Sew in the sleeves while still flat. Then turn over and sew along the seams of the sleeves and the side seams of the body of the blouse. I stitched about half way up from the hem, pressed the seams open, then added a hook and eye at the neck to close.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Dolls' Eye View: New York F/W '17 Trends

This has been a most remarkable season. The girls arrived back in New York for the last series of collections. As with the other fashion capitals, there was plenty of big city high fashion to choose from!

In Stark Contrast
The stark graphics of black and white make a demonstrative statement in New York style. But not all contrasts are as simple as black and white. There is also the marriage of matte and shiny, of flat and fluffy, and even wide and thin silhouettes in the same look.

One-sided View
 A lot of one shouldered dresses hit the catwalks. But here again, everything is about the essence of this look. Of course, the girls love the one-shouldered tops and tunics that slide diagonally across the torso, but they also like the winterized, trump l'oeil version of a dress that completely covers the body but simply suggest this asymmetrical fashion through the use of color-blocking.

As warm and cuddly as teddy bear yet sexy all the same, Veronica selected this 3-pc ensemble consisting of a one-shouldered pullover sweater, ankle length sweater skirt and matching cardigan tied around her hips (made from a moth-eaten cashmere sweater of mine). This shows up the power of separates and how they can be styled into a variety of fashion forward looks.

Our Furry Friends
 The long and the short of it....for deep winter trends, we see car coats in shaggy furs worn over trousers and over-the-knee boats as well as bathrobe style short-hair coats dropping from the knee straight down to the ankle.

Our girl, Gail, selected a long haired car coat in cranberry to wear over a red, monochrome dress and stocking boots. Gail's coat was made from rabbit fur trim, cut into strips and sewn on a basic straight coat pattern. We teamed it up with thigh high stocking shoes...another season trend.

Jacobs Ladder

This is what the girls love about New York fashion. It's all about quiet elegance with an edge. All of the items here are simple with peak-a-boo cutouts filled in with a crisscross of spaghetti straps,

The Power of Pants
Thin and skinny worn above the ankles to super wide swishing over the feet...there's a wide variety of trousers to choose from and you should explore something other than skinny jeans. What's also important here is the color story.....cranberry, airline blue, charcoal and slate are winter tones to consider when fabric shopping for dolly!.

Shoulder to Shoulder
For the second year in a row, bare shoulders remains a major must-have in dolly's wardrobe. But what is interesting here is the wide variety of looks it entails. It's not just reserved for'll also find them for late day pantsuits and coat dresses.

Prints Charming

This is a trend the girls have noted in every fashion capital....the appearance of florals worn both day and night. We like them particularly in the form of brocades, trimmed with a soft tone fur or worn over a complimenting print. When shopping for fabric, be sure to look at upholstery cottons or even vintage men's neckties!

Arsenic and New Lace
Where lace was once reserved for summer fashion, here in New York, it's drenched in deep tones or metallic then transformed into regal dresses. What the girls found really interesting is the amount of detail and texture in each dress.

Waris couldn't pass up this silver number. The original dress is very simple. The interest her lies in its texture of lace and fringe. I didn't want to be literal, but simply draw on the idea of a silver lace dress with some degree of texture. So I began with the basic knit dress sloper and added embellishment. From the waist up is an applique of silver lace which is also used for the sleeves. Rows of silver fringe were stitched below the waist and on each sleeve. Putting this together was like an exercise in decoupage. More is better!  Complimenting her look....stocking shoes made from silver lame.


Satin will be big in New York next Fall. We loved the fluidity and the simplicity of shapes shown here. Silhouettes float over the body and are punctuated with asymmetrically detailing: handkerchief points, one shouldered tops. For the best results, consider splurging on silk satin or charmeuse!
Here's Meagan in her version of Dennis Basso's gown. The dress is in two pieces: a satin high waisted skirt with a slight A-line cut worn under a micro-pleated sheer waist length top with tea length sleeves.

Velvet Underground
The other major fabric we'll be seeing a lot of next Fall is velvet: rayon, cotton, and stretch. We saw this fabric used in the other three fashion capitals as well.  What's interesting here is how velvet is mixed with other fabrics like chiffon and taffeta.

Old School Couture
Quite naturally, this is a theme which had the attention of all the girls in the house! This is classic couture complete with dramatic draping, big bows, flounces dancing about the body and a sprinkling of sequins and feathers.

I was intrigued by what appeared to be a double layer of flounces cascading down the back of this satin. "Rita Hayworth" style evening gown. The jewel tone satin was another plus. I didn't have green, but did have turquoise silk satin which is divine against Akuri's skin tone.

Fall Winter '17 Summary
After little more than a month of looking at hundreds of fashions on two continents and four cities, what were the takeaways? What should you consider when putting together next season's wardrobe for your dolls?

1. Power shoulders (think Chloe). Shoulder lines are growing, particularly with outer: capes coats.
2. Bare shoulders are still with us. Necklines slide down to reveal both shoulder or just one for an asymmetrical effect.
2. Sleeves are getting fancy.
3. Silhouettes are looser, flowing over the body.
4. Pants come in a variety of widths with more focus on wide, loose trousers.
5. Over the knee boots and colored stockings are major!
6. Color: Red is regal especially in a monochromatic themes (think Givenchy). Otherwise, consider fabrics in  jewel tone brights, soft greyed tones, as well as sharp contrasts of black and white. Metallics continue. But use them in unexpected ways (think Balmain--gold lame teamed with suede or doeskin).
7. Prints offer a nice alternative to solids. Consider using floral prints, brocades or...a mixture of geometric prints (think Missoni).
8. Satin, velvet and lace are all the stars of the season.
9. All the colors of white....from cream and ecru to pure white remains a favorite!
9. When all else is always chic and forever in style!

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Greetings!

On behalf of all the dolls here at Fashion Doll Stylist, I would like to wish everyone a blessed and joyous Easter!

For tutorials and more ideas on hats, click on the following links:

Easter Parade
Concour d'Elegance
In My Easter Bonnet
Belle du Jour Easter Bonnet
Easy Straw Hats

Our New York trend report will be up shortly!

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Doll's Eye View: Paris F/W17 Trends Part 2

Classics with a twist. Here again, we're talking about Paris fashion at its best with a plethora of classic looks to choose from. For this, part two of Fashion Week, shapes are simple, easy to wear with a few little details to set the style apart from all others. The pictures largely speak for themselves.

Red Alert
The story here is top to toe RED! The girls LOVED these red on red which start with the outfit and is extended down to the toes in matching accessories. Again, silhouettes are simple. It's the monochromatic color scheme that sets this look apart.
I really pushed the red by using my red-headed doll, Brie for this look. This is a classic fitted jacket (I used the sheath dress pattern as the base of Brie's coat). It's worn over a simple, red turtle neck top and a slim pair of stovepipe pants. Over the pant legs, I've attached tubes of red vinyl to finish off the look. However, feel free to choose the coat and pants of your choice. By sticking to a single've got the essence of Riccardo Tisci's final collection for the house of Givenchy.

Autumn Promenade
When it comes to a color palette for Fall/Winter, it's these subtle, slightly greyed tones that give garments a rich urban look. Worth pointing out... shoulders, though not huge, are broader than usual, outer wear is swash-buckling, long, trousers are ample and capes are in! An accessory note: legs are always covered with colored stockings and boots!

Checkered Past
Classic plaids and checks also take center stage for big city wear. There's nothing complicated about  any of these silhouettes. All have been created with basic patterns. In this case, it's the fabric that makes the style. When shopping for fabric, be sure to seek out mini-checks or scaled down plaids. In fact, why not take dolly along with you to the store! Note: more stockings! (You'll want make a few pairs!)

Short Walk to Work
 What's nice about trends this season is that there is something for everybody. My younger dolls (playline Barbies and S.I.S Barbies) aren't so crazy about longer hemlines. They like their fashion short and sweet. Think about short versions of wardrobe classics like rain slickers, bolero jackets over pretty little skirts, mini trenches or coatdresses. Accessory note: over the knee boots! (Don't have the boots--make stocking shoes or spats to slip over regular shoes!)

For Kathy's dolly version of this Longchamp look, I used a faux leather fabric to create the circle skirt because it's thin enough to fall like the human version. (It's a full circle with only one seam.) Her bolero jacket was made from a few small scraps of rabbit (from old mittens). I used the basic coat sloper cut down to waist length for the jacket. The pattern is simple--front, back, and sleeve--with a thin strip of leather folded over and sewn along the edges.

Jackie Oh!!!
With trends resuscitating so many classic looks, it stands to reason that designers would look back at the early 1960's for ideas reminiscent of the Jackie Kennedy era. The shift dress, tent coats and chunky suits with below the knee skirts all fall under the influence!

Clean Break
Winter white remains a strong trend. Hemlines are longer, falling from just below the knee to mid-calf. The girls love these simple looks with "couture" detailing--fringed hemlines, incorporated scarves, tailored jackets and dresses with a bit of draping. And everything takes on a more "high fashion" allure when cut in white!
I'll be honest. I was so fascinated by what I thought was simple dress "with a twist." But simple is rarely easy! This took a good chunk of time, several tries and a bit of fabric just to figure out how the dress might be constructed.  Essentially, this is a wrap dress. One side lays over the other. On (our) right, the pattern is a simple double breasted shift that is tacked to the seam on the opposite side of the body. The left front has extra fabric that swings out from the center front then is draped into soft folds that extend around the body and is caught in the center back seam. I used a bit of hammered wire as a belt to clip around the body. I am very happy with the final result!

Jardin d'Hiver
The girls love the florals showing up for Fall. In this case, we're looking at hand painted floral printed satin and screen printed silk and even Chinese brocades used in simple silhouettes.
Jourdan liked the idea of a cotton shirt worn over brocade pants, an idea with Caribbean roots. I started out with a simple oversized shirt and could have stopped there. But it was not dramatic enough for Jourdan so I stitched another piece of the same cotton around the neck and down the front of the shirt to the waist. It then wraps around and ties in the back. The off the shoulder look is created simply by pushing the skirt off one shoulder and closing the shirt near the bust with a snap. What's nice is that even without styling the doll like this, the shirt still looks when worn normally.

One of the main characteristics of French fashion, is that is has a distinctly feminine look. Frankly, you can't get more girly than ruffles! This season, we see heavy doses of them over tops, cascading down the front or down from waists on dresses, blouses and jackets.

This dress has so many elements in the same design, if not handled well, it could result in "everything & the kitchen sink" look. But it works because of the choice of color and fabric. When choosing a look like this, the trick is to do it in a monochromatic tone. In the original dress, the ruffles are cut on the bias and cascade down from the waist and around the hem. But on the doll, the same ruffle will not fall into soft flounces especially since I used taffeta. To give the illusion of the skirt falling into graceful curves, I had to cheat. I made a wrap skirt then tacked triangles shaped into cones around the edge. On top is an "apron" with smaller strips of fabric shaped into folds and attached to a cummerbund that closes in the back. Should I make this dress again, I'll trim it with classic ruffles.

New Age Princess
These are pretty little looks for a sweet, precious look. These are easy to make: a 2 pc dress with flared skirt, a fitted sheath made from lace, a velvet fitted dress with pirate sleeves worn with or without pants.

Frankly, I was amazed at how easy it was to make this dress using stretch velvet! Giselle's dress was made using the knit dress foundation. I scooped out the front but not as wide as the original dress because I was afraid of it falling off the doll's shoulders and...Giselle didn't want to be so "naked!" The insert is a bit of tulle, folded over and tacked to the lower part of her decollete. As far as the sleeves are concerned...I found a shortcut which I'll share with you in an upcoming tutorial on fancy sleeves.

There was no category for Samantha's Chanel inspired outfit. However, she insisted that we could not do a report on Paris Fashion Week without something from this fashion house, which this season, sent out a collection with a theme based on commercial space travel! It's a wrap skirt and a raglan sleeve double breasted hip length jacket made with silver metallic leather scraps and the wrong side of...sweat socks!

Last stop on the Fashion Month train.....New York! All Abroad!!!!

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