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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  1. What a beautiful doll in red <3 gorgeous :)

    1. Thank you Urszula. She is Integrity Toys' Dominique Makeda Summer Blossom doll.

  2. Thank you for this! Love it! :) -DnF

  3. For the green/blue dress, how did you finish the hem on the flounces? Thanks -DnF

    1. For this post, I left the edges Rae. If I had more time, I probably would have opted to roll & hand stitch the edges.

  4. Oh my, what gorgeous looks! I love the red and blue outfits! Thanks for sharing how you made them -- I might just give this a try myself!

    1. Thank you Phyllis. As complicated as the red appears, it was pretty easy to figure out a version for the doll. But the blue top took a few attempts. I'd like to recreate this top in polyester organza.

  5. Very informative, I may have to try some of these techniques. As usual your outfits are beautiful, but your version of the Marchesa dress is gorgeous! Prettier than the original I think!

    1. Thank you Chris for your kind words. One added advantage to doing this exercise is that it forces me to appreciate the basic design of the original. And it forces me to simplify it so that it is flattering to the doll. I'm pretty happy with how the green dress turn out.

  6. Ohhh my God! I love this red outfit! It is amazing! Wooow :O

    1. Thank you Aya. When I saw the Givenchy all-red collection, I knew I wanted it for my dolls. I too, love this red top to toe look.

  7. This amount of work and attention just makes me dizzy. How pretty! And stylish!
    I love the reference to your own love of ruffles and girly things, back when!

    1. Thank you Jano. From the age of 16 to the present, I've seen and worn a lot of fashion. I guess you could call it a passion for fashion that is now expressed through the medium of dolls!

  8. I'm a girly girl, so I love them all, but the red is my favorite. What a stunning look on the model you chose!

    1. Thank you, Jewell. I have no ruffles in my wardrobe now, but deep down my girly instincts are still alive! LOL!!! I have allen in love with this red on red them I saw earlier this year on the catwalk.


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