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 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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Monday, May 15, 2017

Shoulder to Shoulder

In fashion, everything old becomes new once again. The 1980's are making a comeback...a little bit at a time....starting with big shoulders. We saw a brief appearance of these "power shoulders" last year. A few more six months later. And then again, a few more this past fashion month....most notably on a cape by the house of Chloe in Paris.

Making this cape was pretty simple. I took the pattern for the cape (click HERE to find it) and simply lifted and squared off the shoulders. Easy!

But when it comes to putting big shoulders on dolly garments with sleeves, I needed to slow down a bit and find an easy solution that works best for our 12 inch divas.

First, let's talk shoulders. In human beings, the spine becomes part of the neck and holds up the head. From the clavicle or shoulder bone, the rest of the skeleton is suspended. The area between the base of the neck and the shoulder appears to be a diagonal slope due to a triangular mass of muscles (deltoids). A garment with shoulder pads gives the illusion of a squared off if the head and neck have popped up like a mushroom from the shoulders. Since fashion dolls are made in our image (more or less), they have the same morphology. The green area shows how this modified shoulder line (through pattern manipulation and a pad) squares off the look of the garment. There are two main types of big shoulders: squared off (with set in sleeves) and round (with raglan sleeves)

Squaring Off!
For this very tailored look, made famous by the late French haute couturier, Yves St. Laurent, I began by making a new set of slopers from our basic ones by modifying the shoulder line.

1. Line up the front and back slopers so that the tips of the shoulders (top of the neck and top of the armhole) line up. Make sure the center front and center back lines are straight.
2. Raise the tip of the shoulder line at the top of the armhole so that it lines up, horizontally with the tip of the neckline on both the front and back sloper. The width of this line is the same as the original shoulder line+1/8" (3mm) so that it extends slightly past the doll's shoulder line. (Make a note as to how much you raised this point vertically, so that you can lengthen your sleeve cap later on!) For the moment notice the difference between the length of our front as opposed to the back slopers.
3. Flip the front sloper over. Lay it on top of the back sloper, lining it up along the side seam. Note the difference in height between the front and back. (With mine, there is a difference of 1/4" or 6mm.) Find the midpoint. (In my case, it's 1/8" or 3mm.)
4. Since the back is higher than the front, I lower the back by 1/8" (3mm) and raise the front shoulder line by 1/8" (3mm). This is so that there is a front to back balance between the two slopers on the shoulders.
5. You will also need to lower the existing armhole by 1/8" (3mm) to accommodate a sleeve. This is what my new sloper looks like. (To make a pattern, you will need to add seam allowance, of course.)

Because we have more space in the armhole, you will need a sleeve with a deeper cap.
1. Trace the sleeve cap.
2. Raise it as much as you raised the the shoulder line plus the 1/8" (3mm) representing the lowered armhole. For me, that meant I raised mine 5/8" (1/2"+1/8") or 9mm (6+3mm).
3. Create your new sleeve by tracing around the modifications, rounding the line as it gets to the bottom of the sleeve cap.
4. My final sleeve for this exaggerated sleeve resembles this. Add seam allowance to make your pattern.

If your fabric has enough body, you may not need shoulder pads, but if your shoulders are not holding up, you can insert a pat at this point BEFORE you line your garment.

Rounding Out the Difference
For round power shoulders, think football players! For garments with round shoulders you will need to use patterns with raglan sleeves (click HERE to learn more).

1. Start by using the squared off slopers we just created. Make a point midway on the neckline of the front and back necklines. Make another 1/8" (3mm) below the bottom of the armhole. Draw a diagonal line between the two points. In the front, you should curve the line upwards a bit midway. Mark the areas above this line A for the front and B for the back. Also note the direction with arrows. Cut away and set aside.
2. Your bodice should resemble this.
3. Take the top pieces (A and B) and line then along the top of the sleeve sloper. Starting at the midpoint of the sleeve, lay each piece with the armhole touching the sleeve cap as shown in the diagram.
4. Trace around to create the pattern and add your seam allowance.

This is a look that works well particularly for jackets and coats. Here too, we can add shoulder pads to give the look a bit of a lift and more structure.

Padded Sells

The rule is simple. Rounded pads for round shoulders and square pads for square shoulders. I make tiny pouches using bit of cotton (from makeup pads) and scraps from the fabric from the final garment. If you plan to line your garment, the lining goes in after the pad so that you don't see it. You will need to tack the lining onto the pad to keep everything in place.

1. For the square shoulders, make sure the pad extends slightly past the armhole seam. Tack the pad in place onto the shoulder seam.
2. You might want to put the garment on the doll first then slide in the pad and adjust. The pad should not be too close to the neck.
3. For the round shoulders, again, be careful the. Pad is not too close to the neck.
4. In this case, the pad will cover the top of the arm. The dotted red line shoulders the area the pad will cover. Tack onto the top seam of the sleeve. Again, if you plan to line, you will need to insert the pad first then the lining.

With some of your existing patterns you make be able to modify them simply by lifting the shoulders and making a new deeper sleeve. This was the case for a princess line jacket pattern I made awhile ago. Since only the shoulder line and sleeve needed to be redrawn, this did not affect the side front or side back. But if you are modifying an existing pattern, I strongly suggest making a cheap cotton version first before moving ahead to your final fabric.

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