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.

All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist 2017.

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  1. Jesteś Mistrzynią Krawiectwa i perfekcjonistką w każdym calu! Lubisz dokładność i to przekłada się na Twoje fasony i wykroje dla lalek! Ubrania są wspaniałe! Pamiętam, kiedy były modne szerokie ramiona. To prawda: moda "kołem się toczy", chyba tak jak historia :-)
    Piękne projekty! Jestem zachwycona!

    1. Olla wrote: ENGLISH
      You are the Master of Tailoring and perfectionist in every way! You like accuracy and that translates into your puppets and puppet patterns! Clothes are great! I remember when they were fashionable wide shoulders. It's true: the fashion "wheel rolls", just like history :-)
      Beautiful designs! I am delighted!

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Olla. I don't know if I am a master tailor but I try very hard to find ways for my dolls to have the same wonderful styles as their human counterparts. In any case, I really appreciate your lovely comment and I am happy you enjoyed this post.

  2. Love this! It has taken a while for those shoulders to return...and at first it looks awkward because we drop styles like that...and turn our noses up for a while. A band came on the other night with two of the girls wearing quite exaggerated broad shoulders! We'll get used to it again!
    Detailed tutorials! :)

    1. You are so right. In the Patis collections, some of the garments had shoulders much larger than these. So much so, it was as if the garment didn't fit the girl right. The shoulders here are pretty tame. But over time, I'm sure I'll have to adapt them to current proportions.

  3. Those capes and jackets are extraordinary! Bravo. I had to look closely to see that these were miniature in size. And supple as well. "caps"off! - O

    1. Thank you, O, for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed this post. Big hugs.

  4. Thanks for the fashion tips!

    I love how you styled your FR dolls' hair. That shag style looks very chic on your girls.

    1. Thank you D7ana. These photos are of one doll only. She's a FR Kyori Sato "Belle du Jour" wig doll. I bought her so that I could make shorter hairstyles that work better with edgier fashions.

  5. Replies
    1. Thank you, Urszula. Happy to know you enjoyed this post.


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