Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dolls Eye View: Emmys 2017

It's been awhile since my girls have gone to the Emmys (the awards for prime time broadcasting in the United States). And though we are in the midst of fashion month, many of my divas were quite anxious to strut their stuff on the first red carpet event of the season. Inasmuch as this is a national event, the gowns are less elaborate than those worn at the Academy Awards ceremony. But still, this was the perfect event to display the "Made in America" brand.

Major trends here favor a return to the 1950's beginning with Nicole Kidman's fire engine red, tea length dress. Created by Calvin Klein (special order), it has the  and flare of Marilyn Monroe's pleated frock in "Some Like It Hot." Klein's 2017 version is hung from a bejeweled neckline which is drawn into the waist before releasing a full "New Look" skirt. For our girl, Giselle, I made the necklace out of textured wire and suspended a pendant of thin wire threaded with silver beads in the middle of the bodice panels. For the lower part of the dress, I used a circle skirt pattern. The fullness of the dress is achieved with the help of a petticoat, also cut from a circle of tulle.

This "hour glass" silhouette is also carried out in what brings to mind, old fashion prom dresses. These are simple, strapless bodices over full skirts like the Jason Wu dress worn by Thandie Newton. For my girl, Helen's dress, I used an evening length circle skirt cut from two layers of pink sparkle tulle, another layer of sheer nylon and an underskirt of tulle. The circle skirt pattern allows me to get the fullness I want without all the bulk around the waistline. However, I departed from the original dress at the bodice. The basic corset cut in silk was....well....boring. So, after making this strapless bodice, I covered it with scraps of crushed sparkle tulle. The texture it created was more interesting to my eye.

Quite naturally, this prom look--a take on the ballerina tutu-- suits younger Barbies quite well. Here is Millie Bobby Brown in a Calvin Klein (special order) dress. For my girl Jenny, I stuck more closely to the original dress. The top is a quick and easy tube of stretch jersey. The bottom is a (no-sew) tutu made from tulle slats knotted over a tiny white ribbon, piled over two circular underskirts, on made of silk and the other of tulle which serves as a petticoat. The one thing I did not do was to cut the hemline even. I thought the uneven hem was more interesting to the eye as well as the super long bow of white ribbon at the waistline. After all, red carpets are made for flights of fancy!

There was also a lot of sexy sirens on the red carpet as well.  The girls loved the elegance of the Oscar de la Renta jumpsuit worn by Claire Foy. Because I like to keep things versatile, I made this look for Veronica in two pieces (not including her gloves). It's a simple black crepe pair of slim, stovepipe pants worn under a simple but dramatic top. I used the one piece corset pattern and tacked on a long tube of silk to one side of the bodice. The "jewel trim" at the top was created by braiding a length of string which I brushed on lots of glue then rolled it in silver glitter. To keep the glitter from falling, I slathered on a second coat of glue then rolled everything again, in more more glitter. Allow the whole thing dry and shake everything out of doors. Using string at the base made it easy to hand stitch it to the top of the corset. Then I added a small rhinestone broach (though you could simply make the glittered rope longer and tie in a knot. I added opera length gloves which, for me, finishes off the look.

Leslie Jones is a famed comedian on the hit show, "Saturday Night Live." She is a tall strong woman who, at one time, had difficulty finding someone to dress her. Enter Christian Siriano (the most successful designer to emerge from the reality show, "Project Runway.") Siriano has not only become a serious force in New York fashion, he also specializes in creating beautiful clothes for curvy women. He just designed clothes for Mattel's curvy Barbies! We were simply wowed by how stunning Ms. Jones looked in this sequined dress. And though it's not line for line the same dress, Grace wanted to pay homage to both the comedian and the designer who dressed her.
As simple as....a high waist skirt, a bra and a belt and there you have Claudia's version of the Narciso Rodriguez gown worn by comedian, Kate McKinnon (of Saturday Night Live).

What would a red carpet be without sequins? Sometimes it's fun to take an outfit you don't particularly like and redesign it. Case in point...Anna Chlumsky's "liquid metal" silver sequins gown.. We saw possibilities! Instead of sequins, we used glitter and silver lame. Emanuela's V-neck top is a wrap-around top made from silver tulle that I glittered. Her skirt is an oval shaped skirt (a circle skirt with a train).

Hey everybody, it's fashion month! The girls are on that style train making its first stop in New York!

With the exception of the pictures of the celebrities (Getty images) all other photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2017. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you.

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Applied Arts: Faux (Beaded) Embroidery

I'm sorry. This post was supposed to be about how to sew beaded fabric. But after MUCH thought and even more preparation, I ended up reverting to an exercise I did four years ago in a post entitled, "Applied Arts: Faux Embroidery."

Sadly, one of my favorite fabric stores is closing. So I ceased the opportunity to buy something special. For me, edge to edge beads aren't all that interesting. The fabric with the beaded/sequined motif is what you want to buy. But then, I started doing a lot of soul searching. I figured that few are really going to go out and purchase such expensive beaded fabric (which costs upwards of $75 USD and more) unless you're making a dress for someone else, in which case, you probably already know what you're doing. It is a pretty straight forward. 1) Trace the pattern in chalk on the fabric. 2) Make an interlining out of sheer fabric. (All markings go on this, a second layer. 3) Trace the seam allowance with painter's tape. 4) Smash the beads with a hammer to flatten the seam allowance. 5) Remove the painter's tape. (It keeps the broken beads together for disposal.) 6) Sew as usual. And while I had another sheath dress pattern ready to go, I stopped and thought..... If you do have the opportunity to get a bit of such a precious piece of fabric, what is the most efficient way to use it so there is no waste?

When Haute Couture houses create these red carpet dresses, they don't use beaded fabric. The atelier cuts out the pattern pieces in silk, marks all seam lines in thread and sends that to the embroiderer who mounts it on a loom and hand embroiders a pre-approved pattern. With that thought in mind, I decided not to cut my pattern pieces out of the beaded fabric, but rather, make an under dress and "embroider" it with pieces of my luxury material.
I wanted a "typical" red carpet dress, so I started out with a strapless sheath cut from 2 layers of tulle. You can use the standard strapless sheath pattern or make a tube dress. Above, I have stretched a double layer of (diamond cut) tulle around the doll's body, forming a single seam in the back.Tulle has a good horizontal stretch. But there was a bulge around the midriff, so I pinched out the excess on both sides of the body by forming diagonal bust darts. At the back, I left the area above the waist free and stitched the rest down the back. Check to see to where the doll can come out of the dress and that's where the back seam will start.

1. After you have your foundation, pick up the beaded fabric and stretch it over the body, pinning at the back.
2. Note the pattern of the beads as it relates to the foundation. I used pins to mark the areas where I want to attach the fabric to the foundation and where it will be joined in the back. The idea is that you will cut around the areas you want for the dress using the pins to help guide you.
3. With a small pair of scissors, very carefully cut close to the motifs without cutting the beads and be careful not to cut the foundation beneath.

4. Cut a few of the motifs from the main piece of fabric. You are going to use these motifs as well as the loose beads to fill in "empty" spots or hide "discreet" areas of dolly's body as well as to camouflage seam or darts.
5. Here, I've cut away a small motif which I then add to the top of the dress. If there is excess netting, cut it away, again, without clipping the stitches holding the beads.

6. Turn the dress to the back and continue until you are happy with the look.
7. I used a single hook and eye to close the back of the dress at the top. Go on and sew it on without worrying about it showing through because..... On the outside of the dress, sew a small cluster of beads or another motif to cover the hook.
8. The idea is for it to look like it is part of the design while disguising the closure!
As is the case of our velvet and sequined dresses, the important thing is to KEEP IT SIMPLE! The drama of the look lies in the beauty of the beads.
Think beads on the bodice of a dress. 
And, you don't have to do an all over dress (unless, of course dolly is planning on crashing the Oscars). You can confine it to one area of the dress or as an accent.
Add a beaded motif to an existing dress for a touch of added glamour.
If you can't afford to buy the fabric, take a look at beaded trim. This can also be taken apart and used as "embroidery."
You can buy beaded trim. Applied around the neckline and around the sleeve hems, it gives a touch of class and elegance to Richard's wedding suit.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

In Sequins

Sequins (n) A small, disk-shaped spangle used to ornament garments. In this the second of three tutorials on handling luxury fabrics, we examine sequined fabric. The first thing we must examine is the fabric itself. By now you know how important scale is in terms of doll fashions. This means there is really only one type of sequined fabric suitable for the doll which is the mesh fabric dotted with tiny, 1/8" (3mm) plastic circles. In this, part two of our dealing with luxury fabrics series, we examine how to work with sequined fabrics as they pertain to doll fashions.

Am I sure you can't use any other kind? Judge for yourself.
I had these two sequined fabrics already on hand when I decided to reinterpret the St. Laurent jumpsuit on the left and the Amish dress on the right. And while I am more or less happy with the result, I did notice how out of scale the sequins were when I placed them next to the full scale counterparts. Notice the human models to the left of each doll and notice the difference in the sequins of the corresponding garments. The fabric I used is essentially the same as used in the human version. Imagine a regular sized sequin and then multiply that by 6. Then imagine a dress scaled for you covered with  1-1/2" (4cm) disks! It's not to say it would be impossible. Your dress would be covered with, what we call...paillettes. Paillettes (n) Over-sized spangles used in ornamenting garments.

Now, take a look at the dresses in this image. The sequins both read as nearly the same scale in relation to the models wearing them. Here's another way of looking at scale. I've covered the doll body with three different scales of sequined fabric. Note the difference. 
If you don't yet have fabric, look for the one on the left. You could still use the one in the middle which is 1/16" (1mm) bigger. But ideally, you should avoid the one on the right unless you have something special in mind. And even then, it is best used for anything except for tops, dress bodices, pants and leggings
For this project, I chose the basic sheath dress with sleeves. Her "boots" by the way, are actually spats. Cover your work space with paper because while not as messy as glitter, cut sequins have a way of scattering over a large area. Again, choose a very simple pattern with few pieces. The mini sequin fabric has a mesh backing with a bit of stretch, which means you should be able to use a dart-less pattern (one suitable for jersey, for example). Pin your pattern in one layer (do not cut on fold) against the wrong side of the fabric all facing the same direction. To make it easy, you could trace the pattern using chalk first, then cut. For sequined fabric do not use your good fabric scissors, as this fabric will dull them quickly. I my paper shears. Cut slowly to keep cut sequins from flying. And, once again, it is best to hand sew this fabric. Sewing over sequins is murder on the sewing machine!

 Note: If you have using this blog for making full size adult garments, you should NOT heed the the following tutorial as I have modified the usual techniques to best suit 1/6 fashions.

1. Line the front to back of the pattern at the shoulders as usual EXCEPT..lay the dress right side facing up. Fold the ends of the front under and lay them over the shoulder of the dress back. We are doing this because, a good part of the dress is plastic and you cannot iron the seams flat (otherwise the sequins will melt!)

2. Use a fine needle and thread (be sure to knot the end) sew the front to the back with a back stitch. Take your time and work around the sequins.

3. The dress is assembled as usual.

4. Hem the sleeves by sewing a strip of tulle the same width as the sleeve by about 3/4" (2cm).

5. Tip: If you don't have any tulle on hand, you can always cut a strip from the selvage of the sequined fabric.

6. Stitch the tulle to the edge on the right side of the fabric. Turn and tack to the inside of the sleeve. Now pin the sleeve to the dress. Starting at the sleeve's hem, sew up to about one inch (2.5cm) down from armhole on the side.

7. If you are going to line your dress, now is the time to attach it to the neckline. Otherwise, use another strip of tulle to the neckline. Stitch, turn under and tack in place.
 8. Lay the uncut edge of the front over the dress back. Pin.

9. Carefully slip stitch the front over the back.

10. Repeat on the other side.

11. Hold the fabric in place as you sew and make small stitches as close to the edge as possible. The idea here is to get the fabric absolutely flat so as not to show the seam line.
 12. Take your time then pin the dress down the back. I prefer to do this on the doll to ensure a good fit. Again I lay one (raw) edge directly over the other. Stitch to within 1-1/2" from the neckline and secure your stitch.

13. Spread open the neckline and stitch another strip of tulle from the top of one edge to the top of the other. Fold the strip inward and tack in place.

14. Use hook and eyes to close the dress. From front to back here is my finished dress.

For her "boots," I used the pattern for Spats. As with the dress, lay one edge over the other down the back of the leg and stitch directly on the doll. The fabric has enough stretch to allow for removal of the leg afterwards.

The Tube

Of course, you can always make tube dresses or tops. After all, it only involves one seam. But the fact they are so simple doesn't mean they have to be boring. The above dress was my interpretation of an Armani Prive gown. Here's how I made it:

1. Take the fabric and stretch it directly over the doll's body. Smooth it over her curves.
2. Catch the fabric along the back and pin.
3. Cut, allowing for about an 3/8" seam.
4. Again, lay one edge over the other and stitch in place. This is something I like to build directly on the doll. When you are finished you should not be able to see the back seam.
 Of course the top and bottom of the dress has raw edges. I had a bit of embroidered tulle. I cut out a few of the motifs and stitched it on the top of the dress. This gives the illusion of a bra top. Even though the dress doesn't require any closure (Grace simply slips in her dress), I added straps to keep it from slipping down.
I also added bits of black lace near the hem of the dress to which I sewed on a few beads. The rest of the embroidered tulle is used for a stole. can just make a simple tube skirt but pair it with a sweater, tunic or jacket! Nothing like sequins to add spark to an otherwise casual look.

Okay, so now what do you do with that OTHER sequined fabric I said was too big to use? If you MUST use it, choose a super simple pattern with as few pieces as possible like this kimono that Morgan is wearing. Allow for slightly bigger seams than usual (maybe 1/4" (7mm) than 1/8 so that you have wiggle room.
This particular fabric has 1/4" sequins sewn on a sheer (woven) fabric. Using exactly the technique we used for the sheath dress, fold the front seam allowance and lay over the back piece. Pin and slip stitch. Take your time and work your stitches around the sequins.

Sew the kimono up from the hem of the sleeve to about 1" (2.5cm) down from the underarm. Fold the front side edge of the kimono over the back kimono edge and stitch. You can either line this with a layer of tulle or turn down the edges with tulle and tack in place.

Have fun with sequins and don't hesitate to pair it with other fabrics. Inspired by an ad I saw for Juicy Couture's Viva La Juicy Perfume, I made this little dress for Kimora from a sequined collar.
1. Again, stick to simple patterns. Here I've made an A-line skirt (with the darts folded out in the draft of the pattern).
2. The top is a one piece corset that closes on the same side as Kimora's skirt. I admit, I did have to keep the side bust darts in order to fit it over the bust.
The dress is worn over a petticoat of ruffled tulle. To balance the look, I stitched another layer of ruffled tulle to the top of this dress.

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