Monday, October 30, 2017

Prima Ballerina

Looking for a last minute idea for a Halloween costume for your girls? How about a tutu so they can go to their costume party dressed as prima-ballerinas. As you know, I promised to devote an entire tutorial on working with tulle which I will deliver it in due time. This past fashion month had so many ideas, I decided to take my time so I could explore many ways to make the tulle dress of your dreams. But I would like to start off with an easy-to-make, no-sew tutu. This is not my creation, but rather, a technique fashioned after the numerous tutorials floating the internet. I wanted to see if it could work in the context of high fashion. The main problem with tulle skirts is bulk. If you try to make a dress with miles of tulle in the full scale version, you risk creating a garment that is thick and unflattering around the waistline. And while this tutorial is not all inclusive, to my delight offers a simple approach to creating a stunning garment. So, consider this tutorial an appetizer with much more to come.

Black Swan
Normally my girls don't do Halloween. On the contrary, they love Carnival, New Year's Eve masked balls and Mardigras where they can remain beautiful and glamorous. So for them, I created these two looks which can be worn as a costume, (complete with the masks we created last year) and as high fashion.

No matter the length of tutu, this technique for making a tutu is straightforward. No sewing machines or patterns needed!
1. Take a piece of thin ribbon and wrap around the doll's waist.
2. It should be long enough to make a good size bow in the back.
3. Next, decide on the length you want your skirt and double it. (You will be creating two layers of frou frou at a time.)
4. Cut strips about 3 inches (8cm) wide.
5. Fold each strip in half and twist the tulle in the middle.
6. You will now loop the tulle over the ribbon. To better show you how this is done, I've substituted blue ribbon so you can see clearly. Place the wad of tulle under the thin ribbon forming a loop as shown.
7. Take the ends and pull them through the loop.
8. Adjust the position of the strip and pull to tighten.
9. Here is what this looks like with tulle. Add as many strips as you need, being careful to keep them as close as possible. Do this until you have enough to cover the entire doll from front to back.

For this look you can either use whatever you want for the top so long as it covers her bottom with panties or pantyhose. For my "Black Swan" theme, I stitched few black feathers onto a strapless bathing suit. Wrap the tutu around the waist, tie in the back and she's ready to go.
When the party is over, Angelina can still wear the look by changing up the accessories: a marabou feather jacket, a tiara and a pair of thigh high boots!

Swan Lake

Here, Muriel is the ying to Angelina's yang. Same technique, different look. This time we went for a longer tutu.

But first, an underskirt. In many cases, the longer ballerina skirts are more dense. The challenge here is the transparency of the tutu you've just created. You will never be able to add enough layers to get the semi opaque look of the full scale. So, we had to make an underskirt. I made a gathered skirt cut from a sheer fabric so that it blends in better with with the tulle. In this case I cut up an old negligee and made a simple gathered skirt. You can also use organdy, organza, cotton voile, nylon or sheer non-wovens.
1. Super simple, this is a rectangle with a double row of running stitches at the top. Pull the thread to gather the skirt until it fits around the doll's waist. Use a strip of ribbon or lace as your waistband and lay it on top of the gathers. Then topstitch the ribbon onto the skirt. To hide the stitching on the backside, you can cut a tiny bit of sheer or tulle the size of the waistband and topstitch it to the back. (The skirt will be sandwiched in between the two layers of ribbon and tulle strip.)
2. This skirt only has one seam which you can stitch up from the hem to about 1 inch (2cm) of the waist. Press the seam open. Close the waistband with a snap or hook & eye.
3. Here is our finished underskirt. You should not add a hem. In my case, the fabric doesn't ravel which is perfect. But if you are using a material which does, apply "Fray Check" or a bit of craft glue diluted with a couple drops of water and apply to the edge with a toothpick. Tulle, by the way, never needed hemming! Before I show the result. I make the bodice directly on the doll which I'll share with you.

1. Ordinarily, my 1-piece corset pattern is fine. But in this case, Muriel is a older FR doll with the original wasp waist body. Since she is the only doll who didn't want an upgraded body, I don't have separate patterns for her. So I decided to make the corset directly on her. I started out with 2-inch (5 cm) lace trim. (You can use a sheer fabric instead if you'd like.)
2.Wrap around the body and pin in the back, leaving enough margin to fold under and apply a snap.
3. This fits the top of her busline and is loose underneath to the waist.
4. Carefully fold the trim under each bust so that the fold moves toward the side.
5. Pin in place.

6. Using a backstitch, carefully stitch down the darts. Don't worry about these showing because you can cover them with lace medallions later.
7. I had an old lace shirt which I cut away medallions. (Old lingerie is a good source as well.) Place them against the bodice and pin in place. Play around with the placement. When you're happy, sew them down using tiny stitches. You can also place these to hide seams or to create a top or bottom border. I added a rose medallion at the back (in the photo just below) which I used to hide the stitches from the snap.

8. Here is my corset on top of the underskirt. Originally I planned for the bottom border to drape over the tulle skirt, but I later discovered the skirt was way too full and the flaps wouldn't lay down. So I tied the tutu over the corset. The good thing is that this dress is in three parts: corset, underskirt and tulle skirt. This allows me to use any of the elements to form other looks!

And when this party is over, Muriel plans to toss sweep over her shoulders and head to the prom next spring!

We are in Paris for the next few weeks where the girls are excited about reporting on the Christian Dior exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, the new Yves Saint Laurent Museum and the Irving Penn (photography) exhibition at the Grand Palais. 

All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist 2017. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Dolls' Eye View: Paris 2018 Spring Summer Trends

Ahhhhh..... April in Paris!!!! In this, the last of the primary fashion weeks...there was much chaos and confusion on the catwalk here as well as elsewhere. But there was one main difference. In the capital of fashion, there is so much of everything for everybody....the girls KNEW they would come away with a sizable wardrobe for next summer. And they were not disappointed. Fashion houses like Chanel, Saint Laurent, Dries Van Noten, Haiden Ackermann led the week with very strong collections of gorgeous clothes. The biggest difficulty for me was the sheer number of garments my girls convinced me they couldn't live without!

Normally, I split the Paris report in two: classic and edge. But this time around, there was a more homogeneous nature to the fashions the girls selected. So forgive me. This is long...but I think you will enjoy it!

Love Me Tender

Soft, feminine, romantic...the message is transmitted through color. Look for a palette of blush, doeskin, baby pink, and soft grey to be big next spring. Also, silhouettes are loose, easy, nostalgic.
I love the color of this dress but could not find this in the same peach skin silk. Instead, I substituted two layers of silk chiffon. The original dress is very loose fitting. You can use a strapless dress without stitching the darts. I used a metallic silver embroidery yarn and used a chain stitch to "draw" an outline of bra in the front of the dress as well as to create the straps. (I stitched on a bit of silver ribbon to the top of the dress.) After I finished, I discovered the bra was actually created in the fit over the bust. The other dress fits my model better...which is the way I personally, would want to wear this dress!

Boudoir Babes
Designers hit the lingerie drawer for this trend. The slip dress is back! (Did it ever go away?!!) This time around, look for it to morph into long, evening lengths, or with an asymmetrical flounce bouncing about the thighs. Or maybe something as simple as a sexy animal print worn under a silky kimono.

Katoucha's slip dress came right out of my lingerie drawer. I cut up an inexpensive pair of panties to make this! The best part is that, since it hangs loose from the body, you really don't need a pattern. I simply made a small tube (large enough to fit around her hips), and added lace at the top and bottom as well as a tiny bit of ribbon for the straps. (There is only one seam at the back!). The kimono is from another outfit we made a while ago.

All Tied Up

There's a new twist to summertime basic black. Whether bathing suits or dresses, holding together deep V-necklines, waistline cut-outs or peek-a-boo naked shouders..the whole look is held together laces.

Cranberry Blueberry Cleanse
Clean lines. Classic styles cut in fabrics either sleek and shiny or with lots of chunky texture...these are super easy styles you can make with basic patterns. It's the fabric that really makes the look here. That and two very trendy colors: cranberry and iced blueberry!

More Scarf Tricks
The scarf is a key element in next summer's seen first in Milan and now here in Paris. What I like about this group in particular, is how easy it is to transform any existing garment into the latest style buzz. In fact, you can take a dress, top and skirt and tack on a square of silk to get the look. It's as easy as that!
And voila! Carmelia found a black velvet shift dress that was "lying around the house." We cut a new neckline to freshen up the look, then simply tacked on a 6x6 inch (15x15cm) square of silk to one side!

Making A Point
What all of these looks have in common (besides the black and white color scheme) is that somewhere within the garment, there's a detail that forms a point. For the most part that means an asymmetrical aesthetic which adds a lot of interest to an otherwise classic jacket or top. My girls loved the Dries Van Noten coat dress that slips down from one shoulder to expose a pointy bra underneath. The pointed details on the jackets and tops of Haider Ackermann's garments lends a great deal of drama. When attempting any of these looks, let your eyes be your guide and don't fret if it doesn't come out exactly like the picture. Sometimes the "accidents" are more interesting! At the end of the will have designed a totally new look that on point for your doll.
But for Emanuela, we wanted a really edgy James Bond girl look. The fabric is a coated woven stretch material made to resemble leather (but easier to handle). I already had the pants on hand, so it was simply a question of making the top. The top is actually six pieces (four in the front and two side-backs). I plotted everything out in cotton muslin before cutting it out in the final fabric.The pants, incidentally were originally made for a skinnier Barbie. So they didn't go all the way to her waist, though they did stretch to fit. There is a tiny sliver of skin showing just above the hip, the end of the day, added a slight sexy edge to this very racy pantsuit.

Short Stop
Though we are not in a hemline dictatorship, super minis will be big next summer. And that is good news for our dolls because this is a length which lends itself to our 12" divas very well. Note the number of looks that include shorts!
Yvette fell head over heals over this Chanel micro mini ensemble. For this look, I used the basic skirt pattern along with the basic jacket pattern. The trim is a tiny strip of rough cut silk which I crudely stitched around the edges of the jacket for that "artisan" effect, But what really pulls off the look is the clear vinyl cape with hood and.....a pair of clear vinyl, thigh high boots!!!

Stormy Weather
With so many national disasters making news headlines, designers were inspired by ominous skies expressing them via tie die or collage prints or better...fabrics like tulle, fabric fringe or cascading flounces that add the movement of the wind to a garment.

Off Kilter
Everything about this group I found intriguing. A mix of plaids that screw and stripes that warp make for an interesting and dramatic graphic effect. The key to making these mixtures work....choose patterns or prints that share at least one color in common.
So quite naturally, I accepted the challenge of this dress designed by a new (Polish) designer to the Paris scene, Maticevski. As with my other couture gowns, I began with a strapless foundation made from the same striped cotton fabric. (To see how I drape a "couture" gown, click HERE.) I let the stripes of the original gown guide me as I pleated and stitched down several panels of stripes to this foundation. The end result is not line for line a replica, but still, just as exciting. When you are copying a designer dress for your doll, it is not so important to make an exact duplicate. But make an interesting interpretation!

Bound But Not Gagged
The corset is back in a big way. Worn either for day (the Mugler pants and skirt set) or for formal wear (Olivier Theyskens), this is the item that will update everything in dolly's wardrobe from jeans to evening length skirts!
This was an outfit Natasha saw and convinced me to try to make. I used a stretch denim and a basic princess line foundation. The better you are at top-stitching the better the corset part of the dress will turn out. Instead of using the corset pattern, I used the top half of a princess-line dress pattern and stitched a bra pattern with white thread. I draped the skirt by eye.. After making it, I simply tacked it onto the corset at the front and back centers just in case I decide to use the corset alone with other garments.
A while back, however, we made "bone-in" full length lingerie corsets. We took the black one and teamed it with a simple length of black organza to make the wrap around skirt for Meagan's look. I accessorized it with the stretch lace stocking boots we made last year as well, which repeats the lace of the corset.

Touched by an Angel
These three dresses could have floated down the heavens. Each one has a different volume but yet, maintains a distinct soft and feminine touch. Think soft fabrics like chiffon draped over a bust, tulle that cascades down from a fitted waistline or simply a dress made from a swerve of soft cotton.

Stroke of a Brush
The art of Shodo....or Asian Calligraphy.... Each of these looks could have been drawn with one or two brush strokes. As a result, there are unexpected details (like straps that dangle from waists or the side of a tunic), twists and turns from asymmetrical sashes, sprouts of feathers jutting out from a neckline or the ankles of shoes, or the continuous line of a single stroke with uneven edges like the Guy Laroche dress at the end.

Arsenic and New Lace

Lace remains a popular trend for summer. Of course, the girls LOVE the cotton lace dresses that could have been made from frilly hankies. But they also love the dramatic looks created in black by the house of Saint Laurent.
There is a new designer at the reigns of Saint Laurent. And no, it is not the same as the late couturier. But after reviewing this collection at length, as someone who personally attended a couple decades of Yves Saint Laurent catwalk shows when the couturier was alive, I felt much of it really carried the spirit of the house in that it was a celebration of the woman. The models who walked the catwalk, could have been the children of his celebrated models in the 1980's. The models and the clothes they wore were both.....PRETTY!!!!! For Giselle...we chose this baby doll bliss of black lace and four layers of ruffled tulle cut in a super mini length. We couldn't resist the footwear either...over the knee spats covered with marabou feathers she wears over shoes.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Doll's Eye View: Milan Spring/Summer 18 Trends

For the most part, the dolls in the house LOVE Italian fashion. While there were a few disastrous shows (like Gucci) that made them cry, there were numerous others that tickled their fancy. For this a spring summer collection, we would have liked more color,  but still, the girls found enough sexy styles that had me sewing frantically over the past six days.

Short Stop
While're not in a hemline dictatorship. That said, look to the Italians to make best use of all lengths when it comes to mid-summer styles. Summer starts with the cool, sexy look of super mini dresses, boxy shorts and bra tops. Colorful digital printed fabric is particularly hot!
For Gail, we did a three-piece ensemble in a "designer" printed fabric: over-shirt, bras and belted skirt. If you're wondering about the origins of the 1/6 scale Versace classic print for this look, see "Dolly Versace" for instructions on how I printed this myself.

Casual Encounters
This is about no-stress, easy to wear pants and dresses. Important here are jumpsuits that glide over the body, knit dresses (dolly sockwear), or spacious tops and dresses belted at the waist. It's the small details, like a sleeve slit at the shoulders and held together with laces that make this look really specially special.
Sexy and comfortable in her 2-piece dress, Iman chose matching arm-warmers and sneakers in a similar color palette to accessorize this look.

Scarf Tricks
This season saw Donatella Versace pay tribute to her late brother, Gianni with a collection of iconic looks using the house's classic logo prints. It all looks as if she cut up scarves to create these styles...which by the way, gave the girls lots of big ideas. (They're already in my scarf drawer imagining all sorts of creations! Thank goodness they can't use scissors!!!) Here again, silhouettes are pretty simple: bra tops, short bolero jackets and straight legged trousers--all cut from scarf prints!
Michelle's eye, however, was focused on this Giorgio Armani dress. It's a batsic sheath dress with a scarf sewn into one shoulder whic is then threaded through a slit just under the bust. It's a way of giving a basic black (or any other color) dress a great pop of color, print and flare!
Jerry, on the other hand, is not into such fancy clothes. She's perfectly happy with a top made from a scaled down scarf worn over a simple pair of white jeans. I actually cut a small square of silk from an existing scarf. My super simple version is suspended from a simple wire necklace.

Day to Night
Black and white...a trend which we've seen since New York...prevails. At this point, let's just call it a classic summer trend. The most striking looks we've seen is when the dress or top is literally sliced in half (vertically or diagonally). Great drama even when the garment is as simple as a top worn over a contrasting pant or skirt.

Dinner at the Duomo di Milano
When in doubt...wear black! That seems to be the motto these days. (My girls are not complaining. Except for the younger Barbies, the rest of them LOVE black!) This group is comprised of easy to wear garments in a variety of summer fabrics (from lace to organdy)..but all drenched in black. The girls loved Max Mara's organdy sarong skirt worn over a matching leotard. And we all very much like the flirty little dinner suits created by Dolce Gabbana and Versace.
Though this looks more winter than spring or summer, Liu loved the classy look of a bolero jacket over a knife pleated skirt. What makes this one a wee bit more special is the addition of her black opaque tights.

Silhouette wise, there's not a lot that we haven't seen before. The real story here is the soft, nude color palette. There is that amazing organdy sarong skirt of Max Mara, but we also loved the blush lace used for No. 21's slip dress as well. And, take another look at those Max Mara pants in lined organdy.

Celestial Angels
Soft flowing gowns and one that twinkles....these are soft formal wear dresses that could have floated down from the heavens.  What the girls love about them is the billowing sheer fabric that drops from the shoulders or swirls around the legs. These are dresses that make my dolls feel like the vinyl princesses they are.

Fit to Be Tied

And now for the devilish corsets, tutus and bra tops that wrap around the torso, bondage style.... all of this made for some very edge looks that are a lot of fun to make. The Alberta Ferretti bra and short was a black version of something we saw coming out of New York last summer. But it was still fun to see it in black. The corset worn as outer wear is a big trend coming in. I could not resist making the heavily laced version for one of my dolls.
Here's Samantha showing off this sultry Dolce & Gabbana look. Instead of using my normal corset pattern, This one is essentially six squares of leather skinny rectangles loosely held together with embroidery yarn. The look begins with a bra and old fashion pantie, over which I made a handkerchief skirt from black chiffon. After completing the corset, it goes over the doll's body and the strings are adjusted to conform to the body's curves. I used velcro to fasten the two panels in the back.

Not every doll is as daring as Sybille. We were all intrigued by this dress made entirely of tulle. It's not perfect, but...this all begins with a corset top made of tulle and a pair of old fashion panties. (I did make another bra for her, but it seemed to dense. The rest of the dress is a tube of tulle. I made a running stitch on both sides of the tube using embroidery thread which allows me to adjust the length. If I make this again, the tulle tube needs to be shaped and fitted closer to the body so that it fits a little better. And again, though I personally wouldn't wear this dress...there are dolls in my house that are already fighting over who gets to wear it for New Year's Eve!!!

There is one more stop on this fashion month train! Up next...PARIS!!! Stay tuned!!!

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