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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  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Kamelia. Happy you enjoyed this post.

  2. Beautiful costumes for your doll. And great idea for performance.

    1. Thank you Dlubaniny. I am so happy with the way these tutus came out. I will probably make a few more in other colors and lengths.

  3. I really like the new fashion of tulle skirts, it's so elegant and feminine. The Swans are beautiful :-). Enjoy the museums/exhibitions!

    1. Thank you M&F. I love these glamorous looks all made in Tulle which is why I'm taking my time on the much bigger tulle tutorial. I know it will be really pretty. In the meantime, we''ll be out and about in a day or so to the exhibitions! Just found another one to see: Fortuny (those famous gowns of pleated fabric from the 1930s!)

  4. Beautiful <3 I made the same way the carnival costume for my daughter some years ago :)

    1. Thank you, Urszula. Ha ha ha...while researching techniques, I saw this skirt on little girls and sometimes their mothers. The only dolls I saw with this skirt were American girl dolls. So naturally I was curious as to what my dolls might look like in this skirt. But we're not finished yet. I'm working on some very sophisticated tulle dresses for a future post!

  5. Niezrównane, piękne stroje! Temat baletowy, jak widzę, jest Ci równie bliski, jak i inne :-) Pomysł z tiulem w spódnicy - rewelacyjny! Tiul to wspaniały materiał, kreatywny, bogaty i elegancki!
    Pozdrawiam serdecznie!

    1. Olla wrote: Unparalleled, beautiful costumes! The ballet theme, as I see it, is as close to you as any other :-) The idea of ​​tulle in the skirt - sensational! Tulle is a wonderful material, creative, rich and elegant!
      Best wishes!

      Thank you so much, Olla. It is so nice to see tulle come back in style as it is so glamorous, so very feminine. I am busy playing with it, so you can expect to see another post dedicated to this fascinating material.


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