Friday, January 19, 2018

Tulles of the Trade--Red Carpet Edition

Not everything tulle has to a big ballgown. Surprisingly, there is a range of styles you can create. In this, part two of working with tulle, I wanted to explore red carpet looks. But full disclosure: There is a great amount of "thinking outside of the box" you won't find in any pattern drafting book. I took MANY liberties. But that's the fun of making doll fashions. As with Haute Couture....there are no rules. Whatever works and still looks good is perfectly acceptable!
Inspired by Oscar de la Renta's Spring/Summer '18 collection
 Case in point....this Oscar de la Renta dress. Princess line seaming was used in the body of this dress  to control shape. I chose not to use this construction because...for a 12.5" doll, there will be too many seams, particularly for a semi-sheer dress. For a question of ease and versatility, I decided to make this dress in two part instead of one. I also decided to make the top strapless instead of a traditional shell. The original dress is sheer from the top of the bust to the shoulders, thus giving the illusion her shoulders are bare. At the end of the day, a strapless top is not only easy, it still provides the look of the original dress! About mid-thigh, godets (triangular inserts) are sewn in. Again, I had considered cutting the skirt and sewing in godets, but then decided to take an easier route. Ultimately, here's how Lynn's dress came about.
1. For the top, I used a square of tulle. Measure from the top of the bust to the top of the hips and double that number lengthwise (because you will be folding the square over). Measure the body around the widest part of the bust and add an extra 1/2" (12mm) for overlap to each end (which falls at the back). For my doll, this square is 6x5" (152x127mm). Fold in half and sew each side (1/4" (6mm) seams). And turn the piece right side out.
2. Place on the doll, overlapping the back by 1/4" (6mm)
3. In the front, you will notice the gap around the waist.
4. Pinch in a dart on each side of the body. (Don't worry, this will disappear under the glitter, later). Remove the top from the doll.  Note: You can sew in hook & eyes or snaps at this point.

5. Cover the doll's body with plastic wrap.
6. Put the top back on the doll over the plastic and close it down the center back
7. Make sure everything fits snugly.
8. Apply Modge Podge or white craft glue over the mid-section of the top right down to the edges.
9. Sprinkle on glitter. The glitter best simulates tiny silver beads of the original garment.
10. Allow to dry until the surface feels dry. I choose to apply more glue to the mid-section and sprinkle on a second layer of glitter for durability and depth. Again, allow to dry until the outer surface feels fairly dry. (It will not be dry, however!) Then CAREFULLY, remove the top from the doll's body and CAREFULLY peel away the plastic from the back of the top. What you will notice is how the top now has taken the shape of the doll's body. Allow he top tto completely dry. When dry, tap to get rid of the excess glitter. While the top is drying, let's make the skirt.
11. For the skirt, I'm using a bejeweled tulle over a second layer of plain black tulle. Using the same technique as I did with the top, I wrap the tulle around the body (around the widest part of the hips) to form a tube. It will not yet fit the waist. There will be a single seam down the center back. Fold one side over the other to form this seam and stitch flat up to the mid-point of the hips. On each side of the skirt, fold over the excess to form darts and stitch down flat. Leave the top as is. Tulle doesn't ravel and the top will lay over the skirt.
12. Next, cut tulle squares. Cut 4 full squares. Here's a hint. When you have lots of squares to cut, draw out the shape on a white piece of paper. Pin layers of tulle on the paper, and cut, using the drawing as a guide.
13. Cut 5 triangles (or diagonally cut half-squares).
14. Take the full squares, fold them in half and then in half again. Pick each one by the midpoint and pin to the skirt (about mid-thigh) at the center, each side and the back.
15. Attach the triangles in between the full squares. If you want more fullness, you can add more. If you want something less, don't add in the triangles.
You could cut away the under dress so that we see more of the legs, however, the dress is sheer enough as is, and since I used a bejeweled fabric, I liked seeing the sparkle through the layers of tulle.
This is a Pamella Roland dress I whipped up quickly for our last New York fashion report. This is what sometimes happens when I'm trying to get a report up fairly quickly. For this version, I started out with a hip length foundation (made from a glittery Christmas material). I gathered a length of tulle onto the bottom of the foundation and pinned it up in places to make a pouf. Lastly I took two lengths of sparkle grey tulle and wrapped it around the bodice and skirt. Visually, I was pretty happy with the result (though I hadn't completely figured out how the back should be finished). But then after I posted the report, I decided to come back and examine the photo more closely. What I noticed were the diagonal layers of ruffles(?) cascading down one side of the dress.
With that, I decided to make this dress again.
1. The base of this dress is a strapless sheath foundation I cut from my sparkly Christmas fabric. I also made a white lining which covers the body almost down to the knees.
2. I cut a triangle from tulle. The apex of this triangle to the midpoint of the hem should be as long as the distance between the top of the hips and the doll's toes. For Renne, this Barbie Model Muse doll, I drew a line 8" and then made another perpendicular to this one also 8" (203mm). Using a compass, I drew a curved line for the bottom. I cut strips of tulle 1x19"(2.5x48 cm) and gathered them to create lines of ruffles. Line them up with one edge of the triangle. Don't gather them too tight or else they will create too full of silhouette.
3. I have made 9 rows of ruffles, all parallel to each other. Stitch in place
4. Since I want to contain the fullness, I decided to press the ruffles down. Set your iron to a low setting, then cover the piece with a damp cloth and press.

5. Attach the apex of the triangle to the top of the hip. Wrap each side of the triangle around the body to the back. Pin along the edges of the insert to the foundation.
6. Where they meet, stitch together and tack the top edges to the foundation. The skirt part will have more fullness to one side.
1. Starting at the back, pin a strip of grey tulle into the seams high at the back of the foundation.
2. Spread the strip out and shape into pleats. Drape this from the back to the front diagonally. Here, I've pinned this strip at the side.
3. Move over the front of the bodice diagonally.
4. Pin in place as you work to get to the hips. As you work, try to pleat the fabric so that it falls into even folds.
5. Pin on the other side.
6. Pin at the back just over the top of the ruffled insert.
7. You decide what you want to do with the excess. I decided to let it drape down the back. In the photo below, here's where you are right now. Repeat the same process on the other side. When you are finished, here is what it will look like with the criss-cross of layers.

8. Sew your lining in. Place the right side of the lining to the right side of the dress. Stitch along the top and down 1" on each side. You can flatten that central back seam below that point with an iron. Close the opening with hook & eye.

Here's what both versions look like from the back. On the right, I let the light grey tulle stream down the back and a little on the side. On the right, the the grey tulle fits under the pouf of black tulle.
So which one is my favorite? They are the same dress but yet, two completely different garments. The new version is better made, but the first still has its charm!

When I am trying to replicate a designer dress from a photo, the challenges are numerous. I can't see the details of the garment, nor the back. I pretty much guess my way through. This allows me, sometimes, to toss out all the rules and come up with my own creation.
What I loved about the Marchesa dress (Fall/Winter 2015), is its cloud-like quality. I can't see exactly how those tulle layers were cut, but I do have an idea of the overall silhouette which is suspended from a necklace. Here's where you can be creative. I played a little bit and came up with the idea of making my own "tulle fringe."
My foundation is a dress with a modified halter neck bodice attached to an A-line skirt.
1. The top is made from a basic bodice sloper. I lower the neckline by 1/8" (3mm) and I place a mark 1/4" (6mm) down from the armhole.
2. Draw a curved line between the two points.
3. Trace this onto pattern paper and make it into one single piece by folding along the center front and tracing the left side onto the right. Add seam allowance.
4. For the back, place the front to the back sloper along the side seam. Where you have placed the mark below the armhole, start your line and draw down to the back center line. (You decide how low you want it. Mine is 3 1/2" up from the waist.) Should your line intercept the back dart, lower the dart. Move the apex down and then redraw the dart.
5. Add seam allowance.
Assemble your foundation.

Now let's make our fringe.

1. My fringe is roughly 1-1/2" long (3.8cm) Take a length of tulle and fold it down 1-1/2" (3.8cm). Fold it over itself about 8 times.

2. Stitch across the top.

3. Make a number of these wads in advance.

4. Beginning at the hem, we'll work our ways up. Line up each wad (stitch at the top, folds at the bottom), so that the bottom of the wad is roughly 1/4"-1/2" (6-12mm) over the hem of the foundation. The wads are straight but the hem of my dress is curved.  So you will need to cut them to go with the flow of the hemline.

5. As you need to curve up, cut the wad into a segment. Each segment should overlap.
6. Pin, then sew each segment in place, using the top stitching as a guide. Each row is about 1/2" (12mm) apart.
7. When you have finished this step, the dress will look like this.
8. Cut a 1" (2.5 cm) strip of ribbon to use as a hook for the necklace detail. If you don't have ribbon, make your own. Take a small strip of woven fabric and fold it into thirds. The end result should be about 1/4 inch (6mm) . Place this upside down at the center neck point of the dress bodice on top of the tulle layer. Attach the lining, right side to right side with the dress by sewing along the top of the dress. Turn the dress right side out.
9. When you have finished everything, now is the time to cut the fringe. Begin by cutting along the lower edge of each wad.
10. Next, cut vertical fringe.
11. My slats are roughly 1/4" (6mm) apart.
12. When you have cut all of the fringe, go back and with your fingers, separate the layers.
Here is our end result! A midnight summer's dream!
Front and back views of this very pretty dress.
Let's take a walk on the wild side with Dolce Gabanna's dress from their Spring/Summer '18 collection. I chose this dress because, I discovered tulle has quite a bit of stretch in one direction and wanted to explore this. Except for the bra under Tamrom's dress (center), there are no snaps, hooks or zippers. If you try this dress or something similar, just be careful to establish which direction the tulle stretches.
This is not a dress I would personally wear. But in the spirit of modern style, I thought it would be fun to bring this to life and to try and make it work. Essentially, this is a garment made to be worn over something else. The original dress is worn over what appears to be a 2-piece bathing suit. On the right, I've teamed it up from a one-piece borrowed from our Trash Couture post.
1. The pattern is made from the basic stretch dress sloper. I've restyled it into a strapless look.
2. The key to the "draping" lies in the added length. From the waist down to the floor, I've added nearly 10" (25.5 cm) (though you can add more if you want a more dense look).
3. When you lay out this dress, make sure the stretch is on the horizontal direction. I used a long stitch on both sides. Gather each side by pulling up the bobbin side stitch.
4. Wrong side up, I slip this onto the body of the doll to check for length.
5. Carefully remove from the doll. Turn right side out.
6. Then with a normal stitch length, sew very close to the edge to stabilize the sides.
Again, this dress needs something underneath. Pictured here is a fuller version of the panties featured in the tutorial HERE.
7. Put the dress back on the doll. Take a small strip of tulle. Twist in the center and pin to the midpoint of the bust. Wrap to each side and pin just in front of the arm.
8. Wrap around the arm and pin just in back of the arm. and pin.
9. Now, stitch everything in place.
What you will notice is the side seams are fully visible. You can, if you'd like, trim this. But be careful not to trim too closely to the seam edge. (You don't want to risk ripping the dress as you put it on and off of the doll.)
Up girls' take on the Golden Globes red carpet!!!! (Hint: it's all about black dresses!)

All photos (except for the runway shots--courtesy of and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2018. Please do not re-post without requesting permission and crediting us. Thank you.

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  1. Och! Znowu nowe pomysły, fasony i formy! Wspaniale, że pokazujesz, jak to zrobić! Twoje dziewczyny muszą być bardzo szczęśliwe, że co chwilę mają nowe kreacje! I to takie piękne!
    Pozdrawiam Cię serdecznie i życzę miłej niedzieli i dobrego, nowego tygodnia :-)

    1. Olla wrote: Oh! New ideas, fashions and forms again! It's great that you show how to do it! Your girls must be very happy that they have new creations every now and then! And it's so beautiful!
      I greet you cordially and wish you a nice Sunday and a good new week :-)

      Thank you Olla. Yes, there are many different things we can do with tulle. The material itself is not expensive, so all one needs is a little time, patience and imagination to create some interesting looks! This project has been a lot of fun.

  2. There are more possibilities with tulle than I realized! I love all the creations, with the white short dress being my favorite. I think I'm going to try to make that! I look forward to your Golden Globes post :-).

    1. Millicent, if I had more time and if the weather had been better, I would have ventured out to a crafts store to buy some of that tulle used for weddings and I would have experimented more. I did not even get a chance to see what I could do with tulle cut into circles, for example! Nonetheless, this is an inexpensive material and as long as you work on top of a foundation under dress, the sky is the limit as to what you can create!

  3. O mój Boże! Cóż za kreacje!! Nie wiem jak Ty to robisz! Wygląda to tak prosto a ja mam z tym materiałem nie lada problem!
    Ściskam i przesyłam buziaki! :*

    1. Pikulina wrote: Oh my God! What creations !! I do not know how you do it! It looks so simple and I have a problem with this material!
      I squeeze and send kisses! : *

      Thank you Pikulina. Well....I did do a certain amount of experimenting and there were the things that didn't work, which I do not show!!! But since my aim was to find simple ways of creating fashion from tulle, I feel, all the work was worth it. At the end of the day, I simply play, play play!

  4. Great creations.
    You perfectly explained the way you sew, for which I thank you. I will try to use it.

    1. Thank you Dlubaniny. Happy to know you enjoyed this post and that it may be of some use.

  5. Your creations are simply stunning! I admire your creativity and talent! Love 2 first dresses the best but all are beautiful. Thank you for tutorials!

    1. And thank you, Jewel, for stopping by and leaving a comment. This project was a lot of fun for me. Happy to know you enjoyed this.

  6. Once again you have worked your fashion magic and have succeeded in making beautiful dresses for your dolls. So glad you included some instructions. Perhaps one day, I will try my hand at this!

    1. Thank you, Phyllis for your kind words. My dolls are very lucky to have so many beautiful clothes. But I'm lucky too. Most of them are in the room with me, so the first thing I see in the morning are beautifully dressed, gorgeous dolls! doll people!!!!

  7. And again I'm absolutely charmed by your work. You create wonderful outfits, and this time I can't tell wich one I like most. They are all extraordinary. Thank you for shering all this great tips! :)

    1. Thank you, Kamelia for your very kind words. I wanted to do a diversity of different looks that would appeal to almost anyone. Glad you enjoyed this post.


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