Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Dolls' Eye View: Fall/Winter 18 NY Trends

There was a lot not to love at New York Fashion Week. It would appear the chaotic transition we saw last season, is still very much alive. Designers are throwing everything and the kitchen sink onto catwalks: bizarre color and pattern combinations, clunky clothes or simply....the same old stuff!  My girls are looking for something new and had a difficult time weeding out the bad from the good. So I told the girls to concentrate on styles for which New York has always been best known: simple, sophisticated silhouettes, easy to wear pieces with a touch of eclectic pizzazz .

Animal Crackers
It is a winter collection, after all. The girls loved the Rock 'n Roll feeling of Tom Ford's animal prints that ran over everything from blazers and tights to blouson jackets and tunics. What we loved in particular, was the abundance of animal prints sometimes teamed with metallics.
Natasha loved Ford's snake skin printed blazer and  leggings, but since I didn't have a comparable print, we decided to go with the leopard printed fabric similar to the far right jacket. It may be a bit over the top for some, but my dolls like the "more is better" concept of piling on different versions of the same animal theme print! Her square, padded shouldered blazer is worn over leopard printed stretch leggings.
And if that weren't enough....we topped it off with a faux fur jacket in a matching print!

Check Mate!
There is LOTS of black and white combinations planned for next winter. This can be as simple as a white fleecy coat tossed over the shoulder of a black turtleneck sweater and black slinky leggings, or it can be a giant checkboard dress trimmed with fur.
But for Liu, she wanted to stick to the classic look of a white "sheepskin" coat over a black turtleneck and skinny pants. The coat here is from our tutorial, "Fleeced!".

Tescla Trip to Mars
What would you wear if invited for a trip to Mars in Elon Musk's Tesla's a hypothetical question the girls began asking while looking at Alexander Wang's catwalk show. We all loved the kicky little dresses and ensembles all etched with silver zippers! We're going to set these photos aside and pull them out later after we get some metal zippers to experiment with! Another way to go--silver tights and shoes under a Tom Ford blazer! Houston, we have lift off!!!

Fruit Basket
My girls never get tired of black. But a few (and many of you) have been calling for color. It's not that color isn't on the catwalk. The problem has been the trashy, crashing way designers use it these days. But here, we were able to find a most delicious application of color. The silhouettes are simple, the fabrics luxurious. And for the palette...think citrus with a twist of raspberry on your next trip to the fabric store.

Family Jewels
Again, this is a story about color straight out of the jewelry box: amethyst, topaz and garnet or a pop of fuchsia.
Natalie fell in love with this hot pink dress by Oscar de la Renta. The fabric was a bit stiff for a doll dress, but the color was spot on! This is a standard dress: bodice joined with a flared skirt. The "embroidery" was painted on using fabric paint.
But let's not forget, this is a winter collection, so we added black accessories: a furry jacket and a pair of "gloves." 

Second Hand Rose
Anyone who has lived in New York for any length of time, knows all about its vintage shops. One trend we did notice was the return to garments with a distinct second hand look. Madras, velvet, art nouveau detailing, faded's all about extracting the best of fashion's glory days in order to give a new direction to today's styles.
 I love the look of blush and claret. Violetta's dress is made in two parts. The top was fashioned with vintage lace, pieced together over her form to create a simple bodice. The bottom is a simple, evening length wrap skirt that opens in the front off to one side. I did not have velvet in this color, so I substituted a patterned silk. To further give it a "vintage" look, I cut out floral medallions from a length of lace and stitched them to the skirt.
But we weren't sure Violetta would be warm enough. So we added a cocoon coat made from a men's  paisley printed silk tie.
 Again, my girls' eyes were attracted to those sexy little dresses. It doesn't seem like much, but this is the kind of dress that goes everywhere! I chose a neutral silk to replicate the dress. I like how the straps wrap over the shoulders. But.....the doll is tiny. No matter what you do, the fabric will not drape the same as a full scale model. So we simply decided how the dress should drape and tacked those points down.
This is a very tricky color. I chose Meagan to wear this dress. The trick to making it work, once again, is by piling on the same or similar color. A big bathrobe coat is the perfect garment to wear over such a sexy little dress.

Pure Sugar
Again, pure white takes center stage next winter. These are simple-go anywhere-silhouettes with a touch of glamour....fur trims at the shoulders or hemline, asymmetrical necklines or the simple elegance of a bias cut fishtail gown.

Return of the LBD (Little Black Dress)
When in doubt...go with black....the little black dress, that is. There is a variety of fabrics, textures and chic all packed into the best looking black dresses. Consider asymmetry as a way to transform an ordinary dress into one of the hottest looks of the season.
 Laeticia' wears a very simple dress. We took the basic stretch dress pattern and cut this neckline into the front and the back. Since it stretches, there is no need for snaps or other closures. The dress can be worn by itself or with the over layers of draped tulle.

Skinny Black Tie
A New York night in the 21st century! It's a look that combines the ease and comfort of legging with the chic of a tuxedo jacket to be worn to those very dressy affairs.
Billie immediately grabbed a tailored jacket and a pair of stretch pants from the closet then headed out on the town.
This is a Fall collection, so don't forget the faux fur stole to toss over the shoulders when the party is over!

Twilight Time
Formal events call for something a tad bit more luxurious. So here we are....back to black shot with silver streams of silver sequins and sparkle. This can be as simple as a strapless, empire waist velvet dress etched with silver designs over the bust or a long shift streaming with silver sequins worn under a velvet coat. When duplicating this for the doll, you can make your own fabric by making lines of sequins and creating your own designs over velvet or attaching lines of silver sequins to a sheer fabric to recreate the look of the dress in the middle.

Well....fasten your seat belts.... Next stop....LONDON Fashion Week!

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Dolls' Eye View: Paris Spring '18 Couture

It was hard, but after looking at all of the mayhem on the Paris couture catwalk, the girls were able to get their hands on a few beautiful gems. What you will notice with these spring 18 looks....lots of one-shouldered effects, luxury fabrics (satin, silk), novelty lace, and in some cases, silhouettes with lots of volume and movement.

Fancy Pants
It starts with daywear into early evening with a few very smart pants ensembles. We loved the simple elegance of Armani's classic blazers, teamed with silk and satin trousers. But where we were really blown away....Jean Paul Gaultier's trompe-l'oeil striped pant suit.
Making this pant suit for Nadja was no small feat. I started with a basic bodice and literally created a jigsaw puzzle of pattern pieces which had to be reassembled. It's worn with a small shrug which I made with a lined rectangle.

Scarf Tricks
We were also intrigued by Armani's dresses that resembled silk scarves wrapped around the body or suspended from the shoulders.
So....with another lined rectangle of silk, Angelina's dress was constructed by simply wrapping it around her body and pleated in the front. I pinched in darts at both sides of the dress so that it softly conforms to her silhouette.

So Sixties
Just because it's couture doesn't mean the couturiers can have a little fun. Many of these looks recall both the innocence of a Jackie Kennedy style suit and the crazy black and white op-Art theme of 1960's. Again, the work of Jean Paul Gaultier comes to mind. We liked the op-art print, the tent dress as well as the simple white gown with bold plates of aluminum spots.

Flight of Fancy
Look for feathers to jazz things up.
Here, we took a white flared evening gown and added "wings" to Joan's shoulders. In reality, these aren't feathers, but rather--shaggy fabric which gives the illusion of feathers scaled to the doll.

Snow Angels
Unpretentious, modest.....nothing better says summer then a cloud of soft white fabric. The silhouettes are quite simple, cut using generous proportions and choir girl lines.

Sparkle & Shine
Star that you are.....Fabrics that sparkle, shine...silhouettes that play up the glamour of your diva...these are all classic but very powerful looks for next summer. Look out for clear sequins, metallic satin (if you can find it), sheers with "jewels" or sparkles.
Waris wears a gown we made by draping liquid silver lame over a matching foundation. This is fabric usually reserved for theatrical curtains and extremely hard to sew. But the results was more than worth my sore fingertips!

Color Revolution
Typically we don't see a lot of color on couture catwalks. And what we do see, usually doesn't work all that well. But there were a few jewel tone colors: amethyst, tourmaline, topaz and ruby. What we also love here are the generous proportions and fabrics that move (chiffon) and detailing (flocked sheers) that pump up the glamour of the look.

Midnight at Maxim's
It's the year of the shoulder. Look for lots of one shoulder tops and dresses, bare shouldered gowns...even tops that crisscross around the neck. These are head turning, dramatic looks carved out of classic black evening materials.
What could be more dramatic than a diagonally cut top and full skirt accented with black ribbons! Vanessa's dolly version was quite simple. The one shoulder top was draped over a constructed one-shouldered foundation and tied at the shoulder. The skirt is a full circle skirt with an opening at the side front.

Glam Tram
 Again, this theme makes the case for old fashioned glamour. The girls love the lushness of these dresses. These are girly-girl dresses complete with frilly fabric, feathers, embroidery and even a fancy draped sleeve.
But the dress, my girls fought over is this Ralph & Russo pink, asymmetrical, satin gown enhanced with streams of tassels. We love how the shoulder "falls off" the shoulder. But we simply love the tassel trim over one arm and diagonally across the hem of the skirt. Because there are no tassels in the size and scale I needed...I had to make them by knotting together a few strands of fine cord.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

One-Sided Point of View

While we were busy wrapping everyone in tulle and celebrating our anniversary, the Haute Couture designers in Paris strutted their stuff and the New Yorkers have begun what will be a month long marathon of global fashion weeks. While the girls are off to make their reports, I wanted to do another tutorial based on a recent trend taking the fashion world by storm: one-shouldered necklines!

L-R: Vionnet, Armani Prive, Dries Van Noten, Gillian Anderson in unnamed designer, Mary J. Blige in Alberta Ferretti, Greta Gerwig in Oscar de la Renta. Photos:
This seems simple enough, but often simple is very hard to do well and I thought this would be a good exercise to help you understand how and where you can alter a pattern to bring your own ideas to life. Most fashion schools teach pattern making two ways: using measurements, pencil and ruler on the table and "draping" or "3-D Design" whereby you create the pattern in cotton muslin directly on the dress form. As a student I loved pattern drafting (something I developed while working with commercial patterns as a teenager), but today most students prefer watching the design come alive on a mannequin in front of their eyes.

Flat Pattern Drafting Method
The pattern for this garment begins with the basic bodice sloper. Whenever you are creating an asymmetrical design, you need to work with the full front bodice (or foundation). This is as simple as tracing a mirror image of the sloper on the opposite side of the center front (CF) line.
What I have learned about making patterns for dolls is how easy it is to miscalculate where things fall on the body. If the neckline is too high it becomes a more prudish version of your original design. Too low often results in the design falling off the doll's tiny frame.
1. Until your eye becomes accustomed to your doll's proportions, I highly recommend you place the paper pattern against the body and draw or fold the neckline. Note: I've folded and taped the darts to get a more accurate idea of how the neckline with impact bodice.
2. From the shoulder to the opposite side beneath the armhole of the front bodice, draw a diagonal line. The upper part with be cut away and discarded.
3. Take the back bodice and place the shoulder line against the shoulder line of the front bodice. Mark where the back neckline will start based on what is happening in the front. You want a smooth transition from front to back which is why we do this.
4. I've flipped the back right side up. Now design the line of the back the way you want it.
5. You're not finished yet. You must now match the right back to the left side front and mark where the necklines should meet. Draw your diagonal line. Be sure you label "left back" and right back" on the pattern pieces). Add seam allowance, lay your pattern against the fabric and cut one of each pattern piece.

Draping method
This is the exact same garment as above which will yield the exact same end result. It's just a different approach to pattern making.
We are making what's called a "toile" or a "muslin" out of unbleached cotton. No muslin, no problem, you can use paper though it is a bit trickier to work with. (But be very careful not to tear your pattern as you work.) I start with adding seam allowance to the front and back slopers then making my "shell." Transfer the paper pattern to the muslin, cut out then stitch together pieces, using a basting stitch or a long machine stitch. Mark the center back seam and pin down the center back.

1. After you have created your shell, place it on the doll and sketch out the the lines of your neckline.
2. Note how wide or narrow your shoulder will be.
3. You will need to decide what happens when the front meets the back under the arm on the side where the shoulder will be cut away.
4. Unless the opening is on the (short) side of the garment, you will need to figure how the left and right side come together at the center back to ensure a smooth line.
5. Once you are happy with the look and the fit, you will need to carefully take your toile apart. Trace all markings to a new sheet of tracing paper to create your pattern.
6. Add seam allowance.
The one-shouldered neckline is almost always diagonal. That means it is very easy to stretch out of shape while you are stitching the garment together. As a way to control what happens to that diagonal line and provide a bit of structure, you can add support with a tiny strip of "iron on interfacing." For those of you not familiar with this product, it looks like a cotton fabric on one side and has a raised pebbly surface on the backside. The pebbly surface is placed against the wrong side of the garment and you iron on the cotton side. Here, I cut a very tiny strip (roughly 1/8" (3mm) and placed it along the stitch line. When you are ironing this on, be careful not to scrub, but rather to press (up and down movements). Once in place, you can attach your lining. If you don't plan to line the garment, fold over and hand stitch in place as I've done here.
Here's my one shouldered silhouette side front and back. Use the same method for any dress or for when using the sloper for stretch garments. (If you have a good quality stretch fabric, you may not need the interfacing.) You can leave the arm bare, set in a sleeve or add embellishments, depending on your design!

On Dorian, I took a scrap and made a little puff to which I attached a train (using a narrow rectangle of fabric). The oversized print of this silk really makes a statement!
Which method should you use and when? Aside from an answer like, "whatever you feel comfortable with," I personally see the flat pattern method for simple or "classic" looks, whereas the "draping" method is good for free style "original creations like the one featured below.

I loved the neckline of the Oscar de la Renta dress worn by actress Greta Gerwig at this year's Golden Globes. It really isn't that hard to recreate in that it's based on our simple one-shouldered neckline.
1. Start by making a toile (sloper with seam allowance cut out of muslin). Place on doll body.
2. With a pencil, design the neckline. Here, I'm drawing it directly on the muslin. The strokes should be big. If the details are too fine, they will be lost when you add the lining!
3. Again, the body is a 3-dimensional object, so you will need to figure out what is happening on the side.
4. And you will need to decide what will happen in the back.
5. Once you are happy with the design, cut away the excess to get a better look at what's happening.
6. In my case, I was happy with the neckline, but once I cut the top away, the right side didn't hug the bust the way I wanted. So I pinched in a tiny dart to make it fit. Once you are happy with the fit and the design, it's time to take the toile apart and make our paper pattern.
Please note: Exceptionally, I have designed this so that the front is connected to the back at the shoulder line. What that means is, the front and the right back bodices will form a single pattern. I did this because the part going over the shoulder is narrow and I wanted to avoid bulk at that point. Just be aware that when you do this, 1) the pattern piece will take up more fabric, 2) the back will fall on the other words...the back will have a bit of stretch.

Make your paper pattern. Flatten out the toile and trace all markings onto tracing paper. Make any adjustments to maintain symmetry of the darts. Be sure to label the pattern pieces so that you know what they are and how they attach to each other. This is especially important with asymmetrical patterns. Add seam allowance.

This garment is best lined! Use a very lightweight material.
1. Sew the right back to the left back (blue dotted lines). Sew the lining to the garment along the neckline (red dotted line).
2. Turn the garment to the right side out. Very carefully press along the neckline.
3. While this is still flat, I turned under the armhole of the garment onto itself and pinned in place. Then I turned under the lining onto itself. Hand stitched the two together. Now complete the rest of the garment by stitching the sides together.

I only made this design as a top which means it can be combined with any evening skirt or trousers for a dramatic look!

Before I close the subject, you know I always like to present a "simple solution" for those who might feel this tutorial is a bit intimidating. There is another look I've seen on the runway. It falls along the lines of the Alberta Ferretti gown worn by Mary J. Blige. It consists of a strapless dress and a single sleeve. You can either make the dress using the sheath pattern, or craft a tube out of stretchy fabric and add the embellishment of your choosing.

Off the Beaten Track
1. Let's make our base. (Can be applied to any style of strapless dress.) I started by using the pattern for the one-piece camisole.
2. Make a tube by cutting a rectangle of fabric big enough for the doll to get her arm through it. Hem the top and bottom. Make one stitch down the edge and turn right side up. Slide this onto the arm.
3. Pin where the top of the sleeve meets up with the top of the camisole, then stitch it under the arm.
1. You can use ANYTHING you want. Here, I took a rectangle of silk and hemmed all four edges.
2.  Softly hand pleat it with your fingers, pin along the neckline and tack in place. It will go under one arm and over the opposite arm.
3. Tack it on top of the sleeve as well as under the arm.
4. Continue to tack it to the neckline in the back
5. Tack it to either side of the center back seam. The top or dress can be closed with snaps.

E-Z 1-Shoulder looks
1. Adding a strap to this top acts as a support for any embellishment you might want.
2. A cluster of silk flowers gives a feminine aura to my otherwise austere camisole.
3. A tiny bit of faux fur really glams things up. Here, I've added a sleeve to the camisole underneath.
And just look how a single ribbon can spruce things up!

With the exception of the runway photos (courtesy of, all photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist 2018. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank You.

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