Saturday, April 28, 2018

Cabbage Roses and Frills

As I mentioned in my last post, textiles are the most important element in creating haute couture. When I am looking over the catwalks or the red carpets, with certain styles, I am limited by my access (or lack) of luxury fabrics. I can sometimes get around that limitation with opulent trimming. But even then.....the best is in the fabric shops of Paris..and I am not always in that beloved city when I need them.
Left: dress made using a fancy trim. Right: dress made with my own surface treatment.
For the Fall/Winter ready-to-wear Ermanno Scervino dress I replicated for my doll, I used a very elaborate frilly trim and a super simple pattern: fitted bodice with an attached full skirt. It took, literally no time to do this. Quite naturally, there were details I missed from the original dress, but at the end of the day, the doll was happy because.....all she really wanted was the look!

That said, after fashion month, I took a closer look at the Scervino dresses and I decided to make it again..after recreating the fabric! Upon close scrutiny, what I noticed was that the dress was covered with swirls of ruffles and bows! Recreating this is straightforward and pretty simple. You can use commercial ribbon (which I strongly suggest). But if you don't have access to the right color or desired fabric, you can cut strips of the same fabric as the dress. HOWEVER....for this look I do not want if you cut your own strips (which I did), be sure to either flame seal the edges or use a fray check product or white craft glue to keep the edges in tact.


Samples help me to make a game plan for attacking the project. Moreover, I can check to see the scale of my topical decoration in regards to the doll and the design of the garment.

Cut strips or use ribbon. For this sample, I used strips that were about 5/8"(12mm).
With needle and thread, making a simple running stitch and gather each strip into a small cluster.
Tack on to the base.
Check the scale.

Now it's time to apply this concept to the garment. Unlike the "Chanel" project, the garment is fully sewn. (If you decide to line the dress, you should add that lining after completing the outside first.

1. I begin with a VERY SIMPLE dress pattern. Remember: the fancier the fabric, the simpler the garment! This one is a basic: fitted bodice and skirt--though I have not stitched the skirt darts. They are softly gathered into the bodice. I've decided to leave the base of the dress pretty sheer so that the dress remains light. I flame sealed all of the edges. For the moment, I leave the center back of the dress open.
2. Looking at the original dress, I noticed there are swirls of ruffles over the bust. This also serves to hide the bust darts! I did not add ruffled to the back bodice.
3. I ruffle my strips to form clusters then take them onto the skirt of the dress. Before I get too close to the center back, I stitch up the back of the dress, leaving it open from the hips up (so the doll can get in and out). You can use snaps or hook and eyes to close. Tack the clusters over the center back of the skirt to hide the seam.
If you look at the photo with the two variations of this dress, they are quite similar. If you are lucky to find this trim (or something close to it), then getting the look is easy. I will tell you that it took me roughly a day to prepare the fabric for this dress. But at the end of the was worth it.

In fact..... looking at the store bought trim inspired me to try my hand at making my own surface treatment! On the left, what I saw were narrow strips of fabric with pinked (zigzag) edges stitched down the center to a tulle base. Some were loops, others were swirls.

There was an Haute Couture Valentino dress (Spring 2017) I had wanted to make, but had no access to either fabric or trim. When you do find similar fabric, I should point out, it is usually out of scale and very expensive! By making your own, you have control over the scale and the look you hope to achieve.
Pictured here....flat cabbage rose motifs in the palest of pinks. The original dress looks to be a lightweight silk...maybe even with satin ribbon roses. For the dress I wanted to make, I used a pale pink sheer nylon (the type found in old nightgowns). This fabric doesn't fray, however, I liked the zigzag texture of roses on the black commercial trim.


1. I cut strips of my nylon fabric using pinking shears. Cut each one on the bias (diagonally). You can fold in half (the long way) and press so that you have a stitching guide, to make it easy.
2. I stitched each strip down to the base with a running stitch down the center. The fabric was against a flat surface and as I worked in circular motion, I turned the fabric. In able to get the edges to stand up, you need to position each row close to the other so that the edges stand up.
3. Again, you can place the swatch to check the scale against that of the doll.

For this garment, I used the pattern for an evening length slip dress. When you look closely at the original dress, the roses are roughly the size of the model's bust. That helps establish the scale of roses you need to pull off the look. However....what I discovered is that making large roses is pretty easy--small ones take a little more time (due to their scale)! The dress calls for small roses that gradually get larger towards the hem.

Sew your garment together. However, leave the back seam open.
Place it flat on a surface. You are going to need two hands to do this treatment.
Prepare the strips: For this dress, I cut 1/2"(7mm) strips using pinking shears. I folded and pressed them to give me a stitching guide. I use a needle and single weight thread.
1. Fold the strip in half, then fold the edge over and stitch down onto the dress.
2. Moving in a circular fashion, wrap the strip around and stitch the folded edge to the garment. Do this about twice.
3. Then slip the needle inside the strip so that you can make running stitches down the middle of the strip directly on the garment.
4. As you are work, lean one edge against the side of the strip that is already in place. This helps the piece to stand up.
5. Note how I use my thumb to hold the lower half of the strip to the surface of the garment as I stitch. With every stitch or two, I give the whole garment a turn and continue on.
6. Here's another view of how this works. You can either clip the edge and tack down or you can leave the ends loose then wrap around other rosettes later as you add additional ones. If, while you are making these little roses, you run out of fabric strip, simple cut another and keep going. If you end up with funny little spaces, you can always take strips and make zigzags or tiny swirls in between the rosettes.

When you are about 1/2" or so away from the center back seam, stop and stitch up the garment (leaving an opening for the doll, of course.) Then carefully finish adding rosettes until the back is complete and the back seam is hidden. You can, instead, cut a strip of tulle and stitch rosettes to that, then tack the strip onto the back of the dress. 

This is A LOT of WORK!!! This took me a good three days!!! Whether or not you make something using this technique will depend on 1) how badly you want the dress for your doll 2) how special the doll is, 3) how much she begs or nags you!!! For whatever reason, should you find yourself tempted to try this technique, perhaps you might want to start off using it as a trim--or on a skirt--or a short dress unless of course you have the time and patience or the doll has blockaded the door to your sewing room until you meet her demands!

Nonetheless...when I finally completed Veronica's dress....both of us were extremely happy as this is a very pretty look!

For more ideas on creating your own interesting fabric treatments, be sure to check out our other posts:
Affaires of the Heart
Applied Arts: Faux Embroidery
Applied Arts: Faux (Beaded) Embroidery
Pucker Up!

All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2018. Please credit me and ask me first before reposting!!! Thank you.

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  1. It shows that a lot of time and effort was put into this dress, it is stunning! I love it!!! The black dresses are very lovely too! Miss Veronica's dress is perfect for a red carpet event, I can imagine the clicking of the cameras and the flashing of the lights to capture Veronica in this wonderful gown :-). Fantastic work April, bravo!!! Thank you for the excellent tutorial, as always :-).

    1. Thank you M&F for your very kind words. When I started out, I didn't anticipate the pink dress would take as long as it did. After I began, I realized I should have, perhaps, used the technique on a shorter dress. But when it was all finished, I looked at Miss Veronica and felt, it was all very much worth all the time and effort I put into making it.....just like couture for humans!!!!

  2. OMG! Wonderful dresses!
    A great tutorial. Thank you!

    1. Thank you soooo much Dlubaniny. Happy you enjoyed this post!!!

  3. Glorious dresses, you are truly amazing April. Love love love your blog.

    1. Thank you so much Karen. Over the years, I've tried to step up my game a bit to keep everyone engaged. Thank you for your support and your friendship as this is what keeps me motivated!!!

  4. I'm so impressed (again) with your creativity! Your ideas are genius! Great tutorial. And I admire the long pink dress of course, but the little black one I just love!

    1. And thank you Kamelia, for all of your kind words and support. These are the kinds of dresses that one sees and decides we must try to make one for our doll. As long as there is something called fashion...I'll be there trying to figure out how to make it in 1/6 scale!

  5. I just love these! I so need to make a wedding dress and some summer outfits using your techniques.

    1. Thank you Jaye. In reality, none of these dresses are difficult to make. You simply need to have time and patience to see it through!

  6. These are so beautiful! I see similar fabric in the store but its way too large for a doll. Thank u so much for showing us how to make this!

    1. Thank you so much for your continued support and your kind words. We probably saw the same fabric!! And I probably would have tried to use it!!

  7. Suknia jest bajeczna! Nie można oderwać wzroku! Warto było poświęcić tyle czasu, energii i pracy aby stworzyć coś tak pięknego!
    Obawiam się, że brakło by mi wytrwałości do uszycia takiej kreacji! Dlatego tym bardziej Cię podziwiam :-)
    Wspaniały strój!
    Pozdrawiam serdecznie ♥

  8. Do you have any posts on sewing a zipper into a doll skirt? I prefer to hand sew them but i want to get them in between the lining amd fabric so the stitches aren't visible, but not sure how this is done. I've seen doll garments made this way. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi there. So sorry to take so long to reply but I’m in Europe and access to internet for me is very limited. I haven’t done a dedicated tutorial on zippers as yet. But it’s coming. I think I did something on sewing in a zipper but can’t take a look for the moment. But zipper tutorial is on my to-do list!

  9. Love this tutorial ❤ It's so inspiring! Will try to sew some outfits with your tutorial!

    I'm not commenting very often but always read your posts, your blog is my favourite one!


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