Sunday, September 23, 2018

Dolls' Eye View: Emmys 2018

My dolls search for any and all excuses to get all dressed up and show off. This year, however, I asked if they really wanted to continue to go to the Emmy Awards (the U.S. television Oscars). After all, many of the celebrities and their nominated TV shows are scarcely known outside of the country AND (more importantly) the gowns are not always on par with the "gold standard" gear of the Academy Awards or the Golden Globes. To this inquiry, there was a resounding YES vote throughout the house (including from dolls who do not wear gowns). This red carpet event, they explained, allows them to upstage the stars in spectacular fashion by restyling or even redesigned the gowns!

The problem with the lackluster look of today's red carpet events, is what seems to be the missing element of glamour! To our eyes, there seems to be a lack of imagination, a lack of passion for sensational fashion! What happened to opera length gloves, what happened to the stoles, the swashbuckling capes, tornadoes of tulle and chiffon, the piles of jewelry...the tiara? My girls want to strut their stuff the way movie stars from the golden age of cinema did. So once again, my girls headed out to the Emmy's. Think of this session as a lesson in...."if dolls ruled the (fashion) universe!

My girl, Liu loved the black sequined sheath worn by actress Constance Wu (best known for her role in the comedy series, "Fresh Off the Boat" as well as the film, "Crazy Rich Asians." The dress, designed by our beloved Jason Wu, is pretty basic with most of the interest focused on the asymmetrical detailing crossing the shoulders of the draped, bare shouldered sleeves. Since the sequined fabric stretches, I used a basic pattern for jersey dresses. The sleeves are tubes attached to the dress at the underarms. I used tiny strips of the sequined scraps for the detailing over the top of the dress. Liu liked the dress as is, but said, she'd like to take it totally over the top with a shawl made of rectangular black and silver sequins, which she's holding in her hand. (No she could not wait for me to make her a jacket.)

It's always nice to see a fresh burst of color on the red carpet. We know that actress, Regina King--dressed in a neon lime Christian Siriano strapless gown--did not expect to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her role in Netflix's Seven Seconds. We assume that's why she was dressed so simply to claim her award. There's nothing wrong with simplicity, and we do love the color and the cut of the gown...but simple doesn't have to be boring either. With just a little bit of effort, my girl Naomi took the same strapless gown and tossed a brocade kimono coat over the shoulders and a statement necklace around her neck. It moves simple to sensational! (A brocade shawl with fringe would also have been spectacular, but Naomi, unlike Liu, waited for the coat!)

Okay, we get it. The actress put on this very basic dress and assumed she'd wow everyone with her beauty. And yes, Nathalie Emmanuel, Game of Thrones star, you are gorgeous as is. And while we love the stark simplicity of this black gown by designer Anita Ko, my girl Akure still felt something was missing. "Give me gloves," demanded Akure. We gave her opera length gloves, a furry white jacket and teardrop pearl earrings to make the whole ensemble look like a million dollars. You can do this dress with a (bodice & skirt with waist seam) or in one continuous line by creating a strapless princess line dress. Once you've made your pattern, be sure to add a train. You can see how that is made by looking  HERE.

We took a good, hard look at Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany's outfit and notice the Rosalind Russel "Auntie Mame" moment she was having in this very 1950's pants ensemble designed by Christian Siriano. Again we loved the color and the drama of the top as well as the sassy stovepipe pants. Veronique, however, didn't feel this ensemble was dressy enough. She insisted the black pants should be replaced by forest green taffeta and that the accessories should be more in-your-face-present. Replicating this outfit was super easy. It starts with a halter neck top over which I have simply draped a piece of fabric over one shoulder and across the bodice. The trousers are the standard slim fitting pants. We gave her a chain belt and some statement gold earrings to pull off a super glam look.

This is an instance were we completely redesigned the dress. Yara Shahidi, is a beautiful 18-year old actress best known for her role in the hit TV series "Black-ish" wearing this gown from Gucci,.We were immediately drawn to the flower in the center of the body with fabric radiating from the central point. In our view, the gown itself is well.... a tad bit matronly for a girl of 18. The drapery does nothing for her young silhouette, the beading, even the fabric undermines the freshness of the concept. So we kept the flower and the color but swapped out the sequined silk for a lightweight sheer fabric. We dropped the halter neck for the simplicity of strapless. Iman's dress begins with the base of a strapless foundation over which we simply draped the fabric and tacked it in place. Then, we added a flower in the middle of our drape.

Speaking of fresh flowers....spotted on the red carpet was actress Elisa Perry in a white dress designed by Jovani. The girls absolutely LOVED her dress.....but as a wedding gown!!! Still, we again attracted to the 3-D aspect of her dress filled with blooms. Even though it is a little bit late in the season for this dress, I gave in to Joan's request to make it for her. (She was out of town when we were celebrating the Royal Wedding!)  The 1/6 version starts with a strapless sheath in white lace. I bought small silk flowers from the craft store then stitched them on randomly over the front of the dress right down to her toes. A little bit of gathered tulle is added at the waist in the back. And since we're doing a Billie Holloway number here, we put a flower in Joan's hair. Aloha!!

My girl, Kelly, insisted on being part of this post. She selected the feathered gown worn by Sarah Poulson (Oceans 8 star) from the house of Oscar de la Renta. This is just a 1-piece corset top over a tulle skirt with LOTS of feathers sewn on top. The bustier, as simple as it appears, is a real challenge on this scale due to its deep décolleté. I tried numerous things to make this neckline work but the deep neckline causes everything to spread apart. But at the end of the day, I ended up using felt for the stiffness and pinched it in over the bust--which worked...sort of.... Ok, so I cheated...and glued stretch velvet over the whole structure after it was on the doll. If she doesn't move, her boobs won't fall out! It's not perfect but this was the closest I could come to replicating this neckline and frankly, the end result is not half bad! We fiddled with accessories, but with the skirt this large, settled on the simple addition of silver and crystal jewelry.

With that, we end on a pure and simple note here with actress Kristen Bell in a white Solace London gown. We pretty much remained faithful to the design of the original dress. It is a strapless sheath with sleeves sewn onto straps which I added to keep them on at the cap. The message here is to make a statement with your choice of fabric. Something with texture of interest. The actress, best known for her roles in Veronica Mars and Anna in Disney's Frozen, is clad in a super simple white dress. For my taste, the fabric is too matte, too plain. And while we feel the fit is flawless, my girl Meagan wanted it in a more glamorous with a bit of sheen. Meagan's dress was cut from a champagne white polyester fabric with a distinct, striated sheen (a bit too difficult to appreciate in these photos) that reflects light and gives a sculptural look to her curves. We gave her accents of pearl jewelry, all of which match her luminous platinum hair. And for the last photo, we gave her a snowy white furry stole.

Don't go away.....up next....the girls' first report on Fashion Month from New York!!!

Follow us on Twitter: @FashDollStylist
Like us on Facebook: @FashDollStylist
We're also on Pinterest: @FashDollStylist
And of course, we are on Instagram: @fashiondollstylist

Monday, September 17, 2018

Zip It!!!

While the girls are compiling their fashion month reports, I thought I'd do a quick tutorial on zippers. In the world of doll fashion where most designers use snaps, hooks and velcro, a dress with a zipper is a luxury item. It's not that they are difficult to put them in. The problem--and expense--lies in finding doll sized zippers. Not an easy task. And when you do find them---well....even though they are 1/6 the size of a normal zipper--they certainly are not 1/6 the price! Yes, they are small, but they are ever as complex as the real thing.

I have been to fabric and notions stores everywhere looking for 1/6 zippers.  I will tell you now, you will have to order them online. For this post, I bought metal separating and metal regular zippers at I Sew For Dolls. (Located in the US, they ship fast. My order was perfect.) There are three other online sources that sell them as well. (Their websites are listed under Tutorials-Fab Favorite Resources.) Prior to buying 1/6 scale, I have to admit I've used 4"(10 cm) pant or jean zippers. They are the same length as doll size however, the teeth and zipper pulls are a bit large on the doll. The image above on the left shows the difference between human and doll zippers. On the right, the nylon zipper teeth are closer in scale, however the zipper pull is out-sized and I have yet to figure out how remove it! Nonetheless, the pant zipper is perfect for a 16" doll dress and will make do for the 12" doll inasmuch as it is sewn in the back which is out of view.

The Dress Zipper
Let's start with something simple. Whether you use a 1/6th zipper or a 4" (10cm) pant zipper, putting it in is the same.
1. Using a long, running stitch, baste the center back seam of your dress closed. No matter what happens, this ensures the zipper will line up perfectly with the center back seam of your dress.
2. Make sure the zipper is zipped shut and lay it face down against the seam of the dress. Leave a small space at the top of the dress (about 1/4" or 5mm) near the neckline.
3. Baste each side of the zipper to the corresponding side of the center back seam.
4. Working your way down one side of the back (about 1/8" (3mm) clear of the center back, stitch the zipper to the dress, using a tiny back-stitch. This is, in effect, a top stitch. (Note: You can also top-stitch using a sewing machine. Just be sure to use a zipper foot.)
5. When you get to where the zipper pull is, move it down a little then continue to stitch the zipper to the dress until you have finished. Repeat on the opposite side being care to create a line of stitches equally spaced from the center back seam.

6. You can finish the dress as you would normally. However, if you have gone through the trouble of buying zippers for your clothes, maybe you should consider putting in a lining! I've sewn my lining in as usual, leaving the space down the center back seam. I fold the lining's center back seams inward and pin so the bottom of the zipper is exposed and clear from the fabric. You want to get close to the zipper but far enough away so that the lining doesn't get caught.
7. I've hand stitched everything down. And at the top of the zipper---a hook and eye keeps it all closed and neat!

The Separating Zipper
Whereas you can probably get away with using a human sized 4" zipper to close the back of the dress, a separating zipper--that which is used for jackets--is another story! (If you attempt to use a regular zipper, the doll won't be able to get out of the jacket!) When you find a 1/6 separating zipper, it is a truly remarkable item worth the price. Fully functional and perfectly scaled, the doll jacket because a true miniature marvel. Putting this in is easy provided you remember to keep the zipper closed in the first few steps!
1. The material or fabric you use will determine the option you should chose. If you are working with a woven fabric that ravels at the edges, I would opt for the same instructions we used for the back zipper. But for this jacket, I am using python printed and stamped vinyl. Whether vinyl, plastic or leather, you don't have to worry about frayed edges but you do have to be concerned about bulk. So for this exercise, I am simply aligning the cut edge of the jacket against each side of the zipper. I pin the inside of the seams to the jacket.
2. Repeat on the other side, being careful that the two sides of the jacket line up perfectly.
3. Baste the jacket to the zipper. Check to make sure the zipper can move up and down smoothly without getting jammed.
4. If you are going to use a machine to top stitch this down, be sure to use a zipper foot. My machine is old, but your zipper foot will look similar to this. The zipper foot is more narrow than the regular one.
5. It is designed to hold the fabric/zipper down while leaving the needle free to stitch without obstructions. You can also elect to hand stitch this as we did with the dress zipper.
Waris can wear this jacket open and over a matching skirt. Or she can lend it to her girlfriend, Katoucha who wears it zipped up over pair of a silk abstract printed pair of trousers.

There are times, however, when putting in a zipper is more complicated. As an inspiration for my next project, I found a photo of a biker's jacket I wanted to make for my guys.
This was a bit of a challenge. The zipper is at a slight angle. The left lapel folds inward and the jacket zips up to the tip of the shoulder. Note how the zipper runs along one edge of the lapel but not the other. And to boot---it's all in leather!!!
This is a version of the pattern I used. Inasmuch as this is a tutorial on zippers, I decided to use a simplified version so as not to confuse you with umpteen pattern pieces. The principle for putting in the zipper, however, remains the same. The zipper is sewn into a seam on one side and is part of the lapel on the other. I cut (my) left side in two (blue line) and added seam allowance to both pieces. The zipper will lie against where you see the fuzzy green line. (The lapel folds over where you see the fold line.)
1. Using chalk, I drew in the seam allowance on the side front pattern. This provides a guide for the placement of the zipper.
2. I lightly press that line to further help me with my placement of the zipper.
3. In this instance, I open the separating zipper and place one side of it onto the side front panel. The teeth are facing inward--the seam allowance of the zipper placed along the seam of the side front jacket panel. I pin then baste the zipper onto the jacket (place pins on the seam allowance away from the stitch line). Even with lightweight leather, you will need to use a thimble.
4. My center front panel (which also has the lapel extension) goes on top and the zipper is sandwiched in the middle. I baste all three layers together using a long running titch. Basting keeps everything together as you sew the jacket together.
5. Now sew.
6. When you are finished and you turn the jacket to the right side up, the zipper teeth to the right.
6. Hammer the seams flat, being careful to avoid the zipper teeth.
7.  Turn the left front and left side front right side out.
8. Zip the two sides of the zipper shut.
9. Place the right jacket front over the zipper and pin to the seam allowance. Carefully unzip the zipper and baste in place. Again, the zipper teeth should be facing inwards, away from the front edge.
10. Place the facing over the right jacket front with the zipper sandwiched in between and sew.
11. Clip the seam allowance around the tip of the lapel. Turn right side out. Use a pin to completely turn out the lapel tip. The zipper teeth should be now pointing outward towards the center front. Hammer the lapel flat.
12. Complete the jacket.

When All Else Falls, Fake It!
I could have stopped there, but you know me. There's always one more thing I want to try. What are somewhere and those lovely doll zippers are not available. What if, your doll could care less about functionality and he (or she) simply wants the look of hardware.....
 1. I started out by removing a metal zipper from an old, very decrepit pair of my dad's jeans. You can just go out and buy one if nothing is readily available. n any case, you should use a zipper that is color coordinated to the outfit you want to sew it in. Zip up the zipper so that the teeth are closed. Measure out the length you need and make a series of stitches around that point so the zipper won't unravel after you cut it. You need to do this at both ends.
2. Pin one side to the center front edge of the jacket.
3. Sew in place. On the other side of the zipper teeth, sew or glue a strip of velcro directly onto the zipper tape.
4. Add the other half of the velcro to the inside edge of the jacket.

The jacket can't be zipped up or down. The velcro holds it closed and simply gives the LOOK of a zippered jacket while allowing the doll to get in and out of it. And why not fake the look of zippered pockets!?!

1. This time, I took a bit of the zipper but left it open.
2. I placed each piece on the jacket for placement. When I have the placement I want, I used pins to indicate the line of the pocket.
3. On the inside, I mark those pin points with pencil. And connect the dots with a cutting line.
4. Using a blade or very sharp small scissors, slice open this line.
5. Now slide in the zipper sample.
6. This is how it looks right side up.
7. Stitch along the bottom of the opening.

If you try this out for your design, keep in mind you will need to allow for the extra space the zipper will take up in the front!

All text and photos property of Fashion Doll Stylist. Copyright 2018. Please ask permission before reposting. And please credit us. Thank you!

Follow us on Twitter: @FashDollStylist
Like us on Facebook: @FashDollStylist
We're also on Pinterest: @FashDollStylist
And of course, we are on Instagram: @fashiondollstylist

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Taking Stock (Again!)

I have been very busy NOT making clothes!!! If you have more than a couple dozen dolls, you know the problem. As your doll collection grows, so do the number of garments, shoes and accessories. At first you can control it. And maybe, like me, you build a cute little closet from one of those wonderful tutorials on Pinterest. But then the day comes where you need more storage.
A modest beginning in 2013!
In 2013 for my first tutorial, "Taking Stock," I built a lovely little closet out of balsam wood and dowels, fashioned adorable little clothes hangers out of wire. And everything out of season, I put in a box and placed on a shelf in the basement. And then chain migration began.....

More dolls meant more clothes, more shoes, handbags, lingerie, bathing suits, stockings, hats, jewelry and.... boyfriends!!! I found an old drawer which I converted into a closet for the guys by standing it on end and adding dowels. I bought plastic cases to store their shoes. I

Meanwhile in the basement... I couldn't find anything because there was no system And when I did locate the right dress, it was wrinkled! So two years ago, I proposed  "Closet Boxes," an organized way to store dolly's out of season gear upright in a cardboard box and out of the way. And while I am still faithfully storing doll clothes in this fashion, I found that some (many) items needed to be in full view. I was blaming the dolls for stealing borrowing items and losing them. Since that post, I have been reorganizing, building and rebooting....
A hidden camera revealed much activity in the vicinity of the closet while I am out of the room or asleep!

I needed something more practical than "pretty." This time around, I made racks and shelving inexpensively using...3/8" (4mm) foam core board, 3/8" dowels, a straight edge, hot glue gun and toothpicks. It's not difficult, it's not costly and best of is fast!!

My needs now are multiple. I have gowns of varying lengths...from ankle length to trains, pants and shirts. I have lots of black and lots of white. I have spoiled my girls--both the Barbies and the Fashion Royalty clan--with more shoes than I possess for myself! My dolls' needs are very specific. I am showing you 2 shelving units, which is all you need because you can configure the dimensions any way you please according to you own needs. Foam core is super light, but then again, so are dolly's clothes and accessories. You can use wood, but I chose this material because no hammer or drill is necessary. But if you really need to make it "pretty, feel free to paint, cover with auto-adhesive paper, or add trim.

Shelving Unit
I'm using this unit to store my dolls' wardrobe of boots. The unit was made from a single panel of 30x20" foam core board. The back and sides (cut in one piece where it's marked "cut") measure 18-3/4" from the right edge. The bottom panel is 3-3/4" from the bottom edge and the top is 3-3/4" up from the bottom panel. The resulting board is cut into 4 equal panels. You will need to trim a scant 1/8" off the side edge (so they will fit inside of the unit).

1. Measure and draw your lines directly on the board. Use a single edge blade, box cutter and a steel ruler. Cut through at the vertical line to separate the shelves, top and bottom panels from that of the side/back panel.

2. For the back panel, you will need to draw a vertical line 3-3/4" from the left edge and the same from the right edge. Using a straight edge razor or box cutter, score along those two vertical lines. That is, you will cut half way through the board without completely severing. Fold each side inward, in the direction away opposite the cut.

3. Shows what this should resemble.

4. You can use hot glue or some other glue along the top edge of the unit. Lay the top panel on.
Turn upside down and repeat, gluing the bottom panel to the unit.

Lay the shelving unit on its back.
Now let's plan what kind of spacing you will need depending on the accessory. In my case, I have boots of varying lengths. And boots and spats I made out of fabric.

1. Place the objects inside of the box and place your shelves around them.
2. Mark the placement with a pencil. Use a ruler to make sure, from side to side, everything is level. Add glue to the edges of each shelf and slide them in place. You can use 1/2 toothpicks on both sides to keep the panels in place while the glue is drying and as added support.
3. Here, I had fabric boots I chose to suspend so I poked a 3/8" dowel near the top.
4. I made separate hangers using dolly sized clothes pins and wire poked through the wire joint, bent into a S curve.

Note: I cut the dowel so that it would extend away from the shelf which allows me to hand boxes of shoes on each side. These are small translucent boxes I found at the Dollar store. They are normally used to store hardware items like nails, nuts and bolts! I organize the boxes of shoes by color.
In addition to these shoe boxes, I also rummaged through my dad's stuff and found an old storage box, normally used to store nails, nuts & bolts and the like. They are sold at hardware stores.

If you look closely at the photo, you'll also notice I also used different sizes of plastic drawers. One set holds lingerie, tops and scarves. Another for handbags. And the larger holds jewelry, hair stuff, and more shoes for the guys. (My craft drawers are on the other side of the desk.)
Ken's shoes fit into one of those drawers, but my FR guys' shoes are  larger. I found this box (designed to hold beads, thread, etc) at a crafts store. It's kept on the bottom of the guys' closet.

More (Planned) Closet Space
This is really, the same closet I built back in 2013, except I've used foam core instead of wood. Again, this was created using a single panel of 30x20" foam core. It does not have a closed back. But you can always cut another piece of board or poster board if you want it contained.

Here's a variation of the above shelving. In addition to re-positioning the shelves, I added "pegs" to suspend the shoulder bags.

Lengthwise, I divided the board into 4. The top two panels are sides and are cut separately. The bottom two panels are divided in half. This creates the top/back and the bottom/back of the unit.
Cut along the lines marked "cut." and score (or slice lightly and bend) where indicated.
1. When cut apart, it will look like this.
2. The top/back and the bottom/back are scored and folded.
3. Glue along the top edge of the side panels and place the top/back panel (folded 90 degrees) as shown. Turn around and repeat for the bottom. You can insert toothpicks cut in half and pressed into at the corners as extra support.
4. Hold the garments to the unit to determine where the dowels should go. You can use 3/8" or 1/4" dowels.
5. Again, if you want to close off the back, cut a piece of poster board and glue to the back edges.
For this size of closet, I can usually get 3 rows of racks comfortably within. You could add a fourth rack if you have lots of tops and shirts.
Me, I really needed a closet for those black tie dresses and ballgowns. (My girls go to so many glamorous events!) Here, there are only two rows. Perfect!

Hang On!
More closets mean you'll need LOTS more hangers! I made more of the variety I posted in, "Closet Boxes." Only this time, instead of recuperated cardboard, I used sheets of white foam: 3mm is nice but 2mm will do as well. What's nice here is that you create them to fit your doll.
 What's nice is that you can alter them to fit the garment. And you can pin the matching accessories directly onto the foam.
1. Place your doll on a sheet of paper. Trace around her body from her neck to the widest part of her hips. Don't draw the arms.
2. Remove the doll.
3. Smooth out the lines and transfer onto cardboard so that you use as a template.

You don't have to make them all the way to the hips. You could stop just below the waist if you need something to hang a top. You can also cut out the top of the legs so that you can hang matching pants, for example. You can make the hooks yourself...but even better...use Christmas ornament hooks sold in bulk! Cheap and easy!

Closet in My Pocket
MyStuff2 App can be configured to document all of your collections of dolls, clothes & accessories.
While the closet and storage boxes provide a tangible view of  what I have, I also have an inventory system on me at all times. There are a number of very helpful apps on the market for your smart phone or tablet. I use an iPhone app, "MyStuff2." It is a database which can be customized according to your need. I use it to keep track of all my dolls (names, dimensions, "date of birth" and price as well as a detailed account of all their clothing and accessories.  You create the categories and subcategories of your choice, then add pictures and comments. You can view everything at once, or separately. This way I know exactly what I have. Unfortunately this is only for iPhone users. You can download MyStuff2 Lite for free. It allows you to make 15 entries. If you like it, you can buy the full version for $4.99 which allows unlimited entries. For those of you with Android phones, look for an app that allows you to create your own categories and enter photos.

Oh my goodness. Is it September already??!!! Where on earth did summer go. Red carpet events start with the Emmy's (US Television Awards) and Fashion Month begins in New York!!! It's going to be a busy month ahead!

All text and photos property of Fashion Doll Stylist. Copyright 2018. Please ask permission before reposting. And please credit us. Thank you!

Follow us on Twitter: @FashDollStylist
Like us on Facebook: @FashDollStylist
We're also on Pinterest: @FashDollStylist
And of course, we are on Instagram: @fashiondollstylist