Saturday, August 29, 2020

Shrug It Off!

While we wait to see what direction fashion will eventually take, I thought I'd go the accessories route and update the look of a few' outfits with the help of a shrug. A shrug is like a micro jacket, originally designed to cover only the shoulders and arms, it was worn over a fancy nightgown as a woman received guests in her bedroom. But since the 1930's when this was immensely popular, this simple little garment has come a long way as a fashion accessory. There are shrugs for day and shrugs for eveningwear. It can be as fancy or as understated as your the velvet sheath with matching shrug pictured below.

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For my dolls, I have a super simple method for making shrug. It's as easy as taking a rectangular piece of fabric and creating a horizontal tube leaving the end and the middle open. 
For Sybille, a Fashion Royalty doll, I cut a piece of stretch velvet that is 1-1/2" (4cm) long by the length of her outstretched arms--which is 10" (25cm) wide. Fold in half with the wrong side facing you and stitch, leaving the area from shoulder to shoulder free. Turn right side out and put the doll's arms through each end of the tube. Voila!

While stretch fabric is ideally suited for this, you can also use woven fabric.
Inspired by an outfit from the designer Ronk (Spring/Summer 2020), I made this outfit from a piece of my dad's worn out plaid pajama top. The rectangle here is 2-1/2" (7cm) long by 10" (25cm) wide. I hemmed each end before creating my tube. Since Gloria, an SIS Barbie, doesn't have a body where the hands can be removed, my tube had to be a little wider at the ends. However, you can create a "cuff" of sorts by making a 1/2" (1cm) stitch perpendicular to the hem near the doll's wrist. Fold over and close with a snap. Before securing the snap to each sleeve, check to make sure her hands can pass through the end.

Now...hold that thought and let's make a very fancy version of this.
This is exactly the same shrug as the first two, but this time, it has been embellished!

I started out with this dress inspired by British designer, J. Mendel (S/S2020). It's indigo blue silk made to ressemble jeans. The dress is simple: fitted, strapless bodice over a circle skirt. It is embroidered with beaded motifs cut from swatch of embroidered lace. To make this I began with a foundation....a tube cut from silver tulle. The tulle stretches. So it will be just like working with a stretch fabric.
1. Make a tube as described at the top of this page. Here, I've folded my rectangle horizontally, stitched it up being careful to leave the middle (from shoulder to shoulder) free, as well as the ends open. 
2. When cutting this out you want to use the direction of the tulle that stretches for the horizontal direction of your shrug. Like that it will lay over the back of the neck smoothly and it will facilitate getting the doll's arms in and out of the garment.
3. Turn to the back. As you have noticed with the previous shrugs, the back swings away from the body. In this case, I want to control that by removing the excess. I pin this down from each shoulder point and hand stitch in place. 

4. Now, the real work begins. You can do whatever you want. What I've done is to cut small motifs from a fancy piece of beaded lace, then pin it in place over my shrug foundation. 
5. Continue adding more pieces of lace or....add a few beads or sequins to fill the bare spots or to cover the stitches.
6. Work in the round. That is to say, keep turning the shrug around to check for balance. 
7. And don't forget to think about the back! Here, I've cut a bit of embroidered lace from another swatch. The fun part for me was actually assembling this as if it were a collage of sorts. I used the edge of a piece a lace to the edges of my shrug and the hems of my sleeves.

And Voila!! Here's Denise showing off the front, side and back.... My shrug is like a piece of jewelry adding to the total look!

Now, let's take this back to the lingerie roots. Awhile back, I did a post on slip dresses. All by themselves they are quite lovely. But Kym wanted a little top for her dress. So I took the same 1-1/2" navy lace trim I used for the dress, and made a matching shrug.
You could keep this quite simple, but Kym wanted something a bit fancier.... something with ruffles. 
1. Technically, this is the same tube as before....except I am making this right on the doll. The width of the shrug is the same as the doll with her arms stretched straight out. 
2. Fold the lace over her arms, front over back and hand stitch.
3. The back will flare out at the shoulders. 
4. Create a dart from the hem upwards to get ride of the excess on both sides of the back at the shoulder joint.
5. The front should look like this. 
6. You could really stop here if you wanted something understated and discreet! But Kym insisted on something fancier!
7. Take a separate length of trim and gather enough to fit from the two front shoulder points.
8. Pin in place and adjust as needed. Cut and gather a little more lace to attach to the hem of the sleeves.

If you look up shrugs on Pinterest, there is also something else that appears. Personally I see these as glorified shawls with the exception that they have a tad bit of structure. But since they are easy to make and serves the same purpose as the classic shrug, I have included them here. 

In keeping with the lingerie look, here's another slip dress I made for Janice, a Model Muse Barbie. Janice wanted something pretty and frilly so I pulled out the a length of black lace trim. 

This is simply a piece of lace with a running stitch down the middle and gathered into ruffles. Put this on the doll and adjust the ruffles so that her shrug wraps around her and meets at center front. Take a length of ribbon which is the length of the ruffle plus enough extra to tie into a bow in the front and stitch it over the center of the gathers.

This idea of a ruffle can be exploited into something quite creative and grandiose like Laetia's fluffy, lime green "shrug."

This, again, starts out as a tube made from a rectangle of polyester organza. The edges have been melted with a flame. After turning the tube right side out, I keep the seam in the middle, then gather along that line. Adjust so that it wraps around the doll. You can use a ribbon, or, in this case, a strip of organza that is stitched down over the gathers in the middle and tie in the front.

My preference, however, remains with something more discreet. A wispy little tulle shrug that discretely adds a touch of glamour over the shoulders of a little black dress.

1. Start off with a rectangle of tulle, organza, chiffon or the sheer fabric of your choice. The rectangle should be a little longer than its width. For example, this one here is 7" wide and 8" long. If you want less gathers you can reduce the length. Pay attention to the direction of the stretch. I found that, in this case, you don't want this garment to stretch horizontally because it tends to do funny things over the shoulders when you put it on the doll. Make gathering stitches along each side of this rectangle.
2. Gather the edges tightly.
3. Stabilize the gathers by sewing and wrapping each edge with a few more stitches.
4. Take a 1" (2cm) piece of polyester ribbon and melt the edges. Fold in half over each edge and stitch down. I did this to keep things as bulk free as possible. You can now add a snap or a hook and eye.
5. For the embellishment, you can use anything you want...a ribbon, rhinestone, a pouf of tulle or, in the case of of the silk roses we made on our last project! 
Anna's best friend, Veronique opted for the shrug with the satin ribbon!

I'll close with one last variation. A reversible, day to night shawl-shrug. Denim on one side, silk brocade on the other!

Inspired by a Haider Ackermann jacket with a big draped collar I made a few years ago, I decided to make a shawl-shrug that would have a similar finished look, but could be removed. I chose this fitted denim jacket over a matching silk flared skirt I found in Margot's closet.

1. The rectangle should be wider than the doll's shoulders because you want to add tucks and twists. I chose to line this garment with a contrasting silk brocade that peaks through at the edges. Right side to right side with the wrong side facing you, stitch the two fabrics together, leaving an opening so that you can turn it right side out.
2. Turn right side out. Stitch the opening and press flat.
3. For each side, create a series of soft pleats but stagger them so that it will lay fairly flat. 
4. Stitch the pleats together using a slip stitch so that they remain as invisible as possible. 
5. Lay the top over the bottom in the front and pin.
6. With the front pinned in place, create a series of soft pleats and tucks until the shawl fits the doll. 
7. Again, tack each tuck and pleat, being careful that the stitches remain out of sight.
8. Go back to the front and after determining exactly how the front edges will overlap each other, place a small pin to indicate where you need to sew a snap or hook and eye.
9. When it's all done, it should look almost effortless.

Remember, I said I wanted this shawl-shrug to be reversible! After all, that's why I chose a silk brocade for the reverse side. 
Turn the shawl, to the reverse side. Turn upside down and plan the over lap of the front edges. Plan where you will sew the hook and eye. Try to position everything so that the closure you have for each side does not show. Here, Denise shows the same shawl-shrug over a little beige silk slip-dress.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Late Summer Blooms 2

The Fashion world is in a drought. There are no catwalk shows, no red carpet events, no parties, no exhibitions, no concerts.... Without all of these sources of inspirations, now is the time to go back to basics. And to spruce those basics up, we look to things like textiles, fabric manipulation... or for the sake of this project....embellishments. This is great because, with a few little scraps you can transform a plain piece of material into a luxury fabric or create trims that add a generous dose of glam to almost every garment. For this project I looked at DIY fabric flowers and adapted them to serve as embellishments for our 1/6 scale fashions. 

Let's start with a super simple rose. You can make them from any fabric you want in any size you want. Depending on the fabric, you will get different effects. For the two garments pictured here, I wanted to use my roses as a trim to replace feathers or even fur. 

1. I had begun working on a light blue suit jacket made from a piece of old light blue denim. I used the same denim to create my roses. I cut circles approximately 1-1/2" (4 cm) in diameter. You don't have to be so careful when you cut. In fact, your roses will be a little more interesting if the circles aren't so perfect! Cut about 4 circles. Then fray the edges.
2. Fold each circle in half, then in half once more. Stitch the bottom point to hold in place.
3. Take the second circle and repeat the process. Add it next to the first circle. Continue until all four are together..
4. Turn to the underside and fan out each cluster. It should look like this on the underside.
5. On the right side, here's what your flower looks like. The two-tone fibers of the denim really make for very pretty roses. Don't worry about the fraying. It adds to the beauty. 
Of course, this was going to be just a corsage, but then I couldn't stop.... I made four more big roses to trim the hem of Stefani's jacket sleeves and two smaller ones for the pouf buttons!

What's fun is that you can use almost any fabric for this. That means you can compliment the fabric you choose with a perfectly matched trim!

Case in point, I took a piece of the herringbone and made four more fabric flowers to put around the neck as a collar. 

Instead of fur or feathers, think of using giant fabric roses! For Helena's collar, I cut four, 1-1/2 inch (4mm) circles tacked around a basic coat pattern. It would have also been fun to create a trim around the hemline! But where you can really have some fun is with evening wear. 

Let's begin with a simple rose. For this you will need scissors, small bits of synthetic fabric cut into circles, a candle and matches, needle, thread and a few tiny beads.

1. The fabric you choose MUST be 100% synthetic or this will not work. Synthetic fabrics melt when they come in contact with a flame. Natural fibers  (which includes rayon, will burn!) Before you began cutting your circles, test a scrap of the fabric first! Now, cut your circles. I generally prefer 4 per rose. The more you use the denser the flower.
2. Light a candle.Then with each circle, bring it close to the bottom of the flame about 1/8" (or 2mm) away from the edge. Carefully approach the flame only close enough for the fabric to curl. Then rotate so the entire edge has curled and melted slightly.
3. The circles can be different sizes Experiment with different types of fabric. I used polyester organdy, polyester taffeta, tulle.... 
4. When you have finished making enough circles for all the flowers you need, stack the layers. Here, I have stacked four layers.
5. Pin together on the bottom to hold in place while you sew them together. 
6-7. Knot your thread and push the needle up from the bottom. Make a few stitches. Knot the thread after your last stitch.
8. Right side up, the rose looks like this.
9. Here, I've added a few tiny seed beads to the center of my flower.
Shakira's drsess is in two parts. The skirt is made from stretch lace to which I added my taffeta roses in the front and to one side. The dress is draped up and over the skirt to expose the roses. I also added tulle roses to the top of the neckline.

Sometimes a single rose will do. I took a simple gown with a deep slit over the leg and added a rose as an accent. 

Or, the roses can be more a more prominent focal point as Aayeesha shows us. An otherwise boring black sequinned sheath gets a dramatic new look when black taffeta roses (and a tad bit of feathers) are added around her strapless neckline!
But you don't have to use the roses intact. You can simply use the petals to create a showstopping gown.
Using polyester organza, I cut my circles and melt the edges. Instead of stacking them together, I tack them onto a strapless bustier (of the same fabric) instead and stagger them from front to back.
Here, Noor shows off the finished dress. The top is worn over a circle skirt of the same fabric. And for this photo, I wrapped her waist and tied it into a bow with a matching organza ribbon.

Two years ago while searching for fabrics for the wedding dress post I did, I discovered "couture fabrics." These are fabrics with silk flowers, beads, petals and leaves worked into the design. They are essentially made for wedding gowns so you know they cost a small fortune. I could not afford to buy any of them, but I did study them in an effort to create my own. In this first photo of Isabela (a Tonner doll), I made a bustier from a scrap of embroidered tulle tacked onto a tulle camisole. The skirt is simply a sarong using a beautiful piece of grey-tone floral printed chiffon. I wanted to create bring a few flowers "alive" with 3-D applications, but in a subtle way. For this skirt, I made pinwheel roses out of the same fabric.
For the first 6 steps I'm using a solid white fabric so you can see the details better. 
1. Begin by cutting squares. Again, I've cut them 1-1/2" (4cm).
2. Take each square, hold diagonally and gather it in the middle and twist.
3. With needle and thread, stitch through the center.
4. Wrap the thread around a couple times and push needle through.
5. While the first square is still on the needle, take the second square, gather in the middle, twist and add it to the first. Do this for the second and third square. 
6. After you have added the last square, wrap the thread around all four, push the needle through and knot. 
7. If your fabric is thin (like the printed chiffon I've used for the sarong), bend the two halves of the squares together and add a few stitches around the base. Turn right side up and spread the petals evenly.
8. Here you can see how my 3-D motif brings "alive" the flower print. 
9. I didn't want my flowers to overwhelm the print so I added them to a few strategic places. Since this fabric is being used as a sarong, I put it on the doll first, then determined where the silk flowers should go.

Of course, there are times when you really do want to pull out all the stops and create a beautiful piece of fabric. Here is where the wedding couture fabric greatly inspired me. Estelle was already wearing a white satin slip dress. So as soon as I finished this piece of lace, she grabbed it and tossed it over her shoulders. 
Before we start, let's make our "rosebud."
1. Start with a square. The size will depend on your needs. Here, I am working with a 1" (2.5cm) square. 
2. Fold in half, then fold in half again. The folded edge pointed downwards.
3. Cut a heart shape at the top.
4. Fold this once more in half and stitch down the folded bottom corner.

For this project, I made fabric roses out of polyester taffeta and pearls but added a few "rosebuds." as well. Here I took a very inexpensive piece, horribly ordinary piece of 6" (15cm) lace trim and turned it into a luxury item thanks to roses and bits of lace decals cut from an old blouse.
1. The lace on lace look recalls "re-embroidered lace." I thought it gave the fabric a little something extra. 
2. I made my rose, dotting it in the center with a pearl. This is placed in the middle of the woven pattern of the flower. 
3. I add a "rosebud to the flower pattern near the edge of the lace (just under the scallops). 
4. Before and after. Here is my finished fabric. 
Estelle has turned this into a shawl, but you can also think about using it for a dress or an evening skirt.

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