Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Ragtime Melodies


There is something called "artwear." Generally found at arts and crafts fairs, these are hand made, one-of-a-kind garments and accessories created by regional artisans. Most of the time these items are not fashion. However, from time to time, designers are influenced by a craftsman's technique and translates it into high fashion. A few years ago, I saw a shaggy jacket during menswear week that I thought could be interesting. So, for this first tutorial of the new year, I have revived the "rag jacket" and scaled it down for my dolls. This is super easy to make and takes almost no skill. 

The concept is simple. In essence, It's a rug knotting technique used to create a jacket or shawl. You begin with a netting material at the base and an old garment cut into slivers. Tie each piece onto the honeycomb cell of the base. There is no sewing. It's as easy as tying a simple knot! My base material in this case is the plastic nettin that encased my Christmas turkey. Sometimes vegetables are wrapped in the same "material." But if none of your food comes wrapped in such a material, an old fashioned hairnet (generally found at beauty supply stores) will work as well! 


You need to use the most simplest patterns as possible. I really wanted sleeves, so I created a very simple "boxy" pattern that is joined along the underside of the sleeve and side of the garment. But frankly, the simple tube  we used to create our shrugs or a stole is less complicated and will render almost the same look. 

Here is the pattern I used. It was created by stretching out the doll's arms (for width) and deciding the length of the finished garment and drawing a box around the whole thing. There is a slit at the center front. Usually whenever I've used such a pattern, there is a horizontal slit at the neck. However, the netting is so loose, you don't really need to introduce a slit.

Cut a piece of the netting so that it covers the pattern. You will use the pattern to help guide you as you tie on the slivers of fabric. What I discovered is that it is better if you make that cut along the center front line. You can "finish" the front edges with fabric ties.
1. It's very simple. Whatever your fabric or material source is, cut them into slivers. For this jacket, I cut up an old pair of my dad's jeans into slivers that are approximately 1/2 inch (1 cm) by 4 inches (9cm). They don't have to be even. If the fabric frays, all the better. But if you want a more "controlled" effect, you could use ribbon, for example. You could even cut up non-woven materials like tulle, vinyl, even dryer sheets. 
2. Get comfortable. Put on a good movie or two. Pour yourself a glass of wine or put on a pot of coffee. You're going to be working on this for awhile. Tie each piece around the cells of the netting. Continue until you have covered the area. 
3. Put this on the doll and cut more ties.

4. I use more fabric slivers to tie the underarm and sides of the jacket.
5. Once I have finished, cut away the excess netting. Then tie on more slivers to hide the cut plastic edges.
6. And Voila! Here's Nicki and her new jacket. Very 1980's! But very versatile. With jeans and sneakers it's an extravagant daytime look. With a short circle silk skirt and thigh high boots...it's urban high fashion. 
I will say this. The jacket is heavy. What I learned is that you do not have to tie up the entire surface of the netting. But where you see gaps (around the neck and sleeves, for example), you can "modify" the fit simply by tying the cells together. The look of this jacket will change depending on the material used.


By changing the fabric to a lightweight metallic, my 80's jacket is upgraded to something that could walk the Met Gala (US Vogue Magazine's annual high fashion red carpet event at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art). 

Katoucha wears it over a silver lurex gown. Of course before finishing this post, I wanted to try one more variations. What happens if you use yarn?



1. This is your ordinary wool yarn. I cut it into pieces of 6" (15cm) in length). I cut two pieces which are then folded in half and cut to make four pieces. I thread the four pieces of yarn through each cell and tie. Eventually I smooth the yarn so that it is all moving in the same direction. 
2. Since this is a stole, the base is a simple rectangle. When finished, you can add two longer lengths of yarn as ties to hold the stole around the doll's neck or shoulders.
3. When finished the backside looks like this. 
4. If you want, you can add on a lining. Here, I've used a piece of panne velvet as my lining. Turn the edges down and pin in place. Then hand stitch the lining in place.

And voila....Samantha looks stunning in her shaggy shawl!  Stay safe. Have fun!


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3 comments:

  1. Amazing outfits. Have a beautiful new year 2021!

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  2. Hi April, these are great outfits to go to special occasions indeed! I also love the powder blue thigh high boots, they go perfectly with the outfit. It's always great to learn from you how we can make our dolls look glamorous. :) Hugs!

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  3. Great outfits. You're amazing!
    Happy New Year!

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