Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Happy Holidays from FDS

It's been awhile.... There haven't been many posts this year but I'm still here after what has been a year of personal challenges. I am looking after a parent with dementia. And, if you know anything about this disease, you know that it takes its toll on both the victim and the caregiver....

Dolls continue to bring me quite a bit of joy. Contemporary fashion, maybe not so much. But I am still a diehard fan of my lovely ladies and they continue to hang by me even though they haven't seen much in the way of new fashions. But don't give up on us.... we are not planning to shut this blog down any time soon. Patience is all we ask while I try to get back on track.

In the meantime, I wish you and your families (both human and dolly) a very warm and wonderful holiday season. A few new dolls came into the fold recently. I'll introduce them to you in the New Year...

April & the Gang

Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Swirl

Haute Couture is not always about flamboyancy. It's also about the genius of a special, out-of the-ordinary cut. Given the fact it took me a month to figure out how to construct such a underwhelming look, many of you might be thinking it's a lot of "much ado about nothing." But I found it fascinating to see such a sculptural dress designed on paper as a flat pattern. Such was the case with this second interesting project I found on the page of @biacutwoman on Instagram. Executed in collaboration with pattern maker @mr_o_pattern_studio (also on Instagram), the "minimalist" dress consists of a cowl neck bodice and a single band of fabric that swirls around the body in a look called "Scorpio Dress 2020," designed by Rick Owens. 

Again on @biascutwoman's post, the dress is animated using 3D software showing how the skirt part swirls around the body in a single piece of fabric. It also provides a glance of the pattern pieces. Mesmerized, I watched this Reel many many times and came away with thinking how simple this should be. It was anything but!!!! I'll admit... To copy this dress I cheated...a little bit. At first I draped my own pattern, but somehow it wasn't quite the same as the one in the video.  And then I found another version of the pattern. But with this information, it did not explain everything. It was like one of those college exams where you are given he answers and now you have to show how the author arrived at the conclusion. 

Finally I figured everything out and aligned my pattern to the existing one. But another issues presented itself... How do you sew a dress with a continuous diagonal seam. an how on earth do you press this dress! And can you make a different bodice for the same dress. My friends...Consider this less of a tutorial and more of a FYI on how I arrived at reconstructing this dress for the doll.

In her reel, the pictured dress appears to have been made from a stretch material. I used my doll's dartless slopers (for knitwear) at first, but the end result was too small for my FR ladies. So back to the drawing board. The project begins with the normal slopers but we ignore the darts. The sides of the front and back slopers fall perpendicular from the armhole to the bottom of the pattern. Front and back slopers are lined up along one side.

You'll need to determine the length of the dress by laying the doll down against the pattern (l). I chose a point below the armhole from which the side point of the skirt will fall and draw a horizontal line across the front and back pattern.

I drew a line from the tip of the far right shoulder to that point on the side, then continue on until it his the CF line on the front bodice. Draw a horizontal line from the lower left hand point on the cutting line, perpendicular to the vertical line until it touches the right side of the back bodice.

Measure the point on the right side of the back bodice to the horizontal line below to determine the width the band will be. Make another line that length parallel to the first one. 

Trace each section onto a new sheet of paper and mark as shown (l). Match up points: A4-B6, A5-B7, B9-C11, B8-C20. On the right we have lined everything up to form the skirt part of this dress. 

From this we create a single band which, with seam allowance added, becomes our skirt pattern for a slim version of the dress. We could stop there, but wait....this doesn't look like the original Rick Owens pattern! Personally I prefer the dress without "the train." but for the sake of recreating the original dress pattern, I made a second pattern more faithful to the original.

1. Complete all the above steps.
2. Instead of creating a single column, swing that part C  out from the apex of points 9-10 so that it is perpendicular to the side of the column. Draw in a curved line to join the bottom of the column to the point of the triangle as shown. 

3-4. Your completed pattern will look like this. For the moment, put these patterns aside so we can work on the bodice.

This original dress has a cowl neck. At first I was not going to consider it because this type of neck treatment is difficult on something as small as a 12-inch doll. But the dress is so simple, I felt it really needed some front interest. 
1. Determine how deep you want the neckline to drape. Then drop a line from the neck point to that point. Cut (away the shaded area.)
2. From that same CF point, draw lines to the middle of the shoulder line, middle of the armhole and slightly under the armhole. 
3. Cut and spread, being careful to line up the CF to a straight edge. Spread the triangles evenly until the top triangle is aligned perpendicular to the CF line.
4. Glue it all down and make a mirror image, thus creating a full front cowl-neck bodice in one piece.
5.Your finished pattern looks like this.

Now for the back bodice. It was unclear as to exactly how the original was made. So I took liberties. 

1. Whether you want to keep it simple or try it with a twist, the back sloper follows the lines of the construction lines as illustrated here.

2. You can add seam allowance and join the points together at the top of the neck. Or....

3. You can line up the two back bodices along the CB line, flipping one side upside down. What happens nest is that you twist one side so that it comes together right side up in one piece. I would advise using stretch fabric for this as there is no back closure. Otherwise the first option can come together with a hook and eye for easy dressing the doll.

And so now you have the pattern, the next burning question is..... how do you put this together? How on earth do you sew this?

Sew together the bodice. turn under the neckline and the armholes but leave the bottom of the bodice alone for the moment.

1. Take the "skirt" part and hem points 1-4 (top of the back). Then line up points 1-2 to those same points on the side and midpoint of the front bodice.

2. That you understand what we're doing, I've flipped the dress to the front side so that you see exactly where you begin joining the skirt to the bodice.

3. Take point 6 (the other side of the back) and join it over to the opposite side of the dress. 

4. From that point on, join the seams together and sew along the seam line. Though it forms a diagonal line across the body, while sewing will feel like a straight line right down to the hem with everything fitting perfectly together. 

You will need to press the bodice seams down and press the other seams open. Be extremely careful to press and not scrub the iron against the fabric because when the fabric is on the diagonal, it will stretch out of place!

Here's a better view of Nichelle's dress.

One of the challenges in making this dress is fit! The bodice doesn't hug Nichelle's body in the back the way I'd like, so a added a very thin wire belt, hidden under the front of the dress and stitched to the sides. I also cut the waistline below the original dress to make an otherwise "discreet" look very sexy at the back.
Nichelle's dress is made from a stretch fabric. So what happens when you create the exact same look out of a woven fabric?

Helena's dress was cut from a white satin dévore fabric. I used the simpler back bodice in lieu of the one with the twist here. I did have problems getting the back bodice to lay flat against the body, so I made a few tucks and added a bow to disguise the problems I had at the top center back. I also made tucks (held in place with a few stitches) to simulate draping of the cowl neck and the drapery in the back. Here too, I cut the pattern with a slightly higher back drop.
Remember how I told you that I made the mistake of using the dartless sloper for this dress. Pictured here is Anna--the doll with the tiniest most filiforme body in the house in this dress. It's made from a 2-way stretch rayon and it's back was cut a little higher. I tried to flame seal the edges with the thought of not hemming. I'm not so sure it was the best idea. 

One of the things I enjoyed about @biascutwoman's video, is how gracefully the dress comes apart. She used it to emphasize how the dress. But somehow I wanted to capitalize on that swirl effect. Unfortunately, there's not a lot you can do, but I did come up with this....
I simplified the top altogether, ditching the cowl neck and choosing a simpler bodice held in place with red ribbon.
I only stitched up the dress to the center back which created a sort of tail. I still have issues with the fit in the back, but I also wanted to keep the lines clean and simple.
So I added sewed on a thin gold chain to the waist at the back, allowing for a better fit and a way for Noor to get in and out of the garment.

The above dresses were all created with a bodice and a simple, parallel band. But what happened to the version with the train?

Here it is. I was pleasantly surprised at how pretty it was! And yes, we did cheat by concealing a few hidden stitches to the cowl neck and the back drape look authentic.

And we also added a ribbon tied into a bow at the back. The color is sublime on Dorian.

And so we can say....mission accomplished!

While I've been busy trying to work all of this out, fashion month has been going on. I sent the girls out to scour the collections. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

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Unless otherwise noted, all images and text of this blog are the copyrighted property of Fashion Doll Stylist 2023. We are independent and not part of any other group or website no matter where this post or its elements appear on the internet or social media. Please request permission before reproducing any parts of this post. And please, always credit us. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The AI Challenge

For most of this summer, I have been mesmerized by a Instagram Reel attributed to BiasCutWoman, a self prescribed artist/digital creator who uses Artificial Intelligence (AI)  to aid in her digital fashion creations.  This particular animation features a flat white square with the letter "H" cut in the middle. As it evolves, a perfectly formed dress emerges, fitted to the torso, releasing side drapes and an asymmetrical hemline. Fascinating!

Images created by biascutwoman@instagram.com

I took still photos of the screen (above) however if you have an Instagram account, you might want to check out the ANIMATION  for yourself.

It all looks so simple... you cut an H inside of a square and everything effortlessly pulls up into a dress. EXCEPT...... the more I studied it, the more questions it raised. Does it really form a dress? How do you get in and out of the dress? What about those big gaps that form on either side of the body? The animation eventually led me to the designer's IG page where I was delighted to find a post showing how she created a real dress in fabric.

Images by biascutwoman@instagram.com

On screen, the drape of the dress suggests her chosen fabric might be some sort of stretch material, which in itself explains how to get in and out of the garment. As for the gaps on each side.... the top of each gap was stitched along the top edge, thus creating a sort of panel which flaps about as the model spins around. Another aid in getting in and out of the dress...she's added straps at the top. Hmmmm...I decided to engage in the challenge with a little help from my ladies. Though interesting, we were not wild about the end resort, I made the decision to use a woven fabric and not stretch.

Following the "pattern" and cutting a square from an old bed sheet, this was my result, modeled by Priscilla. The only thing I added that was not part of the original square, were bows over the hips for reasons I'll explain later in this post. After evaluating my end result, I concluded the original design was worthy of further exploration. 

My first thought was...what happens when you use a handkerchief or pocket square to make this dress. Note: they are usually plentiful at vintage shops.

Let's first start by creating the "pattern." 
This begins by creating a square then folding that square in half each way. 
Align the doll so that the vertical line cuts through the center line of the doll. The base of the neck is in line with the horizontal line.
Depending on whether you want a higher waist or lower waist, draw a vertical line (blue) from the top of the shoulder to that point on the torso. The light blue dress (above has a lower waist. However the dress below has a higher waist...it depends on the desired result. 
Whatever length that (blue line is, extend the same length of line above the horizontal line. 
Measure the distance from blue/red line to the center vertical line and draw another line (green) the exact distance to the right of the center line. 
Without the doll, here's what your pattern will look like. (The dotted horizontal lines are fold lines. The 'H" are cutting lines.

1. Place the pocket square over the pattern and trace off the "H"
2. Cut along the solid lines of the "H" then make a running stitch (either by hand or machine) around both sides of the "H"
3. Fold along the stitched edges and turn under then press down. 
4. You can stitch or glue down.
5. Turn once again.
6. Hand stitch in place.
7. Press.
Pick up the middle of the H and place on the body, taping the edges to the doll's shoulders. Without doing anything, the "dress" looks like this. Clearly adjustments must be made!
One of those decisions was--what to do with the huge gaps the dress creates over the hips! But let's start at the top.
1. At the shoulders, untape the dress, then place the front shoulder tips over the back. Tack down the left side (your left/doll right) with a few stitches. For the opposite side, use a hook and eye closure to close--remembering to place front over back.
3.For the gap that falls over the hips....I chose to use a running stitch to create gathers on both sides.
Draw up the fabric as close as possible and stitch it so the gathers don't move.
2. When you have done this to both sides, fold the little area above the gathers in the front over the back and stitch down on the left. 
4. Sew another hook and eye at the waist on the other side of the dress, over the gathers to fit the dress closer to the body. 
If you are not happy with the gathered areas, feel free to add some sort of "decoration," ribbons or bows, to hide it like I did with the light blue cotton dress.

I'm pretty happy with the results. It makes for a pretty little sun dress for Julia. But I didn't stop there. What would this dress look like as eveningwear? For my next dress, I chose a sheer polyester organza. The edges were all "flamed" so no hemming was necessary.

The steps are exactly the same. You use the same pattern and cut out the "H." But instead of turning the edges, I flame sealed them instead. Tape the top of the "bodice to the shoulders. Then proceed...
1. Start with the "gaps" on the sides.
2. Make gathers by making a running stitch along the top edge and drawing it up. Make a few extra stitches to secure the gathers in place. 
3. The result looks like this, but you will want to draw up the gathers as close as possible.
4. Repeat on the other side. The dress is a little wild at this point.
Like the author of this dress design, I have "cheated" a little here and there. 
5. I cut a small piece of sheer ribbon and attached it to the shoulder points. You can stitch the front and back bodice to this tape on the left side (doll's right side), but stitch the other side to the front of the ribbon and use thin velcro or hook & eye to the other side (allowing the doll to get in and out of the dress). 
6. The sides tend to fly up and bounce around, so I cheat by taking them down in place with hidden stitches to the dress always falls in place the way I want.
I wanted the dress to fit closer to the body, so this time around, I stitched a strip of thin ribbon to either side of the waist. It is tied in the back. Like this, the doll can get in and out of the dress yet enjoy a nice fit!

The end is quite interesting.....resembling a black orchid of sorts!

Final thoughts...

It's a new world out there..... My overall impression is that the AI robots must still rely on human input...at least for now. It's one thing to create an image of a garment, (everything is possible in a sketch) but unless you are familiar with things like fabric, construction and fit, you're only dealing with something imaginary. 

Onto the next challenge!!!!!

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Unless otherwise noted, all images and text of this blog are the copyrighted property of Fashion Doll Stylist 2023. We are independent and not part of any other group or website no matter where this post or its elements appear on the internet or social media. Please request permission before reproducing any parts of this post. And please, always credit us. 


Thursday, July 27, 2023

Take Another Bow

The photo below which I found on Pinterest, has captivated my attention the moment I laid eyes on it. All summer I kept this image in my phone, glancing at it daily as I tried to figure out what this sleeve was about and how I might translate it for the doll. Fortunately there is something called "Reverse photo" and with that online tool, I was able to locate the origins of this photo, other views of the dress as well as the author of the design. 
It is the work of Syrian born, Rami Al Ali, a renowned wedding couturier in Dubai. It's funny because when I first saw this photo, I was too busy deciphering the sleeve, to notice this might be a wedding dress. It wasn't until I found the full frontal view! 
But look closely at this gown and what do you see? The dress itself is fairly simple...it's all about the fancy sleeve work! For my taste, I didn't want to create a full whipped cream, cake-top confection--and I'm not so sure the volumes would work well for my 1/6 scale divas. But I was determined to come away with the drama of the sleeves and I did so using....BOWS! So...we might consider this an extension of "Take a Bow," a post a few years back using bows in the design of dramatic eveningwear!

This is a look that works well with the current "Rococo" trend we're seeing in the doll community (Integrity Toys and JamieShow Dolls)!  For this project all you need is a dress of your choice and either ribbon or slats of fabric you cut, fold and iron yourself. Nadja is wearing an evening shift of embroidered silk I made a while ago. It doesn't have the pizzazz other gowns in the house has, so it doesn't get worn much. 

The first thing I did was to create two sleeves by making two small tubes. You can either leave them as is (for removable sleeves), attach them to the underarm of the dress, or leave them as tubes with the intent of creating fancy gloves!!!

3. You can use store bought ribbon of your choice or cut strips of the same fabric of the dress to create your own ribbon. For this dress, I had on hand a yard (meter) of sheer "wired" ribbon. 
Wrap it around your fingers to create loops and pin in the middle.
4. Place it on the sleeve and pin. The take another length of ribbon and tie it in the middle of the loops.
5. Tack this down onto the sleeve so that it doesn't move. The arrange the loops into fluffy silhouettes.
The wired ribbon is very good for holding the shape you want to create.

We can stop there or..... add a bit of fabric to the back of the dress to create a train. Now for the white dress--the source of our inspiration. Once you remove the excess bulk, it isn't nearly as complicated as I initially imagined...

It's essentially the same thing, only my ribbon is more narrow and made by hand to match the dress. After experimenting with volumes, I decided to go a bit light on the sleeve treatment. The fabric you chose will make a big difference in the result you are trying to achieve. If you use a stiff fabric, the bows will remain crisp but used as streamers, the look will be a bit difficult. If you use something soft...the streamers are perfect, but the bows will flop! 

1. Again, this starts with a very basic dress. In this case, it is a strapless flared gown. 
I made sleeves (small tubes) that can either be stitched to the dress or left alone for a detachable option.
2. Create loops with the ribbon the same way you did with the first dress. For mine, I used about a yard (meter) of fabric. Stitch the loops together in the middle, then attach to the dress. First with a pin, then tack it down to the sleeve.
3. Once you have everything in place, take another length of ribbon to wrap around the sleeve with its loops, and tack in place to secure. I also added a smaller series of loops at the back of the sleeve. And I added an extra small bow at the center back of the dress to finish off the look.

I promised myself I would not make this dress in black. So I did it in red satin. Again, so simple. So dramatic. 

What I did differently this time around... I used store-bought satin ribbon of different sizes. I made tubes for sleeves and placed smaller bows just at the top. This design allows me to also use these as evening gloves!

Again, it is a basic sheath dress with bows added to both sides of the front and back. As you can see, I created a small series of bows and attached them to the top of the sleeve.

And because the dress is so dramatic all the way around, I've included a back view! A nice, big red satin bow at the back is the perfect finish!

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