Sunday, October 4, 2015

Doll's Eye View: BELLISSiMA ITALIA!!!!

In a word....Milan fashion week was.....PRETTY!!! The experimentation that we've been seeing over the past few seasons has halted. Designers here did what they do best in Italy.....create clothes that flatter, feminize, pamper, exalt, and beautify the woman. Think lace, think ruffles.....think curvy, fit and flare clothes that show off the figure underneath. Not only would I want to wear them for myself, they are the perfect clothes that make any doll picture perfect! (And they suit the personalities of our favorite 12" divas so divinely well!!!!)

Short shorts is the coolest way for dolly to strut her stuff on hot summer days. This is a trend inspired by the old fashion bathing suits of the 1950's as well as the hot pants craze of the '70s. Most often they are cut like your grandmother's panties in cottons, lyrca or even leather, then teamed with a pretty blouse, a slouchy top or a bra and shirt.

Stripes are always in, but these take on a whole new dimension. Look out for shadow striped fabrics, "ethnic stripes" of zigzags or imperfect tracks, bar codes or even raffia stripes that move to a definite Carnival beat.

While the Americans still march behind Kim Kardasian, European fashionistas have been long following the more elegant lead of Princess Kate Middleton. In this most gracious style, you'll find some throw-backs to the early 60's, inspired by the timeless looks of Cristobal Balenciaga or Mr. de Givenchy. Silhouettes are simple, bold and clean, sometimes incorporating an element of surprise with an interesting drape like the jacket pictured here from Emporio Armani.
With Europe center stage in the saga of the immigrants, patterns and prints are foremost in the minds of many designers. We're seeing a contemporary take on prints featured here in all over effects and girly silhouettes. The message here....don't be afraid of experimenting with folkloric or ethnic prints for contemporary clothing. inspired by ethnic costume but translate them into something modern by using modern floral or fauna prints.

There's lots of spice added to the color palette of next summer's trends. When looking for fabrics, don't forget to include cinnamon, curry, mustard seed, paprika, chili pepper and lemongrass!!!! You have a pick of lengths. Fashions range from the super short-shorts to ankle length dresses. Pants range from narrow stovepipes to loose and easy pant legs.
As to be expected in heavily peppered with art. We like a simple shift made from a hodgepodge of materials fashioned together. Or think sculptural. A leather dress is draped over the body and tied into a serious of bows down one side for the sexiest dress ever. Consider a skirt with a high waist worn over a simple white t-shirt.

The little black with a fresh new twist! Consider a simple dress with a handkerchief hem, or a great big sarong with ruffled edges worn with a bare midriff top. Or it could even be as simple as a skirt or dress that wraps over the dress like big floral petals cut from rayon jersey or black stretch silk.

Feathers, touches of lace, these are more pretty ways to dress dolly for a night on the town.

Karen wears a taffeta blouse with ruffled sleeves worn over a simple marabou feather skirt.
Again, a very lady-like approach to fashion trends, these are clothes that are silky, soft, flowing and perfectly pretty! There are draped tops over shorts, Grecian style dresses cut from chiffons or soft fabrics (like rayon) that seductively wrap around the body. Even a soft pantsuit with wide trousers belted in a soft contrasting bow is a very pretty way to dress your doll.
Getting the look is as easy as tacking panels of ripped chiffon onto ribbon waistband then creating a bustier of medallions cut from lace, as shown here by model, China.

This is another story starts with colors inspired by desert sands. Jackets or coats are classically structured and worn loose or belted. Evening dresses flow freely over the body are cut from mocha, toffee, or sandalwood silk. Look for shadow stripes, devore or silk satins and consider  tent or shift silhouettes that freely hang from the shoulders to the ankles.
A glorious them of pristine white chiffon, lace--whether cotton appliques or re-embroidered. These are pretty little dresses that flutter, flatter but mostly show off the super girly side of dolly. Why, it's down right heavenly!!!!  (Finally--something to do with all that discounted lace trim you've been hoarding over the years!!!!)
Inspired by the early 1960's, this sheath dress has a bodice that flares out over the waist. Here Laeticia wears a dress cut from stretch lace that has appliques of embroidered lace stitched on top for an added dimension.

Next and final stop on our fashion bus.....Paris!!!!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Doll's Eye View: London Spring/Summer Trends '16

London fashion week is traditionally known for its hard core, edgy "concept" clothing and....Queen Mum! Not being a fan of either of those diametrically opposed poles, I'm always amazed how I'm able to find something that suits both my taste and the aesthetics of my dolls! Although I have to dig a bit, London always delivers!


This is fashion as abstract art. Think about simple silhouettes as a base, embellished with a contrast of geometric cuts or even origami.


Talk of space travel to Mars, technological advances from Silicon Valley, a return to solar power as a source of  "green energy".... silver makes a brief appearance. Think about foiling a portion of a garment, or fashioning a metallic top to be worn over white or perhaps a simple dress made from a texturized silver fabric.
Katouchka's dress is made from silver eyelash ribbon!

Again we see a theme explored during New York Fashion Week...frayed edges. In addition, the Julien MacDonald garments are made from a combination drawn thread work and lattice trim. The general idea is to create texture by manipulating the fabric itself. Hint: Instead of using denim for this, consider chambray or silk! Also, the open work is lined with a flesh tone fabric.

An alternative to skinny styles, these are garments with "wings." There are some vintage looks revisited in this group: a three-tiered dress by Osman, the tent dress with petals that flutter in the wind by J. JS Lee, an overload of ruffles spilling down an oversized top (though you should lose those parachute pants), and handkerchief points from Vivienne Westwood.


In direct opposition--styles that are simple flat shapes almost resembling cut-out silhouettes. Look for "fit & flare" with nipped in waists, dresses with an emphasis on bare shoulders, or even tunics cut into thick slats. (Style note: red panty hose worn with black!)

Pants come is all sizes and shapes. What we like best are looks borrowed from the 1960's: bra top over hip hugger stovepipe pants, the tunic pantsuit and pants with a built in cummerbund.  

Here's a perfect example of how the designer's environment is translated into clothes. With all the talk of immigrants--from the Syrians fleeing their country to the problems in the Ukraine, designers have gone behind the scene into the folkloric backgrounds of Easterners and emerged with an interpretation of ethnic patterns and prints used in contemporary silhouettes.

At the end of the day, we can take a pause and slip into gear that's easy on the eyes and comfortable to wear. This means body skimming ankle length jersey dresses, wide trousers and jumpsuits or a sexy jersey dress that slithers off one shoulder!
Next up....Milan!

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Doll's Eye View: New York Trends Summer '16

The problem with fashion week having become so globally popular is that a lot of the clothes shown have no business on a catwalk. That's what showrooms and market week are for! In addition to sending out a new collection of items to be sold, catwalk shows really should serve as vehicles for new ideas: clothes, accessories, makeup and hair. New York has the longest event--255 presentations shown over 9 days! Given each show has, on the average, about 30 outfits....well....that's an awful lot of clothes to wade through! While most of what the girls saw were, well...nice wearable fare, much of it was what's in everybody's closet already. They are looking standout items that will carry them through the next Spring/Summer season in style and tres cool.
 60's Story
The 1960's is a great decade when it comes to clean, timeless lines. The shirt, the sheath and the tent dress in short lengths is not only easy to translate into dolly's 1/6 scale, they are easy to make. Consider silk shantung, brocade or damask in clothes as crisp as white or in bonbon colors.

On Point

You can never go wrong with bold graphics in black and white. We like the geometric shapes that give a sharp edge to a summer dress. Even better---fit and flare of an early 1960's silhouette.

Summer in the City
Sleek, cool and sophisticated...cut in soft cottons with an occasional swipe of a brushstroke, this is how our girls love to sashay down big city streets in the middle of the summer both day and night. Think long---jumpsuits, ankle length dresses, tunics work over skinny pants, a hip length top over wide trousers.

Yikes, Stripes!
The classic look of stripes take a turn to the dramatic. What's different here is that instead of placing each line in sharp angles, the new direction here favors stripes that are sporadically draped.

Soft Shoulders
What you notice immediately for next summer is that the focus will be on sexy shoulders. Look for plenty of off the shoulder dresses including some that drape over dropped sleeves.

Blurred Lines
Fuzzy edges, shaggy tops and tents, texture is a very important element to early spring fashions. Think of coats and jackets with frayed edges, or feathers or shag knit textured fabrics worn over sleek or sheer bottoms. Even a flat fabric like the black satin featured in Calvin Klein's outfit has an element of "movement" built in when cut into slats and tacked on to each other like a cornice draped over the hips.

Pina Colada
White is very big for next summer. The essential thing for you to know is that it works best when it has a Flaky, jiggly texture to it: fringe, appliques, shag trim, feathers. Keep the silhouette simple and let the fabric make the best move!

Girly Show
What the girls liked best about New York Fashion Week is how super feminine many of the fashions were. We saw ruffles, flounces, pants with lots of silky volume and the cool look of freshly cut floral prints or embroidered appliques.

Watch Out: Curves Ahead
Continuing on with the girly show, this is a super feminine version of fashions "Little Black Dress." Consider making a slip dress or one that incorporates a sarong skirt. You can do this with lace, satin, or a sheer polyester organza.

Next up.....London!!!

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sew What: How to Line a Skirt & Dress

While the girls are busy rambling about in New York Fashion Week, I thought I'd pause and take us all back to basics. As you know, as a rule I don't usually concern myself with the finishing of the garments. Some of you line them while others do it "Mattel style" (turn the edge and stitch or glue). What matters is that you're happy with the final results to the best of your ability. After all, we live in the age of H&M, GAP, Forever 21 and other mass market fashion meccas where "the look" is more prized than a hand finished, silk lined, couture dress. Admittedly, I do a lot of "fast fashion" myself, taking shortcuts (gluing hems down or tacking on Velcro), all in my haste to produce this weekly post. But suddenly I realized that I'm a pretty good seamstress when I put in the time and effort. And though I don't do the same type of fashion as the Haute Couturiers of the doll world---people like Tommydoll or Magia 2000, I, like you, admire the quality of what they produce and would like, from time to time, to incorporate a bit of this hushed elegance. Sadly, there are too few online tutorials focused on on sewing for the 12 inch fashion doll. So from time to time, I will feature a how-to guide on something you should find useful (but still, not too complicated).

In the world of Haute Couture, the real luxury of a garment exists within the interior of the garment. In fact, the true mark of couture garment is the interior which should be so well made, it could almost be worn inside out. Traditionally, more many couture clients buy simple dresses moreso than fancy gowns--something I learn years ago while researching the inner world of Paris couture. For this reason, I chose the sheath dress and a slim skirt as my starting point. The fabric you chose for the lining should compliment the garment. On this page, I chose China silk lining for the white wool dress and a sheer cotton muslin for the linen dress. What is important is that you chose a thin fabric that won't add an ounce of bulk but one that has enough structure to keep from falling apart as you work. One more matter the color of your finished garment, try to choose a light neutral toned fabric for the lining. Though I would have preferred a black lining for the plaid garments on this page, I was forced to consider the problem of staining!

Classic Straight Skirt
This is a perfect garment to line. Like this, you don't have to worry about a waistband (which adds bulk) and you don't have to think about what to do about the hem. The finish is perfect.

1. Begin by cutting out a straight skirt pattern. Transfer to the fabric. Cut out. Sew darts and sew side seams. Leave the back center seam open.
2. Repeat for the lining material.
3. Pin the right side of the skirt together with the right side of the lining (seams facing out).
4. Stitch across the top and the bottom. But NOT the side edges.
5. Tip: Press these two seams flat. When you do the final pressing, those seams will press crisp and flat!
6. Turn the garment inside out in through those side seams so that the front of the right side of the front of the fabric is facing itself and the front of the lining is facing itself.
7. What forms is, in fact, a sort of loop.
8. Stitch the edge of this loop, leaving . If you are doing this correctly, you will be stitching the back length of the lining.
9. This automatically leads to the back length of the skirt.
10. When you have finished stitching, turn the skirt out to the right side through the opening at the back waist..
11. Press the top and bottom edge.
 12. The back seam will be open at the back.
13. Turn the edges inwards so they face each other and stitch close.
14. Attach a hook & eye at the top and perhaps another half way down. (Instructions for sewing hook & eye--further down.)

(Note: You can also use this same technique for lining a strapless foundation (used underneath the draped couture gowns and cocktail dresses!)

Basic Sleeveless Sheath Dress
Many of my fashions rely on some version of the basic sleeveless sheath. Since my dolls get a lot of wear out of this garment, this is the perfect garment to line. I made the same dress three times in an effort to find the technique I felt would yield the best results. Here are two ways:

1. First and foremost, be sure you press the fabric and the lining before beginning! Pressing is one of the most important steps to ensure professional, clean results!
2. Transfer the dart from the pattern to the fabric. For many fabrics, you can use the usual dressmakers' carbon and a wheel, but there are times when you might not want the carbon to show and if you work in wool, the marking doesn't always come through well. Here's a tip: Put straight pins in each of the four corners of the dart.

Add caption
3. Using a dressmakers pencil mark where the pins meet the fabric.
4. Repeat on the other side.

For your darts...

1. Fold the fabric down the middle of the dart and lay the piece on the table and pin as shown. Hand baste (using a running stitch). Then machine stitch. If you hand baste first, the result will be more precise! But if you will be hand sewing this garment, you will not need to baste. For hand sewing, be sure to use a back stitch (just as strong as a machine stitch).
2. Clip the middle of the dart, being careful not to get too close to the stitching line.
3. Iron each piece, pressing the seams of each piece towards the side. Repeat o for the lining.

1. Baste the back pieces together down the center back seam. If you plan to add a zipper... Measure the zipper against the garment and mark.
2. Machine stitch the area between where the end of the zipper is down to the hem of the dress. Leave the basting stitch in and press the seam open.
3. Pin the zipper to the back seam and baste.
4. Hand stitch the zipper to the back using tiny stitches on either side of the center seam. Be sure to feel the spine of the zipper and leave a bit of space so that the zipper pull can slide without getting caught in the lining.

Please note: For best results, buy a zipper suited for 12" doll clothes. Here, I've used a regular 4" zipper normally used for (human) pants. The zipper pull is too big! On the other hand, this zipper works better for the 16" doll. You can order doll scaled zippers from either Zipper That Doll or Doll Artists Workshop.
1. Now is time to add the lining. Sew the dress together at the side seams. Do the same for the lining. Then place the right side of the lining against the right side of the dress. Seams are outside. Pin, baste then sew around the neckline leaving about 1/8 inch (3mm) away from where the shoulder seam would be.
2. Stitch the dress/lining around each of the armholes, again stopping 1/8 (3mm) away from the where the shoulders normally join.
3. Here's a close up of the stitching.
 4. You will NOT be stitching the garment at the hem. Instead, you should now turn the garment right side out. Press the neckline and around the armholes.
5. Fold back the lining and grab the shoulder of the dress. Pin together
6. Stitch together.
7. Press the seam open.
8. Now, pull the lining over the seams.Tuck the seam allowance over the shoulder seam and stitch.
9. It will look like this when you're finished. Press well.
10. Turn the dress over and tuck the seam allowance of the lining under. Pin then hand stitch to the zipper. Press.
11. Now let's finish the hem. Turn the hem of the lining under and turn the hem of the dress under. Pin together and hand stitch together.
 This is the dress turned inside out!!!!

Finishing your garment with Hook & Eyes
I prefer hook and eyes over snaps because the garment lays flatter. Because they take a lot of stress each time you dress and remove the garment from the doll, the stitches need secure. AND..though you can use metal eyes, thread loops have a lot more class. For the 12" doll, you will need size 0 hook & eyes.
1. Hold the head of the hook near the edge as you work. Make a stitch. and push the needle through.
2. Take the end of the thread and wrap it around the needle once, then finish pulling the needle through.
3. Do this three times on each loop.
4. Don't cut the thread. Instead, wrap another 2-3 stitches around the head of the hook. This keeps the hook from moving.

Determine where the eye should go on the opposite edge. You can use the metal eye or create a thread loop (below). Note: if the edges will overlap, you use the straight eye. If the two edges meet flush against each other, use the curvier loop.

The Thread Loop
1. Begin by making a loop of three stitches.
2. Next, slide the needle under this loop. Wind the end of the thread around the needle and gently pull. A small knot forms on top of the loop. Once again, slide the needle under the loop and again, wrap the end of the thread around the needle and pull so that the next knot sits next to the first one. Repeat until you have enough stitches along the length of the original stitches. This will form a tiny crochet "chain."
4. When sewing on hook & eyes, I like to put the first and last in place, then position the others accordingly.

Another Method of Lining a Sheath
This method begins the same way as the white dress. The difference is that you will not sew the dress down the sides just yet. Instead  you will sew the dress together at the shoulder seams first.
 1. Don't forget to plan for your zipper (if that's the plan).
2. The center back is basted close, pressed flat and the zipper is pinned down the back.
3. Baste the zipper into the back center seam.
4. Hand stitch the zipper in place.
5. When you get near the top where the head of the zipper pull is located, remove the basting stitch, lower the zipper then continue to hand sew in place.

 6. Sew the dress together at the side seams. Repeat for the lining. Place the lining right side to the right side of the dress. Stitch around the hemlines and around the armholes on either side. (I've put a broken red line to emphasize where to stitch.)
7. Now fold the dress in half and pull one side through one of the side seams. The right side of the dress will be facing itself and the right side of the lining will also be facing itself. It will for a loop (lining on one side, dress on the other.)
8. Stitch along the side seam which is now in a loop. Be sure to leave the length of lining open where it will be stitched around the zipper. When you have finished stitching, pull the dress out of that back seam so that it is right side up. The lining will be inside.
9. Press the edges well. Now fold the edge of the neckline of the dress down. Then fold the edge of the lining under. (You may have to make tiny slashes around the armhole for ease. You can baste each in place which will make it easier to manipulate. With the folded sides together, sew the seam shut.
10. Press well.
11. Pin then sew the lining around the edge of the zipper.
12. You can add a hook and eye at the top to hold the dress together.
13. Again, the inside of the dress is practically as lovely as the outside!

I'm will be developing a new page on this blog will include an index of all my blog posts with sewing techniques. It will also incorporate "Fashion terms," illustrations of various stitches as well as any other information on sewing for dolls I can find on the web for you. Down the road in the near future: Lining Coats & Jackets. Stay tuned!!!

But shortly, we'll be bringing you the latest style trends to emerge from the world's top fashion capitals.

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