Monday, February 8, 2016

CARNIVAL 2016!!!!

To all my friends in Trinidad & Tobago, I wish you a very festive, happy and safe... CARNIVAL!!

In the four years I spent in this lovely country, I learned to appreciate this very special holiday. The Trinidadians are a very proud people and I can attest to their creative and artistic ability. As usual, I set aside this time to dress my girls in skimpy, over-the-top showgirl costumes.
This isn't about real clothes at all. On the contrary, this is about creating losing oneself in an artistic fantasy crafted from feathers, beads, and an extravagant imagination. The party doesn't end there.

Twinkle Toes

According to vogue.com, glitter footwear is all the rage! In fact, we noticed quite a few sparkly sneakers on the streets of Paris last December. Look for everything from sparkling ankle boots to stiletto sandals to jazz up the feet of diehard fashionistas.

Sparkle footwear is very in, according to Vogue magazine.

So, we decided to take a few pair of cheap Barbie shoes (you can find them online and on eBay) and glam them up with a small vile of silver glitter!

Before and after, pink plastic Barbie shoes are given a glamorous new look with glitter.

At first, I was afraid that the end result would look a bit cheesy. But to my surprise, the shoes almost looked as though they were encrusted with tiny rhinestones. I was most pleased.

It is not so difficult to work with glitter. Still, here are a few tips to a successful finish.


 1. Use craft glue or (glossy) ModPodge for best results. For tiny areas or small shoes, I use a toothpick to spread the glue. For slightly larger shoes or boots, I use a Q-tip. But if you think you will be glittering lots of items, then you might want to use small paintbrushes.
2. Shake fine glitter onto the shoes while the glue is still wet. Shake it over a small sheet of aluminum foil or waxed paper. (When you are finished, excess goes back in the vial for reuse the next time around!) Pat the bottom of the shoe to shake off the excess.
3. Allow to dry, then paint on another layer of glue, followed by another generous shake of glitter. Shake off the excess and, again, allow to completely dry.


Don't stop there, have fun. Give new life to a Barbie bracelet or handbag. You can even create your own accessories from oven-bake clay then add a few shakes of glitter to glam things up.


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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Doll's Eye View: Paris Couture: Spring 2016


This was the first fashion presentation to follow last November's terrorist attacks in Paris. Quite naturally, security was intense and the mood, quite subdued. Many couturiers pulled back and showed in smaller venues. We live in a dangerous world. People have more on their minds than expensive dresses! To make matters worse, there is ongoing chaos following the departure of some designers from key fashion houses.  including Dior where there is no creative director.

As time goes on and lifestyles change, there seems to be increasing less need or demand for this form of fashion. Traditionally, haute couture was produced by a hushed circle of designers for the needs of "high society." Women like Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly, Catherine Deneuve, Edith Piaf and a host of socialites, Hollywood stars, European aristocrats and Saudi royalty once flocked to their Paris salons for their biannual wardrobe fix. One could easily drop $15-20,000 for a tailored suit and $80,000 or much more (depending on the amount of embroidery) for a gown. Today the market has dwindled. The wealthy set is content with designer ready-to-wear and with few exceptions, only eveningwear floats down a couture catwalk.

The rare couture daywear on the catwalk.
For me, even the young designers who show during couture week, seem to have lost the meaning of couture as it is now a word to describe anything and everything. This "art" should be an escape from reality. These clothes should make the rest of us dream. Sadly, most of them do not. I struggled to find something that inspired me.. Either I had done similar silhouettes before or the outfits were just not that interesting due to poor choice of fabric, cut or functionality. But I persevered and finally found a few styles

On Her A-Game
There was a lot of volume going on with gowns that seemingly are designed with red carpet events in mind. These silhouettes which are narrow at the top and super wide at the bottom, make for grand ball gowns.
It's not that difficult to make either. The skirt is a circle skirt. I used a circle of white silk topped with a circle of white tulle for the skirt. The top is a strapless camisole with shoulder straps and a little apron of gathered black tulle tacked under the bustline.
I didn't really care for this dress, as is. I felt the fabric wasn't special enough, the silhouette is too stiff and the stark white color doesn't add anything to the over all look. Using the same concept--slim strapless dress with a full flared over-dress--I used a soft, sheer georgette fabric in a boudoir blush tone which flatters the pale "skin" of my model, Violetta. With the fabric now softly flowing around the body, it is a sexier, more glamorous look. Moral of the story: you don't necessarily have to like the garment in front of you. Slip into the skin of the designer and try to envision the message he was trying to convey. Then make whatever changes you feel best makes the point!

It's kind of surprising to see grey for spring, but think morning fog at the seaside. Though we've seen these silhouettes before, it's the choice of fabric that makes them current. Soft chiffon, lace or embroidered sheers, even a rayon/lycra jersey will ease dolly into any of these subtly pretty looks.

Summer Princess
Ballet  dress turned princess ball gown, the old fashioned fit and flare looks are big. Notice too, all of the tulle and sheer fabrics used here. Again, making a version for dolly is pretty straight forward. These fit and flare looks consist of a fitted bodice or a flared (or circle) skirt for an understated elegant look. Gaze into the skies for your color palette.

Here, we like the subtle contrast of textures. Textured sheers with black velvet roses, taffeta cabbage roses against a bell shaped 2-piece gown, lace with appliques fluttering over a black chiffon jumpsuit.


This last dress is simply, a strapless mini dress with a skirt that ties over it like an apron. On top are lots of textured flowers. It looks more complicated than it is. Take a look:

1.This is a strapless sheath dress made from the foundation sloper. Since I'm using  a sheer, instead of hemming this dress, I stitch on a bit of lace trim at the bottom. Leave the top alone for the moment.
2. Using a 1/8" (3mm) ribbon, stitch on the straps near the top of the dress.
3. Pin, then sew your lace trim over the top edge. The straps will be sandwiched in between the dress and the trim.
4. Make the flowers out of bits of crinkled fabric in different sizes. (I used polyester taffeta.) It doesn't have to be perfect.
5. Attach above the waist and be sure one is placed on one of the shoulder straps.
 

 
6. Make an apron by gathering a length of fabric into enough ribbon to wrap around the doll's waist plus an additional 1/2" (1 cm). Fold each end in and glue. To one end, stitch on one of the larger flowers. The waistband can be closed with a snap.
7. For an addition bit of texture, I added in a single feather. To finish off the hem, I stitched on a row of lace trim. What's nice is that you now have two dresses for the effort of making one!!!



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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Three Years A Charm!!!

Can you believe it? Today, we celebrate our three years in the blogosphere. How time flies when you’re having fun! Someone once asked me if I was afraid of running out of ideas. My response:  not at all! As long as there is fashion—be it from on catwalks, red carpets, museum exhibitions or simply, gritty urbanwear from big city streets—there will be plenty of inspiration to fuel this blog.

I’m pretty happy with the way things went over the past 12 months. There were slightly fewer posts than the year before, but I spent more time and space on each project in an effort to explore the multitude of options.  Inasmuch as today’s fashion is the sum of its parts, we steered a good share of our focus towards accessories: belts, hats, gloves, hair pieces, shoes and T shirts for Ken, Uggs and Chanel transformations for Barbie.  We remain faithful to our ongoing conversation on trends, but paused to properly finish our dresses, jackets, coats and skirts. In fact we even launched a new page dedicated to sewing tips!

We toured the exhibitions and marveled at the works of master couturiers, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent and Jeanne Lanvin. We played around with textiles: sun-printing with leaves, adding spark with foiling, even stringing together bits of metallic cardboard to form a Paco Rabanne style dress!

And so, you wonder, what could I possibly come up with for 2016. MORE OF THE SAME!!!

Me and the girls will be taking you to Barbie’s exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris later this spring. We’ll also be paying homage to the late French couturier, Andre Courreges, best known in the 1960’s for his “space age” fashion. We’ll do more cool things with fabrics and textile techniques. I also think it’s about time for our girls to spend a day at the spa so I’ll be sharing links to other blogs and videos for  tips on caring for our vinyl ladies and even styling their hair.

Of course we’ll occupy our usual front row seats at all the major catwalk shows in the US and Europe.  In fact, the Spring/Summer 2016 Paris Couture report follows this post immediately. The Academy Awards are not far off (my girls are working on their poses.) We’ve already collected the guy’s faves from Fall/Winter 2016 Menswear weeks. The only change: I’ll spread out those reports so they don’t take up a month at a time. The journalist in me has always felt the urgency to post my reports soon after the shows. However, I think the average reader, would rather see trends closer to the season for which they are designed. This will also give me time to stop and post tutorials on those special items that peak your interest.

Finally, there have been calls for me to put up a photo with my entire doll family. My New Years photo (above) comes closest, though about a third of the dolls are not present. It will take me a bit to construct this photo, but I promise to get that up at some point.

Again, I would like to thank all of you for tuning into my blog each week. You make all worthwhile. Thank you for your continued support and your most generous kind words.

Now let’s get this party started!!!!! Cupcakes anybody??!!!
 
 
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Liebster Award--Thank you Brini!


Here we are, the first Liebsters of the year. Thank you, Brini for nominating me. I'll begin right away with my answers to Brini's questions:
 
1.   What is your most treasured doll and why?
My most treasured doll is the one my mom gave me when I was just 20 months old. Her name is Sandra and I still have her. She is on my bed at my parents' home. The body was originally rubber, which over time, disintegrated so I had her re-bodied. She is the matriarch of my doll family! As far as the most treasured doll in my collection...it's too difficult to choose. From my natural haired So In Style Barbies to my most recent Fashion Royalty dolls, all are precious to me. In an earthquake, I'd probably bypass my own clothes and grab as many dolls as I could!
 
2.   What motivates your to continue your blog?
My passion for fashion. In putting together my blog I use many of the same skills as  those employed during my career in fashion and fashion education.  The blog keeps me connected and engaged in this field. It also provides an outlet allowing me to channel my creative energy while giving me something that gives purpose to my daily life now that I am no longer in the work force. Ideas for each post are drawn from current edgy looks as well as fabulous fashions I've seen throughout my life. Since digital cameras didn't exist until fairly recently, I use Pinterest as my scrapbook. My dolls are like tiny avatars, allowing me to "wear" fashion both past and present. All of you who are gracious enough to leave comments and lend support, make all the hard work that goes into producing this blog, very rewarding. Thank you.
 
3.   What doll challenges have you faced, (limiting, selling etc)?
The dolls themselves pose no challenges other than sneaking lots of their friends and families into my home. (How else could 20 turn into 100!)  I'm terribly sentimental so I haven't given any of them away. The challenge really comes with the blog which takes up nearly all of my free time. You know by now, I won't put anything up unless 1) it has a distinct link with "fashion" or has  "fashion appeal" 2) it is photographed in a way so as to seduce my visitors 2) and most of all----it is  interesting! As you've noticed, I operate more like a "magazine" in that my blog runs all year long with no real breaks. I do get away from time to time, but either I prepare posts in advance or I simply take the dolls with me and incorporate them into my trip. It's sort of the way fashion designers live.
 
4.   What new skills have you challenged yourself to in your selected play scale?
 
At first I found very simple ways to dress the dolls (draping designer scarves, feather boas or jewelry) around them. But one day while rummaging through my closet, I found clothes I'd made for myself that were really well sewn. Instead of approaching my work with the attitude of "Well, it's better than those made by Mattel," I started challenging myself with more complicated styles for the dolls and paying more attention to finishing. As a result, I think my work has really grown. I think this is especially important in maintaining the attention and interest of those who follow me.

 
5.   What was the last item you created or purchased for yourself that you had second thoughts about because you'd rather have a doll?
I have so many clothes in my closets and my lifestyle has radically changed now that I am no longer in the work force. So I don't feel the need to buy new clothes for myself and I don't need to update my tech toys as much as I once did. But, when I travel and say, dine out at a restaurant, I tend to think about what kind of doll I could have bought for the price of the dinner. This is very bad! Signs of a doll addict!
 
6.   How do you decide what to add to your collection?
I'm looking for dolls who have the same look and swag as real models on the fashion catwalks of the world. When I do see a doll who speaks to me, and is not outrageously expensive, I set my sights on her.


7.   What was the one doll mistake you made and what did you learn from it?
Making a Frankendolly without really thinking through my objective. Since all I need my dolls have to do is to simply strike a pose,  I had this crazy idea the body didn't really matter. I put an FR doll head on a Barbie Model Muse body, thinking I'd have the look of the doll without the full expense. Aside from the FR doll not being happy with her unarticulated Barbie MM body, I ended up with a devalued FR Kyori Sato doll. Even though she looked hot with either body (Photos: FR body on the left, Barbie MM on the right), the doll screamed and nagged me until I finally gave in and bought a proper FR body for her. In the end, it all came to the same price as a nude doll on the after market. Lesson learned----just go on and buy the whole doll!
 
8.   Which doll was your holy grail and do feel the same about the doll now?
The holy grail wasn't one doll it was Fashion Royalty dolls. Like many of you, I began collecting Barbie. I discovered FR while looking at other collectors' dolls pictured online. It took me awhile before I felt like parting with more than $20 for a doll but eventually I was seduced by the beauty of the FR dolls and how fashion relevant they were. My first FR was a "Envy" Monogram. I love her, but discovered quickly how challenging it was to fit clothes on dolls with articulation. (She kept bending in all directions.) Today, I still love FR and have stopped collecting Barbies. I bought an FR mannequin to avoid draping directly on those dolls!!
9.   Has anyone ever giving you a doll gift that you did not know if you should accept it or not?
With the exception of my "Christmas" gift (picked out by me and given by my dad) I'd rather people not give me the gift of a doll because I'm at a point where I'm looking for something very specific.


10. Which doll or item on your wish list that you will no longer pursue?

I was looking for the FR Hommes Takeo. On Ebay has always been expensive. Now there are so few on the market, he has become completely out of reach!
 
11. Which doll will be the doll you have to have this year?
She has not yet been created but I already know I MUST have her!!!
 
On that note, I nominate the 5 following blogs to continue the madness:
 
 
 
 
Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who present you the award and link back to their blog.
2. Post the award image on your. 
3  Answer 11 questions posted be the presenter (see below)
4. Nominate 5 blogs with less then 200 followers (or in my case, those you love)
5. Create 11 questions for the nominees to answer.
6. List these rules in your post. Inform the people you chose to nominated by leaving a comment on their   blog and link them to your post!
 
1. What was it about the first doll you ever bought that prompted you to start a collection?
2. When you get a new doll, how does it make you feel and what do you do right after de-boxing?
3. Do you name all your dolls? If so, where do you get ideas for their names?
4. Do you do anything special to care for your dolls?
5. How do you organize your dolls' clothes, accessories, props?
6. What motivated you to start writing a blog?
7. How has your blog evolved since you first started?
8. What kind of camera do you use to take your photos?
9. What challenges does this hobby (or blog) present? (What have you learned?)
10. Where do you go to discover new dolls to buy?
11. Doll-wise, what are you hoping for in 2016?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Heart-FELT Desires

I've been wanting to make felt hats for awhile now. What's held me back is thinking I needed special rolls of wool. While I did buy a small package, I discovered that working with felt squares is easier, not to mention, faster! In preparation for this post, I tried a number of different approaches, all of which I share with you here. And while there is a plethora of photos on this page, don't think for a moment that any of this is complicated.

The reality is it is enormously easy because we are working with a super simple base which serves as a canvas for all of your creative expressions.

1.Felt squares are sold everywhere. If you can, try to find wool felt or at least, a material with wool content. Above the orange square is wool, the purple synthetic. Wool will make the process go even faster because it practically melts with steam. But if you are not so lucky, the synthetic still works, though requiring a bit more work to get a smooth finish at the edges. You will need a form. You can create your own. Click here for instructions. Or you can simply use some small object around the house, like bottle caps, to serve as your hat form.
2. Each hat on this page started out with a  4x4" (103mm) square of felt. First, treat the felt by washing it with soapy water, working the suds into the fabric. For the synthetic felt, I also put it in a cup of hot water, leaving it until the water cools.
3. Stretch the wool in all directions. These two steps serve to soften the wool fiber and making it pliable to smoothly fit over the hat form.

4. For my first hat, I stretched the wool around the form and tied it at the base.
5. Using a iron on a low setting, I press all around the crown.
6. At the base, I stretch out the gathers and press around the edge and underneath
7. Set aside and allow to completely dry. When dry, untie and cut around the base, allowing a small margin.
 



 8. For this model, I decided to use an inner hatband. I don't have access to a milliner supply store and didn't want to wait to order online. Instead, I used a narrow strip of elastic. Stitch to the edge (and not directly through to the hat. I ran my iron along the inner edge of the hem. If the hat has stretched a bit, you can put it back on the form, spray lightly with water and press the hat again with the iron.
9. For the finished look, I simply took the scraps, gathered them into a bunch and made a stitch at the center. Attach to the side of the hat and voila! Feel free to add feathers, fur trim, lace, ribbons, rhinestones, tulle.... For example:

 
 The basic hat is chic enough to be worn as is....

...or embellished with a wisp of tulle wrapped around the head and tied at the side.

 10-12 Here, I used my wide brimmed hat form. This works for either a cloche or a style with a bit of a brim. Again, I follow the same procedures as listed above. The iron is used to help shrink the fibers around the form. Be sure to work the gathers out around the string, ironing and moving the fabric around until the crown is smooth.
13. This shows what it looks like when it's totally dry.
14. I cut away what I won't use.
15. Then press the felt below the cord. You can use the cord to guide your scissors as you cut the excess away. Or you could press this down into a brim.
Here, I've cut the excess away, then added it back as a garnish on the side and slipped in a feather.

I made another hat using a purple felt. Instead of cutting away the excess, I thought it would be fun to leave as is. The result reminds me of head gear reminiscent of Japanese fashion from the 1990s.

This process worked so remarkably well (I made 10 hats in two days), I decided to see what would happen if I used scraps of wool jersey.
I did get the hat shape, however, it is really soft! I stitched in a hatband made from bias cotton tape, but it was difficult to keep the edges from stretching. I tried using a spray-on start or sizing agent but it tends to flake when dried!

Here, I tried using a scrap of wool (the same material as her suit.) I did get a dome shape but couldn't control the stretch when I tried to add a hatband. So.......I re-wet my hat, tied it back to the form. The when dry...added a small bit of faux fur.

16. The takeaway is that your hat will take the shape of whatever is underneath. A quick tour around the house and I found bottle tops, product caps and the like to shape my hats. Whatever you choose should be slightly smaller than the dolls head (as it will stretch when dry).
17. After preparing your felt, stretch it over the bottle top then hold in place with a rubber band.
18. Adjust the gathers around the rubber band so as to make everything above smooth.
19. Allow to completely dry. Notice how my hat has the shape of the product cap.
20. Cut away the excess. For this series of hats, I've left the rough cut edge.
21. I love the sharp edges of this container. The result is that perfect Jackie Kennedy pillbox!
 22. Again, I scooped up the scraps and chopped them up. Put them together and stitch in the center then attach to one side of the hat. You can also add a touch of glam with a rhinestone sticker squarely placed in the center.

No matter how simple or how elaborate your tastes lie, use your imagination and make this basic felt hat your own!
 
 
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