Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Chain Gang & Company

Chain belts are some of the easiest to make. Crafts and jewelry supply stores have a wide variety of chain suitable for the scale of the doll. And if that weren't enough, you can always your own outdated costume jewelry into something dolly will be thrilled to wear around her waist. Right now we are seeing lots of 1970's inspired fashion trends, all of which lend itself to.....chain belts.

Over her palazzo pants-jumpsuit, Roshumba wears a simple hoop link chain belt. Snip off a length of chain then add a claw "catch" to one end. This belt can be worn by all of my dolls since the catch can clip onto any of the hoops. For other types of chain, you should decide how you want the belt to hang on the doll, then add a eye ring where you want the belt to close on the body. You'll also need to think about what goes on the opposite end. For that you can add a tiny charm, pendant or even a tassel.

The "CHANEL" chain belt
In the halls of high fashion, when you think of chain belts, the name Chanel comes to mind. Keep in mind, this is a fashion company, so there is no one style fixed in stone for the belts or the bags. That said, there are a few iconic looks your fashion maven always wants and any of these featured below will fit the bill. Moreover, they are pretty simple to make!

Here is a simple chain belt with a tiny strip of leather threaded through the chain. Cut the chain so that it fits around the doll's hips plus extra (about 1.5 inches or 4cm) for the overhang. Cut the strip of leather (or narrow ribbon) roughly 1-1/2 times the length of the chain. Thread it under and over each loop of the chain. Hold the chain flat and try to keep it from twisting as you work. When you get to the end, fold the leather strip under and glue in place. (Sometimes I will thread it back through two loops on the underside and then glue.) Here I've added a small leather tassel to the end of the belt.
Many of the Chanel belts have one or two tiers of chain that drop over hips from the waist.
I work directly on the doll. I cut enough chain to go around the waist plus an equal amount for the overhang. For this belt, I used a claw catch, then wrap the chain around the waist of the doll, again allowing for an over hang. Place an eye ring where the belt should close. On the other side the hips, attach another eye ring. Pick up the excess chain and attach the mid point of the overhang to the new eye ring you've just added. Add a charm to the end point of the chain.

You can add as many tiers to this "bib" using the same principle. Looking for the purse to match? You'll find it here.
Don't be shy about getting creative. Here, I found my mother's old chain link necklace. By itself, it makes for quite a nice belt. But since my dolls like bling, I took it one step further, and linked a second chain to the original belt.

Check out the multitude of novelty chains available in crafts stores and jewelry supply shops. If you can't find something similar to the one featured below, make your own by adding tiny charms to a regular chain!
Here, Carla was happy enough with a single strand chain belt of tiny Buddha heads. However, remembering how much fun I had wearing "belly dancer belts," I decided I'd make a double strand belt. As you can see, I hung the belt directly on the doll and pinned it in place as I worked.
It's a Wrap!
Corset belts are big for Fall. And it's no wonder...Silhouettes are getting bigger, looser, longer. Dolly could become quite overwhelmed with such voluminous clothing. So it makes sense that corsets, waist cinchers, and wrap belts would be a popular accessory to feminize cool weather looks or give an edge to urban styles. Here, I show you two ways of making this corset belt.

 The easiest way to create the pattern is to drape it directly on the doll.
1. Take two small scraps of fabric and press it close to the doll's body. pin at each side.
2. Draw a line indicating the center front. Mark the sides. Turn the doll over and mark the center back. Now draw the shape of the corset.
3. Remove from the doll and trace the pattern onto paper (center front to side). For the front, fold along the center front line to make sure your pattern is symmetrical. Adjust if needed. For the back, cut along the center back. You will need to do the back in two parts.
4. Since I'm working in leather, I only need to add seam allowance to the side seams and the back center seam. You can also reverse and have your center front open (with lacing up the front,) if desired.

I decided I want this corset to fit all of my 12-inch dolls. So instead of adding Velcro or hook and eyes down the back, I punched in eyelets, then threaded a tiny strip of leather which wraps around the back and ties in the front. You can leave it like that, or give it an extra zing by adding a fob watch chain.

All I've done is to take a bit of chain then add S-links at both sides. The S-link is just that---wire fashioned into an S shape. Squeeze one end to close over a loop. Leave the other end open. This little chain-ette hooks onto the top of the corset and onto the belt.

 This is another (no sew) variation. Again, I've draped this directly on to the doll. It is a one-piece belt that wraps around the back and ties in the front. The widest part is in the front, but then it progressively gets narrower at the back. If your leather isn't wide enough to do this in one piece, then glue on extensions. She can wear it as is or.....layer on a straight black strap (as seen in the above photo).

The Waist Cincher
This is super simple and the perfect belt to wear with peasant shirts and full gathered skirts. Cut a rectangle of leather the width of the doll's waist. Add the metal eyelets and laces.

The Bow-Tie Belt

This looks like a single piece of leather wrapped around the doll's waist. However, look again and note how "perfect" the belt fits around the doll.
The secret is in the pattern (7-3/4 inch or 19cm) which resembles a double sided spoon. The narrow part (3/8" or 1cm) fits around the waist but the ends are cut much wider and shaped into petals with points at both ends. Cut the belt out in fabric first to be sure everything fits correctly. Then be sure you use a very lightweight leather, pleather or vinyl. You can make this in fabric but you'll need to hem or line it.

The Fringe Belt
This look combines two hot trends of the season--belts and fringe. Again, super simple, this is a 1/2inch (2cm) wide strip of suede (or ultra-suede). I've cut fringe into both sides. You can also cut it  bit longer so that the belt wraps around the doll's waist twice.

Finally, I wanted to add an edgy belt using unexpected materials. The black belt is made from a rubber (appliance) gasket. The white, from a wide rubber band. Both are cut in half on an angle. Then, using a blade, I made a slit in the middle parallel to the side of the band. Feed one side of the strip into the other and voila!!!!
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Just BELT Her!!!!!

With longer hemlines and wider shapes, it stands to reason that belts will be taking on a much more prominent role where accessories are concerned. From straight leather straps to wide corsets, we saw all shapes and sizes of belts worn. Okay, so what's the big deal when making belts for dolls? How about.....buckles!

Yes, you can order them online or, if you're lucky, you might find them at doll fairs. Most of what you'll find, however, is a choice of oval or square basic buckles. Minidolls.com carries a better selection than most ranging in price for about .50 - $1.00 + shipping. When you make as many clothes as I do, that can get rather expensive!

With that, I set out to make my dolls a variety of belts. I had so much fun, I ended up with enough content for two posts. This one features ideas for belt buckles, straight or curved belts. The following post will feature corset belts as well as a couple of ideas for chain belts.

Basic Belts

There are two types of belts, straight and curved. The straight belt is a narrow rectangle which will fit around the waist. For that you only need to cut a strip of material or use a ribbon.
On the other hand, for a pair of low riding pants or jeans, you will need to make a curved belt that fits flat against the hips.
I make the first pattern using tape, right on the doll.
1. I apply tape around the hips of the doll, then press in place so that it hugs her curves.
2. Mark the top and the bottom edge of the hips, center front. Here I've marked a rather wide area since I will use this as my curved belt sloper. I can always cut this down later.
3. Mark the sides.
4. Mark the center back.
5. Now, very carefully cut the tape away from the body, being careful not to distort the shape. I used a toothpick to move the tape away from the body just enough for a tiny pair of manicure scissors to slip in and cut.
6. Flatten the tape pattern onto graph paper.
7. Depending on the type of belt you make will depend on how much you should extend your belt from the edges. Be sure to maintain the arc of the curve. Remember to leave a margin to fold the belt over the belt buckle as well as the overlap on the opposite side.
Basic Oval Buckle.
You should invest in basic jewelry pliers available at most crafts stores. I've used 16-20 gauge wire for this post, but you can use whatever size depending on your needs and the scale of buckle appropriate to your doll.

1. With the flat edge jewelry pliers, cut off a small piece of wire then catch it in between the blades. Bend around one side.
2. Continue to bend around the back and around the second blade.
3. Clip off the excess.
4. Adjust it so that the buckle is balanced and clip away any additional excess. You could stop there, but if you want a more substantial buckle, continue with the next step.
5. Take a hammer and smash your buckle flat.
6. . One end of your belt wraps around the center spoke. The other end feeds through the oval.

Double Loop Buckle
You can also make variations of the basic oval. Instead of stopping your oval at the bottom of the buckle, continue to wrap the wire around the first oval. The top (black) belt shows what it looks like with the wire wrapped a couple more times. I wanted to make something even fancier, so I made a double oval buckle, but with irregular loops, I later hammered flat.
1. The leather strap wraps around the center spoke.
2. Fold over the edge and glue flat.
3. I added grommets. If you're wondering where I found grommets so tiny, take a trip to your crafts store and look in the "Scrapbooking" aisle. I puncture the leather with a big needle, then widened the hole until the grommet fits through. A quick squeeze of the pliers will set them in place.
4. This is a straight belt that I wanted to hang off the doll's hips. So instead of threading the belt through the loops, I made a small hook which I added to the buckle so that it can hang onto either of the holes.

Square Buckle

1. I find it easy to draw a box before I begin as a way of guiding me on the size of the square I want to create. Bend the wire at a 90 degree angle for each of the four sides.
2. Now, lets make the center spoke which serves as a small hook. Cut off another small piece of wire. Using the round nose pliers, make a loop on one end.
3. Attach to one side of your square.
4. The spoke should extend slightly beyond the width of the buckle. You can leave it straight or bend the end under slightly.
5. Prepare the belt. Make a slash in the middle of one side.
6. You will slide the spoke in the middle, then fold the edge over and glue down at the back.
7. I cut two tiny strips which I made into belt loops. Using a large safety pin or needle, poke holes in your belt so that the mid-spoke can pass through and be held in place.

Decorative Buckles

While searching for ideas to create more interesting belt buckles, my "ah-ha" moment the moment I stepped into a jewelry supply store. Those little clasps used as closures for necklaces make for some very interesting buckles for both your girls and your guys. If you want a bejeweled buckle, simply glue a flat sided jewel on top of the clasp.

You should also look out for "claw closures" and round eyes. You can get quite creative with your belts.
 1. Using a round nosed pair of jewelry pliers, wrap the wire around the pliers.
2. Make random loops.
3. I wanted to trap a bead inside, so I slid a bead onto the end and finished my loops. Be sure you have at least one loop for easy access.
4. Add your claw clip.
5. Take a strip of leather or ribbon and cut a point on one side.
6. The broader side is wrapped around one of the loops, turned and glued underneath.
7. The other side will be threaded though the hole at the base of the claw clip, turned under and glued in place. You could stop there. But I decided to add a tassel.
8. I took a tiny scrap and cut in a little fringe.
9. I fold the top edge over one of the loops and glue down underneath. Then I wrapped a bit of wire around the base.

Stay Tuned for Part II: Corset and chain belts.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Doll's Eye View: Paris Fall '15 Trends Part II

In this, part two of the French Catwalk shows, we focus on the more "wearable" aspects of Paris fashion week. Still, I would like to point out that these are press presentations (costing tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Euros) and it is essential for the designer to "make a statement" about their fashion philosophy. So what walks down the runway in Paris will always have a creative edge. Otherwise, the more conservative merchandise remains back in the showroom.

50 Nuances de Grey

From capital to capital, across the ocean, there's no escaping it...grey is a major color to contend with next fall. Designers in Paris like to dip it in textured warm and cool tones for everything from car coats and jackets to eveningwear.


Flashback to the 1960's Mod Squad, look for black and white checks and windowpane plaids to invade Fall wardrobes. What's interesting here is the mixture of checks with checks, plaids with tweeds in looks ranging from kicky mini-suits to below-the-knee wrap skirts.

A Study in Black & White
Fashion Illustrations courtesy of Richad Vyse:  http://richardvysefashionillustrationart.com/
Straight off the drawing board is a strong graphic look complete with sketched placed prints, cut-out shapes or simply a look sporting a juxtaposition of stripes.

Study in Black & White
 Following in the theme of the Arts & Crafts, these are fun party dresses using recycled materials, and even origami. Okay so Yang Li did it with something that resembled garbage bags, but for our girl, Olympia, we translated the look using a polyester taffeta.
This fabric is so much fun to work with. I started out with a basic foundation, then simply crunched the taffeta to get the shape and tacked it in place.

Coat Check
There are some straight overcoats, however, look for belts to play a major role in creating pretty, feminine silhouettes especially with fit and flair silhouettes.

Panting the Night Away
Essentially, these are party pants and, as you can see, they come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors!!! Instead of making dolly another P.M. dress, consider updating her wardrobe with fancy pants, instead!
Pretty Lady
 Don't get me wrong, dresses aren't going away, any time soon. Keep them simple with lots of flair!

Give Her the Slip
Another MAJOR trend which followed us everywhere was the slip dress. Long or short, worn by itself or over a shirt as a jumper, here are a few more variations of this new, hot trend.

Slinky Around
 She is one long, drink of water......look for evening dresses that melt over the figure. Fabrics which will help you get this look include rayon/lycra knits, silk charmeuse. We also like the combination of a shimmering satin teamed with the same fabric that has been crinkled or texturized.

Velvet Underground
 Velvet makes a comeback for the most romantic of looks.

Fashion month is over and there are lots of new looks to explore. Our tutorials resume beginning with the next post which will focus on next season's hottest accessory: Belts (including ideas for buckles)! Stay tuned!!!!

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