Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Flaky Pastry

My dolls are looking forward to summer parties. So I thought, this would be the perfect time to explore another one of my favorite fun fabrics...Crystal Polyester. Also known as Polyester Organza, it's the kind of fabric that when wrapped around the shoulders of dolly, it instantly transforms any dress into high fashion drama. It is a sheer, sometimes iridescent, material with a natural "bounce," and the best's pretty inexpensive!!!

A few seasons ago, there were a few dresses on Alexandre Vaultier's Haute Couture catwalk that I felt lent themselves to this fabric. And so with this post...which admittedly is a tad bit long (but filled with pictures)...I show you just a few of the many things you can do with this marvelous material. Think pastry.....with light and flaky layers that curl, that puff up and float effortlessly!!!

But first let's start with something really easy. How about an evening wrap that looks as though it floated down from the heavens.

 Creating this is easy.

1. Create a tube by cutting a length of fabric and fold it in half. Stitch along the top.
2. Turn right side out and press so this seam is now runs down the middle.  Using the center seam as a guide, make a running stitch down the middle.
3. Gather by pulling the lower thread on one side, then on the other.
4. Adjust so that the gathers are fairly even.
5. You can take a small strip of fabric or a narrow ribbon and sew it along the gathers. This will help to stabilize the gathers and it provides a way to close the shawl.
6. Dolly can wear it as is, but I wanted the poufs to overlap, so with tiny, random stitches, I tack the poufs together in a few spots.
From front to back, Olympia shows you the final result. Super simple! Super dramatic!
But you came looking for French pastry so let's indulge in a buttery yellow delight. Shakira's "millefeuille" marigold dress is easier that it looks. It's a great project for a rainy day that with its many layers requires a bit of patience. This dress is completely made by hand. Take your time. It's worth the work!

In my last post, I showed an alternative method to finishing the edges of polyester fabric with a flame. For this exercise, the flame sometimes curled the edges which adds to the look. Don't worry about trying to be perfect. Don't beat yourself over any "mistakes." The more "organic" it looks, the better!

We begin by making a foundation garment or a sheath dress (though you can make any basic garment you want). Chose a color close to the color of your organza and choose thread that matches perfectly as well. Cut 1 to 1 1/4" (22-30cm) strips of organza on the diagonal. Don't measure. Estimate. The strips will be somewhat irregular which is what you want. One by one, bit by bit, holding each strip with two hands, quickly zip the edge past the bottom of the flame to seal the edges.

1. To start, I begin at the bottom of the dress.
2. The first strip begins and ends at the center back.
3. Another, somewhat longer strip is wrapped around the dress a few times, keeping each layer close together.
4. Here is how this looks at the back. At this point, you should hand stitch everything (using a back stitch).
5. I take another strip and pin from one side to the other.
6. Now this is when things get interesting. This time, instead of wrapping to the back, I loop it and pin back over to the other side.
7. Then loop back over and pinned in place back to the other side.
 8. With the extra, I make into a "curl" and pin in place. This is a good place to stop and stitch down your layers, thus far.
9. This is what my skirt looks like on one side.
10. Turn the dress to the back. Take another small strip and pin down, side seam to side seam.
 11. From here, you can use longer strips and simply loop back and forth from side seam to side seam. Again, stop and stich down.
12. End with a single layer. When clipping the strips, cut at an angle, and run a lit match quickly past the edge. If your strips aren't long enough. Don't worry. You can simply cut another piece and keep going. The whole point is to create the look of flaky, uneven layers! Note how I have stopped just shy of the waist.

 13. Now, let's go back to the top of the dress. Another strip is pinned near the neckline. Note how it extends a bit towards the back and has been cut at an angle.
14. I pin a second layer.
15. And a third.
16. Now because the inspiration for this dress has a curve in the layers, I curve each strip to one side and over the waist to the opposite side.

17. Adjust the layers, then stitch in place. You can keep doing this until everything is covered. Each layer will become progressively smaller.
18. If you see any space, you can always cut a tiny bit of the strip, fold in half and slide into the spot and stitch down.
19. Go to the side of the dress still exposed. Fold the other layers over so you can work better.
20. Begin to add more layers. Her I added a wide strip which covers this part of the dress and pushes the other layers to the front.
21. You can add another layer. The important thing is to cover the foundation completely.
22. Turn the dress to the back. I don't know what the back of the original dress looks like so I made the decision to keep things simple. I added strips which cover a complete side.
23. Same thing for the opposite side. When I stitch this down, I stop at the waist because I want to layers to curl upwards.
24. The back is closed with hooks and eyes. One tip: before you get too far with the back, stop to make sure the doll can get out of the dress. Make any adjustments before you finish adding the strips.
Like a gorgeous yellow rose, Shakira's dress is interesting from front to back.

I wanted to incorporate that same idea into a design for a jacket.
As a base, I used a simple basic (dartless) jacket. I decided to make my jacket from the same sheer fabric! Like this you don't have to worry about seeing the fabric beneath. You do see the stitches to some degree, but again, the organic nature of this look forgives all.
1. I sewed a strip that begins and ends at the center back after wrapping around the front and neck.
2. I sewed a second layer and then a third in the same direction.
3. Afterwards, there is a small space under the bust near the arm. I looped a tiny strip and stitched everything down.

I didn't do anything at the back because I like the idea of the seeing the doll's back through the jacket. On the other hand, I took a bit of the fabric and wrapped it a couple times around the hem of the sleeve as a cuff.

If this is going too far over your head, we can do something much more simple!
 1. I cut the strapless sheath from two layers of crystal polyester. But for the opera coat, the pattern couldn't be any more simple.

1. Lay the doll down with her arms outstretched. Draw a T shape around her
2. This is your pattern. Top part of the T cut on the fold of the fabric. Cut a slit on the top and a vertical opening down the front.
3. Sear the edges and you're ready to go.
4. Okay, so here is my kimono.
5.  Cut up a few scraps. This can be random. Or you can plan shapes if you like. For this exercise, I've simply cut a few squares and seared the edges.
6. Pick each scrap up and form into a ball.
7. Pin onto the robe.
8. Continue until you are happy. I decided to keep the interest on the shoulders, so I stopped here.

7. Put the robe on the doll and adjust the poufs until you are happy with the look. Then tack each pouf down with a few stitches wherever you have placed a pin.

And here we are. Nadia shows off this spectacular look from front to back.

If you fell in love with the simple kimono, you can simply use the pattern for an understated look. We can also decide to stich down the arms and sides without cutting away the rest of the fabric. Here, Liu wears a short version of our kimono, this time cut from a glitter organza.
The pattern is the same as the red kimono, but shorter.
The dotted line shows where we sewed after allowing for the neck and center front cut. I added a small strip around the neckline which ties into a bow around the neck.

You can even get more simple!
 Stephani shows off a simple evening coat that can be worn over a simple black dress or something more "couture." It's a big rectangle of organza folded in half. I wrapped it around the doll's arms in the front then made hand stitches to form "sleeves" of sort. In the back I pinched it into giant asymmetrical folds at the back. There are no rules. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Simple drape into something vaguely interesting and stitch to hold your creativity in place.

No matter how you turn her, she looks fabulous. The best's one of those looks that is super easy, not expensive and can be done in minutes!

A rose by any name.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pajama Party

The newest trend to hit the streets of New York City is.. straight out of the bedroom! Pajamas, robes, kimonos. Now before you roll your eyes and think, "how lazy is that!" let me explain. We're not suggesting that dolly rolls out of bed and onto city streets in her jammies. What we've done here is to  borrow a few of loose-fitting, easy to wear garments for an interesting eveningwear look OR pair one or two components with denim to add a touch of luxury to dolly's everyday urban style.

The Kimono
This is everybody's favorite garment. Think of finding one of those marvelous brocade robes in a Chinese boutique and using it to enhance daywear look or incorporate it into eveningwear. If you haven't made this garment yet, you can find the tutorial by clicking HERE. What I've done differently is to create a cuff.

1. Cutting a longer sleeve and rolling it back is not an option because the seams will show. So here's a tip: After stitching together the shoulder to sleeve seam and pressing flat, add a rectangle to the hem of the sleeve.
2. Fold the edge and press.
3. Fold the edge once again and baste in place at the side seams.

4. Complete the rest of the kimono.

Silk Pajamas

Of course, dolly loves silk pajamas. I used a simple top from the basic bodice (without the darts) and the one-piece trouser pattern which you can find by clicking HERE. The fabric makes this a simple yet stunning look all by itself.

Or when worn underneath the brocade kimono we just created.

Here's another tip. For this kimono I used a polyester brocade. This fabric frays horribly! You can use a fray check, but sometimes this product leaves an unsightly residue. So long as your fabric is 100% polyester (and NOT a natural fiber), you can use a flame to clean up the edges. What happens is that the fabric will melt and thus seal the fibers (much in the same way as a laser cutter). Light up a candle. Hold the fabric with two hands, then very quickly swipe the edge of the fabric against the flame. The fabric will not burn, it will melt. If a small flame appears, simply blow it out. But what you want to do is to make a very rapid swipe. Practice with a few strips before committing to the fabric. But DO NOT try this with anything other than 100% polyester!!! I used this for the edges of the hem as well as the edges of the pockets in my efforts to reduce bulk.

Print on print

The kimono can be cut in any fabric including sheers. What I think really looks stylish is to layer a sheer print against the pattern of the garment underneath.

If this is all too much for your tastes, you can play it down by throwing the same kimono over the shoulders of an urban wear ensemble.

This is precisely why pajamas are such a fun trend. You can dress it up for eveningwear with fancy jewelry, a belt and heels.

Or layer it for a funky daywear look. Here, I took an abstract printed pajama set and paired them with a denim sheath dress worn with sneakers.

Grandpa's Pajamas

But what would a pajama party be without traditional PJ's?!! This is a look consisting of an unlined jacket in a soft fabric worn with a matching pair of pants, both of which have piping on the edges.

Piping is a small piece of cord trapped within bias tape. You can buy this already made or you can make it yourself. The piping I've used for the outfit here is 1/4" though the finished ridge is 1/8." Using it is pretty simple. I used the regular pants pattern (with side seams).

1. Pin the piping against the side seam of the front pant pattern, raw edge to raw edge. The fold of the piping with be faced down away from that edge. With needle and thread using a running stitch, baste. This will keep it from moving as you sew.
2. Place the back pattern over the piping, with the right side facing down against the right side of the front pattern. The piping will be sandwiched in between.
3. Now stitch 1/8 away from the edge.
4. When you have finished, open the pants out and press along each side of the side seam near the piping. Complete your pants.

5. Again, my concern is about bulk around the waist. For these trousers, I use a 1/2" of black ribbon basted to front of the pants at the waistline.
6. Fold the top edge over to the back and press. Stitch the ribbon down. You should use a hook and eye to close.

The same steps are used for the jacket with shawl collar which calls for a facing.
1. Pin the piping, raw edge to raw edge around the edge of the collar and down both front edges of the jacket.
2. Baste then sew.
3. Lay the facing over the piping and front jacket along the outer edge. Baste then sew 1/4" away from the edge.
4. Turn right side up and press well.
Worn with sneakers and a bra, it has a very sporty look.

I also like to use lace trim for the waistband.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Back to the Future: Homage to Andre Courreges

Earlier this year, Andre Courreges one of the icons of French high style left us. Courreges, one of the tenors of Sixties Couture was best known in the tenor of what was known as "Space Age" fashion.
Originally trained as an engineer, Courreges entered the fashion scene just as the youth movement began to impact music, art and fashion. The Americans and Russians entered a race to land the first man on the moon.The Beatles rattled the world with a new sound and look. Pop Art was all the rage to grace the walls in galleries around the globe. Meanwhile in France...newcomers like Paco Rabanne, Ungaro and Courreges joined this cultural revolution by challenging existing norms of Haute Couture with a look tagged "Space Age."

Though it looks rather conservative today, this "new look" was a stark contrast to the frills and drama of bourgeouis fashion houses like Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain and Balenciaga. Courreges was center stage with his Space Age Couture. And though he did produce a bit of gadgetry (plastic dresses, metallic skirts and geometrically cut jewelry with orb detailing), this was primarily to make a statement about his design philosophy and to create the backdrop of something much more profound. For this post (which took me two weeks to get it right), I wanted to focus on Courreges' contribution to modern fashion.
Years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Courreges who told me he loved the color white for its purity, symbol of cleanliness and illusion of space. Though there is a debate over whether it was him or Britain's Mary Quant who created the miniskirt, the Frenchman is known for his white A-line skirts and tent dresses worn with "go-go" boots (short, white, flat boots) and cloche hats inspired by astronaut's helmuts.
Courrege's work was a blend of old world clothing construction and minimalist aesthetics of the "mod" generation. Most of his signature looks featured basic shapes etched with topstitching, contrasting  piping or trim as a way to highlight the garment's architecture.
Pant Suit with Single Breasted Jacket

I begin with this little pant suit. It features a short, loose, hip length jackets (both in single breasted and double breasted versions) over a simple pair of stovepipe pants.
The basic jacket which was drafted from the bodice sloper was used for both the single and double breasted versions featured in this tutorial. (Click HERE for the jacket tutorial.) That jacket tutorial is a single breasted jacket. What that means is that the buttons will line up on the center front line and an extra 1/4" (8mm) is added to the right of those buttons+seam allowance. For the double breasted jacket, you extend the jacket front over to the other side of the bodice. The buttons will fall equally on either side of the Center Front line. Then an additional 1/4" (8mm) is added to the right side of the second set of buttons.
Take the basic jacket bodice and decide where you want the jacket to fall. Pictured here, I decided my jacket should be at the top of Samantha's hips. You can also plan your button placement. Now, finish your pattern by adding seam allowance. There is a small collar to this jacket. Mark on the neckline where that collar should fall. Then measure from that point to exactly the same placement on the other side of the neck to get your measurement for the collar. You should plan for the collar to fall on the bias (or diagonal) so that it will smoothly fit on the neckline.
I decided I wanted a facing (instead of a lining) for this jacket. (If you want to create a facing, click HERE for instructions).
Cut our your jacket. Using the same front jacket pattern, cut it out again, this time with iron-on interfacing. This will give the front of your jacket a nice clean finish and the body it needs to pull off the look. Trim off the seam allowance, then iron on to the front pattern piece.
Sew the jacket, first at the shoulder seams, then add the sleeves, sewing around the cap. However, before you sew the seams under the sleeves and on the side of the bodice, drape the jacket over the shoulders and measure for sleeve length. (The sleeves are short because it is worn with gloves!)
Pin the collar to the jacket along the neckline.
Baste in place, first. (This keeps it from slipping while you sew the rest together.)
Now pin, then baste the facing in place along the front edges and neckline of the jacket.
Stitch in place. Clip around the neckline (for ease).
Now turn right side up and press.
Single Breasted Jacket with A-line Skirt.

Next is the double breasted version of the same jacket. Since this jacket is always worn closed, I decided to do a edge to edge full lining. I chose a wool crepe for this suit.
1. The draft is identical to that of the single breasted jacket. It is simply extended from the center front to just past the bust on the other side of the doll's body. Again, I used iron-on interfacing, being careful to cut it away from the seams (before ironing).
2. Stitch the jacket together at the shoulders as usual. Hem and topstitch the sleeves while the garment is still flat. Now sew the jacket along the underside of the sleeves and the side seams of the jacket.
3. Construct the collar then baste it onto the neckline. The collar should be facing down.
4. Separately, sew together the jacket lining.

5. Pin the right side of the lining to the right side of the jacket. The collar will be sandwiched between the lining and the jacket. Starting at the side seam on the hem, stitch along the body, up the front edge of the front, around the neckline, down the opposite front edge of the jacket and on the hem, stopping at the side seam. Clip the front edge corners diagonally. Turn everything right side out and press.
7. Attach a safety pin to the hem of the sleeve lining.
8. Pull it through the jacket sleeve.
9. Turn the lining hem over. You can baste so that it doesn't shift.
10. Insert a pencil in the jacket sleeve. Adjust the jacket and its lining I use a toothpick to help me get everything down and in place.
11. Stitch the two together.
Hand stitch the lining with the jacket along the opening at the back. Then, topstitch along the outer edges of the jacket.
Add buttons. I used "brads" (found in scrapbooking aisle of your favorite crafts store). I puncture the jacket front with a large safety pin, then slip the brad in and fold the wings out. The jacket is closed with snaps.

A-line Skirt with Yoke.
You can simply draft an A-line skirt or a 4 gore skirt and be done with it. (Click HERE) But I decided to do a more complex skirt for authenticity. This one has a yoke in the front and back. (Full disclosure--I added an additional 1/2" (1cm) to the length of the following pattern.)
1. Starting with the front skirt sloper, draw a vertical line from the apex of the dart to the hem. Cut along that line, stopping at the apex (point) of the dart.
2. Fold the dart at the waistline. The skirt opens up at the hem to form a flare.
3. Draw the shape of yoke you desire.
4. Clip along those lines and add seam allowance to both the yoke and the skirt.
5. Repeat for the back skirt sloper. Draw a vertical line from the back dart to the hem.
6. Cut along that line and fold the dart closed. The skirt opens out at the hem.
7. Draw the yoke. Use the placement of the front yoke at the side as a guide so they will meet up when you make the skirt.
8. Add seam allowance.
9. Mark your pattern pieces really well so that you know which side is up and which side is the Center Front and the Center Back.
10. Attach the front yoke to the skirt front and the back yokes to the back skirts right side to right side. (Wrong side is facing you.) The top of the yoke should be facing down.
11. Attach the backs to the front, being careful to match them at the side seam yoke placement. Press well with seams pointing upward.
12. Topstitch above the seam. Stitch the back from the hem to 1/8" below the yoke.

 13. I added a waistband (waist width+ seam allowance x 1/2" high). To do this without creating bulk at the waist, I used fray check on all sides of the strip. I basted the waistband to the underside of the waistline. Then I folded it over to cover the front and topstitched it in place.
14. Turn up the hem. Baste then topstitch.

The "shift" was a simple and easy way to stay in style. This is essentially a sheath dress without sewing the darts. Click HERE for the tutorial. Important...look for fabrics with texture!
For the glasses, I started out with regular Barbie doll glasses. I simply covered the lens with pieces of auto-adhesive labels. The gloves featured on all dolls were made from the technique described in this tutorial found HERE. And Veronica's "helmet" hat is felt and was made using the tutorial HERE.
Tent dresses were the "look" of the 1960's. The tutorial for the basic tent dress is found by clicking HERE. I added more flare, then simply folded and pressed the accordion pleats in by hand.
All text and doll photos by Fashion Doll Stylist. 2016.
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