Friday, January 27, 2017

Fancy Feet: Couture Footwear

With the Paris Couture Week having just wrapped up, I thought this would be the perfect time to make some fancy footwear for the girls. Underneath those fancy gowns, made-to-order power suits and luxurious fur coats exists some very fancy footwear in the world of Haute Couture. Not your ordinary off-the rack-stilettos, women fortunate enough to afford such expensive garb, will indulge in this most special footwear every bit as precious as Haute Couture itself.

Since my posts on Spats and Stocking Shoes, friends and followers have encouraged me to take that last step and  make "real" doll shoes. What has stopped me has been the difficulty in making suitable and symmetrical high heeled soles. I have even been all over the internet trying to find a source that sells those delicious FR soles to no avail. Recently, however, I received a tip suggesting I might try building shoes on top of existing soles....those cut from bottom of Barbie shoes! What a great idea! Full disclosure!  My shoes are not bad, but I still have a ways to go before they're as good as those created by the author of Fashion Doll Shoes! Nonetheless, I have approached this project in two stages: customization of the original structure and my own designed shoe with Barbie soles.

Get Inspired!

Forget about making ordinary pumps. If you're going to make your own doll shoes, they should be something special. But you'll need ideas and for that, Pinterest is a great source!

Getting to First Base

I have lots of different dolls with a wide variety of feet sizes. So when I went shopping for inexpensive generic shoes, I chose high heeled sandals that accommodate a variety of different foot shapes as shown in the above photos. (You can find these easily on eBay.) By clipping the ankle strap in the back of this shoe, most of my dolls can slip their feet inside. I was also able to cut away the ankle strap to create mules. Since this is a Barbie product, quite naturally, most Barbies fit this shoe perfectly. But I discovered, many of Integrity Toy's Fashion Royalty dolls also fit this shoe, although their feet are a bit long. This is okay because you can create uppers that disguise this. Still, whether you use this shoe, or something else, be sure to select a shoe with straps, so that you can cleanly clip them away.

Make It Your Own
I love what looks like chiffon covered shoes that tie around the ankles. For this shoe, I cut off the ankle straps to create mules. I took a long strip of sheer fabric about 1/2" (1cm) and folded it in half. With this, strip I simply threaded it through the shoe straps, wrapped it around the doll's ankles twice and tied it into a soft bow.
 You could use ribbon for a more simple look. It's simple, cheap and super easy.
Here, I selected a slightly different shoe. The ribbon is looped around the center strap, then again, wound around the leg, gladiator style.

I also love the shoe covered in flowers.
The concept behind this shoe is to make lots of tiny bows that give the illusion of tiny flowers.
I used the same organza used for my Christmas Centerpiece dress. Cut lots of small strips. Then one by one, tie them onto the straps of the shoe. As you add more ties, push them together to the side of the shoe. You can cut away the excess depending on the look your going for. Then press them down

Ok, it's time to make a real pair of footwear! To be perfectly honest, if you have made a pair of Spats (one of my most popular pins on Pinterest) you're practically there! The construction of shoe or boot uppers is the same, except that we will need to add more allowance under the top of the foot and we will need to make innersoles.

Sole Food

There are lots of doll shoe tutorials on the internet. What makes this one slightly different is that we are starting with a predesigned sole as opposed to designing something totally from scratch. So instead of conforming to the doll's foot, the insole must be traced off the shoe sole. Note: If you use only the dimension of the doll's foot without taking the shoe into consideration, there will be a gap between the finished shoe upper and the top of the sole. I've already made this mistake!)
Trace on a small piece of thin cardboard or thick paper. Fold this form where the foot bends at the toe bed and then at the top of the heel.

Normally, you would need to make a second set of insoles, however....I had problems with the plastic material used in the doll shoe soles which seems to resist rubber cement. Instead, I covered the soles with paper tape which resolved the problem.

The pattern for the footwear--a boot in this case--starts exactly in the same manner as that for the spats. If you are using a material that stretches--like knits, jersey or even leather--you can make your upper in one piece by stretching over the leg and forming a single seam down the back. Drape the fabric over the leg and pin. Mark the back seam and around the foot. Transfer to paper. Adjust so that both sides are symmetrical, then add seam allowance.

But if you are using a non-stretch material and you want a narrow boot that conforms to the curve of the leg, your boot will need seams in both the front and back.
My leopard patterned boots were cut from a vinyl square found at a local crafts store. It has a seam down the front and back. However since there is no zipper in the back, be sure to leave a tiny bit of extra space around the ankles so the doll's foot can get in and out. The pattern uses the latter pattern technique featured just above.

1. Originally I machine stitched the boot upper. However I couldn't turn it inside out. So, I stitched the boot just around the ankles for stability. I turn the boots right side out.
2. Then glued the rest of the back seam together using rubber cement.
3. Put a small piece of tape on the bottom of the foot to hold the inseam in place. Put the boot upper on the doll. Cut notches in the seams around the foot.
Apply rubber cement on the insole and then around the inside seam of the boot around the foot. Keep the two glued pieces separate until each one has dried and it slightly tacky.
4. Then fold the notched edge over the insole. Remove this from the doll. Apply rubber cement on the top of the sole. Apply rubber cement on the bottom of the upper.
5. When both are nearly dry, very carefully match the upper with the sole and press in place firmly. I painted the soles and heels brown.
This is the a very basic boot which can be embellished to create limitless looks.
This is an evening boot made from taffeta. Actually you can make it using a wide piece of taffeta ribbon!

The boot is made exactly as outlined above. I wrapped the top of the boot with a piece of crushed taffeta and stitched it in place. Working in fabric is quite easy! Sewing is a breeze and the boot easily turns right side out.

Here is a pair of boots I once owned, myself. They were inspired by a design created by Japanese designer, Issey Miyake. Essentially, this is a short, ankle boot with a strip of leather that wraps around the leg. I made these from ordinary leather.
1. This boot begins like the ones above.
2. Again, I used a tiny bit of tape to keep the insole in place while I drape the style.
3. With a single piece of material, I wrap it around the foot and ankle. Mark the back seam and around the foot to make the pattern. Transfer to paper and add seam allowance.
 4. The top of my shoe soles are covered with paper tape. I cut a 9" (22cm) long by 3/8 (22cm) wide strip. Clip around the toes of the foot (along the bottom) then cut out notches. Fold the sides over and glue in place. You can hammer the edges to flatten.
5. Find the midpoint of each piece and tape in place about half way down.
6. Machine stitch in place. Place this on the doll. Use a piece of tape or string to hold the upper on the doll while working.
7. Apply rubber cement to the insole and around the notched seam of the upper. Allow to dry. Surfaces will feel tacky to touch.
8, Then fold the notched bottom over and press firmly. Apply rubber cement to the this as well as to the sole. Again, allow to dry. Surfaces will feel tacky to touch. Carefully press the upper to the sole.
The top strip wraps around the doll's leg twice. Note how I have not stitched this boot up in the back. The ties will keep it in place and most of my dolls will be able to wear this boot!

This boot also uses the pattern where there is only a single seam down the back. Here again, it requires no sewing. I used a glove weight suede. Instead of stitching the boot down the back seam, I punched holes in it and threaded a narrow (1/16 inch 2mm) strip of the same suede. Note: I used a darning needle to thread the strip through the holes. I folded and glued in place both sides of the boot along the back seam. (Note: Cut the boot slightly smaller so that a small flash of flesh shows through for this sexy look.)
 The fun thing about this, is that you can get as fancy as you want with your footwear.

I had an idea for a delicate bejeweled boot using sparkling organdy.
I constructed the boot with the single back seam even though the fabric doesn't stretch. I ended up with a boot that is a little wide in the ankles. Still, I like the leg that peeks through the sheer. I painted the soles silver and added lots of glitter to the heel and the top of the toe. Under a cloud of twilight sparkled tulle.....Stunning!
All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2017. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Doll's Eye View: Golden Globes 2017

It's that time of year again....the first red carpet event of the year! The Golden Globes! My girls love these types of galas. It gives them an opportunity to rival, if not upstage the actresses present on the red carpet!

In covering these events over past few years, I've noticed how the fashions at these events have become increasingly simple in line. Emphasis is placed more on the fabric rather than the cut which presents a particular challenge for choosing what to make. There were a few gowns I passed on simply because I couldn't find a similar fabric or print. Still, I was able to make a few which I share with you here.

This dress, designed by Armani especially for Janelle Monae, really compliments the actress' personality. I was immediately attracted to it for its fancifulness and originality. But I wasn't sure if it was a dress I'd want after making it. However, Iman, pictured here in the dolly version, insisted on having this dress. The bodice is a simple bodice cut from a band of mini sequins (perfectly scaled to the 12" doll). The skirt is a bubble skirt gathered into a satin ribbon waistband. What is difficult to see in the initial photo is that atop the white bubble is a single layer of tulle, to which black disks are attached.
I love slinky gowns with a bit of draping. Of course, getting the look is tricky due to the weight of the fabric. The trick is to select a silk or, in this case, rayon 2-stretch jersey. It's thin enough get the folds (which are controlled by slip stitching them in strategic spots).

Sometimes simple is challenging! I assumed the criss-cross draped bodice of the yellow gown would be pretty easy. But took me a day to arrive at something I could live with. I decided to do this dress in two parts: a corset over a slim, high waist sarong skirt. I began with a waist length foundation piece (for structure), over which I draped softly pleated fabric which criss cross over the skirt. I could have used a China silk, but instead I wanted something with more body, so I used, instead a polyester. Silk would have produced finer drapes over the bodice but I feared the skirt would have been a bit flimsy. In any case, my dress is INSPIRED by the original Atelier Versace dress. so I am still happy with the result. Eva need something I gave her a white boa in addition to her pearl necklace.

At this year's even, there were a number of women who appeared on the red carpet in a tuxedo. The jacket is the one from my post on Yves Saint Laurent. The trousers are a standard pair of pants, but with slightly wider legs. The blouse (cotton) was made with the basic bodice sloper but with a front closure. The bottom front edges were cut diagonally away from the center front. A long, rectangular strip was added to the neckline which wraps around the neck twice and ties into the bow.
For another tux, Kathy wears a bra underneath a slightly shorter jacket and the same, wide trousers.
The focal point of this Armani Prive gown is the horizontal beading on the silver satin. I was able to recreate the look of this fabric using metallic ribbon with "ribbing" that resembled the beads. I sewed the horizontal edges of each band together. However, you don't see where I've sewn those bands together because I discovered that I could glue strips of ribbon over those seams and iron them in place. On the other hand, in my first attempt to duplicate the exact neckline, the ribbon frayed terribly and I discovered that with this very stiff material, it did nothing for the doll. So I decided to simply decided to "sculpt" the ribbon over the bust into a 3-dimensional form. Naomi still felt this dress was missing something, so I gave her a long shawl of silver lame to toss over her shoulders. Admittedly this dress is more of a "craft project" than a real dress. Nevertheless, Naomi has made me promise that she will get first dibs on this dress next holiday season.

I don't know what it is about velvet that makes me want to make a dress out it..especially at 1/6 scale where with tiny details, it is difficult to control. I liked this "Dowton Abbey" sort of gown with its draped cap sleeves and long train. For the doll, I decided to lower the neckline which made the sleeves fall slightly off Karen's shoulders. Personally, I think the dolly version looks less matronly than the original dress.

The dolly version of this Tom Ford dress is a simple strapless dress made from black sequins. If you can find stretch sequined fabric, you could make it by simply making a long, skinny tube the length of the doll. In any case, it still needs something else. So Lana brought her attitude as well as a whiff of bejeweled, black tulle.
Coming up next....part two of our last post...but this time we have a few more ideas on......Footwear!!!!
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Friday, January 6, 2017

It's a Cover-Up!!!

We've all been there. You find yourself in between doll purchases. You need a fix. You've blown your budget and you don't have much to spend. So you go to your local store to satisfy that "need" by buying a Barbie accessory pack. The problem is...the color, the style and the cheap plastic have all your dolls putting their fingers down their throats when you get home with the goods. But after you've removed that pair of shoes what to do with everything else? Use them as a base to make something better!
Inside of the Barbie accessory pack I recently purchased, was a necklace I almost liked. The Art Deco design was quite attractive but I imagined how much better it would look with leather inlays instead of silver-tone plastic.
1. I began by making a pattern so I wouldn't waste any of my precious leather scraps. I used a bit of paper tape which I put over each section then traced off to get a pattern.
2. Each pattern is then transferred onto a tiny scrap of leather and then the shapes are cut out. Set this aside.
3. First I wanted to prep the necklace with a coat of shiny silver in case it shows through.
4. Don't forget to paint the edges that are also likely to be seen

1. Now let's get started. Slather on the glue, section by section and lay on your leather squares onto the necklace.
2. I wanted a black and white necklace, so I put the black in the middle and the white on either side.
3. I felt it should have something else, so using 24 gauge silver jewelry wire, I wrapped the intersections of each color.
4. Using a pair of jewelry pliers, I pressed the wire in close to the necklace. Be careful not to press too hard or you'll break your necklace.
5. I continued to wrap the two sides of the necklace with this wire. Begin by placing a bit of the wire on the back side and wrap so as to cover this end. As you work, push the wire close together.
6. Again, I stop and press the wire together towards the necklace.
7. When you get to the neck, try to tuck the end underneath the other wire. However, if you are worried about the necklace scratching the doll, you can always put a bit of felt or leather on the underside.
8. And voila....Iman is wearing a REALLY nice necklace!!!

Very happy with the way that turned out, I found another necklace that had come with one of my SIS Barbies.
1. Here is the original necklace. Lots of possibilities for personalization! For this one, I didn't want the bling. Instead, I wanted to do something more discreet.
2. I start by applying glue to one stem of the necklace.
3. Using silky embroidery yarn, I put one end on the underside, then begin wrapping the yarn around to cover.
4. Keep wrapping tightly around the stem until you reach the end and dab a bit of glue underside and tuck the yarn underneath.
5. Repeat on the other side.

6. I rough cut a few rough cut strips of fabric.
7. Stitch them together at midpoint.
8. Cut a tiny circle of felt and glue to the medallion on the necklace.
9. Stich the base of it to the felt and readjust the strips.
This project really gets interesting when you personalize the Barbie handbags! I was given a lot of old Barbie accessories which included this very sweet, heart shaped (bubblegum pink plastic) purse.
1. With irregular shaped objects, the trick is to make a pattern so that you can better cut your material to fit.
2. I begin with a piece of tracing paper. I trace off the shape of the bag in the front.
3. Use a narrower piece of paper for the perimeter.
4. Make slits on both edge so that the paper will lay flat on the top. Trace off the edges.
5. Now place the paper around to check for fit.
6. Place the front pattern piece on the bag and then the sides to check for fit.
7. I used scraps of suede although you can use vinyl, felt or any other non-woven material. Lay your pattern on the material and cut out your pattern.
8. But we'll begin with the handle which I've decided to cover with a tiny strip of suede. You can use ribbon, embroidery yarn or simply paint it.
9. I lay down the edge of this strip then wrap the rest of it around it.
10. Wrap tightly right to the opposite edge.
11. Ad a dab of glue and fix to the inside of the purse.
 12. Now let's cover the outside. I begin by applying glue (I'm using rubber cement) to the sides of the purse.
13. Then carefully lay the side strip (remembering to cut the notches out on both edges to accommodate the handles) around the purse.
14. Next apply the glue to the side of the purse and carefully place the material over it. Repeat for the other side.
15. As for the top, you will be confronted as to how to deal with the part that shows.
16. Admittedly I thought a coat of paint would suffice. But alas, I wasn't completely happy with the results.
17. So I cut another small strip of suede to lay over the top and I'm much happier!
18. And here is the final result! I still have the sweet shape of the heart, but with the suede, it's a more sophisticated version my dolls just love!
Here's another handbag. This one has a relief and here's how I dealt with it.

 1. In the land of Barbie, bubblegum pink with cute little bows are all the thing. But my girls (even the playline Barbies) want something a little more sophisticated.
2. Using paper tape, I covered the handbag as a way of making a pattern. Cut notches around the base of the handles.
3. Here the is a bulge created by the knot of the bow. I let it poke through here. Then I trace around the edges of the handbag. Remove.
4. Apply another piece of tape on the side and trace the form.
5. Remove from the purse and place the front and the sides directly on the material. Here, I've chosen scraps of leather from an old belt.
6. Here is what my coverings look like
7. Apply glue to both the front and back of the bag and carefully put the leather onto the purse. Stretch it well and smooth out any gaps.
8. Be sure to press around the handles and at the top.

 9. Glue the sides, one at a time and carefully put the leather in place. For this bag, I've chosen to paint the straps.
10. You might have a bit of an overlap on the sides. Carefully cut away the excess.
11. I've decided to add a chain shoulder strap. Take a thin strip of leather. Add or make an eye ring for each edge. Attach the chain catching it inside of a loop on one side and threading it through the eye ring on the opposite side.
12. This will allow the chain to be used as a shoulder bag or as a handbag. And finally, I glued a bead cap over the little lump in the front of the bag.
Using the same techniques as above, here is the handbag Helena is holding in the opening photo.
Before and after. I covered it in black leather then added a "label" cut from self adhesive Mylar (taken from my car insurance bumper sticker) and a leather tassel. In this case, I wound thin leather around the straps. There was the problem of seeing the blue on the inside. So I added a bit of leather to the inside of the bag and touched up with a bit of black paint.
One last thing.....yes, you can redo those funky, little bubblegum pink boots that go with nothing in your doll's wardrobe!
And so here are those wonderful "boots." I think the idea here was a shoe with leg-warmers.
1. Because the foot is open, you will need to add a bit of cardboard to create a structure for the foot.
2. You don't have to do the next steps, but I wanted a different toe. I used air dry clay to create a new shape around the bottom of this boot.
3. Allow to dry.

 4. Again, I used a few scraps of leather. Old gloves are a good source of leather if you don't have other resources. I first, covered the top to toe of the boot.
5. Barbie boots have a slit down the back, so with a rectangle cut down to the scale of the boot, I begin by tucking in one edge to the underside of the boot. Apply glue to the body of the boot, then stretch the leather (or vinyl of non-woven material) around the boot, then tuck the other end inside of the boot.
6. I stopped to paint the heel.
7. Since there is a seam where the two pieces of material meet, I decided to add a little strap. This wraps around the base of the boot and through an eye ring.
8. Cut another piece for the sole and glue in place. I touch up any areas of the original pink (including the top edge of the boot) with a bit of paint.

Oh Joan is so much happier with her "new" cream colored leather boots!!!!

All images and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2017. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you.
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