Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Classing Things Up a Bit

 I'm retired from my civil service job and really don't have many occasions to get dressed up.  Especially in the last year, I rarely made it out of a pair of joggers and an old sweater.  I love following what Brenda does at Matisse.  Her ladies are always very elegant so I decided to class things up a bit around here with a gorgeous piece of robin's egg blue silk dupioni that I found on sale at Mood Fabrics.  

The dress is a fitted strapless sheath.  The jacket is a from a human pattern that I found in my stash.  I enlarged the pattern pieces from the instructions sheet.  The back and shoulders fit great but when I made a muslin out of it I just couldn't make the front work without redoing the pattern by adding darts and some extra width to accommodate the doll's larger bust.  The collar piece was also way too short and had to be redrawn.  The bag I made previously from a little piece of iridescent lambskin.  

I kept the jewelry pretty classic, simple pearly drops earrings and two strands of tiny pearls that I strung with a little 5mm Crystaletts button in the center.  But I had to add a tiny bit of bling to the bracelet with a little two-hole spacer thingy I found at my local bead store.  The jewelry all closes with little hooks and rings that I made from 24 gauge wire.  

I adore the way Kate Middleton often wears her hats cocked to the side of her head.  Stay tuned as in my next post I'll share some pictures and tell you a bit about how I make my hats.  It's some of the same techniques left over from my old miniature making days.   

Fashion Doll Stylist

 There is a super fun blog that I've been following since I got interested in fashion dolls, Fashion Doll Stylist.  April follows the runway shows and the red carpets, and recreates some of these designer looks for her 12" girls, as well as sharing helpful information on how she does it.  She even makes her own shoes!  Her blog is stuffed with great inspiration photos.  The one of Dennis Basso designs particularly inspired me because I had the perfect fabric to try my hand at miniaturizing these looks.  (April generously gave me permission to use her photoshopped version of the runway pics.)

I've done the first three and have a great old piece of animal print velveteen for the last coat.  But here's what I've done so far.  

I only just noticed that the original coat has buttons on it.  LOL  I have some tiny black buttons on order and that will be fixed.  I didn't have anything that would work for fur trim down the fronts so I just bound the edges in black fabric.  

Same fabric but in a simple sheath with a black lace overlay on the bodice.  The fabric came from Etsy seller Letty Sewing Supplies.  

The jacket is made with a minky fabric, and the skirt is really made from a piece of very thin lambskin leather that I had on hand.  The belt is also lambskin with a eyelets attached and tied with velvet ribbon.  

Thanks for the inspiration, April!

Friday, June 11, 2021

Shopping in My Closet (for Fabric)

 There is a corner of my bedroom closet that got damp and moldy when my roof leaked, and needs to be torn out and repaired.  My boyfriend/ace handyman has been bugging me for months to get my closet emptied out so he can fix it.  Honestly, I retired 12 years ago and haven't worn 3/4 of the stuff in there in years but I really have to be in the right mood to get rid of stuff.  But I did repurpose one thing!  I had an old silk voile floral dress at least twenty years old, and I love silk for doll clothes.  It's all I used when I used to make miniature dolls before the days of the home computer and the WWW.  It's not as springy as polyester and you can iron it and steam it and generally get it to behave.  

The original dress had tiers of three ruffles around the bottom that I used for the skirt.  I even reused the small tie on the front at the shoulders.  The lambskin belt was made from a scrap.  The earrings are some little flower findings from the craft store and Swarovski pearls.  While rummaging I also found a few old silk camisoles in the spare room that have some nice embroidery and lace trim.  The bad news is the dress is still long enough to hem into a top that I will probably also never wear so it's back in my closet.  Sorry, Bob.  

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Fun With Leather


I bought a tutorial for this cute little satchel from Karamel Leatherwork on Etsy.  I was able to find an inexpensive set of leatherworking tools on Wayfair and some cheap leather scraps at Joann.  It was a wonderful, detailed tutorial and that got me started.  Then I ordered some gorgeous lambskin scraps from The Leather Guy.  These scraps were beautiful colors, thin, soft, and generously sized.  Here's what came next.  

The tan bag and the purple bag were stitched by hand the way the tutorial taught me.  My little blue version of a Kelly bag was stitched on my sewing machine because I discovered that the thread really needs to match the leather in order to look good.  I am searching for some better hardware for the Kelly bag but for this one I used a couple of ribbon end crimps with the loops overlapped and a gold bead added in the center.  Bag patterns are pretty easy to draft on graph paper and Pinterest is a great source of ideas.  For lambskin you can simply trace around the pattern on the back of with leather with a pen and cut out with scissors.  I tried cutting the thin strips unsuccessfully with a knife, and found that my rotary cutter did a great job of getting me even straight little strips.  

Monday, June 7, 2021

All About the Fabric

 Today I'm going to show you a couple of outfits made with fabric from my new favorite vendor. 

This silk brocade sheath was inspired by a Gucci ad I clipped out of a magazine.  I sewed tiny beads onto the bodice, and made the matching clutch bag.  

This gorgeous jacquard fabric came from the same vendor.  The first pic isn't very good but it shows the true colors better.  And the vendor is......French Fashions.  What I love about her website, aside from the gorgeous fabrics curated especially for doll sewing, is that you can buy fat quarters and other small amounts without having to spend a fortune for a whole yard of some of these luxury fabrics.  She also sells trims, buttons, buckles, you name it.  Check it out.  

Saturday, June 5, 2021

How It Started--How it Ended


It started with a couple of pictures that I found on Pinterest and a piece of silk charmeuse that I found in a closet.  It then involved doing lots of enlargements on my printer.  This is a human pattern and NEWSFLASH--dolls aren't built like humans.  This doll is proportionately taller, has a longer waist and bigger bust than a normal human.  This meant I had to completely redo the upper bodice along with altering the pieces it attached to, as well as increase the length of everything.  

There is some instruction on how to create patterns for dolls from human pattern instruction sheets on Dale Rae Designs which was helpful.  

How it ended.  Not too bad.  I would raise the upper edge of the bodice if I did it again.  After I finished this and actually looked at the website on the picture, modafacil.com, I found that they offer all sorts of free human patterns to download.  And Google will translate it into English!  It won't save you from having to spend hours altering the patterns but still pretty cool.  

The earrings were made from little daisy spacers with jump rings and rhinestones epoxied on.  If you can find little stud ball earring findings with a loop attached, they will work for dolls.  I found that a corsage pin is just about the right size for enlarging the holes in the doll's ears.  Holding it with a pair of needle nose pliers is helpful.  The bangle bracelet is a piece of pattern wire that I cut, filed and shaped.  I then epoxied the rhinestones to it. 

 Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Tonner Dolls-My New Thing

 Although Robert Tonner dolls were introduced 30 years ago I never knew they existed until a couple of years ago.  I thought they were so beautiful I started picking up naked ones on Ebay so I could dress them, as well as make jewelry for them.  Another advantage is their 16" height.  I used to sew a lot for my nieces' Barbie dolls, as well as making miniatures, but that size is now a challenge to my failing eyesight.  I started out using commercial patterns for my dolls.  Two good ones are DB Doll Patterns and Designs by Jude.  You can also find old McCall's patterns on Etsy.  These are all things I made last year before I started getting more adventurous.  

This dress on Esme is a variation on a pattern from DB Doll.  The hat and crocheted bag are also from DB although I made my hat from crinoline which necessitated changing the construction from all sewing to some gluing.  The necklace and earrings were made by using various bits and beads.  

This hat was made from needlepoint canvas that I applied a watery glue solution to and shaped the crown over a form.  A 2" styrofoam ball from the craft store is the perfect size for this.  I made sure and covered it with plastic wrap first.  This was all completed with tacky glue.  The necklace was inspired by and falls very short of the beautiful work of Isabelle from Paris.  

This outfit for Kit was inspired by a 30-year-old skirt that I will never fit into or wear again but still hangs in my closet.  The hat and bag are made from needlepoint canvas.  The jewelry was fun to do though.  

Esme is wearing a jacket that was made from a pattern I bought from Brenda at Matisse doll fashion.  I think these are human patterns that she somehow resizes to fit 12" and 16" dolls.  These are for people who like a challenge;  they don't come with instructions or seam allowances.  But even if you don't sew, you should click the link and look at Brenda's gorgeous work.  

I haven't figured out a good way to get the dolls to stand pretty for photos so I made the table to lean them against out of a candle pedestal I found on Amazon and a 6" round mirror from Michael's.  The photo background is from Facets Boutique

The jacket that Esme is wearing is from a pattern by DB Doll Patterns.  The skirt is silk that I pleated in an ancient gadget called the Pretty Pleater that I used to use to make dollhouse stuff.  NEVER throw anything away.  You might need it 30 years down the road.  The lambskin bag is one of my first attempts at working with leather.  I have improved since then as you'll see when I get around to that post.