Monday, October 29, 2012

1940's Woman's suit progress report

Here's another Hello Dolly Boutique pattern, this time for a woman's suit: blouse, skirt, pants, and jacket. I've made an attempt (or attempts) at all four garments. The blouse I hit it after the second try, the skirt needs a good mark 2, the pants are now on mark 3 and still hosed, and the jacket is not bad after mark 1 but needs another try.

The first pants and skirt prototype were in a very lightweight cotton voile, and the blouse in a heavy (for a blouse) cotton quilting print.

I tried the skirt again in a wool fabric and altered the pleats with no regard to how pleats actually work and it was not a go. So I binned it with no photos. I will revert to the pattern shown above, with narrow pleats and just a little bit more room in the hips. I may also try a side zipper, since I've ordered a selection of doll-scale zippers from Zipperthatdoll.

The blouse's second try was a success, although the material (a poly lining material salvaged from a thrift store garment) was a pain to work with. I will look for similar fabric since it drapes very well and really looks good in doll-scale.

I've been fighting the pants since that first prototype. I altered them to be a bit bigger in the hips and smaller in the waist, and to be long enough for cuffs. Apparently I can't measure well, since they were too short for cuffs, and too small in the waist for the Impldoll I intended them for. So they are uncuffed and on the Resinsoul instead.

And, if you'll notice, the seams on the grey twill are NOT EVEN. The inseam twists to the front although the outseam is OK. This is a flaw in the pattern. So I redrew the front and back inseams for the third (and I'd hoped) final draft, widening the legs at the same time. 
Now the seams are still not balanced (in the beige version below), although I did make enough alteration for the cuffs. Somehow the waist ended up a bit loose. I know how to fix this, which is to make a Petersham ribbon to fit the waist and incorporate it into the pants.

Next time for sure ...

Now, check out that nice jacket. It is very close to perfect: the fit is great, the bound buttonholes worked well.

These are two piece sleeves, with an upper sleeve and lower (or under) sleeve. This type of sleeve fits well, since the sleeve is shaped to the slight curve arms have (who, except dolls, stands around w/ perfectly straight arms, anyway?) The curve of this sleeve is not in the right place, so the next version will see the sleeve seams rotated just a bit in so the seams lie in the right place (no markings on the pattern so I took a SWAG as to where the seams should be and I missed by a bit) and the curve matches bend of the elbow.

The sleeve opening is also very very close to the same size as my doll's hands, so I need to either widen the sleeve at the bottom or add a non-closed vent. I had to put temporary pieces of heavy thread through the blouse cuffs, stuff the threads though the jacket sleeves, and keep a hold of the threads to keep the blouse sleeves from riding up as the jacket went on. Yikes.

I was sure the jacket did not fit well since there seemed to be a lot of extra material in the upper back. But that extra material (also present in the blouse and created by darts extending from the back of the shoulder seam) allows free movement. The middle upper photo in the composite shows just a little bit of pulling across the back. 
I will adapt this jacket to sports wear (why not go skiing or snowshoeing?) with an Action Back cut, moving that excess fabric into pleats at the sides of the upper back and maybe also making an Eisenhower type short jacket.

The fabric is a bit heavy for this suit, so the next pants and skirt will be in the rose wool I used for Regina's coat (the Resinsoul).  I might make a jacket in the rose also, or I might look for a nice brown for the jacket. I can handle only so much matchy-matchy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Dress Coat

"Fitted Dress Coat" #187, Hello Dolly Boutique patterns (c)2008 as sized for the 22" American Model doll 

This pattern is for a 1940s era princess seamed coat with inverted front and back bodice pleats and optional trim. I have altered this pattern to fit my 22" ball jointed doll by ResinSoul.

Measurements in centimeters  
Diff          Resinsoul Dai  Amer Mod 22"
+2   Height             58    56
-2.5 Bust               22.5  25
 0   Waist              15.5  15.5
-3   Neck circumference  9    12 
-1.2 Hip                24    25.2
-3   Shoulder width      8.5  11.5
-2   Arm length         16.5  18.5

I chose to use a very crisp and springy Italian tropical wool fabric and Bemberg rayon for the lining. The wool was prone to fraying and was reluctant to take a strong crease. Rather, it would take a crease but would not hold a crease. In addition, the small size of some of the pattern pieces made working with a fraying fabric hard on the nerves. But I got it done and I'm happy with the results.

Unlike other HDB patterns sized for a 22" doll I have used, I did not make many size alterations to this pattern - merely taking in the side seams a little bit.

Sloppy! I did not pull her coat down into place before taking this shot. She stands fairly sway-backed.
The inverted front and back pleats on the princess seaming were quite difficult to do in springy wool. I ended up basting all three folds for the pleats, only removing my basting when I was sure I was going to do no more pressing. I have a steam generating iron with a separate tank. It is a home model, not a commercial one, but I was glad to have an insane amount of steam available to me. I used 1/2 a tank of water steaming and pressing this coat. That's a LOT of water.

More apologies! I shoot jpgs with my little camera and sometimes I get moire artifacts. Like I did here. The fabric is a plain twill, I promise.

I would suggest a few pattern alterations: adding pad stitching to the collar and lapels, adding shoulder pads, and carefully checking the finished diameter of the cuffs - the sleeves are very difficult to get over my doll's hands. In addition, the lower front lining piece is about 3/4" too short and the front facing where it is attached to the back neck facing is quite narrow - there is not a lot of room to turn it under or otherwise finish it.

The only one of those alterations I did was to add shoulder pads - borrowed from a 1949 McCall pattern and scaled down for the doll.

I lined the top surface of the pads with crinoline, as the instructions require, and used cotton makeup removal pads for the layers of batting inside. 

The outer surface is plain cotton. I ended up snipping off just the ends of the pads, since the pads were just a shade too long. I might scale down the pattern further in the future.

If you are patient and understand how a coat goes together, this is a useful basic pattern. Despite my battling the wool, I did enjoy the process (or maybe I like to suffer) and plan on making it again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Stylin' like 1949

The Impldoll has a new outfit! All I need to do is make a white handbag.

This dress is a pattern I have from 1948. The hat is a pattern from 1949. I scaled both of them down to fit this 1/3 scale doll.

The hat was straightforward.

I reduced the pattern pieces to 39% of their original size. The original was for a head size of 22 inches and my doll is 21 cm. So I just borrowed the conversion from in to cms and all was well.

Differences from the original pattern
No topstitching.
No interlining since the silk is stiff enough at this scale to support the hat's structure.
I used rayon seam tape instead of grosgrain ribbon for the hatband.

I self lined the hat in the same fabric. I guess that was a little redundant. Oh well.

The dress has an interesting yoke. A striped fabric would make this more obvious.
(Same doll, different wig and different lighting!)

The pattern was for a size 14. I scaled it down 33% which was good for hip and shoulder, but too long for the torso and too big in the waist. So I did some alterations.

I would change two things next time: move the above bust gathers just a little bit in and lower the waist just a bit to give it that post-war long-torso look.

The original dress had a short back-neck opening and a side waist opening. My version has a back open to the waist and I kept the side opening. The next version will have only a back opening (a zipper) extending from the bottom of the yoke to the hips. And I'll probably make the buttons at the neck functional instead of on top of snaps.

The belt is just some bias tape folded again and stitched. The necklace are some old plastic beads I had lying around.

I am very pleased with this dress and I'm keeping an eye out for some tiny striped material with a little more drape for the next (long sleeved) version.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Review: Day Dress

1949 "Busy Day Pinafore or Dress" #101, Hello Dolly Boutique patterns (c)2008 as sized for the 22" American Model doll 

This pattern is for a day dress with sleeve and trim options.
I have altered this pattern to fit my 22" ball jointed doll by ResinSoul.

Measurements in centimeters  
Diff          Resinsoul Dai  American Model 22"
+2   Height             58    56
-2.5 Bust               22.5  25
 0   Waist              15.5  15.5
-3   Neck circumference  9    12 
-1.2 Hip                24    25.2
-3   Shoulder width      8.5  11.5
-2   Arm length         16.5  18.5

The Basics: The pattern pieces, drafted down by hand from a vintage pattern, have some grainlines marked and seam allowances are included.
The instructions are bullet point style, with some small reproductions of vintage pattern instruction drawings. There are some typos, misspellings, and wrong words in the instructions which might present a few problems for some less fluent English-language readers.
Although dots and notches are extensively referenced in the instructions, no notches and only two dots appear on the pattern. The missing markings are not an insurmountable problem for an experienced seamstress but would be perplexing to a novice. 

I used a small scale gingham cotton/poly seersucker for the sleeveless view, with shoulder and bodice ruffles, and "baby" rick-rack trim.

Ruffles: The instructions state to turn the straight edge of each ruffle piece under 1/8", then to apply rick-rack trim. There are no grainlines marked on these pieces. If the ruffle is cut on the straight of the grain, the turned under edge is prone to fraying. Cutting the ruffle on the bias would solve this problem but could make the turning under difficult. A simpler solution is to extend the straight-cut edge of the ruffle 1/8" to allow a double-turned finish.

The instructions say to sew the side seams before attaching the armhole ruffles. It is much easier to reverse this order and put off the side seam until later.

Facings vs. lining: Facing pieces are provided, again without notches or other useful marks. With the seam allowances from the two ruffles on each side of the bodice, and the seams on the shoulders, facing the armhole and neck edges makes for unnecessary bulk. I would suggest lining the bodice instead. Lining will also provide a neater finished appearance. (The placket instructions do reference a lining, but that is the only mention of a lining. This is possibly a cut-n-paste error by the publisher.)

Pocket: A pocket placement mark is provided on the front skirt piece. It is worth noting that this marking represents the size of the pocket pattern piece before the edges are turned under, rather than the finished pocket.
On my version of this dress, I narrowed the pattern pieces so much that I had to move the pockets to the side, to avoid them meeting at the center front of the skirt.
To make turning the pocket edges under less frustrating, I advise using a cardboard turning template cut to the size of the finished pocket.
There are no grainlines marked on the pocket pattern piece. I assumed that the pocket should be cut on the same grain as the front skirt piece. I chose to cut my pockets on the bias grain, to create some extra visual interest. I also chose not to use the pocket stay piece provided, since my bias cutting put the top edge of the pocket nearly on the straight of the grain, and that, along with the rick-rack trim, would prevent any stretching of the top of the pocket.
Although the instructions do not say to do so, I attached the pockets so the top edge curves out a little bit. I think it looks nicer than totally flat pockets.

Fit: It is hard to determine how this pattern would fit an American Model doll, since I made a very altered version for my skinny Resinsoul doll. I did take the waist in considerably, which make me think this dress might be a little large on the doll for which it was drafted, since that doll and mine have the same waist measurement.

This pattern made with ruffles makes an extremely cute dress, with a lot of possibilities for further embellishment.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

7 days of sewing madness!

I've been wallowing in sewing and photography.

I made another thrift store run (pants 1/2 off this time) and picked up some assorted tweedy things to recycle into doll clothing.

I figure I should post some pic, since it has been a week since I said a single word (well, made a post).

The nightgown for the Impldoll (pattern destined eventually for a splendid 1930s white silk and gold lame evening gown) (Hello Dolly Boutique pattern).

A photoshoot featuring the two dolls and their unfortunately matchy-matchy dressing gowns.

Mockup of 1940s outfit (Hello Dolly Boutique pattern) in cotton (I like the colors but cotton quilting fabric is too heavy for a shirt and cotton voile is too light for pants).

Two halloween costumes for a sewing thread on Den of Angels.

Perfect Patterns pattern

A very silly (that's what some would say) Hollywood glamor photoshoot

Monday, October 1, 2012

First full faceup

The spare head is no longer blank.

This was sold as a female sculpt (Resinsoul Dai), but I think it makes a darn good guy.


I have a body on order (Doll Leaves Boy version 2).

This is pretty much done, expect that I need to stick the hair down with something and trim the eyelashes a little bit.
Unless someone tells me I absolutely have to do something else. 

I used Mr. Super Clear flat, pastels, and watercolor pencils. 

Step 2. Some blushing done, eyebrows and mustache base and lips done. I ended up tapping pastel dust on the lips, then smudging it around with a damp brush.

Some eye color added, hairs on brows and mustache. 

Added more blushing around the eye sockets, filled in some missing eyebrow hairs, stuck the wig on, slapped some 14mm eyes in (they might be too small) and admired Mr. Dude.

The helpful folks on the Sacto BJD Facebook group encouraged me to add some real sideburns, shade his 'stash some more, and add some cheek contouring.