Thursday, November 13, 2014

The wonderful world of 1/4

I have had an MSD on order for months and months, so when I saw a listing on DoA (Den of Angels) for a Souldoll Arina, I bought her.

She is pensive. I like her faceup (company default).

I've been experimenting with photography. I like the dead back background (velveteen draped over a piece of coroplast).

Then, I got another 1/4 doll. This time an Ellowyne Wilde - I think I've been longing for vinyl and in denial. Her posing is not as great as resin, but she fits on her saddle stand so well I don't mind.

Here's a quick (I lied - this is the single fruit of several-many flash photography attempts. And I got one of the flashes in the frame. But I'm learning!)

So, the original 1/4 I ordered should be here on Saturday. I hope I love her as much as I do these two. I'm looking forward to shooting multiple dolls all of a scale.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Victorian dress (long)

My doll-friends have been egging me on to make some Steampunk stuff. Sounds fun! So I decided to start with a more-or-less straight-up Victorian dress to work out any fitting and construction issues first.

Eventually, after I make another one closer to a production model (with steam-punk-ified options), this kind of thing will be offered in my Etsy store on a commission basis.

Here's the final product, made for my Impldoll Model doll, sporting a Victorian-ish wig I got in a trade.

It took a while to get there.

Go get some coffee or something. This is a looooooooong post.

I started with two different patterns from the second of Janet Arnold's original Patterns of Fashion books. Books I begged my mom to buy for me when we were in Bath, England at the Costume Museum in the mid 1970s. I blew up the pattern pieces to about the right size for my doll, and made a muslin mock of the bodice. Ok - looking good.

I decided to make and use ruffles for trim since I needed some kind of trim that would go around corners without a lot of work (ha ha ha ha - the laughter will be explained later) and I didn't want to take the time to cut out, turn, and hem curved bands of trim.

I also decided to use inexpensive polyester lining for the fabric. I was worried about bulk at the waistband with a heavier fabric. This may or may not have been a Good Thing.

But first, we need proper underthings (ok, I know a rigid doll does not need corseting, but where's the fun in that? Also, Steampunk seems to often include "underwear on the outside" which means corset!)

I wrapped my doll's torso in cling film, applied masking tape, drew on some plausible seam lines, and cut it off. I decided on a 7 piece corset, just to the peak of the bust. I made it in two layers, binding the edges to finish. 

I was ecstatic to discover that I could the shrink the automatic eyelets my fancy electronic Bernina machine makes. Wooooooo!

 After I made the eyelets, I remembered I had planned on a spiral lacing pattern, which requires offset eyelets. Ooops.

I'm not pleased with the scale of the lace I found. The width is good, the overall pattern is nice, but it is too coarse for the scale.
Oh, and I boned the corset with cutup cable ties. Really pleased with this. I just stitched stay pockets by stitching through the two layers on either side of the seam lines. I removed the boning from the side seams as it looked lumpy to me. I may move the seams away from the side of the corset next time.

The chemise and drawers are simple patterns. 

I do want to use 1/8" ribbon instead of 1/4" for the drawstrings at the cuffs and the neckline of the chemise. This version of the chemise is just drawn up with gathering stitches. With a real drawstring neckline, doll owners can make their dolls as sexy as they want. 

I decided to take massive shortcuts on the bodice construction, not doing a turned lining, but just interlining the bodice pieces. Then I had to make a bias facing for the neck. Not doing that again. I'm all for linings - nice edges, and clean finish on the inside. I will probably put a strip of the outside fabric on the inside at the front closure - you can see the white bias facing peeking through the front on some images.
The undersleeves are another massive shortcut. Literally hacked out of some scraps, gathered, stitched, then tacked in place inside the bodice sleeves. Next time, they will be lace, and an extension of the chemise sleeves.

I made the overskirt next, so I could get an idea of how big the bustle support needed to be. Really pleased by the bustle pleating. I just copied the pleating and stay tape pattern from Arnold. The bottom of the hem is faced with cotton, to help hold the weight of the trim.

The overskirt is on a plain brown waistband. 

Now that I've done the bustle thing once, I'll probably fake it up by pleating directly to the revers on the overskirt. Quicker because no tedious marking.

Speaking of marking, I tried out a Dritz mechanical tailor pencil. I LOVE it! Wow. Look for "Tailor's Marking Set" and bring your discount coupon - it is about $15

So. With the overskirt made, I faked up the ugliest petticoat I've ever made. I just made some random gore-shapes, stitched them together, prayed that the waist would be about right, grabbed some strips of tulle, and pleated it on to the bottom of the cotton petticoat. Then I grabbed some more tulle, bunched it up, and pinned it in place, draping the bustled overskirt over it to get an idea. I declared it Good Enough and stitched it down. I'm not even going to show you the petticoat. I'm that embarrassed.
This will be replaced with a hooped petticoat in the future. I'll probably use regular plastic boning for the hoops.

On to the underskirt.

The back of the skirt is cartridge pleated to a waistband. The front of the skirt was a bit wide, so I just took a couple of fat pleats just in front of the side seams. The waistband is a plain white cotton band with a button and loop closure.

I stitched the petticoat right to the underskirt's waistband.
It is finished with a ruffle on the bottom. More on Liz's Big Ruffle Adventure later.

Well, how about ruffles now?


I have an 1950 vintage Singer Featherweight 221 machine with a whole box of attachments. I love my box of attachments! You might say I'm attached! Ha ha ha ha
The pleater/ruffler is not too bad to use if you have the instructions. 

Which I do. It is not happy at all about pleating cheap lining. It was slightly more happy to pleat cheap polyester ribbon.

I had originally cut out many strips of poly lining in pink, pressed them in half, and set them aside to be pleated later. Ha. That was a waste of time! The pleater did not cope well with two layers of cheap lining. So I went with spools of "by the spool" cheap ribbon 7/8" wide.

Once it was pleated, it looked like a frilly pig's tail. 

Ironing it resulted in a much nicer appearance, but it took forever. I also had to go slow on the pleating, as the action of the needle up down (which drives the mechanical action of the pleater attachment via the needle clamp interface) would tend to unscrew the needle clamp, breaking the needle if I was not watching closely.

For the brown ruffle on the bottom of the underskirt, I tried to sew it directly to the skirt as it was formed (you can do that, and many other obscure tricks with the attachment) but the lining fabric would not feed well with the friction of the large attachment above it. So I attached the ruffle to a strip of wide bias tape as I made it up. Much better! No pig-tail twisting, and just a moment with a steam iron was good enough.

I stitched all the trim and ruffles in place by hand, while watching multiple episodes of Battlestar Galactica on Netflix. I added the braided trim to the bodice and the overskirt's ruffles, as I felt that the ruffle on the front of the bodice was really too wide and the trim made it less pink overall. The trim on the next version will be parallel rows of applied narrow braid. Or something like that. There will be some ruffles, but not so many.

I met my goal, of trying out Victorian with an eye to learning things. And my doll has more clothes that are not shop clothes! 

Bonus pic of pinned together, no trim yet.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Vintage doll patterns

Someone over on Dollieh Sanctuary posted a link to another person's Google+ photo page that has scans of doll clothing sewing patterns. (scans of doll clothing patterns) The big blank space is where the link is. I never have figured out how to make links visible with my snazzy black background. go to dolliehsanctuary, toolshed, total sewing, for the thread "where to find sewing patterns" and look for a post from May 31st 2014 - probably about page 5. That's the link.

I looked at the link initally in my Android devices's browser and saw many interesting patterns. So I went to my desktop (PC) computer to see if I could find a way to download the images from the more interesting ones.

Imagine my dismay when I 1) could not figure out how to send myself a useable link to a specific image folder, and 2) could not find the most interesting patterns on my desktop's browser!

I never did solve the link problem, but I eventually diagnosed and found a workaround to the missing folder problem. The PC browser shows "highlights" rather than every folder and I got an error message when trying to load all the folders.

I found as many image folders as I could on the PC, used the download button (which sometimes did not work - taking me instead to some kind of non-functional video link? WTF??).

For the folders I could only 'see' on the mobile device, and for folders on the PC where the download button was broken, I clicked through each image (if you do this on the thumbnail page you get tiny useless thumbnails - ask me how I know), downloading each image.

I plugged my tablet into my PC after getting the images for one pattern set, invoked it as a drive on my PC, navigated to the download folder, sorted by 'modified', and cut and pasted the images into a folder on my PC.

Whew. This took most of a day - interspersed by getting the dog washed to get rid of some of the seasonal allergy itchiness and some general errand-running.

Some of the patterns I saved are for the Glamor Girl doll, some for Miss Revlon, some for Barbie, some for Chrissy and so on and so forth.

I decided to try out a skating dress pattern for a Glamor Girl doll first.

I blew it up on the photocopier until it was close to the right scale for an Iplehouse EID (I don't have very many things left in my Etsy store for this size doll) and started making trial versions of it.
Three versions later (the Glamor Girl doll is much less curvy than the EID - I imagine the patterns might work well for the American Girl doll) I'm getting close enough that I'll cut the next attempt out of plain white lining - planning to use it in a store-worthy garment.

I'm excited to work with these patterns, even though it may be more time efficient to draft my own. My justification for this comes from my experience using (human-scale) vintage patterns for myself. There are subtle differences in fit between a vintage collared blouse and a modern collared blouse pattern. I'm not sure that the differences will be significant in doll-scale, but that's why it is a justification.

Next I think I'll try blowing up some Barbie-scale lingerie.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Not quite a year, so lame!

It has been 11 months since I"ve written anything in this particular blog. Boy, that's a long time!
So let's update!
My first year in business with my doll clothing business was profitable. Not by a lot, but I'm pleased.
I have a Fantasy Doll MSD on order.
I have 5 dolls in hand: DollLeaves 60cm boy, and a tiny; Resinsoul Dai, Mirodoll Wind (I guess, I actually did not get the head I ordered but I like the head I have so there), and my beloved Impldoll Erica (Star) head on a Model bocy.
I finally managed to post 100 posts on DoA so I can now fully participate in the Marketplace.
I applied a screw driver to my old Nikon prime lenses and love that old glass on a newish Nikon digital SLR. So I'm going to re-shoot all my photos for my Etsy store, making them even more fab than they were before.

And I think that's enough for now.

Here's a pic of Sadie, my Mirodoll, taken with that camera setup.