Update — Butterfly wings, ball joints

July 10, 2008 at 5:58 pm (my work, Sewing and costuming) (, , , )

Hi, just a couple of things for you to check out.

I have a confession to make. I found out about Adele Sciortino’s doll costume newsletter way back when it first started up last summer, but I never really got around to reading it until this week. Boy, was I missing out! Each issue takes a specific topic in dollmaking costume, whether it’s a genre like fairies or clowns or a historical period, and gives you specific instructions for making such a costume, illustrated with the work of other professional artists, like Marianne Reitsma and Martha Boers or Charie Wilson.

The first issue, Summer 2007, included general instructions and patterns for no fewer than eleven types of doll wings, including flower-petal angel wings like the ones seen in my report on Sleetwealth Studios. So, for those of you who are following my search for fairy wing tutorials, go and sign up for the newsletter.

The newsletter is free; you just have to sign up. Go take a look, it’s worth the trouble of signing up just for the fabulous pictures of Reitsma and Boer’s work. There are also book reviews, articles about organizing a studio, using silk flower petals in doll costumes, and more.

Finally, while surfing today, looking for the next doll artist to feature, I discovered a pattern on CD for what seems to be a ball-jointed cloth doll. The artist is Allison Marano and the link is here — scroll down to Henley the House Gnome. The description says his hips and shoulders are button joints but his elbows, knees, wrists and ankles are “bead joints.” I’m not sure if bead joints are the same as the ball joints I’ve been working on, but it sure looks like it. If anyone has made this pattern, can you leave us a comment about how the joints work?


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Easy Breezy 2

April 19, 2007 at 3:02 am (Sewing and costuming)

My kind and wonderful husband was good enough to take some pictures of my dress dummy, Niente, wearing the pieces of my new blouse. These aren’t sewn together yet, except at the side seams, so don’t judge that, please, but it gives you an idea of how the fabric reads. (Also, please try to ignore my messy bookcase behind her!)


The gray fabric reads much too blue in this picture.

I’m starting to think that maybe plaid wasn’t a good choice for a blouse that will be gathered at the top, but I’ve already cut it out, so I guess I’ll have to make do. When I cut out the pieces for the top, I thought, whoa, this is way too big! But when I put it on Niente, it fit just perfectly around her bust. Sigh.

The yoke is crying out to me for some delicate black lace to go around the edge. However, I haven’t got any in my stash and am reluctant to go buy anything for a blouse that is essentially a prototype. And I already bought some black sequins to use for this project. So maybe I’ll stick to Plan A.

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An easy breezy summer top

April 13, 2007 at 9:41 pm (Sewing and costuming)

I love studying historical costume, but I have a lot of trouble making the actual outfits. I’ve decided that part of the problem is that I don’t have really good sewing skills, so, for practice, I’ve decided to make myself some street clothes.

I recently bought some patterns for some simple, breezy summer tops from Simplicity. Yesterday I refurbished my dress dummy, Niente, and got started on Simplicity 4589. I’m making view E, which is the one shown in the cover photo. It has a great little round yoke at the top, which I plan to embellish, and it reminds me a little of my favorite nightgown.

Simplicity 4589

According to the back of the pattern, my measurements make me a size 22 (proof positive that pattern sizes are different from off-the-rack sizes; I’m approaching a size 12 in off-the-rack!) but due to my busty figure, that probably means the shoulders will be too large. Usually I measure a pattern and adjust it before I cut any fabric, but this pattern is kind of weird, being gathered at the top, so I’m just going to go ahead and cut out a muslin of the yoke. If it’s close enough to fitting, I’ll go ahead and cut the fabric, then adjust it as I go along.

I have the perfect fabric to start out with; it’s a yarn-dyed gray and black cotton check that makes me think of the cotton shirts my mom used to make for my dad. I don’t really do little-girlie styles, and this is a girlie top, so I’m hoping the masculine fabric will class it up a little. I also have some embroidered motifs on order which I’m going to place at center front on the yoke.

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Apples and Pears

April 12, 2007 at 4:20 pm (Sewing and costuming)

In the last six months, I’ve lost nearly 40 pounds due to health concerns. Naturally, none of my clothes fit anymore, so I’m going to have to buy or sew an entire new wardrobe over the course of this year. In anticipation, I refurbished my adjustable dress dummy, Niente, yesterday, and after considering my new measurements, I realized that my general silhouette has changed. I’ve always thought of myself as an hourglass figure, but as I’ve slimmed down, I’ve turned into more of an apple (top-heavy) body type.

So I got online yesterday to look for information on how to dress an apple, and discovered that there was some really crummy info out there (I don’t care how much you want to distract from your waistline, tapered pants under a top-heavy figure will make you look like a lollipop!). So I wanted to share with you the best site I found: http://fashion.about.com/cs/tipsadvice/a/figurefixers.htm. It also includes info for pear-shaped, or bottom-heavy, women.

Another great resource is Zaftique.com. Besides offering some really gorgeous clothes designed for real women instead of scrawny models, they categorize everything according to body type, so you can search for all the dresses recommended for an your shape (click on “Z-fit shopping”), and use them as inspiration for making your own clothes or shopping. I’ve only bought from these guys once, and I wasn’t disappointed with my purchase, but that’s as far as I can go in recommending them as a vendor.

I’ll share my sewing adventures with you in this space, but in the interests of keeping my posts short, I’ll end this one here.

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