Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mid-week sewing is always fun!

Even though I started this yesterday, I'm still chalking this up to today totally. Sometimes I do that, in the late evening I decide I want to do some sewing, something new. So I cull though my patterns and find something that I haven't tried yet, and if it speaks to me, I use my father's printer to print it out. (If he's at work and it's free.) Then I play around with it to see what comes out of it. Sometimes it's a total tragedy, but sometimes it does work out. I like doing this because it helps me unwind before bed, besides at that time I don't have anything to do, so it's productive.
Anyway, this time I found a pattern that I thought that I could use to make something I've tried to make at least a half dozen times throughout my sewing career. I'll try to explain it as easily as possible, it's a dress, long sleeved with matching collar and cuffs, with a drop waist and a pleated skirt. Honestly, I call it a "Miss Hathaway" dress because that character from The Beverly Hillbillies wore outfits like it a lot. I just really like that 20's/60's vibe that it has, not to mention I'm a sucker for a pleated skirt. So I've attempted to make this item several times, and each time it's managed to get derailed and not work. I don't think I've ever had something get finished from when I attempted this before. Each time I just end up tossing it. One of the biggest issues is the fact that it doesn't really work for Charlotte's body. A drop waist really works for a doll that has a very straight figure, or at least top heavy. Charlotte's built with a bigger hip section, so she's more bottom heavy. When you work with the pattern for this, it kind of makes it look really odd, and makes Charlotte look really bottom heavy, which she's not that much. They usually just hang like a sack on her, not very flattering. So usually they don't get finished, not to mention all the other issues that arise from my shoddy sewing. But this time I had a lot more practice behind what I was doing, so I figured I should at least give it a shot.
I started off with a muslin, which came out okay since I was just testing how it would fit on Charlotte. Sometimes I find a few older pattern are huge on a doll for some odd reason, and that's even on the vintage dolls that they were drafted for, guess they weren't made that well. Anyway, this one fit decently, although I did trim off a bit from the front to make the darts hit better. With that done it was no time but to actually try it. Originally I grabbed some brown broadcloth that I've had forever (I bought it for the steampunk project, yeah that long ago.), but I decided that it was a little dull, not to mention a little thin, so I grabbed the medium blue calico that I last used to make that blue dress for Charlotte. And so I got to work, checking it for fit several times along the way. Honestly, I'm not going to lie, it went together shockingly easy, even the inset sleeves. (They both went in on the first try.) I got a good chunk of the bodice done without any problems. I didn't hit any big issues until I got to the pleated skirt. I made it like I usually do, why mess with a perfectly good system? But I forgot to take into consideration that since it was attaching lower in the hip that I would need more fabric to go around. I ended up having to take out several of the pleats in the back to make it fit, but it still looks good from the front. I did have to sew the skirt on several times to get it right, which was a pain, but at least it's done. When I finally got the skirt on I tried it on Charlotte again. It was very cute, but very tight in the hip section. She was wearing a pair of underwear and I had to take them off her. The added length of the snap in the back made enough of a difference for the skirt to not close. That's how tight it was on her. Then I made a foolish, foolish mistake... I tried it one someone else. P.J. in fact. She was kicking around the work table waiting to be redressed, along with an Integrity Toys dolls and a vintage Ken (He's at least partially dressed). Anyway, curious to see how it looked on a larger busted doll I tried it on her, and that's when Charlotte lost another dress. Which isn't fair, but I really liked it better on P.J. than Charlotte, besides I'm still in love with Charlotte's red pea coat. So it wasn't that big of a loss to her. So from that point on I used P.J. for the fittings. Actually the dress is actually a bit tight in the shoulders for her, which is becasue I did take the top in a bit to fit Charlotte, but it's not that bad. If this dress was going to get a lot of play I would make a new one, but mainly once P.J.'s dressed she's going to just live on the shelf. Honestly, the vintage dolls don't get a lot of action unless they're getting redressed, which makes this issue a mute point. After P.J. claimed this dress all I really had to do was add the collar. Can I talk about how much I hate making collars? Hate, hate, hate them. I always manage to screw them up and have to redo them over and over again, almost wreaking the practically completed outfit. I seriously hate collars. I detest inset sleeves, but collars are terrible. With enough blood, sweat, and tears I managed to get it finished (mostly tears by the way). After that it was time for seam reinforcing, adding snaps (two), and pulling out the stitches on the skirt. I also added a ribbon around the waist hem, I felt it added something and broke up the great expanse of blue of the dress. After that it was done! I had finally made a drop waist-ed dress! Even though, it wasn't for the doll I intended it for, I was still pleased that I had finally made it. I'm beginning to realize that this type of dress will never work for Charlotte's body, so unless I want to return her to an older style body, she's going to have to live with that fact. And if you know me, I will never return her to that type of body, the belly button body, and the fashionista body have ruined me to older body types. I will never go back, the fashionista body literally made me fall in love with Barbie again. (Vintage is the exception, for history sake) And random tangent about the fashionista body; I'm eagerly awaiting the dolls from Toy Fair to start showing up, there's a new knee joint, which looks promising.
For accessorizing, you have to jump back a little with me, back to Talking Barbie. I've realized that I don't really like her tights, or her shoes. They're a little much, plus the shoes didn't really work. So I spent some time looking thought all the shoes in the collection. I was even willing to swipe some shoes from other dolls to give to her. I settled on a pair that weren't being worn, some black pointed toe Mary Janes. I originally thought she should have tights because there's some odd spots on her legs, but reflecting on that, they're really not all that bad, besides it's not like the rest of the dolls are perfect, her legs are fine, pretty shapely even (scandalous!). What does this have to do with P.J. you ask, well P.J. ended up with her socks. I decided against making stockings for her because I didn't really want to. Also I couldn't find the pair I made the other day and use them for a guide as to what needed to be fixed for the new pair. Honestly I've been losing things all day, so far I've lost two spools of thread, two shoes, Charlotte's underwear, and the tights. As of writing this all had reappeared except one of the spools of thread. So she got socks instead of tights, which work much better on her than Talking Barbie. Her legs are hard plastic and the socks just slide up, Talking Barbie on the other hand, I had to force them to go all the way up, and even then they still had fit issues.
But with the addition of these socks, there's another issue that arises, now her legs don't have anything keeping them on. That's one of the reasons why I was forced to make her stockings. To remedy this I made her a special pair of underwear. One made out of calico, so there's no give, and it keeps her legs "attached" to her body. I made these out of the red flowered fabric that I made Skooter's dress out of. That way if anyone looks up the dress, they get a little shock! ;) (P.J. can be a little wild!) After that I paired it with a pair of Mary Janes that came with the Jason Wu School Girl outfit I bought two years ago that Ashley's been wearing since it arrived. (She's using different shoes.) I really like it, even though it's got a total Veruca(Sp?) Salt look to it. I can't believe that I dressed another Mod doll. February's been an oddly productive month for the redress list. At this rate I'm going to need more dolls so I can keep sewing (I wish)!
P.S. sorry for the shoddy picture, I couldn't be bothered to set up the usual, plus the underwear was getting color fasted, so her legs weren't attached. Eventually she'll get a real photo shoot, not to mention a real place on the bookshelf, right now I have no clue where she's going to go. Oh well, that will come in time. She's dressed!

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