Friday, February 19, 2016

Mix & Match Doll Clothes: Creating a Wardrobe Capsule Part 3

Capsules enable you to get the most out of your patterns

Spring Capsule
I love the 'bad girl' look

So far, you have an idea of what garments you want to make and you have used that to select some suitable co-ordinating fabrics. Now what do you do?

I have quite a few patterns available for sale now and I thought it was time to start making some outfits based on 2 or 3 patterns. I am very proud of the patterns I have published so far and I am also pleased that my vision of providing a set of basic patterns that can be used for lots of design ideas is starting to take shape. I have only just started on my Fashion File collection. My Fashion Files are pattern hacks that show you some of the potential of the basic patterns.

I would love to have a wardrobe full of co-ordinating clothes that I could put together to make lots of outfits and I thought that my dolls would probably like that too.

My original Spring Capsule uses 3 purchased patterns.
Since this Spring Capsule was my first capsule I thought I should stick with some pretty basic designs, all of which I had patterns for. I suggest that you do the same first time round at least.
I sold my original Spring Capsule so I have included some photos of version 2. Version 2 is more of a Sporty Casual style but still 2 tops, two bottoms and a jacket.

You can see pictures of the original Feminine Soft Spring Capsule in Part 1 and Part 2

Version 2 uses 2 more patterns but I could have made a sleeveless hoodie jacket without the hood from 1801 and used the cap sleeve in 1801 to make the sparkly t-shirt and stuck with just the same 3 patterns.

Based on my formula of:
- 2 tops
- 2 bottoms
- 1 jacket

I have a sleeveless open neck blouse. This is easy to make. Depending on your sewing skills or pattern collection you could make a shirt with collar and stand instead. I want to try a shirt with the shoulders cut in close to the collar like a halter neck but I will have to wait until I finish making the shirt pattern. Version 2 has two knit tops.

A white relaxed fit tank top and sheer gathered skirt.
Nice for school with sneakers.
I also have a tank top. Again, an easy one to make. There are lots of ways to finish the neck and armholes. Hemming is the quickest. There are also some free tank top patterns out there. My 1801 Classic Knits has a variety of basic styles for all seasons. You could make several tank tops in different colours or patterns to suit the bottoms or even match the bottoms so you get a dress or pants suit affect. Just add a belt.

Sparkly slim fit T-shirt with the skirt.
Off to the school dance with cute shoes.
Add a jacket and swap the shoes and
she is off to the movies with friends.

For bottoms I suggest one skirt and one trousers just to make the outfits look more different. A gathered skirt looks cute and feminine. You could add a second ruffle too. I have a free hanky skirt just about to be published that will give you a full circle flared skirt to add to the yoke for a flared skirt option.

Nothing says 'attitude' like black tights and boots,
even with a cute skirt.
If you want a party looking outfit you can use shiny fabric and add a layer of gathered tulle under the fabric ruffle. The skirt has lots of possibilities for making different looking outfits. I really want to try a pleated skirt with the cut in shirt and maybe a tie so she looks like a cool school girl.

Pop on the gathered pull-ons and she is ready for
a farm excursion or hiking.
Swap the shirt and shoes and she is ready for
a play date.

The gathered pull-ons can also be found free around the web. I think mine are better and worth the small cost. I just made them up plain for speed and a non fussy look. You can always add applique or pockets or top stitching to give them a different look. My 1813 Gathered Pull-ons have quite a narrow leg and not much ease at the waist so the fit is neat. My 1812 Flat front pull-ons have a wider leg and a generous back gather and of course the flat front looks good with shirts tucked in.

For my jacket I decided on a cardigan to fit with the feminine style I was going for. It is easy to make from a knit shirt pattern that has long sleeves. I used my 1801 Classic Knits pattern with just a few adjustments. I will go into how I made both versions of my Spring Capsule next week.

Nothing wrong with double denim.
  • Blouse (1806)
  • Tank Top (1801) The sparkly t-shirt is the one I included with the Bubble Skirt pattern but there are some free ones out there that look similar.
  • Skirt (Free)
  • Trousers (1813)
  • Cardigan (1801) The denim vest is a prototype of my denim jacket to be published soon.

The purchased patterns I used for my original Spring capsule are:

See my Free Patterns Page  and my Fashion Files Page for more ideas.

Next week in Part 4 I show you how I made the garments and what adjustments I made to get the look I wanted and more suggestions for getting the most out of your basic patterns.

Happy Sewing,

Saturday, February 13, 2016

An Up-Do for the doll - an easy hairdo for dolls with long hair.

 Valspierssews Doll Clothes

I saw this method on Team AG video. It was a video hosted by a very accomplished young girl, showing how she did her hair for ballet and cheer leading.

About 3 mins into this video she does her hair thing.

Here's how my Lea got the look.

Put her on a desk and make a pony tail.

Plait the pony tail and put another band at the bottom.

Twist it around to make a nice bun and pin it in place with some bobby pins. I used a big clip. Not ideal, but it was all I had.

It looks pretty neat considering how quick and easy it is.

Happy Sewing,

Friday, February 12, 2016

Mix & Match Doll Clothes: Creating a Wardrobe Capsule Part 2

Using a Formula to Choose Fabrics

Auditioning fabrics from my stash for the next capsule
The fabric formula

I wanted an easy way to collect a set of fabrics to make a wardrobe capsule made up of a variety of garments that would all work together. I am not a natural at this so I needed a way to make it easy for me.
What better way than a formula you can use over and over no matter what you are making.

In its simplest form it consists of 5 fabrics.
  • A floral or pattern with 3 or more colours suitable for a top and dress
  • Solid colour 1 to match one in the floral suitable for trousers or skirt
  • Solid colour 2 to match another colour in the floral suitable for trousers or skirt
  • Solid colour 3 either different of a lighter shade than 1 or 2 suitable for a jacket
  • Neutral colour to match the floral suitable for another top
  • Possible extra for a scarf if needed

With some basic garments in mind I set about collecting some fabrics.

It is necessary to have an idea of what colours suit your doll or you if you want to make your own capsule wardrobe. There are lots of colour analysis sites on the web but the one I have found simplest to use is here at Personality Cafe.

I am writing a little PDF book based on this Wardrobe Capsule series and I go into colours in more detail. I have also started making colour charts like the one in the photo at the top of the page so you can print it out to take it to the shop. The publish date will be sometime in March I hope.

Wardrobe Capsule 1 - Feminine Spring Outfits

Part 2 - Choosing the Fabrics

To make a doll clothes wardrobe capsule for spring you will need:

  • A floral or pattern with several colours suitable for spring. 

I made a blouse (1806) but if you buy 0.5 m or 1/2 yd you will have enough to expand your capsule with a dress in the floral as well.

  •  A solid colour matching a colour in your floral, suitable for pants or a skirt.

I made simple pull ons (1813) with this fabric. It is a light weight slub weave polyester. It would also be suitable for a blazer or Chanel style jacket to match and expand the capsule at a later date.

  • A second solid colour matching another colour in your floral, suitable for pants or a skirt.

This one is a chiffon style fabric that I thought would be good for a skirt but not so good for trousers so it limits me a bit. I was choosing these fabrics from my stash so I had to use what I had. If I was buying it now I would have bought something a bit heavier so I could use it for trousers as well as a skirt. This is one of my free patterns.

  • A solid colour medium knit either lighter or darker than the trouser and skirt fabrics.

This knit fabric is from a child's cardigan. It is a similar colour but lighter shade than the green trouser fabric. This cardigan is made from pieces in 1801.

    • A neutral colour fine to medium knit fabric - cream, white, black, beige, grey.

    I chose a cream medium weight knit suitable for a tank top or 3/4 sleeve top made using 1801. It could also be used to make an infinity scarf to increase the accessories or used to make a cardigan.

    • A filmy chiffon suitable for a scarf.

    You can choose a plain or patterned chiffon for a scarf. The colours fit with my solid colours with some pinks and greens. The scarf can also be worn as a hair ribbon. The infinity scarf is one of my free patterns.

    Keep a note book with swatches of the fabrics and garment ideas.

    I made my plans in a note book using swatches of my fabrics. If I want to expand on a capsule I can take my note book to the fabric shop and find a few more coordinating fabrics.

     The adjusted formula for my Spring Capsule looks like this:
    • Woven floral
    • Woven solid
    • Woven solid 
    • Knit solid
    • Knit solid neutral
    • Chiffon for the scarf
    The formula has worked really well for two more capsules that I am creating. It is a good strategy.

    Next week I will be looking at the patterns I chose to make the garments and offering some ideas to get you thinking about a summer capsule. It pays to plan ahead.

    Happy Sewing,

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016

    The Story of My Bubble Skirt Pattern

    This post contains affiliate links to Craftsy

    Bubble Skirt Doll Clothes

    I know everyone likes free patterns and I intended to make the bubble skirt part of the skirt with a yoke collection for free.

    As I tried on the first trial in the lemon knit I was elated at how good it looked and how easy it was to make and instantly made one in red satin. This is where I hit a snag. I could only just fit the lining over the hips and this affected how the skirt hung. It also looked much sorter than the knit skirt. What was going on? I used the same pattern pieces.

    I worked out that if you just use the yoke for a regular skirt it all fits perfectly. As soon as I extended that measurement down past the hips to make the bubble skirt lining it got a bit tight.

    After enlarging the pattern a bit I got a much better looking skirt in the satin. I also took a lot more care to get the gathers lined up properly. In the first test they look a bit spiral. You just need to adjust the gathers to line up neatly before sewing the centre back seam.

    The top skirt is the improved version. I also realised that the woven fabric bubbles out more rather than draping so it looks shorter than the knit skirt. I had to make the lining and skirt a bit wider to account for this.

    So this is why I decided to put the bubble skirt pattern up for sale. I had to make extra samples and then I had to draft separate pattern pieces for knit and woven fabrics. I have included the knit and woven options and I have included pattern pieces for the yoke and lining so it is just a matter of cutting them out. No fiddly measuring of strips.

    I did leave the skirt strip for you to cut yourself but if you cut a strip the right width from a piece of paper you won't need a cutting ruler or rotary cutter. Just fold the fabric in four and pin on your paper strip.

    Just for February I have included the cute T-shirt pattern with the skirt free of charge. This means you can make an outfit. (Update - The t-shirt is no longer included)

    If you are looking for a way to store the patterns I have up for free why not register at Craftsy.
    Once you have an account the free patterns appear as links just like purchased patterns do in Etsy. This means you don't lose them on your computer and you will be notified if I make any updates. The same goes for patterns you purchase on Craftsy. Etsy links can't be updated once you purchase the pattern.

    Both shops have their benefits. I like the Etsy interface and the ability to convo people easily but I like the free listing on Craftsy and all the video classes that are available. Also, because I pay for Etsy services they look after VAT for me.

    The first time you register for Craftsy through my affiliate links I get a small commission for introducing you.

    You can purchase the 1831 Bubble Skirt pattern on Etsy and Craftsy for just $2.50 USD.

    Happy Sewing,

    Friday, February 5, 2016

    Mix & Match Doll Clothes: Creating a Wardrobe Capsule Part 1


    Do you find that the outfit you made out of beautiful fabric doesn't look as good as you thought it would when you put it on the doll?

    Do you have trouble choosing the right fabrics?

    Do you have leftover fabrics that you never use again?

    If these problems sound familiar then this series is for you. Since starting to design and sell patterns I have been trying to solve these problems. I have come up with a very workable set of solutions.

    I used to think that fashion was just an obsession and that the effort required to put together an outfit that is stylish and uses the right colours to show off my complection was just vanity but in a world where first impressions can be the making or breaking of success I wish that I had paid more attention to style and colour analysis. I got by alright but now I know it would have been easier if style and colour were taught to me so they became a habit.
    Today I am retired and starting to become one of the invisible ageing population. I am working at learning how to dress so that I will be taken seriously in that all to narrow window of first impressions.

    You can read this series as just a way to make better doll clothes outfits but you can also use it as a fun way to teach young doll owners about style and colour so it becomes a habit.

    Each part looks at one aspect of creating the wardrobe capsule but they all work together to produce a polished result.

    Wardrobe Capsule 1 - Feminine Spring Outfits

    Part 1 - Choosing the Garments

    Make an economical coordinating doll clothes wardrobe capsule for your American Girl Doll. 

    Before you choose your garments you will have to decide on a style.
    The style I have chosen for this spring capsule for Rebecca is what I call Feminine Soft.

    The types of styles you can consider are:

    • Tailored classic
    • Sporty natural
    • High fashion striking
    • Feminine soft
    • Trendy edgy
    • Vintage
    • Historical

    The capsule I have made is based on a formula that gives a good outfit variety with a minimum of garments. When you choose coordinating fabrics you can add one more top and get 2 new outfits with or without the jacket.
    • 2 tops
    • 2 bottoms
    • 1 jacket plus 1 accessory.

    The garments I chose for my spring capsule are:
    • A sleeveless blouse
    • Long trousers
    • Skirt
    • Tank top
    • A long sleeved cardigan
    • An infinity scarf that can double as a hair ribbon.
    I chose a sleeveless blouse because it is easier to get the cardigan on with no sleeves to negotiate.

    I chose long pants because I intend to make shorts for summer and crop pants for autumn and the weather can still be a bit cool in spring.

    I chose a tank top, again because no sleeves is easier and the short sleeved t-shirt can be an extra item or saved for summer or autumn capsules. 

    Every collection has a to have a skirt. You could make it a longer skirt but it should still be flowing rather than tight in my opinion. Pencil skirts look good with tights for winter.

    The scarf could be made from the tank top knit fabric and used as a head band as well. You can then team it with the blouse. I chose a patterned chiffon that looks good as a hair ribbon. Another option would be to use the chiffon from the skirt to make the scarf. The plain pink would go with all the outfits.

    Deciding on how big to make the capsule

    Obviously the more garments you make the more outfits you can create but time is always a factor when you are trying to make some doll clothes in your spare time.

    Instead of making one outfit of blouse, skirt, cardigan and a scarf I have made one extra top and one extra bottom that can be used to make at least 4 outfits with or without the cardigan.
    I think this is a good use of my time.

    Choosing co-ordinating fabrics is a big part of this way of looking at your doll's wardrobe. I show you how I did this next week.

    It is easy to expand the capsule by using the fabrics to make more garments such as:
    • Dress
    • Flared skirt
    • T-shirt or a different style of tank top
    • Short sleeved blouse
    • Jumper or vest
    • Belt
    Unfortunately I ran out of the pink floral but I found a pattern with similar colours and made a dress that goes well with the cardigan. There is maybe just a bit too much blue in the pattern but the off white background makes it acceptable. This dress pattern has not been published yet. It has a side opening and opens at the shoulder as well. With no back opening I can use design features such as pleats in the back vent for more interest.

    The fabric I used for the trousers could be used to make a jacket and/or skirt to expand the options without having to look for another coordinating fabric.

    Next Week:

    I explain how I chose the fabrics and give you a formula that will work for any trip to the fabric shop.

    Happy Sewing,