Archive | November 2013

Shiny happy party dress

My biggest challenge yet...

My biggest challenge yet…

Ever since I found a wonderful pink-and-silver lycra material remnant in my local fabric shop, I had wanted to make it up into the Liberty Jane Shiny Happy Dress.  But I was thwarted, first by my inexperience with working with lycra fabric, and then by my sewing machine which skipped stitches madly every time I practised stitching this temperamental material.  In the end I went back to my local sewing machine shop where I’d bought my Singer, and talked it over with the very knowledgeable lady there.  She looked at my example of dodgy stitching, thought for a few moments, and then fetched the sewing machine engineer out from the inner room.  He advised investing in a needle for use with leather, as he felt the shiny surface of the fabric was interfering with the action of the needle (don’t ask me how, that’s just what he said).  So I came home with my new pack of needles, dithered a bit, and decided to wait until I felt stronger.

A few months passed and then recently I decided to  install the new needle and have a go.  At first the practice results weren’t all that great – still some stitches skipping – but I found that if I went slowly I was able to get a reasonable line of stitches.  Using a stretch stitch also helped.  And so I gathered up my courage and began putting the little dress together.

It wasn’t all that easy.  The material slipped a bit, and of course it had a tendency to stretch.  The dress isn’t lined, so the neckline and armhole edges were folded back and stitched down, which I found tricky and my stitching wasn’t always quite as regular and straight as I’d have liked.  Not that it was bad, I just have high standards.   I hand-gathered the frill before attaching it to the main body of the dress, and this all went smoothly and looked fine.  So far so good.

Better than velcro?

Better than velcro?

I then had to tackle the issue of how to fasten up the back of the dress.  The pattern said to do this with velcro, but I prefer to avoid velcro as much as possible as it can catch in dolls’ hair and vulnerable garments like tights.  I wondered about installing a zipper, but in the end I plumped for stitching up the back opening partway and then fastening the remaining opening with a button and shirring elastic loop.  The dress was easy to put on, the fastening kept it securely closed and the opening didn’t really matter as it was at the back.  However, if I make up this dress pattern again I’ll either use a zipper or add another button and loop.

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Kit prefers a 1920s look…

Kit models her Shiny Happy Party Dress for us, teaming it with a long string of pearls and a cloche hat for a 1920s look.  She completes the outfit with some white tights and her white patent Mary Janes.

Shona has been eyeing up this dress as well, thinking it would look good with her black leather jacket and long boots (from her ‘meet’ outfit).   It’s quite a versatile and attractive little dress, which is sized to fit American Girl, Precious Day, Madame Alexander Favorite Friends and other sturdy-bodied 18″ dolls.  It’s too big for Kidz ‘n’ Cats or other slim-bodied 18″ dolls like Carpatina or Gotz Hannah.

 

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Gardening Girl

Here’s our second new model, Shona, wearing a very cleverly-designed dress with a ring yoke and side-panels feature.

Shona makes her catwalk debut. Click to enlarge

Shona makes her catwalk debut!
Click to enlarge

This is by Caroline Otto whose Doll Duds patterns are made available via Liberty Jane.  It relies for its appeal on a good contrast between the yoke material and the body of the dress.  Shona’s clothing season is Winter, so I picked a dark mauve for the yoke with an overall flower design on off-white for the main body of the dress.  These worked beautifully together and the yoke, side-panels and cuffs stand out well against the multiplicity of flowers on the contrast fabric.  As a finishing touch, a watering-can button with embroidered water droplets pours a refreshing drink onto the garden of flowers below.  Even Shona’s shoes – from Gotz – have flowers on them!

A refreshing drink for the flowers! Click to enlarge

A refreshing drink for the flowers!
Click to enlarge

The main challenge of this little dress was the need to be absolutely exacting about matching up the side-panel seams.  The impact of the dress would be very much reduced if the points of the side-panels didn’t line up properly, and it would be very easy to get this wrong.  So every seam has to be stitched accurately, so that all the pattern pieces stay in balance and the side seams are exactly the same length.  Quite a finicky business, but I’m glad to say that the points on the side-panels did line up very well for me.

While a Kit’s Couture creation is under construction, I try it for size on my model regularly to check everything is going to plan.  It was clear from very early on that Shona was going to look lovely in her new dress.  But as it neared completion, I wanted to add a little something extra to give it individuality – perhaps a distinctive button on the yoke?  I found a light mauve watering-can button in my button tin, and this seemed perfect: all those flowers would need watering, after all.  A few running stitches did duty as the water droplets streaming from the watering-can’s rose, and I knew the dress really was complete.  Shona looks stunningly pretty in it – the strong cool colours suit her dark colouring admirably, as does the ice-pink ribbon in her hair.