Tag Archive | trousers

Pretty Peplums

Pretty peplum tops and trousers in Spring colours

Pretty peplum tops and trousers in Spring colours

Rhiannon and Sophie are pleased to show you the first two outfits in the Kit’s Couture Spring collection, featuring two different styles of peplum top and some easy-to-wear Malibu pants for Rhiannon.  The outfits feature the colours of Spring, and so are modelled by two of my Spring girls.  They are made to fit the two most popular sizes of 18″ standing doll: the ‘sturdy’ American Girl, and the slim Kidz ‘n’ Cats.

Floral print with moss-green lace and soft pink buttons

Floral print with moss-green lace and soft pink buttons. Click to enlarge.

Sophie’s sleeveless and lined peplum top, which fastens at the back, is made with a pattern by Barbara Russell sized for Kidz ‘n’ Cats.  I was very impressed with the fit of this top, and with the very clear instructions for making up the garment.  The only change I made was to cut the peplum half an inch longer so that I could enclose the raw edge in a double-fold hem.

I chose a floral print in Spring colours, and embellished it with lace in an assertive moss-green which matches the stems of the flowers perfectly and stands out well from the busy print.  Between the two strips of lace I added three pale pink buttons which complete the decoration on the front.  The buttons are echoed at the back where two more pink buttons help to disguise the velcro fastening.

The top dresses up the Kit's Couture jeans perfectly. Click to enlarge.

The top dresses up the Kit’s Couture jeans beautifully.
Click to enlarge.

I toyed with the idea of making Sophie some more dressy trousers, but she’s an outdoorsy kind of girl and loves her jeans.  We both felt that the peplum top dressed them up just enough to be smart but comfortable.  She has finished off her outfit with Monique Baby Heart Cut shoes size 75/34 in light blue.

Peacock-blue print and Malibu pants. Click to enlarge.

Peacock-blue print and Malibu pants.
Click to enlarge.

Rhiannon wears a striking outfit where the peacock-blue of the Malibu pants is picked up by the wonderful Liberty peacock print of her peplum top.  The outfit is made using two separate patterns available from Pixie Faire: the Malibu Beach Cropped Pants from 123 Mulberry Street, and the Liberty Jane Peplum Top.  Both patterns are sized for American Girl and fit my modified (I reduced the size of her waist) Bonnie & Pearl girl well.  If making for a standard Bonnie & Pearl doll, check and adjust the waist measurements for both trousers and top as needed, as they tend to be thicker in the waist than American Girl.

Neatly tailored Malibu Pants with machine-embroidered cuffs. Click to enlarge.

Neatly tailored Malibu Pants with machine-embroidered cuffs.
Click to enlarge.

The Malibu pants pattern was excellent with very clear instructions, and I made it up with no problems at all.  I deliberately chose a plain-coloured poly-cotton for these trousers, as the material for the top was so busy and assertive that anything but a plain fabric would fight with it.  However, these trousers are not boring: they come with some nice design features like the big double-topstitched pockets and little double-topstitched mock-pocket flaps at the back.  The only decoration I added was a line of machine-embroidered cross-stitch around each cuff.

I made these trousers back in June 2014, nearly a year ago.  Why take so long to bring them to the blog?  Because my first attempt at a blouse was – frankly – not great.  I had the most gorgeous ‘Hera’ Tana lawn, and had made it up into a blouse gathered at the neck, waist and cuffs – an enlarged and modified version of Annika’s gathered blouse.  But I was never happy with it.  Rhiannon looked stiff and uncomfortable in the gathered style, and I couldn’t get any photos I felt happy with.  So finally I decided to re-cut the original blouse into a more fitted style.

Its second incarnation - much better than the first! Click to enlarge.

Its second incarnation – much better than the first!
Click to enlarge.

With the material salvaged from the gathered blouse, plus a small amount I had left over, I managed to find enough to cut out the body and waistband of the peplum top, and still place the ‘eyes’ of the peacock-feathers in a balanced way.  I used the remains of the Malibu pants fabric for the lining.

The top seemed as if it would be a bit long in the body for Rhiannon so I took a quarter-inch off the lower edge of the waistband.  For the peplum itself I had to join separate pieces in order to make a long enough strip of fabric.  To do this, I sewed my first-ever French seams!  They sit nicely on the hip at each side, aligned with the underarm seams, and almost look as if they were meant to be there.  The pattern calls for a zip to fasten it at the back, which would be my preference too, but at the time I had no suitable zip so decided to use the dreaded velcro once again.

This pattern called for very exact sewing around the neckline, and I was delighted to see that I had got the sweetheart neckline perfectly balanced and even.  I was very happy with the way the top turned out, and very pleased indeed to see how well it suited Rhiannon.  She has teamed her outfit with a sweet pearl-and-cameo necklace, which sets off the sweetheart neckline very nicely.  On her feet she wears some stripey summer sandals, just right for the warmer weather that we feel sure is just around the corner.

We'd like some warm weather please! Click to enlarge

“We’d like some warm Spring weather now, please!”
Click to enlarge

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Fine feathers make fine Maru

The first outfit from the Wren*Feathers patterns. Click to enlarge

Maru’s first outfit from the Wren*Feathers patterns.
Click to enlarge

Back in October, Jennie Bagrowski (jenwrenne) of the excellent Wren*Feathers blog, produced a wonderful collection of patterns for Maru and Friends.  Patterns for Maru are rare as hen’s teeth so I invested in the lot immediately!

I decided to make a simple version of the Versatility Pants, along with a tailored shirt with puffed sleeves and a curved hem, which I thought would look lovely in Tana lawn.

In my wardrobe I had a skirt which I had to accept I would never again be slim enough to wear…  The material was a luscious creamy light-gold brocade which would suit Maru perfectly, so I unpicked the skirt and used part of it to make some elegant trousers.

Luxurious - and upcycled from a human-sized skirt! Click to enlarge

Luxurious brocade  – upcycled from a human-sized skirt!
Click to enlarge

I have a tendency to sew slightly wider seams than patterns allow, so I cut a tiny bit more ease into the trousers just to make sure they would fit.  However this really wasn’t necessary and if I were making them again I would follow the pattern size exactly.  There’s not a lot to add, really, as the trousers made up easily and as I’d chosen the simplest variant, without pockets, they took no time at all.

With its collar, revers, puff sleeves and curved hem, plus a fair amount of top-stitching, the shirt was much more complex.  I made this up in the same Liberty Tana lawn as I’d used for the Hearts 4 Hearts dress during the Summer Sew-Along.

Maru glows in this Liberty print in autumn colours Click to enlarge

Maru glows in this Liberty print in autumn colours
Click to enlarge

Jennie’s patterns are accurate and come with very clear instructions.  With over 18 months’ experience of sewing for dolls behind me, I was happy to find I had very few problems making up this sweet little shirt.  The curved hemline was probably the most challenging part, but with care it came together as it should.  I have to admit that I did intend originally to make proper buttonholes, but fearful of spoiling the lovely material, I ended up fastening the shirt with poppers.

The two slight problems I did encounter were caused entirely by me not being absolutely exact with my seam allowances.  Because of this, I had to ease the side seams of blouse and sleeves slightly to get them to fit together; and when Maru tried on the blouse we found that one of the cuffs was too tight to fit around her arm.  Next time I make this style I will cut the cuff ¼” longer to allow for my over-generous seaming!

Maru is delighted with her new outfit.  The shirt is soft and comfortable to wear, and the trousers look great tucked into the tops of her suede ankle-boots.

I very much enjoyed making these garments for Maru, and am really looking forward to trying some of the other patterns in the Wren*Feathers Maru Collection.

 

 

 

Sew-along-a-summer

One of the blogs I follow is Wren*Feathers by Jennie Bagrowski, a very talented maker and designer of doll clothes.  This year she announced her Summer Sew-Along during June,  featuring patterns for 13″-14″ dolls.  As I’d just acquired little Liu, one of Las Amigas by Paola Reina, I decided to take part.  Everyone who entered would get the first pattern free, and then if they uploaded a photograph of their interpretation of that pattern to the Sew-along Flickr page, Jennie would send them the next week’s pattern free.  It would be quite pressurised, as I only have time and energy for sewing at the weekends, and later in June I was busy doing other things, but I thought I could at least do some of it.  So I sent in my name and received the first pattern in time for week 1.  This was for pants (or trousers, to us Brits!)

Week 1: Trousers for Liu

Liu models her new trousers and top. Click to enlarge.

Liu models her Wren*Feathers trousers and Liberty Jane t-shirt.
Click to enlarge.

Liu is a Winter girl, so I chose a fabric in hot pink and cool blue and white on black, and made frills and little bows in a matching hot pink.  Liu is 13″ tall so is at the smaller end of the scale for this pattern, so I had to tweak the waist slightly to fit her.  I followed Jennie’s instructions on how to make a little bows, and stitched these on the outside leg seams.  I’m not sure that these aren’t a bit much on such a tiny garment, but I left them for the purposes of the photoshoot.

Then I needed to make Liu a little top to fit, and as this wasn’t included in the Sew-along at this stage, I had to look elsewhere.  I’d noticed that Pixie Faire had just started to provide patterns for 13″-14″ dolls, like Les Cheries or Hearts for Hearts, so I checked these and found a free Liberty Jane pattern for a t-shirt.  I had some plain white knit fabric in my stash, which was ideal, so went ahead with that – and entered a hell of skipped stitches.  My machine does not like fine knits.  I stitched slowly, and tried stabilising the fabric with fine interfacing and tissue paper, but it was only marginally better.  In the end I did the best I could and then went over the stitching with hand-sewing to add in the missing stitches.

Still, I ended up with quite a nice little t-shirt for Liu, decorated with a little bow made from the trouser fabrics.  Again, I’m not sure about leaving the bow on this in the long term, but it does draw the two garments together very effectively.

Week 2: a dress for Ava

The Hearts for Hearts 14″ dolls are not readily available in the UK, except at rather inflated prices on Ebay and the like.  But in the run-up to the Sew-along these attractive dolls had caught my eye and I felt it would be useful to have one as a model.  So at some expense (to my horror the shipping, import and handling charges cost as much as the doll herself) I imported Shola, the Afghani girl, from the USA.  To avoid confusion with my 18″ girl Shona, she was swiftly renamed Ava, and temporarily joined the Kit’s Couture regulars in a guest capacity.  With her glorious hazel-green eyes, warm complexion and dark hair, Ava proved to be an Autumn girl, and I had just the right material to make her a stunning dress using the week 2 pattern.

The colours match Ava's eyes perfectly. Click to enlarge

The colours match Ava’s eyes perfectly.
Click to enlarge

 

This wonderful material in warm greens and browns is a Liberty Tana lawn, the first of several I’ve been working with over the summer, courtesy of my friend Christine.  It’s a joy to sew, fine but stable – no skipped stitches here!  Jennie’s pattern was easy enough to put together, in fact I enhanced it by lining the bodice for neatness and added stability.  The little gathered sleeves were a bit fiddly, but nothing I couldn’t manage.  The only problem I had with the finished dress was that it seemed too roomy at the waist for slender Ava.  Fortunately I had some narrow old-gold ribbon in my stash, and this tied in a bow at the waist did double service: it gave shape to the dress and set it off perfectly at the same time.  No need of any other trim.  Less is so often more.  I love this little dress.

Week 3: a pinafore dress for Liu

And so to week 3, which featured a ‘jumper’ pattern, what we in the UK would call a pinafore dress.  This seemed perfect for little Liu who I thought would look incredibly cute in it.  And so she does, posing here against my sewing box…

Liu's cool and pretty in her pinafore. Click to enlarge.

Liu’s cool and pretty in her pinafore.
Click to enlarge.

I chose a hot pink stripe fabric, cutting the pieces so that the stripes would run vertically on the dress, but horizontally on the straps.  I crossed the straps at the back, and instead of a pocket, which I thought would be a bit busy on such a small garment, I added two flower buttons at the points where the straps met the front.  I fastened it with velcro at the back.  With the little white t-shirt underneath it looks the perfect play-dress for a little girl on a hot summer’s day.

And here my participation in the summer sew-along had to end.  I received the pattern for week 4 but was too busy at the weekend to complete it.  So I had to let everyone else carry on without me.  But you can see all the many and various interpretations of all five Wren*Feathers sew-along patterns at the Summer Sew-along Flickr page.  Bravo to all those who took part – it was great fun!

 

Variations in Green 3: Annika

Annika loves her French couture (Click to enlarge)

Annika loves her French couture
(Click to enlarge)

Adorable pouty Annika models her pretty outfit of green crop trousers with a gathered blouse in a flowery summer print.  This third Variation in Green owes a great deal to the design skills of Vanina of Les Chéries de Vaniline, as I used her patterns for both parts of Annika’s outfit.   I may have mentioned before how I love Vanina’s designs, which are very chic and stylish.  With good design and well-chosen fabrics, I find there’s no need to go overboard on the trimming.  Good design speaks for itself.

The Pantacourt à Coulisses – Crop Trousers with Casings

Once again I used the green figured cotton fabric for these simple crop trousers, which are made special by the ribbon decoration.  On the outside of each leg, two vertical casings enclose ribbons which are secured at the waistband.  The ribbons run down through the casings and at the lower edge they are pulled up to gather the leg slightly, then tied in a bow.

I’m quite used to following pattern instruction in French now, so making these was a breeze.  Apart from the casings, which need to be carefully stitched so that they are regular and even from top to bottom, these little trousers were simple to make up.

Ribbons and lace add restrained decoration to the outfit (Click to enlarge)

Ribbons and lace add restrained decoration to the outfit
(Click to enlarge)

The Blouse Froncée – Gathered Blouse

For this blouse I chose a pretty summer print of cream-coloured cotton  decorated with tiny tulips in yellow, amber, orange and blue.  The green on the print matched the trouser fabric perfectly – a good start.

The simple pattern has just two pieces, a back and front, cut exactly the same, and a sleeve.  The sleeves are raglan cut.  The neckline is gathered into a casing for elastic.   This makes a smock-type garment which would swamp the model, but the final touch is a casing for a long draw-string which gathers up the blouse at the waist.  The casing is applied onto the body of the blouse, and positioning it is quite tricky.  It would be easy to place this too high, too low, or on the slant!  Luckily Vanina provides good online instructions, and following her guidance I positioned the casing 3cm below the armhole.  I also managed to keep it level, so that the results are just as I would wish.  Some cream cotton lace is carefully placed at the sleeve edge to form a broad but unfussy cuff.

The outfit is completed by a pair of yellow Classic Ankle Strap with Bow shoes from Monique, in size 75/34.

Meili's little sister Liu wanted to meet Annika's bunny (Click to enlarge)

Meili’s little sister Liu meeting Annika’s bunny
(Click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variations in Green 2: Meili

 

Meili in a mixture of Dutch and French designs

Meili in a mixture of Dutch and French designs

 

My second Variation in Green is my first attempt at an ensemble to fit Gotz Hannah.  Meili here is wearing trousers from Christel Dekker’s Goodnight Girl pattern, and her smock-top is made with a pattern for Kidz ‘n’ Cats from my favourite French designer, Vanina the author of Les Cheries de Vaniline blog.  Meili looks as if she is the same size as the sturdy-bodied 18″ dolls like American Girl or Gotz Precious Day, but her torso is almost as slim as the Kidz ‘n’ Cats and their patterns will fit her as long as the arms and legs are not too fitted.

The trousers

As throughout this Variations in Green series, I used a moss-green cotton fabric with a subtle overall leaf pattern for the trousers.  After my first attempt at these had turned out too tight, I enlarged the Goodnight Girl pyjama bottoms pattern by ¼” all round.  This time all went well and they fit Meili perfectly, with enough ease to allow her to sit down.  To add a a little decoration I sewed a small orange flower button on the outside of each ankle.  They are simple trousers but well-cut and look very good on the doll.  It was rather exciting trying to follow the German pattern (I had a choice of German or Dutch, neither of which I speak) but this is not a difficult garment and it was easy enough to put them together.

 

Lace and cuff details

Lace and cuff details

The Smock-top

The smock-top is made from Vanina’s pattern B for Kidz ‘n’ Cats and Maru, the blouse à col rond ou sans col.  This is ideal for Hannah dolls because it has generous-sized armholes and is sleeveless, so can accommodate their sturdy arms and large hands.

The gorgeous cotton fabric shows a variety of English spring flowers: snowdrops, winter aconites, primroses and forget-me-nots.  I am very grateful to my friend Christine who gave me this lovely remnant from her fabric stash.  There was just enough of it to cut out the top.  Imagine my horror, then, when I discovered that somewhere along the line I had managed to cut into the material and had a gash on the left front just below where it would be gathered into the yoke.  Luckily I have some special fusing powder in the cupboard for just such anxious moments, and with a hot iron, some greaseproof paper and a patch to back the cut I was able to mend it so that it was completely unnoticeable.

Apart from this small glitch, the top made up moderately easily.  This was a substantial cotton and a pleasure to work with.  I took care when cutting out to match the pattern so that the two snowdrops appeared right in the middle of the yoke, and again on the gathered skirt below.  I added a piece of white embroidered lace to emphasise the edge of the front yoke.  As I prefer, the lined yoke enclosed most of the raw edges and I used my new overlocking presser foot to zig-zag edge the side seams and lower armhole edges.  The top is so full-skirted that it needs very little fastening at the back.  I just put a popper up at the neck edge and it hung closed below that.  Another orange flower button hides the popper stitching and echoes the buttons at the trouser ankle.

To complete the outfit

Meili only needed some smart shoes to complete the outfit.  She chose some wonderful gold glittery Mary Janes which coordinate beautifully with her ensemble – such taste!

I love her in this outfit.  Her Asian toned-skin and big brown eyes are enhanced by the rich greens and warm yellows and golds of this second Variation in Green.

 

 

Variations in Green 1: Maru

Last summer I made myself a dress from some lovely moss green cotton fabric which had a subtle all-over leaf motif which is only visible up close.  There was a fair bit of this material left over and it seemed perfect for me to make some trousers for my Autumn girls, Meili, Annika and Maru.  Later on I used it once again to make a dress for a queenly new model who has recently joined the Kit’s Couture team.  So over the next days and weeks you will find a number of posts entitled Variations in Green.  Let’s begin with Maru who is wearing the first outfit I’ve made for her.

Maru in green

Relaxed and comfortable in crop trousers and a ‘tunique chasuble’

Maru is wearing some accidental trousers (I’ll explain in a moment) and a tunic made from a pattern by one of my favourite designers, Vanina from Les Chéries de Vaniline.  She has a range of very interesting designs for Kidz ‘n’ Cats and Maru and Friends.  The ‘robe chasuble’ is one of these, and the pattern offers several variations,  with or without collar, with or without a box pleat.  Maru wears it in its simplest ‘chasuble’ form, although I did manage to dress it up a little with a mandarin collar made of lace.

Greenvar02

The lace collar in detail

 

Here it looks as if the tunic is sitting too high above Maru’s shoulders, but it is actually resting on them.  Her shoulders really do slope at that sharp angle.  If you look at Vanina’s photographs, you can see even her shoulder seams float slightly above the tops of her models’ arms.

Another issue is that the pattern was designed for Kidz ‘n’ Cats, and although Vanina says in her ‘P’tite Ecole de Couture’ that she has modified it so it fits Maru and Friends, I have the older version of the pattern without those modifications.  Maru is ‘older’ than the Kidz, and where the Kidz have a flat chest, Maru has the definite beginnings of a bust, which seems to pull the armholes out of shape a little.  I had great difficulty getting a reasonable fit, and had to recut the armholes slightly.  I suspect Vanina has built in some more ease across the chest which would I think solve the problem of armhole gape.  Next time I will add ¼” to the width across each shoulder – or invest in another, Maru-friendly, version of the pattern!

Now to explain the ‘accidental’ trousers.  These were not originally intended for Maru.  I was working on an outfit for Meili, using a Dutch pattern for nightwear called ‘Goodnight Girl‘ the one and only sewing pattern for Gotz Hannah that I could find on the internet.  Granted I was struggling with the instructions (I had a choice of German or Dutch, neither of which I speak) but I had carefully printed it exactly to scale, and cut ¼” seam allowance extra, as you must with continental patterns.  To my disappointment the trousers turned out too tight for Meili.  I was at a loss to explain this poor fit, but it occurred to me that they might just fit Maru – and they did.  They are quite a snug fit around her tum, and of course her extra height is all in her legs so they are mid-calf rather than ankle length, but they look great on her.

Side view

Whimsical flourishes at hip and knee

To unify the ensemble I devised some little flourishes with some cream ribbon and lime-green flower buttons.  There is another lime-green button at the back, just below the neckline and the collar.  I had no more of the flower buttons so, although I dislike velcro, which seems designed to catch in hair and rip delicate fabrics to shreds, on this occasion I used it to fasten the back of the tunic.  I carefully put the hooky side of the velcro so that it faced outwards away from any delicate undergarments Maru might be wearing.

Maru’s shoes are from Monique, the Girl Dress Shoe (733), size 65/27 which is quite a good fit for Maru’s tiny feet.  Her hair is held in place by two orange hair claws from the Gotz hair stylist set.

So how do I feel about my first efforts at dressmaking for Maru?  Well, it wasn’t as easy as I expected, but I learned a lot from the problems of fit, and I’m sure next time I’ll be better prepared to deal with fitting clothes to Maru’s rather difficult torso.  I do think she looks charming in the outfit, and the moss green and amber shades suit her admirably.

 

Summer’s end: crop cargoes and halter-neck

The first of Kit’s Couture’s two new girls, Elisabeth, models a pretty end-of-summer ensemble: cropped cargoes from a pattern by Heritage Doll Fashions, teamed with a halter-neck top from Rosie’s Doll Clothes.

Cargoes and halterneck

Crop cargoes and halterneck.
Click to enlarge

I chose two different lots of fabric for this outfit.  I teamed a light summer blue with a pretty print in summer blues and greens, both of which suit Elisabeth very well.  She has teamed her outfit with some pink peep-toe shoes from Gotz, and wears an Alice band in the same summer print in her hair.

I began with the halter-neck top which was quite straightforward to put together.  As usual Rosie’s video tutorials were crystal-clear and in an hour or so I had made a loose-fitting top firmly gathered into the halter-neck which ties around the neck with a bow.  The body of the top fastens at the back with velcro.  Of course the halter-neck style does expose Elisabeth’s ragdoll shoulders.  She’s a Precious Day girl by Gotz, and they’ve given her a rather yellow-toned body fabric which isn’t terribly flattering, so for her photos I’ve styled her hair to disguise this.  American Girl have chosen a better colour for their dolls’ bodies so this top would look better on them – and fantastic on Madame Alexander Favorite Friends which have a vinyl shoulder-plate instead.  Nevertheless I’m very pleased with the style and hang of this little top.  The gathers make it fall in pleasing folds at the front.

Pocket details

Pocket details – complete with buttonholes!
Click to enlarge

The cropped cargoes pattern was crying out for a two-colour approach: a plain colour for the main body of the trousers and the patterned print for the pockets and the waist tie.  The instructions from Heritage Doll Fashions were full and fairly easy to follow with good illustrations.  Challenges in this pattern were the top-stitching – there’s a huge amount of it in double-rows, all of which needs to be evenly spaced; and the buttonholes which I tackled for the first time ever.  Each of the cargo pockets are fastened with a button and buttonhole, and the tie belt emerges from the waistband through buttonholes also.  So I did a fair bit of experimentation with my buttonhole foot and settings before I plucked up the courage to actually work on the garment itself.  To my relief everything went smoothly and the finished garment has two fully-functional button-closed pockets, two good deep front pockets, and two smaller back patch pockets, great for storing all the treasures Elisabeth finds when she’s playing outside in the late summer sunshine.

The quality of this outfit encourages me to do what I’ve been planning on for some time, once my sewing skills were up to it: start to sell my outfits online.  So in a week or so, I hope to offer this ensemble for sale, probably on Ebay.  It’s a new venture, and I’ve no idea what sort of a market there is out there for American Girl clothes in the UK, but online shops like Petalina are selling a good number of 18″ dolls to UK customers, so I feel it’s worth dipping my toe in the water and putting some creations from Kit’s Couture out there.

Kit and the girls are excited and rather nervous about this new venture – and so am I.  Wish us luck!