Sew Crafy

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter White proves a Delectable Delight!!

Congratulations AGAIN, Lori Lyon!!!!! Your Audrey-styling put you on top once more, and we couldn't be more happy for you! Your superb construction and attention to details captured not only the win from the judges, but a greater appreciation of your work from fans and onlookers alike!

And, you won the prize despite fierce contenders!

This blogmeister viewed a lot of entries as possible winners this time! But it would not be fair for me to point out my preferences, because the truth is it's obvious each of the entrants researched their character, looked for appropriate fabrics and designs, and went with what their artistic spirit thought was right - and that is the very reason this competiton exists. So kudos specifically to you, Lori, and also to all the designerss who are successful just for having put themselves through this process! Celebrate!!

Have we all gone MAD, or is it just a series??

Mad Men fashion designer Janie Bryant is on a whirlwind ride that I'm sure she doesn't want to get off of. The line she's created for this award-winning television series has caused a stir in the fashion world, and now one of our guest judges wants us to explore her early 60s inspired designs, and come up with the perfect cocktail dress. What fun!

So what are we looking for? We're inevitably looking for the designs of the Camelot era. However, think Jackie O. rather than Marilyn from what I've observed so far on the show. Yes, this was a time when you didn't necessarily have to bare it all to be sexy. Whether a design featured a swishy skirt or a tight sheath, these kinds of dresses covered all the right areas - BUT were fitted so perfectly they screamed out the woman wearing this has curves - and is definitely sexy!

Fabrics for this style clothing may not be too hard to find, either, considering the enthusiasm this line has had. When checking out your local fabric store, ask if they have something that "feels" retro! And, if all else fails, this era's ladies were always open to being dressed in a bit of dupioni. Also, this might be the time to take a trip to your local thrift. Maybe everyone isn't cognizant of the allure of these fashions..........yet!

And the last bit of advice I'd offer is to take a moment to actually watch one of the shows or check out the internet for a bevy of stills available of the costumes. Then get with it - time's a wastin'! Good luck, fashionistas!!

This week's judge, Steven Fraser, is the very talented President of Masterstroke Canada, and the designing force behind Dressmaker Details and Dressmaker Details Couture. Masterstroke Canada sells the world's finest ribbons and trims. These popular items have gained quite a bit of notoriety through its sales at, and features on HGTV, House & Home, Style at Home, Home &, and Lucky Magazine.

The Dressmaker Details brand began when Steven realized the need for smaller ribbons because of the many requests he received from doll artists. He decided to offer both ribbon and notions for dollers of all ages. He is quite enthusiastic to see children entering the doll world and creating; he feels this is a good way for them to improve their dexterity and eye-hand coordination. This line now also offers notions.

Dressmaker Details Couture represents the fine quality fashions you will find in any couture house in Paris. It is literally a return to a bygone era of quality doll fashions. No detail is overlooked, and each outfit is made from the finest materials. Steven truly evokes memories of a most sophisticated time! The focus of Steven's line is 50's style, making him the perfect judge for our competion!?!

Now that all our important information for this blog session has been done, I'd like to mention the obvious. When we finish this challenge we'll only have one more challenge and the contest will be over - my how time flies! But first we're going to take a little break to enjoy the holidays. And, if you have any time you may want to look over your collection and pat yourself on the back for all you have done! Celebrate new things you have learned, and be happy you've been a part of such a fine competition. Come back fresh for the final challenge with the peace and happiness a holiday brings.

Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you that whatever you believe in, and whatever you celebrate - have fun, enjoy your family, eat hearty, and drive safely when you imbibe!!

Happy Holidays, everyone!!

This delectable concoction is the handiwork of Chewin - doesn't he make the perfect holiday postcard...........and eye candy. (Currently on eBay)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

RED rules the CARPET!!

Congratulations Louos Osman!!! I can honestly say I could NOT call this one. First, we have had verrrrrrrrrry unpredictable (but good) judges throughout; and second, there was again stiff competition charging up that red aisle!

I have to admit, though, that I loved this design and the styling. Viewing this doll posed at the podium I could almost see her giving her acceptance speech. Also, I love to see a woman embrace her feminine style without exposing everything, and this gown proved that it could be done. It was low cut in a desired way, and the embroidery and beading were exquisite - what more could a doll/actress want. Watch out Rachel Zoe!! I sincerely hope your celebrity clientele missed this challenge - because these fashions aren't available in people size.........yet.

Our next challenge embraces the stylings of an actress quite familiar with the Red Carpet - the incomparable Audrey Hepburn! At first, I had thought that introducing you to dolls made after her likeness might be the key to understanding what we need to produce. However, this is not the "make an Audrey doll and reproduce clothing she wore" challenge! Therefore, what we may want to look at is the fashions of Audrey - and not necessarily the most popular ones.

To go in this direction least travelled may require a real clear description for the judges. However, blazing trails is generally worth it. So let's go!

First of all, Hepburn has often been called one of the most beautiful women of all time, and her fashion style is truly impeccable. However, although she enjoyed fashion, she didn't necessarily place a lot of importance on it.

In "real life" she seemed to prefer casual, comfortable clothes. Like many fashion icons she kept it simple, preferring clean lines and clothes that emphasized her tall and slim physique.

Stripes were prevalent, and sometimes even muted colors snuck in among the most favored white and black used by her movie designers. Of course, the Breakfast at Tiffany's little black dress dominated for its simplicity, but sometimes she'd even pair it with bold jewelry for a different (exquisite) look. Capri pants were something she made famous in Sabrina and Funny Face, and continued to like in her private wardrobe. Fashionistas of her day said whatever color you choose, you'll look oh-so Audrey!

And, her ballet years spoke loudly in the graceful nuances of her clothing -- even encompassing ballet-type slippers which she seemed to wear with everything – dresses, pants, Capri pants, etc. And, although she loved feminine clothes, she knew how to pull off a men's inspired look flawlessly. She especially favored button-down men’s shirts, trenchcoats, turtlenecks, perfect handbags, and even a shorter haircut!

Givenchy was her favored designer, but he wasn't the only one that designed lovelies for Ms. Hepburn. Edith Head actually won two Oscars for costume design in Roman Holiday and Sabrina, and was nominated with Givenchy for Funny Face and Breakfast at Tiffanys. So research into the types of stylings these designers used for our muse may prove informative.

And, even a study of her latter years may prove interesting for not only studying her fashions, but also how she became a true humanitarian! But whatever inspiration we choose, let's strive always to stay true to our own style! Good luck, fashionistas!

So what of the judge for this challenge? I can't imagine a better one than mega-talented designer, Randall Craig -- the creative talent behind
Randall Craig Couture and RTW clothing for fashion dolls.

I actually went and researched this talented designer several years ago, after receiving a gift of a sweater set he had designed! I felt like this came from someone with REAL fashion runway experience, and I was correct!

Mr. Craig earned his Associates of Art degree at Miami International University of Art and Design, and then proceeded to launch a variety of his own clothing lines. In September 2002, he debuted Choic, a collection of trendy men's tops. He has worked with some of the best, including Perry Ellis! His fashion show experience includes such biggies as Saks, Badgley Mishka, Vogue, and Neiman Marcus.

Raised in New Mexico, Randall came to fashion dolls at an early age and quickly began making hand-sewn outfits for them! When he received his first sewing machine at age 5, he was able to better fashion his designs! Today he markets his custom-made fashion doll creations under the name Randall Craig Couture. His most ambitious collection to date, Randall Craig RTW (Ready-to-Wear) for 1/6 scale fashion dolls, was met with enthusiastic response when it hit the market in early 2004, and his designs continue to sell out immediately!

As president of Randall Craig Inc., he is head of design for his signature RTW line for fashion dolls.

The RTW collection is now carried by retailers across the United States, in Canada, and Japan, and has graced the pages of Fashion Doll Quarterly, Haute Doll, Contemporary Doll Collector, Doll Reader, and Barbie Bazaar.

In fact, Randall has held the position of Fashion Editor for our highlighted sponsor on!!

What a thrill to have Fashion Doll Quarterly (FDQ) as our sponsor! Yes, that's correct!! The sponsor I'm priviledged to highlight this month is FDQ...THE FASHION DOLL MAGAZINE for those in the know! FDQ is not only the quarterly magazine that many of us can't wait to see in our mailboxes January, April, July and October; but it is also THE magazine that has been able to deliver many convention special editions! But, most importantly to us at CDDC, FDQ will be THE only magazine that will showcase our winner - what an honor!

FDQ began publication in October of 2003; and their editor, Pat Henry, says we have just as much excitement to look forward to in the coming years as we have in the past. Those following the magazine will be excited to know that soon there may be freestanding print issues or virtual issues on USB or available as downloads! Of course, readers will continue to be able to take out subscriptions from their website as well as purchase singles at their local Barnes & Noble or Borders bookseller. Starting a subscription is as easy as accessing their website.

For an example of this marvy mag, let's peek inside the latest edition. This Fame Edition focuses on the world of celebrity dolls; specifically, those celebrity dolls created by our community's artists. I was thrilled to see this topic discussed by the best in the business - Noel Cruz, Laurie Leigh and Jenny Sutherland - who also created the recreated characters on the cover!

Alex Forbes delights with her take on "The Devil Wears Prada" featuring the doll world's Robert Tonner while MaryAnn Roy introduces us to the doll version of the immensely popular tv series, "Madmen." And, if that weren't enough, there is a feature on our favorite events including Hollywood Ahoy and the International Fashion Doll Convention! All in all, another stellar edition!

Also, all of us at CDDC know that our pictures can make or break our scores in the challenges. So, I was really delighted when I discovered Pat Henry's fantastic take on fashion doll photography, FDQ: In Focus, Digital Photography for the Doll Collector.

This book covers everything from selecting cameras to setting up your photo studio, and many other wonderful tidbits. Take a test drive by checking out the FREE preview located here. I'm sure you'll need this in your fashion library!!!

Thanks, Fashion Doll Quarterly Magazine, for stepping up to the fashion plate for CDDC!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ooops, she did it again!!

Congrats to..........

Emilia Nieminen

for taking the
for a second time!!

I’m really proud for Emilia to have taken first place for the latest CDDC challenge. However, this is the first time I can’t say I picked a definitive winner. Yes, the designers have definitely stepped up their game! There were several designs that would merit consideration for first place, so I didn’t envy the judges their job in deciding this one!

I think what could have been the deciding factor – besides the cutting edge design – were the very appropriate accessories. They weren’t merely the icing on the cake, they fit so well they became a part of it, and added to the overall appeal of this outfit! So, fashionistas, it is now more imperative than ever to develop the total package if you hope to conquer that first place position – get with it!!

And, what kind of styling will be appropriate for the current challenge?? What do we need to put our doll on the best-dressed, rather than worst-dressed list of red carpet regals? Well, that’s a little harder to decide than you might imagine. Popular designs have included everything from modern to vintage, all colors, and styles that have been both slinky as well as full-skirted! Therefore, I think we have to look at the criteria a stylist uses. They ultimately try to pick a dress or ensemble that fits their celebrity. So, would it not follow that more than ever picking an appropriate model for our garment may be the key to winning the judge’s favor!?!

Of course, this is just your blogmeister’s opinion – what criteria YOU use will depend on YOUR vision of what constitutes a modern-day gown that will make everyone go oooooooooh instead of ughhhhhhhhh like they did when they saw some of the not-so-desireable fashions I’ve featured that have actually gone down the red carpet!

Good luck on this one!! Although I am quite confident that the CDDC artists could beat the examples shown here even if they were having a bad day!

Sometimes it beads that way!!

Jim Faraone – OOAK artist, IFDC’s Visionary, and our guest judge this challenge!!

It's hard to think about fashion dolls, especially the smaller-sized OOAK (one of a kind) ones, without thinking of Jim Faraone. He became involved with fashion dolls in 1980, but had always been an avid doll collector. His collection numbers over 3,000 and includes many kinds of dolls. On top of that he collects paper dolls, miniatures, paper toys, 40's and 50's plastic dollhouse furniture, metal dishes, and autographed celebrity photos. With all that collecting, we can only wonder how, in 1987, he began making OOAK dolls! And, not just any kind of OOAK dolls – Jim’s OOAKS are beaded wonders!

Jim didn't stop at making OOAK dolls, though. No, he began to
chronicle his process and produced the final version in book form. To date he has had six books published; five in the series of Fashion Doll Makeovers, Learn from the Artists; and one titled Ultimate Fashion Doll Makeovers, Tips from the Experts. Jim has also published his own quarterly publication on paper dolls titled "Paper Doll Pal."

He was trained as an artist at The School of Visual Arts in New York City, and his artwork has been on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The doll world has also been privy to his artwork in two editions of the UFDC publication, "Doll News," and when it has been used as souvenirs at various conventions. His articles on the Barbie® doll and paper dolls have appeared in "Contemporary Doll Collector," and he has also appeared on several television news segments and in newspapers. He'd love to have the opportunity to present his and other artist's work on national television.

Yes, he’s well known in the collecting field and has been actively involved with many of the conventions where he has organized and run the Artist Galleries. But his heart now belongs to his own convention, the International Fashion Doll Convention, currently held in Las Vegas in the summer. This convention not only offers several days of fun with other doll friends, it is also a venue for some of the most informative workshops, a marvelous showcase for artist’s work, and a place where new fashion dolls have been unveiled!

Jim is a true artist’s friend who has worked diligently to see that new work of professional and non-professional artists is displayed. He is an avid believer in supporting the artists and giving them the recognition they deserve. Hopefully we will all benefit by the critiques given by this caring artist!!

Mel Odom recently marked the end of an era….an era focusing around a fashion doll with an old Hollywood vibe. Yes, when he published his farewell letter on the HEA BLOG last Friday, it was infinitely clear he was ready to retire Ms. Gene and move on; it was indeed the end of an era! So, what can we do, fellow fashionistas, but thank him for giving us the doll that, IMHO, began the 16 inch fashion doll craze!!

This doll was not only the darling of the repaint artists; she was also a dressmaker’s dream!! From this doll, repaint artists such as Laurie Leigh, Viktoria LaPaz, Terry Norcia and others too numerous to mention, brought new and old stars and other characters to life with their beautiful repaints; and doll pattern makers began a renewed interest in their craft not seen since the arrival of Barbie.

But what was especially interesting about this fashion doll was that Mr. Odom began the fashion designing reign for her through a group of high schoolers with a not-so-simple design competition!!! The contest culminated with a presentation called “Fashions Designed with a Doll in Mind” at Westwood College, presented in conjunction with Santa Barbara High School and Ashton-Drake Galleries, and featured fashions designed exclusively for Gene!

It was 1997, and under the watchful eye of their teacher, Kasia Stefanek, the students began their task shortly after being given the guidelines for creating their outfit. They went through a rigorous study plan that included: historical costume research; creating a portfolio of multiple drawings and designs; pattern making and draping; textile and trim field trips; creating an actual garment; completing the design; and accessorizing and styling the hair. Once their garment was complete, a full color illustration had to be completed; they had to create a story explaining Gene’s character in their design; and they had to write the actual description of their garment.

But their efforts certainly paid off – two of the designs in the 1997 Gene line were a result of this competition! They were produced by Shelley Rinker and Michelle Gutierrez. Another design, by Nicole Burke, made its debut in the 1998 line!

In fact, when I caught up with Shelley Rinker recently she said she had not heard about Mr. Odom’s decision, but did find it rather ironic because she had recently been looking over her Gene doll and reminiscing about her experience.

Neither Shelley nor I had found anything to suggest any other students had gone into doll work, but she certainly had! After finishing high school, Shelley went on to graduate from the Otis College of Art and Design. Then she worked as an Intern for Mattel's mainline and games/puzzles divisions, did a stint as Sr. Girl's Product Designer for Lanard Toys, Inc., and is currently the Sr. Development Designer at MGA Entertainmmment, Inc. She is enthusiastic about her job, and has worked on several projects at MGA; she says her current work is on the BFCInk line which consists of some charming girl-type dolls as well as their fashions. You can read more about this line at

Shelley told me she had produced the outfit called Sparkling Seduction, and that Michele Gutierrez was responsible for King's Daughter, but she wasn't sure which outfit Nicole Burke had been responsible for - perhaps Destiny?? She said she remembered her work on the Gene doll fondly, and that the contest "totally opened me up to the whole doll line, and is probably the reason I have the job I do today!"

What a wonderful legacy Mel Odom has given not only to the teenagers in the original program, but to the entire world of fashion dolls!! We are honored his artistic talents poured over into our hobby!

But rest assured, he will have no problem in whatever phase of artwork he decides to pursue now. For Mr. Odom’s work has been shown at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and the Society of Illustrators, and he is the two-time recipient of the Award of Excellence from the Society of Illustrators. His art has appeared on the covers of Time and Omni magazines and frequently appeared in the New York Times Magazine. Goodbye, Mr. Odom, we appreciate both you and your doll, and wish you well in all your new endeavors!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sometimes More is MORE!!

Emilia Nieminen sets the bar a little higher - congrats on winning Challenge 3!

I can’t help but believe when each of us opened the pictures to view this designer’s vision, we knew immediately we were previewing something very special. Without knowing exactly what she meant to convey with her design, it was clear to the viewer’s eye that great care and thought was given in the presentation of not only the outfit but also the doll – who knew the base doll was really an Antoinette??

But it was in the reading of her description that we were actually allowed a little peek into the mind of this superb artist. How interesting that she would channel the surreal costumes of Eiko Ishioka to present us with a modern day Amazonian-type warrior whose outfit pushed the envelope all the way to haute couture!?! Fine corsetry with boning, delicate ruching, beading, and unique construction had all succeeded in pulling together the “epitome of perfect embellishments” this challenge demanded.

How lucky were we then that she not only chronicled her journey in her blog, but also found time to gift us with a tutorial for the sandals she made, and to provide us with a play by play pictorial in her Flickr album!

Thank you, Emilia, for reminding us of the wonderful, giving spirit of the talented artists in the doll community! And thank you to all the artists who presented us with eye candy this challenge – job well done!!

Back to reality….” do not play it safe, and don’t bore me!” Rob Thompson

By now we are about halfway into Challenge Four, a challenge mandated by our guest judge, Rob Thompson, demanding to see edgy fashion! He wants us to not only think out of the box, but to get out of it completely – yes, he wants us to go to that wonderful place of avant garde!

The challenge is to create a casual Avant Garde outfit – what the? Well, here in his own words he gives us some insight:

“I look at the word casual in this challenge to mean you don’t have to make a formal gown, I would focus attention on the edgy and avant-garde aspect of the challenge. The casual part opens the challenge up to everything from pants, shorts, blouses, dresses, coats, so you have tons of options...And don’t forget accessories, you can use hats, gloves, belts, amazing shoes and boots.”

But he cautions, “You can buy a Versace jogging suit, but it is still just a jogging suit. I think there are various levels of casual, from what you would wear to the grocery store, to what you would wear to a party…you can make anything work with imagination and creativity. So if you want to make a jogging suit, just make it interesting, edgy, and avant-garde. You will have to determine your own definition of edgy and avant-garde…Each designer is going to have to do some research to decide what avant-garde means to them….The other judges have their own definitions as well, so in the end make something you love and feel is interesting!”

Rob also SUGGESTED the stylings of Alexander McQueen as an EXAMPLE of avant garde work. But do not get caught up in this one designer if you are not comfortable emulating things from his style. Most of the major fashion houses do some form of avant garde – it will be your task to decipher which suits you best! Case in point are the beautiful fashions featured here from the 2008 Museo Capucci Collection presented in Florence, Italy.

My wish for all of us would be that we have as much fun creating our work as we see in this video of Leigh Buchanan presenting his Finale Collection for Project Runway Australia!

And, who better to take us down the Avant Garde path, than this OOAK doll artist and designer who makes small limited editions, Rob Thompson. He’s not only designed his own doll; Hana; and doll fashions for Dolly Style Dolls, a Japanese doll line, but he has also done limited edition Susie's for R&D Dolls; Manika, Momoko dolls for Tom's Toys and Goods in Japan; and Misaki doll for BIC and Dolly Style Magazine, both in Japan. He sells his dolls under his business name of Robsdolls through several Japanese doll shops as well as his own website and at different doll conventions and events. He is also looking forward to teaching a workshop at the 2010 IFDC on the “Japanese Esthetic – various street fashions and hair styles,” is busy producing his own how to DVD on rerooting, and will be opening an Etsy store soon featuring some of his newest fashions.

His work has been featured in numerous magazines including Dolly Style magazine in Japan, FDQ (Fashion Doll Quarterly), and Barbie Bazaar. Look for his feature articles to begin appearing in FDQ in the Spring. There he’ll not only be giving us some insight into how he creates, but he’ll also be doing articles and interviews with his friends who also happen to be doll artists.

Rob has already demonstrated his giving nature on the CDDC Board through his instructional posts. And his giving nature extends to charity auctions. Rob regularly collaborates with Randall Craig RTW for the IFDC convention charity auction, and with Steven from Dressmaker Details for the Barbie Convention charity auction. His love of the work is apparent, and these collaborations have produced some of the highest selling auctions at these venues!

You’d think with all these accomplishments Rob has always belonged to the doll world, but he only began his OOAK customizations in 2000. He originally attended Marshall University, majoring in broadcast communications and minoring in art.

He actually began his career as a radio DJ in college, and worked in various positions before settling on tech support at such companies as Xerox, Morgan Stanley, and GE.

But when he was diagnosed with sarcoidoisis and found himself physically unable to return to work in 2004, he still needed an outlet to support himself. The doll world got a great OOAKster when he turned his hobby into a business!!

For more information, take time to visit Rob's venues: Robsdolls,
Rob's Blog
and Rob's Flickr Page.

A word from our sponsor..............

If you’re a Challenge winner, you are going to be getting an additional treat! Lyn Waring will let you pick out a sloper of your choice from her website to use in your designing! (Email Larraine to claim your prize.) Be sure to click the link above to see all the wonderful products she makes!!

has been making these slopers and other instructional items for dolls since 2001 when she had a chance "meeting" with Bill Jones online, and he asked her to make a dress form for Barbie. And she’s no novice to sewing; in fact her interest began as a child. As a teen she wanted to continue her education in dressmaking, but her lack of funds allowed for something a bit more practical at that time, Hartils Business College. Lyn hated that school, but over the years Lyn pursued education like an adventure, and here is her continuing educational background:

-Claremont, Perth & Bentley Technical College Western Australian institute of Technology
(Curtin University), 1980 Associate Diploma Art (Craft/Textiles)
-West Australian Institute of Technology (now Curtin University), 1990 Certificate Apparel Design Manufacture - Bentley College of T.A.F.E.

When she began her involvement with fashion dolls, 2001,Western Australia hadn’t heard of ‘fashion dolls’ except for Barbie and Ken. Lyn’s collection, other than Barbie, began with a trade for patterns with Bill where she received a Gene doll. But today she admits to having a few more. A girl “needs” dolls for making accurate patterns, doesn’t she? And could that have been her admitting, “It is too scary to think about all the dolls I have – fashion dolls are ‘contagious’”!

One of my favorite things Lyn has produced are her books about hats.Her love of pattern cutting and making hats led her to produce two books! Hats Made Easy, published in 1996, came first, and was actually a book for making hats for real life dolls (people).

But the book I found charming dollwise was the one she published in 1999, Hats in Miniature. This book was the result of her time spent actually traveling around teaching how to make hats. She began making smaller versions of different hats as samples because these would fit easily in her suitcases and would prove less a burden to her luggage costs.

From front cover to the back, it is a must have for doll sewers who like to make unique accessories for their dolls, but it is out of print. However, Lyn has reedited, extended and updated it in a self published EBook,
Hats for Fashion Dolls. This EBook not only includes all the hat designs from her original book, but now is more fashion doll-oriented, and includes designs in 16 sizes! There is also an updated version available for people who previously purchased the original book.

Lyn’s love of all things pattern and textiles has continued throughout her career by her being awarded grants and working as Artist-In Residence in1981 at Gascoyne Region, Western Australia for the W.A. Arts Council , and in 1982 at Primary School for the W.A. Crafts Council.

Her awards include
-1988 Moora Wool Craft Awards - Award for Weaving

-1990 Young Designers Fashion Awards - Australian Wool Corporation - State Finalist "Most highly commended for expert use of hand woven woollen fabric."

-1993 New England Awards - Open Design - evening wear (2nd.) Supreme Award - runner up.

Today Lyn enjoys her doll work and swimming in the early morning; she is an ocean swimmer who keeps young with this exercise 365 days of the year. Thanks for participating, Lyn, and we hope this will keep you fit, healthy, and generally enjoying your dolly-influenced life for a long time!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Steppin' Style!

"I won Challenge 2- I am in complete awe- because there were some really good designs there. I’m happy, especially since I went so back and forth with this design. I guess you should always stay true to your design aesthetic and inspiration. It paid off." ~ Lori Lyon

Again, I was not surprised when I saw Challenge 2's winner was Lori Lyon! Not that everyone didn't step it up for this challenge - kudos to all the designers. But, since this challenge was inspired by the shoes of it just had to know this special pair made by the designer would not escape the judges. This, coupled with a stunning Dior-inspired outfit fashioned from gold/rose crossdye cotton and gold micro sequined mesh, rocked our runway!!

If you'd like to read more about Lori Lyon and her process, be sure to check out her very informative blog.

And, getting back to allllll the designers....I'd like to take a moment to appreciate how professional and courteous each and every designer in CDDC is! It's not easy to put forth your vision each challenge! Harder still is facing the judges - with the added pressure of internet time to get your comments back. Those who choose to take this process for what it is intended learn and grow from it - and I think you are all doing a fine job at that. Thanks for a stellar challenge with scrumptious eye candy!!!

And speaking of those judges..........this week I'm featuring one of our regular judges; well actually a pair. These two sisters make up 1/4 of each designer's points. They are Janet Ellis and Diana Wieler, and are sisters who work together under the name of La Boutique. Their designs have been featured in Haute Doll Magazine and Fashion Doll Quarterly, and they are best known for their Purse of the Month Club.

Janet is the seamstress/ garment designer of the pair and Diana is the accessorist who makes the leather handbags and shoes. Although the two have been collaborating on doll ensembles since 2003, it was four years ago -- in 2005 -- that the sisters found their niche with the Purse of the Month Club.

Each month Diana recreates a well-known designer handbag in miniature, and Janet designs the doll garments to complement it. Customers on the mailing list can choose from the purse, fashion separates or a complete ensemble for their girls. Recently, the sisters have expanded their repertoire to include sizing for the 16" beauties.

Janet has been professionally trained in tailoring, and half the year works at the well-known Shaw Festival Theatre, leading one of the costuming teams. Diana has long experience in both miniatures and leatherwork. Together they share an almost-fanatical attention to detail, and admiration of the designers who make the world of fashion so much fun.

If you'd like to see more of their work, check out their Picturetrail album.


BREAKING NEWS - Today we are pleased to announce a new sponsor, The Tonner Doll Company. How could we go wrong with a company whose motto is Believe in the Power of Play®?? It is, indeed, hard to imagine all the many wonderful characters under this company's widespread umbrella not being in our lives (and our doll cabinets)! How exciting that our first place winner and runnerup will receive their Private Affair Tyler and Dancing With Carlos Sydney!!

Robert Tonner, the driving force behind this company, is no stranger to the world of couture. Freshly graduated from Parsons School of Design, Tonner was invited to join Bill Blass, and soon became one of the company’s top designers. And, unless you were living on a deserted island, you knew his name - he was regularly featured in Women’s Wear Daily, Town & Country, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and Vogue. He had a “contemporary classic” view of how a modern American woman should dress then, and still does today. He shared his fashion vision when he decided to go into the collectible business.

In 1982, due to his love of doll collecting, Robert decided to try his hand at doll sculpting. His efforts were rewarded when , in 1985, he received a glowing review, from an esteemed panel of judges at the National Institute of American Doll Artists Conference in NYC, for a model-like fashion doll he had entered for critique. From there he turned more of his attention to his doll designs, and in 1991 he left the fashion industry.

His decision was rewarded, and here are a few of the things he has accomplished:

-His creations added to the permanent collection of the Louvre Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, France

-Partnering with Miramax Fims, he created dolls based on the films‘Chicago’ and ‘Ella Enchanted’

-Paramount Pictures’ Dreamgirls continued his trend of beautifully costumed dolls inspired by the cinema

-Developed character figures based on the movie from Summit Entertainment,TWILIGHT

-Worked with Warner Bros. on its Harry Potter™ Collection, The Wizard of Oz™ and DC Comics’ DC STARS™ Collection featuring famous DC Super Heroes such as Supergirl™, Wonder Woman™ and Superman™.

-Teamed with Marvel Comics to introduce licensed likenesses from the film, Spiderman 3, in a complete character figure collection

-Released new collections based on Disney film properties Pirates of the Caribbean and the Chronicles of Narnia.

-Purchased the Effanbee Doll Company and its rich legacy as one of America’s oldest doll companies.

-Has served as standards chairman and president of the National Institute of American Doll Artists (NIADA).

-Regularly aligns his company and creative spirit with a variety of charitable initiatives including the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR), England’s Action against Addiction and Broadway Cares/Equity Fighting AIDS.

Tonner’s top line, Tyler Wentworth®, is based on the life of a New York City fashion designer and her exquisite wardrobe; and she is the doll that has brought many fashion doll collectors to the Tonner Doll Company initially. But what made them stay was the ever-evolving fashionistas including different ethniticities and sizes - all with those wonderful Tonner-inspired fashions. In fact, he even designed a special doll, Antoinette, especially to be used as a mannequin. Her face is blank, so she is also a favorite of repaint artists! Yes, Tonner certainly continues to stay on the fast-track of dolldom even after being in this business for 18 years.

One of the most fun things Tonner fans enjoy is his fun-filled doll covention. Don't miss this event scheduled for May 2010 in Lombard, IL! For more information about this great doll company or registration for the convention be sure to check out the official Tonner website and be sure to check out Tonner Direct for actual doll purchases. If you sign up for their email list you will always be in the know! Thanks, Tonner Doll Company, for supporting CDDC!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Anybody seen my bedazzler????

Challenge 3 may seem easy at first glance. Magalie Dawson is our guest judge this challenge. Our clue is Embellished - Our guest judge this week is known for her fabulous embellishments. Use your creative skills to create an outfit that is the epitome of perfect embellishment.

Well, let's see how easy it is. After all, the dictionary explains both of the keywords quite simply:

epitome = typical or ideal example

embellishment = a decorative or fanciful detail that makes something beautiful

So all we have to do is add a detail that is the ideal example of something that makes a garment beautiful - right?? Could it really be quite that easy?? Somehow the word challenge doesn't suggest easy to me!

You see, fashion has its own unique considerations when defining things. Also, people differ by taste on what they would consider the epitome of anything - especially in fashion. Therefore, when designing garments, a designer needs to be aware of what dictates the proper use of embellishments. From my research embellishments are not just defined as adding design interest, rather they specifically are also defined as items NOT necessarily required for the proper construction of a garment. Case in point could be the use of a fly in a woman's trousers; it has no function; it is simply an embellishment.

And, I've found nothing to indicate that all embellishments are created equal. Embellishments vary in that some can be very nice, others can be quite bold, and an overabundance can be downright gaudy. Embellishments are truly the bells and whistles of fashion, but careful attention must be paid to avoid staggering over into the gaudy category. Sometimes the less is more rule needs to be factored in!

Embellishments can also give off different vibes. Some may subtly enhance a creation, while others can serve to contrast -- some providing vivid and even sharp contrasts. In using them we can be over the top or patently mild, working ever so carefully to achieve what the judges will be looking for. And so it is whenever one chooses to enter into a design competition. Guidelines must be met and specific tastes satisfied. Frustrating though it can be at times, the essence of this challenge is to add an embellishment that is not necessarily required for the garmment's proper constuction while also being interesting. Not to pay attention to these guidelines can be fatal!

We can use embroidery, bows, cord, rhinestones, and even designs actually overprinted on fabric as embellishments...and so much more. Beads, appliqu├ęs, fur and lace all come to mind as being marvelous embellishments! But, again, what distinguishes the equality (desire) to use a certain embellishment really relies on what we want the embellishment to actually do, and that is what will also be judged in this challenge.

Also, when choosing our embellishments we might want to look to items that are normally not considered embellishments; rather, they are generally considered notions. One may not think notions would NOT act as embellishments because their reason for being is usually to add an easier way for garments to function. However, well-known items such as zippers, buttons, bias tape, interfacing, and the very thread that holds the garment together, can cross over into the category of embellishments! Think of that well-placed zipper that doesn't function - it has been put in a strategic position merely to tease us in a manner that will make our garment more interesting.

In the final analysis, what is important is that we always keep in mind -- for both designing and this challenge -- is that embellishments are NOT required for the proper fit or construction of a garment; they are that extra gem that enhances its quality! Are you up to this task??

Now, here's a little insight into our guest judge this week, Magalie Dawson.

It's hard to think of Magalie Dawson without MHD Designs immediately coming to mind. Her love of dolls and creating beautiful doll clothes has been apparent in every eBay ad or item shown on her web page to date. Here is the link: MHD Designs

On her web page you will also find a wonderful Q&A interview that will tell you her background and other information I would normally include in a bio - so I won't try to improve on perfection; just go here: About Magalie Dawson

What I will elaborate about, however, is the experience I have had as her customer. The care Magalie puts into her pattern descriptions is as great as the care demonstrated in her pattern pieces. For one thing, you get step-by-step illustrated instructions! You also get direct access to the designer should you find yourself still having a problem understanding any phase of her work!

But what sealed the deal for my admiration was the fact that these patterns actually fit the dolls they are intended for. IBelieve me, I know of what I speak, having struggled too much with commercially made patterns for doll clothes - both modern and vintage - that simply do NOT fit!! When using Magalie's patterns, I actually felt her with me every step of the way. She was teaching and encouraging me with her attention to detail!! She was inspiring me not to fail; rather that I needed to at least try new things!!

So, I would simply say to those designers who really wish to do well in this challenge: all you need to do is look! Look at the designs she has given the doll design world for your clue, because no one really designs things they don't like! No one manipulates fabric quite like Magalie Dawson, either! Perhaps you may find an embellishment she's used for her style that might fit in with yours; or perhaps you may find a clue in another judge's choice of embellishments!?! Just as long as what you see fits into YOUR design esthetic also, it should work - so I encourage you to do just that - Make it work!!

Blogmeister's Observation: From comments I've read on the CDDC Board, it's apparent some of you are 'fraidy cats when it comes to actually cutting beautiful fabric you've collected. To you I'd offer some sage advice from one of my elderly Aunts: "What are you waiting for?? If you save it tooooooo long it just may end up being used by your significant other's NEW know, after you are gone!" LOL Seriously, you don't have to pay attention to my Aunt; just listen to these words from Magalie:

"I always use the type of fabric I intend to use for the finished design so I can see how it will fall, thus creating my prototype."

" It doesn't take yards and yards of fabric to sew for dolls, so mistakes are not too expensive, and you learn a LOT from each effort. Besides, I truly believe that there is always a way to turn a 'mistake' into a 'success'."

Enough said??

****Now A Word About One Of Our Sponsors****

We are happy to have FDQ, Tonner Doll Company, PB Factory, and Jude Designs as sponsors. Here is an announcement and some information from one of them

What does a personal trainer and a couture doll designer have in common? They are both professions of the talented Tamara Casey, owner of Designs by Jude. This fitness guru came into the doll world after discovering the doll market on eBay where she was selling videos and exercise equipment. With the support of her family - two sons and a husband - she began doing OOAK dolls; balancing her time between painting, sewing and drafting doll clothes patterns. Never had she imagined she would have spent her days playing with dolls! But her continued flow of return customers over the past six years have soldified her role in the doll business!

Tamara works under the company name of Designs by Jude, and has maintained both a doll store on eBay and a website presence. Here are the links:

Designs by Jude

Doll Stuff by Designs by Jude eBay store

In December of 2008, she really expanded to a full fledged pattern and notion business by acquiring the intellectual property rights to what had been The Fletcher Pattern Company, developed originally by designer Gary Fletcher. How fortunate was the doll world to have had her step in when Mr. Fletcher decided to move his career in a different direction! Today her website is a blend of both companies, and also features other doll items including shoes, jewelry and accessories. And, she continues her personal goal of providing great service, variety and quality products.

CDDC is proud to welcome Tamara Casey/Designs by Jude as one of our valued sponsors. And we'd like to take this opportunity to reveal the part her company will play in this competition.


Tamara will be providing a pattern in pdf format for each of the 8 challenge winners. Whether the winner receives their first pattern from this talented designer's stores, or if it will add to their collection of her works, we are sure this new prize will be a delightful surprise - and, hopefully, an incentive to push the boundaries of each contestant's talents even further in each challenge!

Look for further details about this new development on the CDDC website.