Sew Crafy

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.