Sew Crafy

Friday, December 31, 2010


Thanks for your support and participation during 2010.  Look for information on the 2011 season right here!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Aren't Prizes GREAT!?!


A Doll's Christmas Tree......

I just received a picture of this wonderful prize Larraine Elcock will be receiving for her At Home Challenge win!!  Isn't it great?    
This was made by Ina Murphey, and it features over 100 tiny ornaments.  

I've selected a picture with a doll in it so you can more easily gauge its size.  Without the doll one could very easily mistake this for a life size Christmas tree!!Good things do come in small packages! 

Congratulations for winning this, Larraine - and my hat is off to Ina for creating it.  If anyone else would like to share their prize wins, be sure to drop the blogmeister an email.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Saluting the winners and adieu..........for awhile!?!

 It's never fun when something we REALLY enjoy comes to an end, but we always knew we only had a set number of challenges, and then our winners would be announced.  Now all that is left to do is salute those winners....well, almost.  I would be remiss if I failed to give a nod to all the contestants that continued to create throughout this process.  It takes a special person with lots of perseverance to do this - so, to you, I tip my hat!!

For the rest of this blog I'm going to let the winners speak for themselves - each of them has prepared a few closing words, and have selected their favorite pictures to provide you with some wonderful eye candy!  So sit back and enjoy!!


Yana's designs will be featured in an upcoming issue of FDQ Magazine. From Tonner Doll Company she will receiveEvocative Antoinette, LE 150, Tonner Direct Exclusive, and from Integrity Toys, she'll enjoy Erin "Picture This" Convention exclusive. Finally, from Couture Doll Shops, she will be given a shop on this new doll mall for six months to showcase her work.

Some words from Yana...I live in Chelyabinsk, Russia. Chelyabinsk lies on the border between Europe and Asia. This is a big industrial town like Detroit in the USA. I have a university degree in ecology. At the present time I’m raising two children. I had a son Ilya (4 years old), and a daughter Anastasia (10 months old).

I like realism in doll clothes. I'm constantly trying to use new patterns, materials and accessories. I try to avoid repetition, and am not interested in making copies of my fashions .

This contest was a big test for me, because I concentrate on the classic fashion of the fifties in my practice.   Also, the level of skill and creativity of the contestants was very high.

I found it very difficult to understand the requirements of the contest in the first two rounds, and I lost a lot of points. After that I reviewed all the judge’s comments, and discovered I could change the situation. So I must give many thanks to the judges for their comments.

It was a great school for me. Deconstruction, Steampunk, and Gothic fashions expanded my perception.  I became a different person after this competition.  I feel empowered for the next dolly project!  And I now have a lot of friends around the world. Thank you all….Yana

Congratulations to our Second Place winner:
Irina Koroleva

 She will receive Glowing Muse Basic Honey Antoinette (includes 3 wigs) and Juxtaposed Outfit Only to fit Antoinette from the  Tonner Doll Company, and Veronique "Stylish Escape" from Integrity Toys.

 Some words from Irina...I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer from childhood, but worked for about 10 years in IT/Telecom. And I am happy, that my dream has come true now.  In the last two years I have finally  been making my fashion designs, but I do have some experience in a sewing fashion for myself that I translate for dolls.  I haven’t a favorite doll model - I sew for Sybarite, Momoko, Fashion Royalty and Tonner dolls. Each doll needs an individual approach.
I prefer a complex and rigorous construction, but often I like to use very complicated embellishments such as beads and embroidery. My style in couture is the sensuality and aristocratism.
 To view my work you can visit my website which she hopes to have translated into English the first of the year, and you can read her blog here.

It's unbelievable! I still can't believe I have won this place - it is best gift to my birthday that will be 19 November. Fantastic!  This season turned out to be very interesting but also difficult for me and for all of us - both physically, psychologically and emotionally. It was a real challenge and I was happy to accept it and overcome all the obstacles.
Thank you guys! Thanks to all of you - the judges, organizers, sponsors and fans. We did it!  We are the champions!!! I love CDDC, because it helps to be beyond possible and to perfect skills. Thanks to all of you - the judges,
organizers, sponsors and fans…
Congratulations to our Third Place winner:
Julia Mezrina

Her rewards are Antoinette Intoxicating Outfit Only and Antoinette Flirty Shoe Pack from  Tonner Doll Company, and Veronique "Onyx" from Integrity Toys.

Some words from Julia...I still can't believe that I've won the third prize in the CDDC. Only less than a year has passed since I re-discovered fashion dolls for myself and started sewing for them, so this award is really far from being expected. I applied for CDDC mainly in order to test out what I can do. 

The contest itself has been an absolutely fantastic experience for me, but sometimes I really had a hard time combining my full-time job as a web designer with making challenge entries.  Unfortunately, my site is currently under construction.  It’s so hard to design for yourself – especially since I’m the nightmare client any designer is afraid of!  But you can view my past work on my Flicr account.   

Now after the contest is over I'm left with a completely new attitude towards designing for dolls.  I'm taking it seriously, not as a 'cute hobby' as I did before. Maybe one day I'll start up my own brand of doll clothes and jewelry, who knows!?!

I've learned a lot from the judges' comments and I'm extremely grateful to them, as well as to all who organized the whole thing.  I never ever regretted I was in! Now I definitely should take some time to get used to life without CDDC…Julia

Susan Grindstaff
Prizes include Haute Traveler Susie from R&D Fashion Dolls as well as Adel "Soul Deep" from Integrity Toys.

Some words from Susan...Overall, CDDC was an interesting, fun experience. This was my first time competing, and it was a real revelation, teaching me a bit about competing in general, and what is expected of you.  Judging art is one tough assignment, so our judges were really some brave folks, and I thank them! 

I see fashion as an independent art form, and to me couture needs to be above all – unique.  Currently, I sell my fashions at VivaLaPosh, and if your cup of tea is a bit of romanticism and drama, be sure to check out my current offerings.

For those who didn't win anything, I hope they realize that their work is as worthy as ours who did. It's all subjective. Anyone can learn to be a better seamstress;  the trick is to avoid mimicry and to stick to your own artistic
vision, whatever that may be.
  Thanks for a great experience!…

Anna Lipka
She will receive In Focus: Digital Photography for the Doll Collector from Pat Henry and Lillith "The Great Pretender" from Integrity Toys.
Some words from Anna...I'm fromPoland, and my two great passions are dolls and sewing...good thing those can be combined.  I began with this hobby 5 years ago when, while moving, I found my old Barbie doll from childhood.

You can check out what I am currently selling on eBay in my shop, and you can see my past work on my Flickr account

I´m delighted with this contest, which has pushed me beyond my limits and brought so much pleasure. Many thanks to everyone who made this happen!...Anna
Uh, oh!!  With this last winning announcement, we end this season's blog for Couture Doll Design Challenge.  But do not despair, aspiring designers, there are already rumblings of a CDDC3!!  And how will you know if that's going to happen?
  1.  Have faith.  2. Watch this blog.  We'll be back if ANY news is forthcoming!
  And, in the meantime - enjoy your holidays,  and don't forget to always enjoy anything you do relating to your dolls........and couture doll fashions, of course!! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Never a bridesmaid; always a BRIDE!

The winner of challenge 6 is a newcomer to the world of doll couture, Svjetlana Turk, whom we have all come to know as Lana. Looking at her wonderful interpretation of the avant-garde bridal challenge along with her other entries, it becomes instantly apparent that this designer brought some great skills with her when she began her journey into designing doll couture. 

Although she is a chemical engineer by profession, she is definitely an artist at heart.  Lana has been sewing since she was 5, and has designed for real people as well as dolls. However, she says creating for dolls allows her to fantasize and realize her true dream, that of being a fashion     designer. 

Not content to just design and sew couture doll clothing, Lana also does doll repaints, and makes accessories that include shoes, hats, and jewelry. She is constantly working on improving her techniques.

This wife and mother of two beautiful daughters is a Christian artist who enjoys sharing some of her tips an techniques on her blog. She has a new website where you can see her latest creations available for sale. She is also one of the newest members of the CDDC sister site, Couture Doll Shops. She hopes you will visit her often as she is always working on new creations. Congratulations, Lana, your bride is definitely ready for her nuptials to begin. 
It's been a long journey for those competing in the Couture Doll 
Design Challenge again this time. And I 'm happy to give kudos to Larraine Elcock for making this possible again. I am sure all would agree she has continued to give us a quality competition with fair judges and interesting challenges. So even before we announce the final winners, one's mind races to the inevitable question - will there be another CDDC? This reader/writer would cast a resounding yes vote if she had an opportunity to cast one! 

I'd also like to give a little nod to those people in the gallery who secretly played along, entered at home challenges, or helped make bigger decisions by voting for People's Choice winners. And the At Home winners who will be taking home gift certificates are Larraine Elcock and Durelle Brown. Thanks go to Ina Murphey, LaPetite Fashion Promenade, and Mike Austin, Mike's Creations  - two of the very talented shop owners on Couture Doll Shops - for providing gifts for these winners.

Well, that's almost it for your blogger for this CDDC - I say almost because the final blog will feature all the final winners and their prizes - what fun!!

Monday, November 8, 2010


Yana Emellyanova nails the prize for the Steampunk Challenge making this win number 3 for this talented contender.  But I have to say, she also had some staunch competition.  These designers certainly stepped up their game.

She nailed military Steampunk spot on.  The jacket and pants of her uniform styled fashon were made of silk taffeta, blouse of cotton, and the corset of painted lace.  It also featured all the gadgets we normally see with this style.

I must say I could pick out Yana’s outfit as well as several others.  I’ve come to know the style of particular artists, a style that wasn’t so evident when this competition first began.

But it is in the styling that a designer makes their mark.  Don’t you think of specific things these designers have used time after time while still managing to give their designs a fresh face year after year?  You know, the likes of John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Betsy Johnson, Dian Von Furstenberg.  Whether you like their designs or not – you can always pick them out!!  It’s a thrill to see these new designers accomplishing their own style.

Speaking of style, it’s hard not to think of Robert Tonner – goth for dolls and real life clothing.  And this year we are delighted to not only welcome back the Tonner Doll Company as one of our sponsors, but to also have Tom Courtney, Art Director, as one of our judges! 

The Tonner Doll Company never fails to delight us.  From their online presentations of new dolls through Tonner Direct to their Tonner Doll Collectors' Conventions, there is always a way for doll collectors to experience doll beauty with them!!

I say "them" because it does truly take a village to bring to the public all the wonderment Robert Tonner can imagine for us.  Shining bright as a legend in our doll world, Robert Tonner is the ultimate face of this great dynasty, but his "village," or staff members, are some of the wonderful people from his company we have also met at conventions or online along the way.  You really didn't think Robert, as he is affectionately known by doll lovers, could do all the jobs necessary to bring his many visions to realization, now did you? 

One such member of Robert Tonner's winning team is Tom Courtney.  Tom is a fun-loving, hard-working, crew member who is also a fellow doll collector.  Like many of the designers in our Challenge, Tom not only collects, he also enjoys designing and sewing for his own dolls whenever his busy schedule allows him this pleasure.  Among his other avocations are cooking, gardening, and photography.

 Tom’s professional life began after college interning for the Department of Navy as a Contracts Specialist, culminating in a 12-year career of cost analysis, negotiation, and procurement of computer equipment, machine tools, and navigation components for the TRIDENT Missile Program. Shifting his focus to the creative, Tom joined Tonner in 2000, and while there has handled production management, marketing, advertising, visual merchandising, web development and most recently, Art Direction. 

Many people think Tom designs for Tonner, but in truth, he has never worked under the Design Team. As Art Director, Tom is responsible for the visual promotion and consistency of Tonner Doll via its printed materials, website, photography and trade shows. 

It hadn’t been very long when we had this interview that the Tonner Doll Company had moved its offices, so I wanted to know how Tom was enjoying his new digs.  I was delighted when he answered, and gave me this interesting tidbit.  “Tonner has gone through many changes during my 10 years; but the most interesting has been moving to the historic Bank of New York building in uptown Kingston this past April,” he explains. “We all love the new space…and truly believe we have a couple of ghosts we inherited via the building!”  Hum….I wonder if the Tonner crew took them along with them to Burlington, Vermont for their recent 2010 Tonner Halloween Convention themed Mysticism & Mayhem??

I also couldn’t resist asking my fellow doll aficionado about his own doll collection – what he collects, what his favorites are, and where he keeps them all.  Like most of us, he was happy to share!  Tom has collected dolls for over 25 years; gathering such notables as Barbie, Madame Alexander children, Tonner’s Betsy McCall and Mary Engelbreit, and an extensive collection of various fashion dolls.  “In the past three years, however,” Tom says, “Alice in Wonderland has been a large influence on my collection; I’ve been collecting both artist pieces and vintage souvenir dolls sold in the Disney parks.”
Tom doesn’t display them all at home, though – space there is limited and reserved for special artist pieces and his Alice figurine and teapot collection. “My office at Tonner has become my ‘serious’ display space for my favorites these days,” Tom explains. And what are those favorites, I asked? “Right now, I am loving Tonner’s Scarletts – Harry Potter, and Alice. Also, Tyler Wentworth will always be my favorite fashion doll,” Tom replied.

Having seen some of  Tom’s wonderful sewing, I asked what dolls he had designed clothing for – as a hobby, of course – to which he replied:   “I have designed clothing for Barbie; Madame Alexander’s Cissy, Cissette and Wendy; Tonner’s Betsy McCall and Mary Engelbreit child dolls; Gene, Tonner’s American Models, Kitty Collier, 16” and Fashion dolls such as Tyler and Antoinette.”
And most don’t know, at one time he even accomplished a human scale Gone With the Wind gown for a friend.   Scattered throughout this interview are pictures of dolls Tom collects, gowns he’s produced (including the GWTW life-sized), and a very good picture of our most talented and real live doll, Tom Courtney.  CDDC is indeed lucky to have him as one of our resident judges!

And how about this last challenge and its judge??  Our final guest judge is the winner of last year's CDDC, Emilia Nieminen.  Her fabulous designs and the wonderful creation of those designs brought her to the win.  So I think it’s quite appropriate she guest judge the final challenge.  This challenge is to create the piece de resistance of any runway...the bridal gown, but a very special bridal gown.  The designers are to take their gown to the cutting edge of fashion by making it extremely modern and avant garde.

She certainly knows avant garde as well as every style in the challenges that were thrown at her last year.  So that makes it even more interesting that she didn’t plan to be a designer. Her Bachelor’s degree is in business and she has a Master’s Degree in Chinese language.  And as a child she preferred the whims of a tomboy to that of a girl who plays with dolls.

Rather it was her interest in her school’s theater group that laid the foundation for her taste for historical elements and her flair for the dramatic.  She even spent a semester studying fashion drawing in Shanghai University because she loved designing wedding gowns.  She feels it’s the one day when people dare to dress up and wear something special.

Her interest in dolls was sparked by a shopping trip with her sister who introduced her to fashion dolls.  After a few shopping sprees on the internet. and a few dolls purchased, she begin to dress these diminutive divas and she was hooked.  She says developing a personality with the doll helps her decide which style will suit her best.

So there you have it, a judge who has a vast knowledge of wedding ensembles as well as avant garde.  This winning combination should lead to some interesting comments as well as some helpful guidance from this judge.

And now I feel it important to talk about a past judge. This year we lost the incredibly talented Joe Tai.  His battle with cancer ended in September.  But weren’t we fortunate to have him with us for a time – a time where he not only gave us incredible fashions, but also dolls, shoes, and jewelry?  I interviewed Joe during his judging CDDC last year, and he was extremely happy to be a part of this endeavor.  We at CDDC were extremely happy to have him. and will always think of him in the fondest way. 

 Goodbye, Joe Tai, you will be missed!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Details Done Right Are Such A Delight!

Yana Emellyanova grabbed the brass ring for herself once again by winning Challenge 4!  In a move that clearly put her in first place, Yana is now the one to watch if you’re after the win.  

I also saw others I honestly desired - yes, the designers have definitely stepped up their game!

This must have been a job for the judges – scoring these pieces.  But let me tell you what got the win. 

 Yana’s outfit gave black and blue new meaning.  It featured a flax summer coat with an asymmetrical collar.  She decorated the coat using hand embroidery in a pattern that echoed the print of the natural silk chiffon blouse.  Rounding out this outfit were wool pants that were a perfect compliment for the other two items.  And rounding it out further was restraint in the detailing –  for this we say,  Kudos, Yana! 

I think our guest judge has given great points of reference along with a clear description for Challenge 5, so I am going to take this opportunity to discuss an important consideration for our competitors.

When you take on an online competition like CDDC, one undeniable asset you need is to be able to think and function like a “real” fashion photographer.  Competitor and fashion photographers have a common goal;  to showcase an ensemble to its best advantage.
But in doll challenges there is one factor that is unique yet very important - the doll actually used as the model is entirely up to us!  Long before a challenge garment hits the "runway," styling opportunities become apparent.  An artist begins to mentally focus on which doll will wear the garment best about the same time pencil begins to work magic on paper!   Who will best fit this garment with both their particular body style as well as their attitude?  How should the hair be presented, and will a wigged or rooted hair doll be best for this purpose?  Will makeup be necessary in the form of a total repaint or just a little tweaking, or can the doll's "natural" beauty carry off this look just as she is?  All of these questions give the fashion doll designer/stylist/photographer many things to ponder.

Of course, there are many other considerations,  but I just thought it might be important to articulate that when dealing with dolls and fashion, you don't want overlook an opportunity to use  the "likeability" factor to your advantage.  Others will, so don't be squeamish about it!! 
And on and on go the considerable checklists a CDDC competitor has to develop and conquer if they hope to step beyond the realm of being ordinary in this quite unordinary competition!

And is it worth it?  I think, from the comments filtering in from the Yahoo group, one would hear a resounding “YES” from the CDDC competitors even at this late date in the competition.  You would also hear something that might be quite surprising.  While I don't think there is any doubt that winning is still sweet in any competition, it doesn't seem to have captured the entire focus of these competitors.  Many seem to have discovered there is much to be learned from this type competition, and that competing in CDDC is a win-win situation.

Speaking of wins - what of those incrdeditble prizes?? It seems I have inadvertently overlooked telling you about the wonderful DOLLS one might win!!!  Here's a recap of the doll and their company, and which winner gets what - all provided by three delicious doll makers!! 


Focusing on photography will pay off for the People's Choice winner of R&D Fashion Doll's Haute Traveler Susie. R&D is the brainchild of Rudi Teruel.  It opened in May of 1999, and specializes in all types of fashion dolls, but is best known for the creation of their Susie dolls.  Since she debuted in 2003 R&D has remained her exclusive dealer, and she has been primped and posed in many delectable ensembles.  But the Haute Traveler will afford our winner the ultimate Susie experience because she not only  comes with her traveling gear, but she also comes complete with several new outfits!  Won't it be fun playing dress up with this one!?!


And then there is the Integrity offering - First, second, third, People's Choice and Photography prizes will be given by Integrity Toys.  In order they will include: Lillith "The Great Pretender," Adele "Soul Deep," Veronique "Onyx," Erin "Picture This" Convention exclusive, and Veronique "Stylish Escape" W Club Exclusive.  Percy Neusum's extensive experience in the field of doll making shines through Integrity Toys.  Excellent customer service, superior engineering, and high end aesthetics have been the norm since these fashion dolls came on the market in 1995.   Lights, action, camera - these haughty vixens are ready for their close-ups!!


First, Second, and Third Place winners will be getting prizes from Robert Tonner, Tonner Doll Company.  In order, their prizes will be Evocative Antoinette, a Tonner Direct Exclusive;  Glowing Muse Basic Honey Antoinette with 3 wigs plus Juxtaposed Outfit; and Antoinette Intoxicating Outfit plus Antoinette Flirty Shoe Pack.  Since 1991 Robert Tonner has been lending his designing, sculpting, and fashion savvy to the Tonner Doll Company.  The lines from the Tonner Doll Company are many and embrace lots of styles.  His staff welcomes you warmly by email or phone, and you can always feel assured the dolls and costumes  you order from his company will reflect Tonner's  desire for perfection.  And what fun our own aspiring doll designers will have with these prizes!!

AND WE HAVE A SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT!!  A new prize has just been added - so everyone really needs to continue stepping up to the plate.  As your Blogmeister and Manager of Couture Doll Shops, sister site of CDDC, I am happy to announce we will be furnishing a shop for the winner of these challenges; this prize includes rent for six months and I will facilitate the winner's shop set up/website if they don't already have a website.  We want the winner to be rewarded with something that will help them gain more recognition when CDDC ends!   

And now on to the road to the end of this competition, our next to last challenge!  And this challenge is:  Our guest judge this week is well known for her creative work in designing, but has also made Steampunk one of her signature styles. Now if you don't know what Steampunk is then you've got to do your homework to please this judge. This week's challenge is all about the sub culture known as "Steampunk". This unique fashion genre runs the gamut from purely Victorian to post-apocalyptic.  Steampunk may take many forms of alternative clothing, often romantic with a twist of futuristic technology. It has been described as Jules Verne meets the Wild Wild West. Just like real life, Steampunk can encompass many aspects of fashion...the explorer/traveler, the air ship pilot, the warrior, the aristocrat, or the mad scientist. To keep with the up and coming fashion trends, such as the new military look for 2010, the twist of this challenge is to create a Steampunk inspired fashion with a military theme.

Yes, this judge has given you invaluable information – have you been attentive?  In her own words, “Steampunk is very near and dear to my heart. I fell in love with this form of fashion for my dolls three years ago when no one else was doing the genre. I am a wealth of information and my photo files are loaded with fashions and ideas.”  In fact, she even put together a web page for you that serves as a plethora of ideas!!
 She's talented and nice, but do NOT be deceived!  She will be using her very keen eye to see if you fulfilled her expectations of this challenge!

Will you be the one who can do this?  Will you go even further and surprise her??  If you do, you have your work cut out for you for here on this blog is her own interpretation of Steampunk.  As you can see, she’s captured several styles well – yes, even a bride that Doll Reader gave free in pattern form through their magazine!

 For an artist who started less than 10 years ago, she has proven herself over and over in design challenges and has won many awards.

   Most notable have come from both the IFDC and the Tonner Doll Conventions, and she cherishes her crystal awards from the now-defunct BBMA.  She's also been published in doll publications we have loved or love currently - FDQ, Doll Reader, Barbie Bazaar and Haute Doll.  

 This single mother of three grown boys has been a Barbie collector since childhood.  When she isn’t playing with her granddaughter or doing her regular job as an Interior Designer, you will see her stealing away to her studio.  She always takes plenty of time for research, then like a mad scientist she begins the journey – a journey to some quite incredible work! 

But not all is fun and games.  Some designs she makes for her doll shop on Couture Doll Shops, Chic Indulgence; some she makes for conventions -- both competition and charity dolls; and the balance goes to making the prototypes for clothing used by Charisma for dolls designed by Marie Osmond and others. Check out her website for more information.  We are indeed lucky to have Durelle Brown as a guest judge, and I hope you will listen to her critiques carefully.  Listen and learn what you might, because it is a rare opportunity to learn from such a busy, talented lady!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Decadantly Delightful Deconstruction

For Challenge 3 Yana Emellyanova says she tried creating an outfit with an unusual jacket design that featured ripped edges of the materials. Jacket and hat were made of Italian wool, and the skirt was made of silk and decorated with ruffles of different shades of brown. Today she's quite happy she did, as the judges declared her the winner!!

Yana doesn't come from a family of professional seamstresses, but her Grandmother and Mother had great passions for fashion. In fact, her Mom seemed to always be sewing her something, and their house in Russia always had a lot of scraps of fabric. And, it was her Mom who presented her with a Barbie doll when she was 12 years old, and she then begin sewing dresses for her doll. But that fell away like many childhood things.

She always wanted to have a daughter to share her love of dressing dolls with. Instead she had a precious baby boy, but decided to return to her passion for sewing for her dolls, anyway, three years ago. About eight months ago she got her little girl. She's still too small to share with and makes time for Yana's passion limited - but somehow she's juggling Motherhood with getting through CDDC - and we're glad she is!

Silkstone dolls and retro style are things Yana loves. She seeks realism in doll clothes, and is most happy when her designs develop into looking like a small copy of an actual human-size outfit. She creates all her own patterns to ensure the fit and style she desires.

Yana_emelyanova is her username on Ebay, but she uses her nickname Yy generally, and Yasya on the Russian web blogs. You can also see more of her work on her Flikr account.

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.
Coco Chanel

Soooooooo, in listening to our designers and reading the scores, it looks like a little Doll Couture 101 might be helpful. However, before beginning, the CDDC designers might want to consider one thing. Anything that is written except pure scientific research has the possibility of conveying opinions from the one writing it. Therefore, if anything written in this blog doesn't meet with a designer's definition of how to design for a specific challenge. that designer should swiftly abandon this blog's definitions! Creation is an extension of YOU, and extending YOU has no place for another person's opinion in the equation!!

When we put ourselves in a competitive position we are allowing ourselves to be evaluated by judges whose opinions we respect. No, that doesn't make it easier when we get a scalding review, but it sure makes it sweet when we have an overwhelming win! So, in my mind, we must come to a balance in our design work that allows us to happily compete. We must decide what is important - pleasing ourselves or going for the win - or if we could conceivably do both!?! We must decide if we have satisfied the definition of the challenge or if a judge's critique or suggestions known ahead of time would have made us change our design to more perfectly elaborate on the demands of a challenge. It's a thin tightrope one walks when we choose to on to Doll Couture 101...if you desire!

What is your lifestyle today, dahlings? Have you traded in your designer duds for something a bit more comfortable? For a majority of the adult doll collectors this is the case. Yes, there are some professionals in the mix, but young housewives/househusbands and retirees make up the majority of this populace. So it only makes sense for them to cast away constricting garments for things that are cute and comfortable. However, the seamstresses in this group know that neither cute nor comfortable have any place in the world of couture they love, so it is quite natural that many are turning to their dolls to fulfill their passion for fashion.

They run for the brass ring in most cases - not content to do ready to wear; rather they find this the perfect opportunity to design and master couture clothing for their diminutive divas. Well, why not? A small investmet will give you the perfect fashion doll to model garments. And, whether one favors the larger ladies or the original 11.5" darlings, any one you choose will be waiting patiently to accept fittings for hours on end. She won't complain or argue and never needs a break! Obtaining that sumptious fabric notable in couture clothing won't break the bank, either. Most designs can be made from a yard or less of fabric, thus presenting the perfect opportunity to splurge and get the best to be found!

For those just starting out in this world of Doll Couture it may be valuable to have a little explanation of exactly what it is, Doll Couture is neither haute couture scaled down nor is it the simple designs achievable through standard dressmaking. Doll Couture is defined by quality craftsmanship, luxurious fabric and findings, and uniquely new creative designs. It is a procedure that is bringing doll dressmaking to a whole new level! Execution is often time-consuming and may demand elaborate findings, but the results are far more rewarding than any simple doll dress could afford the serious adult collector.

Three important considerations when working with Doll Couture are proper proportion, movement in the design, and appropriate fabric choices. As one develops their own style other concerns may be added to one's personal list, but these basic three factors remain constant considerations for one who aspires to be a designer of Doll Couture.

Anyone who wants to achieve the status of a respected Doll Couture Designer must learn to conquer a complex balancing act. In most cases we have to compensate because fashion dolls have larger heads and hands, longer legs, and more tiny feet than their human counterparts... Face it, even runway models don't have bodies that are quite so elongated or slenderized!! Therefore, it is important to balance the design on this body of unequal proportions while accomplishing the challenge of appealing to the audience's natural sense of rhythm. As one works with their own doll they must work with a critical eye. Stepping back to assess the overall scale of the doll will often make things out of proportion appear more clearly. A critical eye is often hard to develop, however, because in doing this one may conjur up self doubt. But. be assured. once one moves past this they will not only realize their design problems; they will also begin to learn how to compensate for them. Yes, right now you may love an elaborate hair style or a hat used by your favorite designer without even thinking it could be a means to compensate for the doll's body length's unequal proportion. But upon developing your own critical eye, you should really begin to move toward understanding how different waist heights, collar treatments, hemlines, and even accessories can serve as catalysts for the balance and proportion you seek.

When talking about movement we don't mean this literally as I cannot imagine doll companies designing a walking fashion doll. Rather, we are looking toward building a sense of movement and energy into our designs. Creating this type movement doesn't always require a lot of time; rather it takes a bit of ingenuity. Take a moment and you might recall seeing some of these techniques. Simple flowing ribbons can provide space in a design especially when the ribbons are flowing away from the body. In this way the ribbons actually displace space around the doll quite like a tulle stole can when it stands out from the doll's body. Articles of clothing with graduating hemlines - shorter in front, moving to full length in the back - softly suggest movement as can certain fabrics. For example, a silk brocade that provides a subtle shimmer factor can work as effectively as one that incorporates beadwork, sequins, or even crystals when the sparkle it provides is sufficient to equal movement and energy. And few could dispute how color and light can attract an audience. Incorporate any of these suggestions or your own personally devised movement makers, and you will distance yourself from the dullness of a static display.

Fabric, especially the weight of the fabric, must also be considered. In Doll Couture you not only have to allow for the turn of the fabric in joining seams, you must also allow for the bulk that often accumulates in a doll's garment. Most find that more light to mid weight fabrics work best, but the quality in these weights can be less than desireable; but silk is a fabric that always seems to please. There are others, of course, but my motto is give me silk, anytime!!

Many prefer silk because it is a natural fabric that it relatively easy to work with. It can be purchased in a myriad of beautiful colors, and is available in several weaves including satin, velvet, dupioni, twill, brocade, and even tulle. Even if one is designing vintage style clothing, silk is probably a safe choice; after all it has existed for many centuries. For linings one can use a duplicate of the original fabric, but many favor light cotton muslin, batiste, or even a soft silk organza. The preferred colors are white or beige but line one must! It not only gives garments a finished look, but, in some cases, lining provides the very needed function of preventing dye from discoloring your doll's body.

Small prints and findings are usually best used for Doll Couture. Always keep in mind, if you sew for several size dolls, as the height of the doll decreases so should your prints and findings. Busy prints not only look odd, they actually serve to distract from your design. Likewise, larger trims such as out of scale buttons or overblown bows may only serve to overwhelm your doll. Remember, don't confuse couture with avant garde; couture does not require such extreme decoration. In confusing these two styles your couture can quickly move to a tackier state than anyone would desire. It is certainly best when designing Doll Couture to do it with a Chanel attitude; when you think you are finished, remove one item. This worked for Chanel when accessorizing an outfit, and it will work for you when embellishing your Doll Couture!

The current challenge is to creature Haute Couture Daywear paying particular attention to the little details. You may want to consider, trims, belts, buckles, buttons, jewelry, hats, embroidery, and anything else that adds detail to your creation. And our guest judge this week knows all the rules for designing and presenting Doll Couture to his public with splendid, perfectly scaled details!

Steven Fraser is the very talented President of Masterstroke Canada, and the designing force behind Dressmaker Details and Dressmaker Details Couture. His Dressmaker Details Couture represents the fine quality fashions present 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 is also always in tune with the wants and needs of his clientele. Therefore, affordability has been a big focus for Steven recently. He is currently doing more pink label fashions (affordable pak pieces). He also did a line of 16" fashions for Gene and AG dolls that came out this past June.

In addition to his fashions, Steven 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. One of his items always in demand are smaller ribbons.

He initially offered small scale ribbons to fill a demand from many doll artistts. This line now also offers notions. Be sure to click on Dressmaker Details on the sidebar of this blog to access his wonderful site.