Sew Crafy

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Michael Angelo Calvo, or Anj as he prefers to be called, is relatively new to the world of customizing dolls and creating fashions for them. His work includes repainting, rerooting, and making clothing for his fashionistas. Fashion is a passion for Anj - in fact so much so that he enrolled himself in a fashion school in his native Philippines.

One sixth scale dolls are his dolls of choice because making small scale details offer him the most challenge. It is no small feat to accomplish small scale details - it is an achievement to get the look you want, says Anj.

Anj had fun with this challenge. He gave his model a full repaint including freckles, and managed to make Pippi Longstocking an outfit that captured "...Pippi's spirit of fun and playfulness but with style," according to this artist. It was a step outside his box of creating celebrity dolls and OOAK high fashion dolls.

It was a tough, fun competition for Anj but he is already thinking of his next challenge; he is thinking to beat his talented competitors he might have to step up his game plan!! Think you have the formula to compete with this prize winner? Browse his Flickr photo album or view his delightful blog to find out!!

And before we know it the designs for the next challenge will be appearing!! CHALLENGE THREE is titled Fashion Falls Apart, a theme yet again that revolves around its guest judge, Dal Lowenbein. This challenge is all about fabric and the deconstruction of it. The designers are to design an Haute Couture garment in the newest, hottest style of deconstruction. They were advised using ripped seams, stringy hems, slices of zipped and vandalized denim, as well as rumpled fabrics could be the key to this win.......all done, of course, while keeping it couture! Oh my - that twist will get you every time!!

Boy this is a doozy because deconstruction of clothing, in my mind, walks a fine tightrope between two opposing thought patterns. One, deconstruction involves redesigning or resewing used, sometimes vintage, clothing into a new garment. And, two, most notable in the fashion deconstruction world is the genre of grunge clothing. While some may turn their nose up to either concept, they both fit this challenge, BUT the twist brings it back to the reality of making such clothing couture - thank goodness. Can't you just imagine what fun our designers might have??

While couture clothing would dictate using the finest fabrics, it doesn't hurt to at least look amongst local thrifts for particularly well made treasures of the past. One never knows what will inspire.

For example, on a recent thrift shop forage, I picked up some remarkably beautiful garments that one would have a hard time describing as used.......once deconstructed, of course. They included grand items such as novelty buttons, fine lace, a remarkable fashion print with tiny fashionistas, and even a little E monogram I may one day use for my dear Ellowyne!

But to "really" get to the bottom of deconstruction one must also consider grunge clothing! Who would have thought a fashion trend would rise from a style literally named for garbage, the slang name, of course. From the late 80s rockers have been bridging the fashion gap with their jaded clothing that rides the range from infomality to decadence. Think of the clothing of wonders like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Then bring it back to fashion reality by looking at the 1992 Spring/Summer collection for Perry Ellis. Marc Jacobs designed it, and he listened to his inner visionary. Thank goodness Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, gave him all the support he needed to make this "new" fashion trend real!!

Although the more "traditional" grunge style hasn't gone away, today's Reconstruction ala grunge is definitely a more Rock- chic romantic version of grunge. Today's trends are designed for the new princes and princesses of fashion who have learned it's most chic to leave their more yuppie looking choices in their closets. Skinny pants, camouflage, leather, ripped tops, flannel shirts, and Doc Martens are a few things on their list of must haves currently. Grunge is no longer a cry of revolt against luxury; moreover, it is embraced and embellished, even using frayed cotton with sequins - it definitively reconciles the apparently irreconcilable. This new grunge means luxury, romance and glamour - all traits that call out couture!!

So, as our designer's mind travel over possibilities to achieve the look required to win this challenge, one would hope they would move past tearing up tee shirts or ripping jeans. They might want to think more obscenely expensive - looking to designer labels, using the military style jacket of Balmain, or even the more stylish plaids used forever by so many. Rip it, unzip it, and cut it up - but in the end be sure it is something so decadantly delightful that the judges cannot help but give our desingers grand reviews - and most of all to help them on their quest towards that perfect score!!

And who would know better about perfect scoring and rave reviews than our remarkably talented guest judge, Dal Lowenbein? Dal has collected dolls for almost fifteen years, but has only been designing for them for ten of them. Her "real" job gives her an opportunity to do costume design work as well as designing for packaging, print, promotion and theatre; she has been in the graphics business for over 25 years. She prides herself first, though, as being a mother of three talented children. wife to one hubby, and owned by two chihuahuas. She also feels lucky to have a cheering squad of good friends!

Her personal doll collecting is best described as eclectic. She began her collecting with vintage Barbie, Bild Lilli and cloned Hong Kong Lilli dolls. But it was her discovery of Momoko in 2002 that gave her the desire to branch out.

Her collecting then led her to various new and vintage dolls such as vintage Licca, Blythe, and Pullip. She feels she really came full circle though when she began collecting fashion dolls such as Tonner, Ellowyne Wilde and Sybarites. And, currently, she is "re-discovering" Integrity & Fashion Royalty dolls.

Dal loves sewing and challenges, and has used many different fabrics in her quest to design innovative fashions for her doll divas. She first came into my headlights when I noticed her entries in the original Project Dollway At Home Competition hosted by Ted Menten.

Since then she has done several competitions, and was able to do a final version of PDollway At Home and CDDC concurrently, AND to come out as the Second Place Winner of BOTH – what dedication to doll artistry this must have involved. Fueled with her varied asemblage of dolls and her love of doll design, Dal hopes to have her website of custom doll fashion up and running very soon. Until then be sure to visit her blog for more information about Dal.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Not your Grandma’s Gothic!

Susan Grindstaff
Her pink & black takes a Gothic track

Didn’t you get the feeling you had stepped into a new wave of Gothic fashion designers when you opened the Challenge One Entries page?  Well, good; I wasn’t alone!! If these beginning challenge entries are building up to better and better eye candy in the future, will we be able to stand it? I certainly intend to try – and I’ll bet you do too! 

More on the overall competition in a minute, but first let me introduce the official winners!!  Susan Grindstaff ended up taking dual wins – she achieved Overall Winner from the judges, and People’s Choice for Creative Photography.  Susan’s design spoke to characters such as those I had seen in the Book of Eli; characters living in a world not of their choosing who were looking for something more to fulfill their lives than what fate had dealt them. 

Susan comes to sewing and design work naturally through the influence of her talented mother who worked as a seamstress to help support the family.  In fact Susan says “… it is from her that my passion for creating something unique and original was derived.”  She spent 15 years designing for real people before she discovered how versatile and rewarding it could be designing for our diminutive divas – and she loves it.  Naturally Susan designs all her creations, and makes patterns for each one, too. 

Congratulations to Susan for a job well done!

 Vikki Stevenson captured the People’s Choice for Favorite Designer this round.  Having only discovered fashion dolls two years ago, it looks like Vikki lost no time catching up! She now collects and sews for Silkstones, Ellowyne, Evangeline, Tyler, AvantGards and Sybarites in a little town that doesn’t even have a fabric store! Congratulations, Vikki, you’ve obviously used your ingenuity to make both  wonderful  doll fashions as well as doll friends. 

The People’s Choice polls have always been popular, and not only do we have them for the CDDC designers, we also have them for a new competition just added!   The newest feature at CDDC is our At Home version.  In this competition you only need be a member of CDDC’s Yahoo Group to play.  You take the challenges right along with the official entrants, and enter them in the photo albums of the group on designated dates, and then wait for the results of another People’s Choice poll to find out if you have won enough votes to win a prize.  

This week's winners are Durelle Brown, Sue Townson, and Vicky Lujan - congrats to each of you.  Remember,  you cannot win if you don't play - so scurry on over, my lovelies; it's fun to enter as well as watch!

And what about those judges??  This year I’m getting more than I hoped for, and it makes me VERY happy.  To have people I look up to give some overall insight into how the entries measured up and some tips for improvement, makes for even more insightful – and perhaps beneficial – reading for both the audience and the designers doing this challenge.  Be sure you check out all the notes and final scores on the Official CDDC Scores Page.

And what about those returning sponsors?  I think it speaks highly of this competition that so many of our sponsors from last year have pitched their hat back in the ring to do it again!  

Two such sponsors are Lyn Waring’s Dress Forms for Fashion Dolls  and Tamara Casey’s Designs by Jude. Lyn Waring designs patterns for slopers for your dolls that actually fit – how great not to have to mess up our dolls with fittings anymore.  She offers most styles, so you’ll be delighted checking out what Lyn offers!

And one only needs to cruise through all the wonderful patterns and notions Tamara has to offer to realize they are in a sewing wonderland.  Check it out today and then go back often – new things are always coming into this site. I’m sure the contestants who won offerings from these great companies can tell you how beneficial both companies are to designers!  Thanks once again for your participation, Lyn and Tamara, by providing prizes for each of the winning contestants!

Well, kiddos, that’s it for this time.  I hope you are getting some inspiration to sew or to buy some new duds for your dollies!   Tune in next week for information on the next challenge….you never know what juicy tidbits I’ll dig up…er find out for your reading pleasure.  And, be sure to watch for big doings over at our sister site’s blog on Friday 9/10!!