Sew Crafy

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.