Thursday, June 18, 2009


Over the years I have been told, "Diane, you are so creative, you should be a fashion designer."

I learned in college that I am not a fashion designer. I can't make up new fashions off the top of my head. I think I am creative, but not inventive.

I am a good copier.

I am good at looking at a design and figuring out how it is put together. Unless it is draped. That still eludes me. When I see a drawing or a photo of an outfit that I like. I start thinking about how I can make it, and miniaturize it. I sometime will make something that is a composite of several outfits that I like, but usually I just copy what I see. I never claim I make the design myself, if I was inspired by Dior, I give him credit. Most fashion doll collectors love copies of real fashions and costumes, I know I do.

The other thing I hear a lot besides "You're crazy!" is, "You could make so much more money sewing for humans."

I don't agree with that at all. First of all, I love sewing for the 15"-16" fashion doll. I think they are the perfect size for me. They are big enough to get detailed without going crazy like I did sewing for Barbie, and small enough that I can get an outfit out of a small piece of fabric.

The other thing I love about sewing for dolls is they have perfect figures. Everything looks great on them, they never loose or gain weight, and they don't mind standing around naked for days or getting poked with pins. I would much rather sew a gown for my dolls than an ugly bridesmaid dress.

Also in my experience, people don't want to pay what it is really worth for a custom garment. Some even think it should be cheaper than what they find in the store.

I use to make a lot of clothes for myself until I had my children. The body has never been the same since! It also doesn't save money sewing for myself, and the fabric selections in my area leave a lot to be desired.

If I weighed less, and had a place to wear them, I would make myself Marfy clothes. I love many of their designs. But I'm a mom of 3, and live in a town where if you don't wear your PJ's to Walmart you're dressing up.

I think I will stick to sewing for the dolls.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley!

This outfit has some history. In 2003 when I finally decided to sew for Gene, I was totally inspired by the Judy Garland film "Meet Me in St. Louis". I have always loved this movie, it is my favorite Judy Garland movie ever. I love the story, the music, and the costumes.

I started by sketching all of "Esther's" costumes. I wanted to make all of them, even the underwear. I thought long and hard about what fabrics I would use for each outfit. Is the Christmas dress made of velvet or satin? How am I going to make the Halloween blouse? Will I ever be able to find fringe for Esther's party dress? I started looking around for fabrics and trims for her wardrobe.

Six years later, I have finally made my first miniature costume from the film. The trolley costume is my absolute favorite Esther costume. I love how she stands out from all the other actors in the scene. I can't imagine wearing that many clothes during the summer in St. Louis though.

One of the reasons it has taken me so long to get around to making this outfit was I needed an "Esther". I didn't have a Gene with long red hair and bangs. For a brief moment I considered using a wig, but I couldn't find the right one. I decided too late that Hibiscus would have been great as my model, but by then she was sold out and I was unwilling to pay the prices she is going for. I finally decided to buy an early Wu Gene with the long red hair.

I brushed her hair out and straightened it. Here she is looking like Lady Godiva sans the horse.

I let her hair dry and then cut it shorter. I pulled the front back and the poofed it a little on top. Presto! I now have my faux Esther.

The most challenging thing to make was the pleated, plaid skirt. I had two different fabrics, a cotton plaid and a silk plaid. I made the first skirt out of the silk. I loved the silk plaid, but the plaid was bigger and after I pleated it, I decided it didn't look like Esther's skirt. Next I tried the cotton plaid. The size of the plaid matched the film's plaid better. I ended up making the pleats by edge stitching every plaid. First on one side, and then I would flip it and sew the other side. I had never done anything like this before. I ended up with an accordion pleated strip of fabric.

It took forever to sew! But I am happy about how the pleats turned out. The skirt is stiffer than the one in the movie, but sometimes you can't replicate everything perfectly in miniature. You have to find what works.

I hope you enjoyed my saga of the Trolley outfit. I plan on making the tennis, Halloween, Christmas, and dinner dresses soon. I am still on the hunt for the fabric and trims for the blue party dress and the blue wool coat.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Modes Royale

Over a year ago, I discovered the Modes Royale patterns. I became an obsessed woman trying to track down pictures of the patterns. I was so excited when I was able to buy a whole bunch of scanned catalogues on CD. I have found many outfits I want to recreate.

Here is what I have done so far.

Monday, June 1, 2009

2008 Gallery

In 2008 I tried creating limited editions. I would sew a bunch of outfits that were the same color at the same time. It worked out great in some ways. I made a lot of clothes, but it was monotonous at times and I only made red, cream, black, and grey clothes. It is faster to make several of the same thing at one time, but after I made 8 grey sheaths, I decided that was too much!