Sweet Leisure: An inside look on the design and sewing details

Dolly Jewelry Details

A combination of glass beads that complemented or matched the colors of the fashion fabric were used. I want to use this approach more in the future. I think that subtle gradations of color add an extra dimension to the interplay between jewelry and clothing. For this ensemble the gold beads break up the flow from cream into a palest creamy pink but at the time I thought it would provide interest. I think the ability to discern such flowing of one color into another takes time to develop.

Hand Sewing and Garment Construction Details

The marvelous thing about working in 1:6 scale is that there is an opportunity to try out couture techniques such as hand finished seams and closures. The plus side is that the large and more time consuming aspect associated with full scale clothing is not present. The drawback and challenge is finding the appropriate notions in small sizes. For this piece I experimented with rayon thread to sew and finish the seams. It is much more delicate and requires extra conditioning but the outcome was good in my opinion.

The gown was underlined in a very light weight poly china silk. Lace along the cuffs and neckline was applied along the outside of the neckline and sleeves after these were finished. I think inserting the lace into the seam makes for extra bulk.

Even though the gown was underlined I rarely catch stitch the seams to it since it sometimes distorts the shape of such small pieces. The facing edge at center front was the only part catch stitched from neck to hemline. Of course the hems of sleeves and skirt were also catch stitched to the underlining.

Pressing, Shaping and Fitting Details

Shape is built into the darts and waistline by hand pressing all seams before steaming over a tailor’s ham or sleeve roll. Although the craft supplier I bought these buttons from recommended them for 1:6 scale sewing I now think that even smaller buttons would have been more suitable. At the time, though, I could not find anything smaller in a cream color.

Commercially made fashion doll clothes often omit the darts at the back of a fitted bodice. With the patternmaking system I use I’ve found that the fit is unsuitable when these darts are eliminated. So I sew them in by hand very carefully. I do not sew the waistline of bodice and skirt together. Instead I lap the bodice seams over the skirt and fell stitch into place. The result is a better and smoother fit, even when there is a tiny bit of ease at the waistline.

I’ve also found that set in sleeves result in a bulky fit where the armhole meets the side seam. It is for this reason that up until now I’ve used variations of close fitting kimono sleeves without gusset for doll clothing. I’m considering using this type of sleeve to experiment with creating other sleeves that have the appearance of a raglan sleeve or a sleeve that combines kimono at the back and set in sleeve at the front of the bodice.

More to come in the New Year. Best wishes to all my readers and followers for a very happy holiday season.

Underlining, Cutting, Marking and Basting a 1:6 scale doll outfit

It is possible to underline a 1:6 scale doll outfit provided the material used is very lightweight. Depending on the effect desired I’ve used poly chiffon, poly China silk, lightweight muslin and nylon tulle with good results. Sometimes it is necessary to experiment on scraps of fabric to learn the technique and develop the sensibility for what will work well together. I did this with the dress design I call “Cheongsam, New York Style”. For the trial run I used long vertical stitches to hold together a layer of 100% cotton with poly china silk. The fabric was first trued and steam pressed and pinned in place before basting together.

The pattern pieces are laid out on the fabric and pinned into place. I find using fine straight pins with colored glass heads a good way to keep track of the slender pins. Marking seam allowances onto the pattern is the best way to go when working on such a small scale.

I’ve found using the Fiskars Micro-tip Scissors just right for cutting out 1:6 scale garment pieces. I prefer to use white dressmakers marking paper since the markings vanish after steam pressing. For all marking in 1:6 scale I use a smooth tracing wheel.

The garment pieces after cutting have key lines and darts thread traced in black. The darts and seams are then pinned into place and basted. I do not recommend pin basting, especially on such a small scale, even when hand sewing. Small, even hand sewn stitches are just not possible when sewing over pins.

The cut and basted garment pieces are kept together with the needles and thread used for hand sewing in a plastic baggie. It is a good idea to jot down any notes regarding notions or construction onto 3″ x 5″ file cards and include that in the baggie. This will help you remember what to do next if there will be an interruption or long break between hand sewing sessions.

Special Note: It turned out to be a good thing I made a toile for the Cheongsam, New York Style dress. The dart intake was too big and the fit on the doll was very unsatisfactory. After creating two smaller darts the dress looked very good when made up in the fashion fabric. I will present the Cheongsam, New York Style dress in my next posting.