Category Archives: tutorials

Steampunk Couture

Back in July we were given another and one of the last challenges on Couture Doll Shops.  This one was on the current Steampunk craze.  NOw I love Steampunk, and there are so many different genres of it, I had to decide which way to go.  First thoughts would have been using one of my larger BJD’s to model, but I had just got my new OOAK Numina from Paul Pham and really wanted to use her.

Victorian and historical clothing are one of my favorites to design- funny how I never really paid attention to it when I was younger and going to fashion schools. One always appreciates the past as they get older.  I think I am also much more into fashion in a different way than I was back then too.  I can see the influences past and historical fashion has on current designers- although some of the greats (John Galliano, Christian LaCroix, McQueen) are not showing designs at the moment, two being out of work and the last having passed away.

Anyway, I wanted to Victorian influences as the base of my design.  Stay with the true Steampunk origins.  Lots of research of Steampunk went into finding out what Steampunk really was- so many blogs and websites.  It really is quite interesting.

I decided on a a corset, jacket and short skirt with a bustled back.  I didn’t take too many pics while making it but did take some- so here’s how it went.

Making the Corset

Trying to do something a little different than just a corset so I decided to quilt the fabric like I have in some previous designs:

I used my basic corset pattern drafted a while ago but had to fit it to the Numina body.  Muslin sample:

From the fabric stash (since I am trying to use up the fabric I have on hand) here are the fabric choices for a old Victorian feel

Ivor silk brocade, tan and ivory herringbone twill with just a touch of rose stripe, and a rust colored crossdye silk taffeta.

Quilted taffeta for the corset

First I quilted the taffeta then cut out my adjusted pattern pieces diagonally on the fabric.

Because the quilted taffeta has a stabilizer for the quilting I did not need to interface the body but did interface the lining.

Corset taking shape

corset lining in ivory brocade

Finishing the corset up, the top and bottom are banded with bias cut strips and hand sewn on the back.  Antique brass eyelets for lacing are added and the corset it done!  Now onto the skirt.  My time is starting to run out………

Finished corset with banded edges

Corset back with eyelets and lacing

Assembling the Skirt

The skirt I made out of the ivory brocade, a basic mini skirt, and added a drape like the Victorian fashions, in the taffeta.    The train I drafted by hand,  cut it out in muslin to make sure I had the right shape and sewed it up in the taffeta with the brocade lining it.  This I hand sewed on to the back of the skirt.

Skirt with drape

Train ready to be hand sewn onto skirt

The last part was the bustle and this was a little tricky to figure out.  I din’t want something super large and wanted something light enough that could also be removes.  I also wanted to use lace.  The brocade was just too heavy to do a full bustle out of.   Again I drafted a shape out of paper to test it, cut it out of a nylon tulle and sewed layers of pregathered lace onto it.  Finding the right lace at the right width was a challenge,  I liked how it turned out though

the top was banded, then attached using snaps

From here my time was really short and I made the jacket without pictures.  It was lined in the ivory brocade.

A top hat was also made and I’ll add a tutorial for that later.

Love how the photo shoot turned out.

Steampunk Couture

Steampunk Couture can be viewed and purchased at Madeleine Rose Couture

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CDS- Haute Couture Challenge

It’s time for another Challenge!

This time it’s a Haute Couture challenge- oohhhh right up my alley.
http://couturedollshop.blogspot.com/

The Challenge: Haute couture is the creation of exclusive, custom-fitted clothing. Clothes that fit to one person’s precise measurements are the norm. It is also defined by the opulence of fabrics used, the fabulosity of cuts performed superbly, and/or the rarity of the elements used to develop it. Haute couture is definitive; it is something you just know when you see it. And, haute couture’s exclusivity makes the privileged few who can afford it go mad! Hum…….Could haute couture also drive doll collectors this crazy? Well, we hope not – at least that isn’t our intention at all, dahlings!

So for this challenge I immediately think of the new Dior collection-and a design I have had for a while that just never came to be completely. I had started the pattern for it and was going to originally make it in blue, but gray would work too, wouldn’t it?

Dior Haute Couture Spring 2010


Dior Haute Couture Spring 2010


And who would be the perfect model for this challenge? Psyche-my FDQ Numina Grey, of course. She wears the color gray so well.

Psyche- FDQ Numina Grey

Wednesday, July 7
I’m using the idea of my Victorian riding habits as a base, but will use a shorter straight skirt and do some bows and flowers in the back.
I was able to get the skirt done pretty quickly since I started this thing pretty late with only less than a week before due date.

skirt almost completed


skirt back with bow

Thursday, July 8
Now the jacket was going to be a challenge. I can use the jacket pattern from my CDDC challenge 2 as a base, but I will need to change the collar on it.

collar done


Got the base of the jacket done today, tomorrow I will need to get the lining in and finish it. Time is running out. Doesn’t look like I will be able to complete the corset like I had hoped. Oh well, I’ll make it for the sale of this suit.

Jacket almost finished

Friday, July 9
Today was a busy and exhausting day. I don’t know why I wait until the last minute to do these things. Wait! I know why- because I procrastinate!! Well that and I always have so much on my plate. We did take vacation, and I have been redoing the bathroom so, this had to wait a little bit. I did get the lining finished and the suit is complete. Now on to the hat! in which this will be a whole tutorial.

the back- still needs the flowers for color

Sunday, July 11
I didn’t get a chance to work on anything yesterday. So today is finishing touches. Finish the hat and make the shoes. So here is the tutorial for making a silk top hat:

Silk Top Hat tutorial

Got my pics in- now it’s just the waiting game………

Friday, July 23
I woke up late this morning-started my coffee and immediately went to the computer to see who won this challenge.
Surprise! Surprise! it was me! I really thought Mike and Ina were going to win. I thought they had a great entry with the Avatar inspiration Gaultier used. Every one did a great job and overall the whole purpose for this was to draw attention to CDS-Couture Doll Shops.

Well I can’t wait for the Cami doll- I really liked them when they first came out- let’s see what I come up for her!

As for the Haute Couture Challenge outfit? Well it will be available for purchase on my website later today.
The Boutique at Madeleine Rose Couture

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Let’s Make a Silk Top Hat!

Here is the tutorial, as promised, for making the silk top hats from my riding habits and the new L’habitude en Soie Grise.

Black silk top hat

I used the book ‘The Art of Making Miniature Millinery’ by Timothy Alberts as a reference. This is a great book to have along with his ‘The Art of Making Beautiful Fashion Doll Shoes’. I have used both these books as reference in my OOAK designs.

SO to start-first you need to come up with your pattern and shape of hat. Sorry I am not providing a pattern for this as all dolls have different sized heads. There are basic parts of a hat: the brim, which is the outer part that usually protects our faces from the sun, and the crown. This hat is in three patterns-a crown consisting of the top connecting to a band, and the brim. Measure your dolls head to determine how large you band will be. Add about an 1/4″ to 3/8 for extra room of the wire and fabric if you want it to fit down around her head. Make sure you do the measurement with her wig on if she wears one. Cut a rectangle out of brown paper of this measurement length plus 1/4 seam allowance by however high you want the hat to stand. Now whatever the circumference is of this band, you will cut either a circle or oval for the top of the crown (cut it slightly smaller to allow for the wire sewn around it. I used an oval shape.
The brim will have a circle (or oval) cut out in the middle and then the desired width of the brim cut around. (On the inside of the brim you will need to add a seam allowance for sewing it onto the band) I used a center back seam on mine to make my brim curve up a little bit before shaping the wire after it was completed. All these pieces should be cut out of brown paper first so you can tape it together to determine your hat shape will work. No pics of this as I had an existing pattern I used.

Hat pattern out of manilla paper

Now that we have decided our hat shape, we need to gather our supplies! What you will need:
Buckram-I get mine from Judith M Millinery supplies
http://www.judithm.com/
You can also purchase it from Doll Artists Workshop
http://www.minidolls.com/

Millinery Wire-19 to 22 gauge works well. You can purchase this at either place above.
Tie Wire-a very thin wire used to join the millinery wire into the shape of the hat.
Needle Noose pliers
wire cutters
bias cut muslin strips 3/4″ to 1″ wide
Cotton Flannel-in white for the mulling process
Grosgrain Ribbon-1/4″ for inside brim
Silk for lining inside crown
Trims- for decorating hat
Sobo Glue
Fabrictac glue
The buckram does have a grain, cut out pattern with grain up and down.
Cut out pattern pieces once the hat pattern is complete with fitting and seam allowance. Mark center fronts and backs.

pieces cut out in buckram


supplies

Spring your wire and shape around the tip or top of the crown. connect together using the tie wire.

Buckram piece with wire ready to be sewn


Using double thread with thread conditioner, slip stitch the wire around the outside edge of the top buckram piece.

wire slip stitched around edge of hat tip


Now stab stitch the center back seam of the band. Make sure it fits smoothly around the tip with the wire.
Measure the wire around the outside of the brim, join together using tie wire. Do the same for the inside of the brim along the seam allowance. Slip stitch the outside brim wire around the brim; stab stitch the inside wire to the underside of the brim along inside line (the seam allowance will be clipped and turned upward-away from the wire to be connected to the band).

pieces with wire sewn on ready to be sewn together

Now comes the fun part where your hat will actually start taking shape. Slip stitch the band to the top or tip(as in millinery talk) matching your CF and CB.

top sewn to band

Fit the brim inside the band and stab stitch those together around the base matching your CF and CB. Your hat buckram base should look something like this:

buckram base with wire

Now we are going to bind the edges of the hat to cover the wire. Take your bias cut muslin strips and gently stretch one strip around the tip and band- cut to size. Using Sobo glue glue this strip around the tip and band to cove the wire. The bias cut should make it to kind of fold over the edges when stretched.

strips of bias cut muslin


muslin glued around wire edges

The mulling process begins-you don’t necessarily need to do this part, but I think it makes for a much smoother surface of the hat. Cut out of your flannel: one tip, one band and two brims with no seam allowances. glue these to their corresponding buckram pieces to cover the hat nice and smooth. It can get a little messy with the glue.

the mulling process finished

Out of your fabric you will cut a tip with SA and two brims with SA. The band will be cut on the bias with seam allowance all around.
Sew a running stitch around the top piece of fabric. Place it on the top of the hat and pull the stitches so it conforms around the top of the hat. Smooth it out on the top and stab stitch in place through all thicknesses.
top and brim pieces sewn on
The brim will be sewn on-the top first. Stab stitch it to the base of the band through all thicknesses-curve the edges over to the bottom of the brim. A running stitch will again make this process easier. Slip stitch it underneath to the flannel. The bottom piece of the brim will be stab stitch around the base of the band again thorugh all thicknesses and then the seam allowance will be turned under and a very small invisible or slip stitch will sew the edge to the top part around the outer edge of the brim. Look above at picture.

Now I was in a hurry to get this hat finished for the challenge so I failed to take pics of the rest. The band will be fitted around the band of the hat-press under the seam allowances on both long sides- fit it around the hat and mark the seam. Stitch and turn right side out. Very carefully fit it over the hat into place around the hat band. the lining is pretty basic, out of silk or cotton sew one tip and band together to make an inside lining- place inside hat and stab stitch in place along with the bottom of the band around the base of the hat.
Glue a piece of grosgrain ribbon around the inside edge to cover stitching and finish it off. On the outside glue your ribbon around the base and add trims to your desire- use Fabrictac glue for this. Shape the brim as desired- I turned mine up like a top hat has.
Voila! your hat is complete.

Finished hat

You may need to use small pins to keep hat on doll’s head.

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Doll Photography-What Works for Me-part 1

Taking pictures of our dolls has become a favorite past time of many collectors. I am constantly seeing beautiful photographs on the doll boards, Flickr, Picturetrail, personal blogs and of course the doll magazines-Hautedoll and FDQ. There are a few collectors that stand out; the hauntingly beautiful images Michelle Blankenship(Visibly-Vintage) creates with Superdoll’s Sybarites (I think she should create a calendar or coffee table book of her pictures), Alex Forbes(Alex’s Attic) with many different fashion dolls, Paul Pham(Dollcis)-the creator of the Numina dolls, Grey and Asher, to name a few.

Photo by Michelle Blankenship


Couture Salon photo by Michelle Blankenship


Numina Asher

Numina Asher photo by Paul Pham


Numina Grey

Numina Grey photo by Alex Forbes

As an artist, I am always trying to perfect my photos to these artists level, and to showcase my designs in the best possible light(pun intended), as well as be creative in the process.

So here is a little tutorial of what works for me so far in taking pictures. I am no expert, and am always trying new things. Perhaps you can pick up a few tips that will work for you too.

Gathering Up Your Equipment
Camera-Well of course having a good camera and lens can make a huge difference in the clarity of your pictures-but if you don’t have access to one, there are some point and shoot that I have seen take great pics.
Tripod-A good sturdy tripod is a must to prevent camera shake. I use mine all the time.

SLIK Tripod 400D

Backdrop-There are several different ways of doing a backdrop. Some prefer light tents

Light tent from B & H Photo


I have one, but don’t use it too often. What I use is a large foam core board I scored to make a three fold. So those foam core presentation boards work well to drape fabric over for your backdrop. You want to make sure it is tall enough though to end at least 8-12″ above your subject. Use fabric that is not shiny(unless you are going for that look in your picture)and will absorb light to create a softer background. I find using satin reflects the light and creates a distraction from your subject. A velvet type fabric will absorb the light and create a softer background.
Lighting-Probably the most important part of photography is getting the right light. Lighting creates the mood for the picture, whether you want a crystal clear bright picture or something a little more artistic.
I am constantly trying to find the right lighting. I mostly use a 500 watt tungsten light with dome that has different diffusers on it to create different moods. A good at home set up could be the metal clamp on lights you can purchase inexpensively at a home improvement store.

Dome lights and back drop


On the above setup- you want to have your lights set a little more in front to light your subject properly. I don’t have anything to attach mine to but wanted to give you the idea.
Make sure you use a true white light-your basic soft white lights you use at home will create a yellow cast to your pictures. Two of those clamp on lights should do the trick- one on either side aimed at your subject. Ott lights are another option that work well for a true light.
Know Your Camera-Read the manual!!! You need to know the settings on your camera and what they do to take great pictures. Of course we can all just use the auto setting-but then the flash may pop up and wash out the pic-no, the best photographers rarely use the flash on the camera. If anything, they will use a speed light or external flash. I like to use the settings for the light I am using and no flash.

I am finding a P(program AE) or AV(Aperture priority AE ) setting is good to start with. The three things you may want to know about on your camera is aperture(F-stop, how open the lens is to let light in)ISO(What ISO denotes is how sensitive the image sensor is to the amount of light present) and shutter speed(the amount of time the shutter is open). Another is your white balance(whether you’ll get the right color or a (yellow or blue) color cast). You can always correct WB in a photo editing program. Finding the right settings for your light source and what you want is a lot of trial and error I find as well. Especially if you are just beginning. Like I said, I am no expert- just passing along the info I’ve discovered so far that works for me.

So gather up your equipment-get to know your camera- and come back for part 2!

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CDS-The Other Red Carpet Challenge

You can read what the challenge is here

February 22, 2010 The Making of An OOAK Gown
Red Carpet again. Well I guess with the Oscars right around the corner it seems fitting. And Purple. Hmmmm. Guess I’ll have to pull out my purple stash that I don’t even know if I have. Purple is not a color I collect too often. But I do believe I have some; an orchid color silk velvet and vintage pale lavender beaded silk; a deep lavender silk charmeuse I could use with a black lace. I immediately think of Dior’s Spring 2010 RTW collection with the lingerie inspirations.

Dior Spring 2010 RTW

Dior Couture Fall 2009

February 23, 2009 On with the Design!
I start fitting a bodice to a Syb but there is Psyche (Numina Grey) looking at me-“When are you going to do my gown? You know the crossdye orange and ombre mesh?” Yes I know. I’m dying to use this fabric but it is not purple. But, the fabric shop did have it in a purple tone, didn’t they? If I remember correctly. I’m going to have to check that out.

February 24, 2010 Idea Changes
I ran down to the fabric shop after work today and picked up the purple ombre mesh. It has a lot more brown in it than I remembered but I still think it will be pretty. Now to find a coordinating fabric for the bodice.
While I was going through my fabric bolts I ended up finding (buried under some other taffetas) a bright purple crossdye that blends in great with the mesh. I forgot I had this one! Now I will be able to do sister gowns: one in purple and a similar style in the oranges.

Ombre mesh and silk taffeta

February 28, 2010 Fitting the Bodice

I started fitting a bodice to Psyche. For this I am going to use an existing corset pattern I drafted a few years ago on the Tyler bustform.
I sewed up the corset in muslin and tried it on Psyche. It’s a little big in the chest but the waist length is good. I’m going to pin in where it is big and mark it it on the muslin. I also want to change the front seamline a bit, so I am going to mark that as well.

Muslin toile on Psyche, adjustments marked.

Back view. You can see it's a little large


Now I am going to cut along my marks, and take apart the corset where there are seams along the marks as well as cut away the seam allowances.

When I cut a pattern, I always make a couple copies (I have a 4-in-1 copier at home, makes it very convenient for pattern making).
Placing the cut muslin pieces on top of their corresponding paper patterns, you’ll see where to draw new lines.

muslin pieces on top of their paper pieces


From here I true up the seams and and seam allowance. I’m also changing the bottom line from a V to a curved drop waist.

truing up with a french curve


seam allowance added and bottom adjusted


matching the seams and notching

March 2, 2010-Going Straight to the Fabric
From here I would usually make another toile to check fit on the revised pattern, but I have enough fabric to do another if it doesn’t work. Besides,(and I know this sounds a little conceited) but I am pretty confident in my pattern making skills that the fit will be pretty near perfect.
So here it goes…. I’m underlining the pieces in a stiff cotton underlining instead of the usual woven fusible I use.

underlining basted on the taffeta

Here the seams are stitched and pressed open; topstitching is going to be applied for decorative purposes and to hold the boning. I’m using a Sulky rayon embroidery thread and an edge stitch foot to get a precise top stitch. I set the needle position to 1/8″ away from the seam and the edge stitch foot fits neatly into the seam.

edge stitch foot and topstitching

corset with topstitching


See how great the topstitching is? From here, boning will be inserted after the bra cups are sewn in.

Bra sewn in-boning inserted and checking fit. I couldn’t be happier with how it’s turning out. Psyche is too- she can’t wait to strut her stuff on the runway.

checking the fit before lining is sewn in.

March 5, 2010-Starting the Skirt
Tonight I sewed in the lining. I’m dying to get the skirt started though. Drafting out a skirt on tissue, I’ll use this as a guide and stabilizer to sew the ruffles on.

corset almost finished- lining sewn in


tissue skirt pattern with guide lines drawn

I want this skirt to be flowing- not stiff so I found some mauve tulle that will work well for the underskirt the ruffles are sewn to. Plus I’ll be able to see the guide lines rather than having to draw them onto taffeta.

lines drawn for ruffles and tulle base pinned on top


First row of ruffles- I’m using a 5:1 ratio for the ruffles and am starting at the bottom. I managed to get two rows sewn on tonight.

first two rows of ruffles sewn onto tulle underskirt

March 7, 2010-Skirt is Finished
I finished sewing all the ruffles this weekend. Seven rows of tulle confection. I have already attached it to the corset and decided to have the corset lace up the back. It has turned out gorgeous and Psyche is thrilled. Now it’s onto the accessories.

ruffles getting sewn on- skirt is pinned to the corset at this time

March 11, 2010 Finished!
The accessories I decided to make were a silver faux leather clutch and matching crystal heeled sandals-in which shoe making needs to be a another tutorial. So here is the final gown-Passion. Psyche looks so great.
Close up of Passion
Full gown
Crystal heeled shoes

This will be on the CDS (Couture Doll Shop) blog fashion show and for sale on my website Madeleine Rose Couture

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