It Starts With An Inspiration…

And a shit load of thread…

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…those who bitch about doll prices need to try their hand at sewing. I personally love to sew, and I’m thrilled it’s one of the things that has taught me great patience. With miniature sewing, there exists a host of extra complications that heat your needle, ‘sew’ to speak (Ha!). In addition to being unnaturally obsessed with Gone With The Wind, I also have a serial insanity when it comes to Christian Dior. The man was arguably the greatest couturier of the 20th century, and his quote, “having style means having your own style” rests with me like a resonating harmony of light.

Compiègne by Dior

Compiègne by Dior

It’s one thing to look upon haute couture and feel your testes drop an inch or two…it’s another thing to understand the way it is made. I’ve never had an issue with any doll maker taking inspiration from runway looks because transforming them into miniature creates an entirely new concept – a new vision. Only the most accomplished designers can render successful results. For me, I get just a little too sidetracked with other inspirations that fuse themselves into what I see as something I want to sew. For Christian Dior gowns – couture that is tricks the eye by making fashion shapes from seemingly impossible fabric draping (often begging you to question if the gown was made from one piece of fabric) – I get distracted with embellishment – and given the amount of couture fabrics I have in my arsenal, you can expect some serious high fashion warfare.

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As was the case when I came across this incredible gown, worn by Jennifer Lawrence to the 2013 Oscars. It’s a Dior update inspired by vintage Dior. I fell in love with the shape…and the rest is bleeding finger history.

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Now…I had just developed a pattern that I could use for this, but it would require some re-shaping. I was also not a fan of the drop waist silhouette, but loved the wide-ass flare working itself into a frenzy all over her stylish rear. The fabric choice showcases the brilliance of the gown’s construction – but it’s a bit too bridal for me. Yep…this was the one…and so I set out to make the first muslin.

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The underskirt was cut extra-long because after adding my petticoat, the last thing I wanted was to cut the train too short. The first muslin was exciting, adjustments needed to be made to the overskirt, and the blue zipper was nothing short of trend-setting.

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Creating a muslin toile is a step I’ve avoided in the past – and ruined many a fine fabric. So in another step toward patience (and virtue, sweetie) I got back into making a toile, and what an eye-opening experience it was!

Nope...but this would serve as inspiration later...

Nope…but this would serve as inspiration later…

With a muslin copy, I could pin and drape – cut and adjust – I could even draw graffiti on it without even the slightest hint of remorse. And with my copy ready, I got to the task at hand – the fabric choice. Around 2000, I was in Lyon – basically the capitol of silk production in France. I spent much more than I should on some unique and breathtaking Lyonnaise silks – some embroidered and beaded, some only simple executions with flawless results. This one ombre silk chiffon caught my eye, particularly with its unusual beaded pattern. The fabric was made to be cut in two directions, giving the designer the ability to capitalize on the ombre, and give them a directional choice with the beading pattern. It cost about €450 for one square meter – that was roughly $675 then. So you can understand why it took me so long to cut it. And cut it, I did…to try and use it for an upscale Elsa (Frozen) gown. It failed miserably (no muslin was created – but there were other issues with it and the other fabrics at my disposal). But it was cut – so I had to do something with it. Luckily, I had only cut it down the center, giving me two beautiful sheets of beaded silk chiffon.

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Right half

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Left half

Draping it on the muslin was a no-brainer for the underskirt – it seemed a perfect natural.

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But what to do with the balance of it? Or, should I save it for a future dress? I walked around staring at it, pinning it (unsuccessfully) – and so I eventually just tossed it aside, and set forth with gown construction. Know this – if I had been able to decide earlier, I would have taken different measures in the fabrication. Be that as it may, with most creative types, I can change my mind at the drop of a sequin – and as such, I figured I’d just let this one go with the flow, ask ‘what would Dior do?’ Start cutting…

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The base gown was cut of silk duchess satin – and those of you who do sew know it is woven of such tightly spun threads that it can curl on the edges while it just sits around. It also ravels like a son-of-a-bitch when handled repeatedly – but it has good body, and t will support the weight of the skirt, while also cupping the breasts ever so firmly.

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Because of the design, and the beaded fabric (which you cannot run through a home machine), the lining had to be done in increments. So the underskirt was sewn first with its lining…

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Likewise, the overskirt peplum, which would only extend in the back of the skirt, also had to be lined separately…

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When completed, I had one half of a fully finished gown – well, sort of. It’s an odd thing, and it certainly serves as inspiration for some fun project in the future…

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Next, sew the front and its lining…

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Stitch at side seams leaving the inside lining free…

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I could have left this just as is…and that was the original plan – but this is my own style…and that meant the dress needed some whoring up

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After looking at the images I took of the initial draping, I saw that perfect little leaf pattern just begging for a drape – pin it up – and things started to design themselves…

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Girl was going all ‘goddess‘ on me…but the challenge I was having was keeping the lining free on the inside while stitching the outside…

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I anchor with beads because this fabric was just too sheer to hide stitches AND keep it free from the lining. Truth be told, some stitches slipped…but look, if you want to wear your clothes inside out, be my guest – or back off, bitch.

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Poppy was loving it…and the blue was so becoming on her. I think I must have sang ‘A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes‘ about a thousand times until my mother was about to beat me senseless. Hey…whistle while you work, Puddings…

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You can never have ‘too big’ jewels, I always say…and with a handful of Swarovski crystals, make it sparkle

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At this point, the asymmetry had overtaken the gown, so I wanted to balance with some ‘parting glance‘ sarcasm…so why not just sprinkle a few beaded leaves on the side back to leave an impression along with that skirt? They gasp as she arrives – they wet their pants as she departs…

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Nothing says, ‘Bitch‘ like a dramatic train…

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Finishing touches, repair beading that exhibited duress while being in storage (and all the times I unfolded it to try and make it workTim Gunn would be proud), and stitch down that lining interior…

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There is a simple petticoat with eight layers of net attached to a silk shantung yoke underneath, but I didn’t add any flourishes to it – I have made some pretty detailed undergarments in my time – but for this, we just needed some structural support, and it’s not like she’s going to flash anyone on the red carpet (at least not that I think).

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Aurora by Tom Courtney to fit 16inch Poppy Parker by Integrity Toys

I think the resulting gown would make some Lyonnaise-tambour-hook-beading-virgins pretty happy AND Christian Dior, too. What do you think?

 

11 thoughts on “It Starts With An Inspiration…

  1. Brilliant! You never cease to amaze me with your artistry, your creativity and yes, you brat, your writing ability too. I am certain that M.Dior is equally impressed.

  2. Pingback: ‘Cause in Vienna…We Were Poetry… | tommydoll

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