Sunday, 13 July 2014

Inspiration is contagious

This week, my second Ghoulia was finally able to climb on the shelf after spending almost a year in drawers and bags, often in pieces or in an otherwise very sorry state. She was one of three dolls I bought nude with the intention of customising. I regret that purchase for many reasons. The lack of outfits didn't lower the prices enough to make it a good deal. Second, any outfit, no matter how lame at first, is better than nothing. At the rate I sew new clothes, my dolls have to stay in their original ones for a very long time. Lastly, I discovered that I enjoy factory clothes (and shoes!) a lot more than I thought I would, even if they don't fit my taste. Poor Scaris Ghoulia with ruined hair was deserted on an empty shelf to remind me of my mistake until one day I was able to fix it and I went looking for a dress to fit her newfound gorgeousness. Luckily, the solution was right here in my reading list. I'll leave the hair story for another day, but I'd like to talk about a little relay race I had with Barbielea that led to the creation of this dress :)

 Back in April I wrote this tutorial about sewing snaps on doll clothes. It was nothing fancy - simply detailing the steps I took to exchange factory hook-and-loop tape with snaps. Little did I know it would prompt one of my readers, Barbielea, to explore other closure options and come up with a dress pattern that had no closures at all! I loved it. It was simple enough to motivate me to try it, and detailed enough to look like a properly tailored dress. I encourage everyone to click that link. The pattern was an excellent starting point, but I couldn't use it without gothifying it to my taste. I decided to embellish it with chains so I doodled a design reminiscent of Ghoulia's original Scaris dress which I regret not buying.

Promo photo

This isn't the only deviation I made from Barbielea's original dress. Where she made a specific point that the back edges need to overlap nicely, I wanted my dress backless, a change that gave me lots of headaches later. I also cut the bulky bow at the neck and replaced it with a single snap. That is a matter of preference. If you want to make that dress, I suggest you follow the pattern to the letter. There are only two valid improvements I could think of:
1) bigger seam allowances (depending on the fabric)
2) change the part below the bum from a trapeze to a rectangle, otherwise it sticks up. I also added a slit to compensate loss of movement.

As with all my projects, this "easy" dress took over a month to complete. The first picture I have is of the marked fabric. Ghoulia looks terrified.

I chose black velvet, well aware that velvet is like fur for dolls. I made a rookie mistake while handling the large piece - misplaced the stretch direction. I realized it only much later when I was struggling to sew waist darts and the dress would not go over the hips. At this point the end seemed so close that I didn't want to start anew.

It wasn't.

If this was any other fabric, it would have been riddled with holes from all my attempts to sew darts. Thankfully, velvet is very forgiving in this aspect. It would have been much easier if the back was closed and pinned together. Seriously, people, don't try to change patterns! They are what they are for a reason!

At last, the dress body was made and I started pinning chain pieces according to my design.

I pinned one half, took it off the doll, and made the other half. It was very difficult to find the correct placement so I added a couple of extra links at the ends.

I proceeded to sew the resulting facehugger skeleton to the dress. It was no easy task. Everything tangled, fell, twisted and the incorrect stretch of the fabric made it a thousand times worse. Was it worth the trouble? There are some places I'm not very happy with and the dress is a pain to put on and off, but I love it!

The last thing I did was sew some satin ribbon on the bottom hem to stop the curling at the rear slit. It also added some necessary length. Then I trimmed the back edges with the same ribbon folded in half.

I took many photos of different angles and now I feel silly because none of the ones that show the back turned out good. Sorry!

I made some quick gloves to complete the outfit. They need more work; maybe I'll include a proper pattern in another accessories post. Look at the dress though!

Side-rear view:

I want to make chain dresses for everyone now. It's very convenient for dolls to have their jewellery pinned to their clothes and looks awesome, too. What do you think? Did I pass any inspiration to anyone this time? I'd love to hear I did!

The Black Kitty


  1. Oh, wow! That dress is stunning and the way you've styled her just makes it all the more fabulous.

    1. Thank you! I was myself very impressed with how perfect the hair lay the last time I curled it, considering it was fried and barely covering the scalp.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! I see you started a blog too, I'll go check it out :)

  3. The dress came out really nice. I like the changes you made. I definitely have to make this dress.

    1. Please follow Barbielea's directions instead (linked in this article), or at least cut the back out at the very end. I'm sure she'd appreciate a comment from you if you decide to make this dress, so don't forget to check out her blog ;)

  4. It looks wonderful Blackkitty!! I had planned to try with a popper instead of a tie myself. I wrote the tutorial that way because I was kind of fascinated by the idea of making a doll dress with no fasteners needed - something you can make even if you have run out of poppers and you can't find the velcro (which happens to me all the time). It looks much classier and neater that way, anyway. And I love the chains!! It just goes to show that with a simple pattern and a bit of imagination, you can create a wide variety of results.

    Thanks for the shout, too!

    1. I'm glad you like my version! I think the tie is great and much easier to make and use, it just didn't fit into the look I was going for. The pattern is indeed very versatile, a hundred people could use it and not two dresses will be alike. You deserve all the credit, it was a pleasure to introduce your tutorial to my readers :)

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm thinking of making something like that separate from the garment. I got the idea of shoulder and torso "necklaces" from this collection by Victoria's Secret:
      I'm slowly gathering supplies and obsessing over tiny cameos!


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