chain mail, look at some of the small laces. They could easily be cut
apart and painted with silver or metallic fabric paint. I haven't done
it yet, but I have been thinking of doing some dolls of a medieval
nature and it was a thought. In one of the old DIM mags, there is a
knight doll and they used lace for the chain mail. I'll have to find my
old copy and see what it says.
lace in the pattern you want and hang it up with clothes pins on a line
out side and spray it with hobby silver...let dry and you got it..(may
have to spray a couple of times). to make it stiff after it is cut and
set to style you can use a fabric stiffener to make it firm.
remember something I saw in Michaelís the last time I was there. They
have a metal mesh that is bendable. It can be placed over objects and
molded to that shape. I bet it would make cool chain mail for a larger
doll. One word of warning. I read a friends post on another list that
said it was really sharp and you should wear gloves when using it.
I can't remember if they have a smaller mesh that could be used for mini
dolls. I'll have to look next time I'm there.
you checked out the pot scrubbers that are metal mesh? They might work
for you as you can open them out and use them to make the mail.
Take care, Charlean
forgot the pot scrubbers are great chain mail. But spray them with a
clear coat of sealant. Either gloss or matt this will stop any corrosion
if any dampness happens.
A friend in Dolls, Ann K
Making Chain mail is fun... there are
several ways but the easiest is to use the back side of a loose knit
fabric... dip-dye it in silver paint mixed with fabric medium so it will
remain soft enough to mold to the figure... then cut out , dress
figure.... if you need more "shine" ... i.e. the knight's squire was
very attentive to his job and made sure his knight was all spit and
polish, dry brush the mail with a bit more silver... the original mail
often was a bit rusty, particularly in "sweat spots", so you can also
dry brush on a bit of rust if you want. Some folks use spray silver
paint but that sometimes clogs the chain weave and looks yucky...
Sammy (I'm a girl) Smith
Here is the web address for the Museum of Costume in Bath. They have
costumes from very early up to 1960s. Worth a look.
Rita, Corona Dolls
thought that I would talk about draping. I used to hate this part of
costuming but now I actually look forward to it. Everyone has their own
way of draping, so what I'm sharing is what works for me.
I use a Styrofoam
block which I inserted a small dowel into the center. I set the doll
down over the dowel to hold her up making sure that her feet are flat on
the block. I sometimes wrap the end of the dowel with some cotton
batting so that the doll fits snug on it.
I personally like
to arrange the folds when the material is dry. I will fine tune the
folds after it is wet. I use pins called "bug pins" . I think that they
are used for mounting butterflies and such. These pins are very thin and
long too. I then arrange the folds using the pins to hold them and then
stick the pins down into the Styrofoam.
When I'm happy
with everything, I spray the material LIGHTLY with hairspray to set the
folds. If you spray too heavily, your glued trims and hems will become
unglued. Before you spray, it's a good idea to cover the face, hands or
anything that you don't want sprayed. I use a little plastic wrap to
cover those things.
I use Aqua Net.
Stay away from hairsprays with additives like shine, vitamins, etc. Let
it dry well before removing the pins. If there are any little holes in
the material left from the pins, just scratch the hole lightly with a
pin and it will disappear.
materials will darken a bit using the hairspray, if this happens I make
sure that the bodice and sleeves get an application of hairspray so
everything is the same color. Be sure to cover the skirt so it doesn't
get a second spraying. A word of caution... Some fabrics need to be
preshrunk. Test a scrap of your fabric before you even use it on your
dolls!! I just found out the hard way that silk chiffon shrinks. (it's a
long story) :o)
Hugs, Cindy/ CG
sent pics to the picture list to help explain more about the draping. It
also shows how I drape a short skirt. Since the pins aren't long enough
to anchor the dress to the Styrofoam I use long toothpicks to help hold
the folds. I sometimes use corsage pins in the same way as the
toothpicks. You can see how I use the pins at the top of the skirt. This
doll was a major salvage job!! It's funny how you start on a doll and it
ends up completely different than what it was supposed to be! I hope to
have her finished in a couple of days. I will post her again when she is
Hope this helps
explain my queen talk a little better. Hugs, Cindy G.
absolutely love green, in any shade, and the earth tones simply sing to
me. Whenever, I call myself dressing an elegant doll in Victorian garb,
especially elderly ladies, I pull out my stash a rich earth tones and
greens, employing as many textures I desire and turn out my little
creation. Granted, they don't look like the fancy, ballroom regalia of
many Victorian beauties but they look very grand to me.
tones work well, when the right porcelain slip shade is used. With the
right combination- the Doll will bloom.
reading with interest that dolls dressed in browns and earth colors
arenít as popular. I happen to adore earth tones and love working with
them. I think
the right combinations can be just so beautiful and I know there is
always people who's tastes run along the same lines as mine and who will
appreciate even the slightly unusual colors. There is one color green I
just absolutely love but makes a lot of people cringe. I had one doll
dressed in that color and I sold her right away-so you just never know.
Have a great day and thanks for looking!
happen to LOVE earth tones on dolls, BUT I think the combination of
different earth tones together is what adds the spark. A dark brown
dress can be overbearingly drab, but add say a golden brown or rusty
brown pin stripe and the effect can be stunning. I have to agree that
pink, blue , and lavender seem to be the easiest to sell, and I have
found yellow difficult - Unless you trim it with a lot of white so that
the overall effect looks almost like a pretty cake. Well, those are
just my thoughts. Great discussion! Glad I had time to take a peek!
Nice day to all! Back to my workbench!,
are sources for suitable fabric, some of them members of this list, no
doubt -- Michelle Mahler, Sandy's Lace & Trim, Etc. Etc., Mini Magic,
but thrift shops can be a treasure trove. Look for silk or cotton lawn
(e.g., Liberty of London) blouses. Hold them up by two fingers and ask
yourself if they will hang well when they're cut down to mini size.
used Chop-Chop before but it is sold at Joanne's as 100% polyester. It's
a little harder to glue but works very much like silk. I used it on
Maggie (dark green). It presses and pleats wonderfully! I don't really
like using polyesters, but chop-chop does work nicely and I wouldn't
hesitate to buy more.
Hugs, Cindy G.
the time I buy white silk I am sorry to say from Thai silks and paint
and color or print it myself.
fabric buying tip if there is. White silk saris from places Like the
Bombay Store are so cheap and dye and paint wonderfully. The Indian
shops sell wonderful trims too.
bear material is called upholstery fabric, but I have used other
materials too as
fleece, stretchy velvet, wool material from old coats (works great).
types of fabrics are favored for dressing mini dolls and doing soft
I would suggest using cottons suitable for quilts as they are light,
strong and take glue well. They also have very small prints.
all fabric first, and use glue as sparingly as possible. I sew a lot to
keep the stiffness down.
As for glue, use sparingly and wash your fabric first. I steam my
dressed doll after dressing to get the folds right (that's a whole other
tip that I'll write later) and that seems to helps take the stiffness
Another suggestion in preparing your fabric is after washing, use a
fabric softener. This really works well when using cotton fabrics that
are a little on the stiff side to begin with.
There are two versions of the French
seam, the sewn version and the glued version. For the sewn version, pin
the 2 pieces WRONG sides together. Sew a very narrow seam, about 1.2 the
seam allowance. Trim to make it even narrower with VERY sharp scissors.
Press. Now reverse the material so that the right sides are together and
the raw edges are inside. Press carefully. Sew seam on the seam line.
This encases the raw edges of the preliminary seam inside the regular
seam, creating a tiny sort of tube of fabric on the wrong side. This
method works very well on light weight fabrics but is not good for heavy
fabrics. For the glued version, put a very narrow STRAIGHT line of glue
along the edge of the fabric and glue to the opposite side, right sides
together. Let the glue set up, then carefully trim the seam with very
sharp scissors so it is very narrow. Holding a flat pencil or piece of
wood behind the seam, put glue along the trimmed seam and glue the
trimmed edge flat. Press while still tacky to smooth the seam.
Sammy (I'm a girl) Smith
A French seam is
used in Designer clothing mostly. You place the right side of the two
pieces you are sewing together and sew the seam, to reduce bulk in the
seam when finished trim close to stitching. Turn to wrong side and sew
as usual and there are no raw edges showing on the inside of the
garment. This could be done with glue, but allow it to dry between each
I use Aleen's's Tacky Glue because it is fast drying. I also use the
super fine tips for fine glue lining. Sometime I use Zap a Gap when I
have problems with pipe cleaners sticking and other hard gluing problems
but you have to be careful with Zap because your fingers will be glued
I always use Velverette for hair and clothes. It is a thick tacky
formulated for fabrics.
Glue for Hemming
When gluing a hem there is always the danger of glue bleeding through I
put a piece of Fusible Web (sold in any sewing store) under the flooded
part for hem and iron never any glue coming through.
Glue VS. Sewing
my regular sewing machine for things like Petticoats & pantaloons. The
rest of the garment depends on how complicated it is and what material
I'm using. Sometimes I do hand sewing because I feel like I have more
control that way. I almost always sew sleeves in by hand. The only
things I ever glue are bows etc. I don't like to glue. Probably because
I'm a messy gluer, and then too, my mother who used to dress antique
dolls for a local antique shop always used a needle and thread. I use
fray check. I hope this helps a wee bit. I'm not a professional by any
stretch of imagination.
I just dress dolls
for my own amusement to people my dollhouses.
Wee Hugs, Patsy
Glue VS. Sewing
sew anything that I don't have to. I use white glue; Tacky is good,
designer Tacky is better. I don't recommend that Fabric Tac. It works
great (but be careful cause it's messy) but over time it yellows and
There are other white glues that are excellent. Everyone has their
favorite. Just make sure it is a flexible white glue or you'll get
Bev in Colo
Glue VS. Sewing
don't have to sew much, if any, of the clothes on miniature dolls. In a
pattern where it says sew, I glue!! Dressed one doll one time that was
all sewed seams, clothes came off, button holes, etc. I looked at that
doll and said, "I am never going to undress this doll, so why did I do
all that work?" Been gluing ever since.
There are also some great pattern books for miniature dolls. I buy the
Dover paper doll books, look at the pictures. Get out my patterns and
see which pieces of patterns will work for that dress. In other words, I
do mix and match with the pattern pieces.
Glue VS. Sewing
I machine sew.
The smallest face plate and regular presser foot rather than the zigzag
ones make the fine seams easier. A fine needle helps the singer red
bands for natural fibers and the gold band for the poly's.
I also find that tracing the pattern onto the backside of the fabric,
sewing then cutting out makes a lot of things easier also.
Glue VS. Sewing
Glue it does not take much. I get a monoject 412 syringe to apply my
glue. there are small bottles of Aleens tacky glue that have these
syringes with it. the tip is curved and I
fill my syringe about 1/3 full.-never more. to keep it from drying out I
put the plastic piece that holds price tags on clothes in it. Sometimes
you can get these syringes from veterinarians as they use them to
irrigate wounds and feed baby animals.
Glue VS. Sewing
Sewing by machine takes 2 threads, a bobbin and a top thread. Sewing by
hand uses 1 thread. A seam sewn by hand will drape better than one sewn
by machine. Whether you sew a seam or glue a seam is a personal choice -
Some would NEVER glue, some would NEVER sew, some will use what ever
will work for the particular style. Some of the modern fancy machines
can do some truly tiny fancy embroidery work for petticoats etc. which
can work out nicely, particularly if the over-skirt needs to give the
illusion of hoops, etc... on the other hand I saw a skirt with big
yellow ducks embroidered around it (obviously the machine wouldn't go
smaller) that looked quite odd. The best way to chose is to use your own
judgment and not be afraid to break your own rules - try something, look
at it, walk away for a day or so, come back and see it with new eyes.
Glue VS. Sewing
or to sew, that is the question...whether it is nobler....
ooops, seriously though, the answer to that is which ever works best for
you... the top IGMA doll artisans are basically split right down the
middle on the question, so the choice is yours... I sew by hand because
one split silk thread lets the material drape better, does not stiffen
the seam as much as a super fine line of glue...... machine stitching
uses 2 heavier threads so doesn't drape as well... but there are some
places where glue is the only way to go because the slightest hint of a
stitch mark will spoil the illusion....such as the hem of an unlined
Sewing VS. Glue
who started sewing at the age of 10, I thought you had to sew
everything. Actually, most of what you do requires glue instead. There
are times when some sewing is required but they are few and far between.
Try taking a doll dressing class, you will be amazed at the techniques
you will learn and that will build confidence. If you are lucky enough
to take a class from Dana ... she will teach you so many things. If that
possible, she has a couple of books that tell many of her secrets ...
well worth acquiring.
not a technical definition, but will give you an idea. French Heirloom
sewing is where pieces of lace and fabric are stitched together, side by
side, to form a design or pattern.
When you mention
wee holes, it sound like you are referring to the use of a
wing needle stitch as used in heirloom sewing,
it create a row of evenly place
holes. You would need to be a minimum of 1/4 from edge of fabric. I
use the Serger roll hem for men, that can be
done with the regular machine also.
Take a lot more time and practice to keep it straight For the women
handkerchiefs I use a blind stitch since lace
will be added. Hope this help
discovered heirloom sewing a few years ago, after sewing almost all my
life. I felt I'd tried everything, and then I came across one of Martha
Pullens' books. I was into big dolls at the time, and this opened up a
whole new avenue!
I was amazed at
how many expressed their interest in learning this style of sewing. My
goal is to hopefully provide you with new information that you do not
already know. It was not until I took lessons to learn smocking that I
learned that a needle has a wrong side and a right side, that thread has
a right direction and a wrong direction. To be honest, I wish that I had
never learned about the directions of thread because every time I thread
a needle I stop to make sure that I have it going in the right
direction. The tip on thread is as you take the thread off of the spool
it is in the right direction and will not unravel as easy, this is
really more important with embroidery thread. The tip on the needle is
that the right side of the eye is larger, therefore making it easier to
Many of you have asked "what is French Heirloom sewing". In response I
posted just a brief description, but here is a true definition:
"Heirloom sewing adapts French hand sewing to machine methods. Although
an heirloom project still takes patience, practice, and careful work,
with modern sewing machine technology you can now master techniques that
were formerly done by hand. Projects can include small items, such as a
bonnet; parts of a garment, such as a blouse yoke; or a total garment.
"Basic heirloom techniques consist of joining strips of fabrics and
trims......." (See picture below)
The instructions that I am going to give you are for creating a full
size project. I feel that it will be easier for you to learn this way
and get the feel of using the techniques on the machine. Then once you
have the techniques down you will be able to apply them to any thing
that you sew.
How about if we do a pillow, you decide on the shape: square, rectangle,
or round, but nothing to complicated like a star. The shape does not
matter, but I would recommend a size that gives you enough practice
stitching. So a pillow that is only 3" X 3" isn't going to give you as
much practice as say a pillow 8" x 11", use a piece of typing paper as
Here is a thought that I want to pass on while I am thinking about it.
Let's say you want to make a dress that has a skirt made out of rows of
lace, picture in your mind Gibson Girl style, the blouse will also be
constructed out of rows of lace and so will the sleeves. It is easier
for you to lay of all of your laces, side by side, and stitch them
together, then place your pattern pieces on this piece of "lace
material" than to make just enough for one pattern piece over and over
for each piece. What ever you have left over you can use on other
While you are
experimenting with these tips, please use inexpensive laces and fabric.
You will need to practice before you actually use these techniques on
your expensive batiste or silks.
One of the first fabric preparations after washing the fabric is to make
straight edges to where you will never be off the grain. If you are
working with batiste, snip the salvage and rip the material across Ė it
will rip, fast, with the grain and once you have pressed the fabric it
will be a straight edge. Do this for both directions of the fabric. If
you are working with Swiss cotton, snip the salvage, pull a thread
across to the other salvage and then cut using this missing thread area
as your cutting guide. (See email Picture One)
After this, spray your fabric with starch, on both sides, and press
using a pressing cloth (this will prevent scorching). This gives your
fabric some body to work with while you are sewing and prevents
raveling, if you are careful. Once you have the fabric pressed you will
need to trim the raveling off. Place the fabric on a cutting board and
with a ruler as a guide placed on the edge, use a rotary cutter. (See
email Picture Two)
Spray starch all of the lace that you are working with and press. Be
sure to use a cloth to prevent scorching (I have found that a man's
white handkerchief works great for this, just the width of the ironing
All of this will seem time consuming at first, but the preparation will
save you so much time during the construction of your garment/project.
I can do yards and yards of material attached to lace or lace attached
to lace in minutes. French seams that are less than 1/4 of an inch wide.
Now you won't do French seams on doll clothes because of the bulk, but
again it's the preparation that allows you to do such tedious
When purchasing materials for heirloom sewing or miniature garments, buy
only natural fiber fabrics, cotton or silk is usually the best, the
thinnest you can find. Use extra fine thread, like cotton machine
embroidery thread, that will not add bulk to the seams.
For your machine needle use size 8 (60) or 9 (65). These needles are
more compatible with the thread, materials and lace that you will be
using. A new needle is a must and change the needle every five hours of
use whether it feels rough or not. Rarely will you ever use sewing pins
to hold pieces together while sewing.
Please try to
never buy pre gathered lace. One, the weight is usually too heavy to
begin with and second, the gathering is too bulky. Besides that, you are
going to learn how to gather lace with out stitching a gathering thread
in it. Lace has a thread in the header that you can gather. Look at any
flat edge of lace, not the scalloped edge, and you will see two heavy
threads. At the end of your lace, about 1/4 from the end, take a pin and
gently pull up on the inside thread, not the one on the outer edge. Once
you have this loose "gently, gently" start pulling it, it will start to
gather. If you are working with a long piece of lace, work to the center
of it from one end and then go to the other end and work to the center
from that direction. You will not need to make your gathers tight, you
want a soft ruffle, leave the gathers spaced loosely and make sure that
the gathering is even the whole length. Be very gentle with this
gathering thread because it is delicate and if you break the thread
while you are gathering you will only have one other thread to gather
with, plus it leaves the edge thinner.
By using this "built in" thread to gather with, you are: one, deleting a
preparation step, stitching a gathering thread in; second, you are
creating the narrowest edge to use when you attach the lace to the
material or lace; third, you are cutting down on bulk because you are
not adding a gathering thread. In miniature garments this is very
Definitions: (See email pictures Laces and Trims One and Two)
1. Insertion lace - two straight edges (picture Laces and Trims One)
2. Embroidery Insertion - a piece of fabric that has an embroidery
design that is placed between lace pieces. (picture Laces and Trims One)
3. Edgings - one scalloped edge (picture Laces and Trims One)
4. Embroidery Edgings - a piece of fabric that has embroidery on the
edge. (picture Laces and Trims Two)
5. Beadings - woven holes to accommodate ribbon trims (use double-faced
satin ribbon in beading and for ties). (picture Laces and Trims Two)
6. Header - the flat edge of lace.
7. Entredeux - resembles hemstitching with seam allowances on both
sides. Entredeux is used to strengthen your seams when you are attaching
lace to material. (picture Laces and Trims 2)
In my next steps that I post I will cover rolling and whip
stitching: attaching lace to material, lace to lace, and puffing. (See
email Picture Samples, Samples One and Two)
Some items that you will want to have for the next set of tips:
Thin cotton fabric;
Very fine sewing machine needles;
The thinnest thread that you can purchase;
Zigzag foot peddle; and
Zipper foot peddle.
If you are going to make the pillow to practice this is what you will
First you need to decide if you are going to cover the front and back or
just the front. Purchase enough lace and material accordingly. Allow
1/4" side seams. It will be pretty to use a contrasting color material
underneath the lace so the lace patterns will show up, if you are only
doing the front your material will be the back of the pillow.
Choose one piece of insertion lace for your center strip, usually a
wider piece than the others, you could also use an embroidery insertion
for this. Then lay different lace patterns and widths on each side of
the center, do the same on both sides. (The picture below will give you
a good idea of how to create a pattern with your laces.)
If you want a wide ruffle around the edge you will need to select the
scalloped edge one first and then choose the insertion edge lace(s) to
make the ruffle the width that you want. This could be one, two, three,
however many you want. I would suggest that you use the laces that you
have used for the pillow cover, by doing this your ruffle will match.
You do not have to use all of the laces, but some of them to make the
ruffle the width that you want it. When you are buying lace and material
to ruffle, measure the pattern and double it: 8 1/2 X 2 = 17 inches; 11
X 2 = 22 so for the ruffle you will need to double 39 inches X 2 = 78
inches or 3 yards and 6 inches of each piece of lace. You could also
use embroidered edging for this attaching it to your lace(s). This is
where it gets expensive using the high quality laces. So before you
decide to make a ruffle that has an embroidery edging and 4 lace
patterns wide use your calculator and see how much you are spending on
the ruffle alone. Another idea is to find a really pretty piece of
material, tapestry or an embroidered pillow top and do just a ruffle.
I hope that you have garnered some information that you did
not already know. Please understand that the instructions are to teach
you specific techniques used in heirloom sewing. It will be up to you to
decide where you can adapt these techniques into your miniature
seems every time I really want a certain idea to unfold my way some
thing always happens. I just made a Bride which I am sure she did not
want to be a bride had to change the dress 3 times. I would get so far
and it would be all wrong and I couldn't go on. It was getting to be a
challenge to who would win this war. Does it work like that for others?
when I finally did get her done she is really nice but now I can not get
one picture of her to come out. I am going to try something different
tomorrow...Different camera. I want to send a picture of her. A friend
As for me - usually a piece of fabric will inspire me, then I must
ponder on the style and then what kind of trims/colors and where they
should go. I think for me, that that is the hardest part of creating a
doll. Many times what you might picture it to look like, isn't the way
it turns out. Last month I tore apart 2 dolls that were almost completed
because I just hated them. My third try was satisfactory and I will post
a picture of her as soon as I put on her earrings LOL
I also have many books on costumes and pictures which also can be an
dolls begin with a visit to the treasure trove ...a large closet tightly
packed with bins of silks, laces, trims and the like. As I look through
the various bins and drawers I pull out things, which catch my
attention. After that, I narrow the selections down to what I think the
next doll will need and select the doll kit which seems to have 'the
look' I have in mind. Then I begin; however, the doll never finishes in
the way I first envisioned ... as I proceed, the doll tells me what it
needs next and I've had some wonderful surprises along the way. Each
doll is a separate adventure for me.
If any of you haven't visited James' website, I urge you to do so ...
amazing work. I say this speaking as one who hasn't got one sculpting
bone in my body but who can appreciate true greatness.
I work in
several ways. Most times I can envision the entire piece and I work it
out and like you sometimes I fail. My most recent example would be a
little boy and girl fighting over a bag of planting mulch. it breaks and
spills all over the place. Well, I sculpted the dolls, made the mini bag
of cedar bark, even fashioned a way to make it look like the stuff had
spilled out. However, when assembling it all. it just did not look
natural. Sooooo the little boy ended up with a baseball, mitt and a bat
slung over his shoulder and the little girl is dragging a heavy bag of
mulch toward her mom who's kneeling in the garden. Much more realistic,
Since I have been doing shows for quite some time and I hate doing dolls
I've done before. I now rely on movies, TV and plays for inspiration.
This helps with the creation of a character. a look. but I always need
to have my little ones doing something so I envision a scene for them
and proceed from there. This works for me. In addition, I really enjoy
custom orders since many will result in an exciting creation that I
would never have thought of myself. A good example would be a Miss
Haversham doll. I think someone recently posted their version. I just
got a request for her today. This should be interesting.
are some hints that I use (besides enjoying the positive effects of
I have a 'tear' book ... magazine photos that 'interest' me whether
hair, eyes, lips, position, dress, shoes, accessories etc I tear out and
put into a regular notebook. I have several of these and whenever I need
inspiration to strike off I go! Now sometimes I take the hair from one,
the eyes from another, the dress style from the next, and finally the
position of the 4th.
Material is also the big kicker for me. Many people get interested in
getting a doll and see how she will be dressed...I get a new hunk of
material and my mind is off wandering how she is going to be made.
Other options are wonderful costuming books. I take digital photos of,
or scan anything (as time allows) out of these books that creates a 'to
do feeling' and burn these to a CD OR simply (I know here goes again,
but I LOVE this program) enter it into my Instant Recall program and
when I type in 'Marie Antoinette' up comes different entries with photos
so I can see which book exactly, go to my library pull out and wala!
Excellent books for ideas .... brides books for the way the dress flows,
positioning, and upsweep hair dos. ART magazines with perhaps an article
on a specific artist and his early works. Renaissance magazine (filled
with ideas!). Civil War magazines with wonderful historical photos.....
All in all...GREAT subject! Happy Creating!
Sometimes when you are really stumped with a miniature project, its best
to relax and play with it. Like putting a pot of something to simmer on
the back burner, suddenly it becomes soup. Dressing dolls is the same
way, don't try to rush or force things. Your
creative brain side doesn't have time or language in it. That's why if
you are thinking of something before you go to sleep, you often wake up
with the answer.
It is the nature
of lace and/or ribbon to twist. If you are upset by this, take a scrap
of foam core and a straight pin...start your gathering, then stick the
started end on the board and stick a pin in it to hold it for you.
you have the required length, secure the pinned end to your fabric,
catch with pins along the way and stitch into place.
The easiest way to get action is by sewing lace on in a circle, and once
on the doll, running gathering stitches through skirt to hold in place
whether up in the air or sitting.
Overcast Stitch for Gathering
Now I hope I can explain this stitch. She had us use quilting thread,
doubled and then knotted. You take your first stitch up from underneath
the fabric pull it through and then go over the edge and underneath the
fabric again. Just keep your stitches small (which I didn't do the
first time). When you're done, you will see your stitches going over
the top of the fabric all across to the end. I was surprised that the
thread was quite thick and doubled but it does make the gathering easy
and she told us to pull very tightly to gather the cuffs and the
doubled thread assured that the thread wouldn't break. I'm sure she
only uses this thread for gathering as we glued all the seams. Another
thing I forgot to tell you is the way she made the pantaloons. They were
simply two rectangles the length of the dolls leg glued together and
then trimmed with lace. She told us to slip the rectangle onto the dolls
leg, pull the seam slightly apart to fit onto her body then glue the
front and back seam together (leaving room at the back to sew the
gathering stitch around the waist)
Hello, I always draw around my patterns with a 'disappearing pencil'
go all around
the pencil line with a fine line of glue....I leave this to 'set'
for about 15
mins then cut out on the glue line. When the seam is glued and
pressed the outer glue line is also pressed and sealed with the heat of
fraying....no hard edges as when using fray check. The
disappearing pencil line does just that after about an hour and also
can't find the
More from a
this is just an idea but when your looking at patterns look beyond what
are like pantaloons extended could be jeans/ shorts and a camisole top
could be a strappy t shirt or extended to a t dress or night gown"
underwear pattern " like this would probably be the easiest for a
beginner to make . sue Atkins book has a page of these. hope this helps
I too have a copy of Sue's book...and found the fact that it was too big
short of skirt, but the patterns themselves are wonderful to work
photos are great, and the drawings are beautiful! I prefer the
patterns of Susan Sirkis and the patterns of Marie Wheat myself. Now on
side, they are long of dress and sparse of BOZZUM.....but with a little
fitting, cutting, pasting, and TAPING, they work great! And the patterns
for grown ups!
I keep cutting out patterns and then having to do them over the next
want to use
them. Last night I got this brilliant idea!!!! I glued an
the cover of the pattern book and when I got through with
pattern piece I put it in the envelope, marking any changes.
is really scary!!! I'm becoming organized!!!!!
Thanks Hazel for the tip on the disappearing pencil and the line of
Much better than pinning!!!!
are LOTS of patterns in the various back issues of the magazine...
To learn more about the magazines, please go to:
and click on the picture of the cover of the magazine and then on the
most any basic pattern piece can be made to look "modern." If you want
to dress a modern child as an example, it is easily done even from a Sue
Atkins pattern. Using a pattern that Sue has in her book for a little
boys trousers cut the pattern the same but use a light weight chambray
material and voila you have a pair of jeans. Using a light weight knit
material (a pair of cotton knit baby socks will do) and Sues pattern for
a blouse you have a great looking tee shirt.
are only X number of styles of necklines--collars--sleeves-- waistlines.
All patterns are derivative of those few styles. some are more or less
exaggerated than another. you can take any pattern and make it to suite
any year style. look at any pictures in the catalog and see if you can
fine the different ones. say rounded neck, collar,... cap sleeve,
gathered sleeve (leg O mutton an is exaggeration of this) I wish I could
draw here. But, yes I've heard of using paper towel and have used it
the digest over so am always a bit behind. Those who have posted to
"alter patterns" from the center are exactly right.
I sew rather than glue my minis, because I can never get the glued
fabric to be as soft as sewn. I machine sew the seams and hand sew about
everything else. With machine sewing, it really, *really* does make a
big difference having a new, sharp, straight, right sized needle for the
fabric your using. For hand sewing minis a very short needle also makes
things go easier.
from Regular Patterns
someone once said you can take the "instructions" from a full size
pattern and enlarge it to make mini costumes, too. for modern patterns,
go to a fabric store and look at the patterns they sell for real
clothes... on the back or sometimes inside there are tiny drawing of the
pattern pieces included in the envelope... those can give you a good
idea of the shapes you need to make for your dolls.
For making doll patterns out of regular patterns-there are pictures
showing what the pieces look like. the are small scale drawings of the
big patterns. Enlarge these-it is a lot easier that shrinking down huge
patterns :) I go to the copy shop with a doll in hand and measure the
back bodice piece to the doll. If the back bodice will fit so will the
rest of the pieces:)
tips on altering a pattern? One tip I read said to first cut the pattern
out of a paper towel and then alter it
would you alter say a bodice if it's too wide? Take out excess at the
front center. That way the shoulders and sleeves are not altered, to
reduce the size of a bodice.
bodice pattern is placed on the fold down the front, try placing the
pattern a little bit over the fold. Thus cutting down the size of the
fabric. You can take a little off the back sides also. I have made as
many as 4 or 5 muslin or paper towel pieces before I got the pattern to
fit exactly to the doll.
to take my patterns and a doll bodice to a copy place. the people were
always very helpful in getting the back bodice to fit the doll. We would
shrink it and lay the doll on it until it looked right to us. If the
bodice piece fits all the others will too. For modern patterns you can
enlarge the pieces on a people dress pattern to fit the doll -back
Usually if I have to alter a pattern I adjust it in the center front or
the center back. To alter the front if it is on a fold just move the
pattern over so it overhangs the fold a little. Hope I made sense with
that statement :) Hopefully I will figure out how to get these pictures
and patterns to all of you. these are patterns I have used for 20 years
and they have worked so well that I do want to share them.
ready to dress a doll, I start looking for a pattern. well I find it and
guess what wrong size. Not to worry, I have magic formula to fix
that...here it is:
TO INCREASE THE
PATTERN example: the size you have is 17 inches and you want 21...divide
17 into 21=1.23..set the copy machine or scanner to 123 percent.
TO DECREASE THE
example: you have a 17 inch and want a 14 inch...divide 17 into 14
+.82....set machine for 82 percent
This works really good. just check the machine, I use my scanner ,to see
if the pattern you copied is the correct size. All machines are
different but I have done Barbie patterns(12)I round off to the nearest
number, set my scanner(hp710)to 50percent(thatís for a 6 inch doll
pattern)and they work just fine. So give it a try. Simplicity pattern
company has put out a great line of Museum Collection patterns. that are
just wonderful for miniatureís. I get mine when Joannís has their .99
cent sale...never buy patterns full price.
My mother was a sample maker and pattern-cutter in the big world, and
this is what she did. She had a series of basic patterns, called
'blocks.' They were standard patterns to fit anyone (in real life they
would be graded) for a bodice, skirt and dress with marks where darts
etc would go. When the designer gave them patterns they would get the
block which most near approximate to the drawing and adapt it, using it
to produce an accurate pattern which could be used to mass produce the
item. so it might be a good idea to produce a library of basic patterns
that could be adapted. I've been using this method for a while, and it
works quite well. The block is in heavy card or light wood, as it has to
keep its measurements for a while.
rayon -- More than
you ever wanted to know -- How it's made.
Rayon is a fiber made from cellulose which is natural. Rayon itself is
called "Synthetic" because it's not in itself a naturally occurring
fiber, but the cellulose from which it is made is natural - and often
Rayon is handled like a natural fiber. Rayon refers to there the fiber
made from cellulose or the material that is made from the fiber. We can
thank the French for Rayon which was first produced from Cotton
Cellulose in about 1884. The Frenchman who did it was Hilaire de
Chardonnett (spelling) It was called artificial silk and was a big flop
because it was very shiny and was very hard to clean. (although we must
give credit to some British scientists who suggested that making of
"artificial silk" in the 1600's Much better now, and it's made now
mostly from Wood Pulp from which the cellulose is extracted. I love
working with Rayon. It can be treated to simulate wool, linen, or cotton
and I often think in some forms it is like silk. (I could tell you how
it's made, but do you really want to know?)
I suppose rayon fibers used to make the thread from which the material
or fabric is made is not in the strictest sense "natural" but it is in
the truest sense "natural" because it comes from a natural source. (wut
did he say?)
Rayon - Can Rayon
have glued Rayon to use. Most of my work is larger than the true mini
and in some "mini" sized pieces of my little women with wings(filly
dills on my web site) I'm using mostly silk. My Grandmother Peacock
piece (also on my web site) which I did for the white house is costumed
with Rayon. The dress is Rayon and also the Apron. Some Rayon is very,
very light weight and that is what I looked for that piece. I used Magna
Tac for the parts which I glued. (I also sewed parts of that piece) I
love going on field trips to the fabric district here in New York
looking for fabric -- to see what they have come up with this year.
Just my 2 cents, I love working with Rayon...it is so soft and drapey...no
problem gluing for me.
never made the enamel flowers before but I have done some ruching. Stacy
Hofman is an expert at both! Here is how I do my ruching. Stacy, help
me out if I miss anything or if you can add more info! :o) I allow
ribbon at least three times the length need, for example if you need 3"
of ruching you need about 9" of ribbon. Apply glue to one end and let
dry. With a pin or needle, expose two threads to pull. Go slowly working
the ruching down to the glued end. There are different kinds of ruching:
1. pulling a
single row down the center
2. a single row near one side
3. pulling a row at both sides
4. both sides and
down the center. When you are done ruching, put a bit of glue to seal
the ribbon before you cut. Hope this helps. Hugs,
mine by sewing a gathering thread in the ribbon. If you do a zigzag it
gives a nice look. I've sent this one before.
tip-go for the thinnest silk you can find-I couldn't believe what a
difference it made dressing a doll. There is a lot of silk blouses out
there that are supposedly washable and I think they put something in the
fabric to allow for that. This particular silk is quite springy and hard
to control. I found the only way it behaves is by using lots of fabric
stiffener to get it to drape. I always do a little test now before I
buy a piece of silk and just sort of gather some of it up in my hand to
see how it pleats and whether it will wrinkle or not. I remember
somebody mentioning A while back that the better the silk -the more it
wrinkles, which has proven to be very true in my experience. So after
going crazy for a while, buying everything in sight, I am getting way
more picky now, just because it makes the job so much easier if I have
suitable Fabric to work with.
Silk Fabric from Blouses
I used to just go crazy buying them up but now I'm much more selective.
Check to see what sort of silk you are getting. Lots of silk blouses
have been treated so they can be hand washed. That silk is usually
really springy and thicker which makes it hard to work with it. You want
silk that wrinkles when you scrunch it up. The more it wrinkles, the
thinner it is the easier it will be to work with it allowing you to
drape it in a pleasing matter. (I believe that's how you tell how good a
quality the silk is too-the more it wrinkles -the better)
friend who is looking for silk/silky printed fabric might find a
suitable fabric in a silk scarf. Sometimes, you can pick them up very
inexpensively at thrift stores such as Goodwill.
Jean in Apollo Beach, FL
obtain different silks in the same color tone, I use SetaSilk - it's a
great silk paint - can be mixed with the dilutant for different tones,
and is permanent once heat set. Comes in several dozen colors. Best of
all, it washes off your skin with water!
China Silk (habutai) - plain tightly woven very fine silk
fabric. Sometimes called tissue silk. Can be found in different
Charmeuse - Very drapable fabric. Woven from a crepe yarn
(twisted). Satin on one side dull on the other. Used in women lingerie
often. Sometimes known as crepe back satin.
Taffeta - I tightly woven fabric. Usually heavier than China Silk
but you can find tissue taffeta. Very crisp feel to it. It is suppose to
be because of the weave but it could be because of an applied finish.
(I learned this the hard way when I tea dyed a piece and the "taffeta"
went away.) Creases and pleats beautifully.
Organza - Thin gossamer fabric with a crisp hand. Somewhat
transparent. Can be used to create volume under a skirt or in a sleeve
head. Makes a great overlay fabric due to it's transparent nature. It's
cousin is Organdy which is made of cotton.
Chiffon - Transparent soft and lightweight. Very drapable.
Georgette - sheer crepe, heavier than chiffon and with a crinkle
surface. The "crinkle is due to the twisted fibers before the fabric is
woven. This is true of all "crepe" fabrics.
I sometimes use a thread from the fabric I am sewing as it is the right
color and the right weight. Just pull threads. If the fabric is light
enough and the slip is a flared one not gathered, cut 2 slips and then
just about 1/16" from the bottom of the slip fun a bead of glue along
the bottom edge, try to keep it straight and even on the right side of
fabric. After it is dry turn the wrong side of the fabric together and
press. Open out again and run a bead of glue from the waist of the slip
to the hem and to the other side of the waist. With right sides together
press the other side to the first side. What you end up with, looks
kinda like 2 cones glued end to end, but then slide the under side of
the slip up to meet the waist of the first side. The seams are
sandwiched inside. That puts finished seams where they can't be seen. If
I did not make it clear, I will try to make one and attach a picture.
Sylvia in Big D
Porcelain Doll Artist
Make the slip
shorter and fasten it on the doll below the hips. If you put the
slips and skirt all around the waist your doll will be way too fat :) By
layering underneath you will have a slim waistline.
Depending on the
era, you also make the slip a bit shorter so that you can add lace trim
without it dipping below the hem of the dress. before machine made lace,
only the super rich would trim undergarments with lace where it wouldn't
show....... Now a lassie wishing to entice might whirl her skirts
exposing her lacey petticoat while dancing to attract the man of her
As in real
life, slips/petticoats come in all lengths and types....Victorians wore
their slips/petticoats almost the same length as their dresses.
Contemporary people? Anything goes it seems. I like my slips (this is a
personal observation) about an inch shorter than my skirt.
promised ... here is how I do my under slip so that you don't need a
You will need Wonder Under which is a fusible webbing available in the
fabric and craft stores. Some very stiff pellon. and the fabric you are
using for your doll's undies. I've shown you the pattern piece I use. I
cut two of the pellon, three of the Wonder Under, and two of the slip
1. Fuse the two pieces of pellon together with one of the Wonder Under
sheets ... the directions come with the Wonder Under.
2. Fuse another sheet of Wonder Under to one side of the pellon. Remove
the backing sheet, and fuse one piece of fabric. Turn it over and repeat
by fusing the fabric on the other side. You now have the finished slip
3. Assemble your doll and glue her pantaloons in place. Then wrap the
slip into a cone, as you can see in the picture. Glue the overlap area
about 2/3 up from the hem. Let dry. Then slide the doll in and glue the
slip to the dolls hips. You don't want any extra bulk around the waist.
4. After it dries and is secure, trim the slip with lace or whatever you
prefer and begin to dress your doll. I always make a pretty soft
petticoat to go over the stiff under one ... I just think it's prettier
that way. It's really quite easy and it's nice to have your doll
be able to stand on her own. I hope you find this helpful.
These are free patterns for dolls and some darling shoes for free have
took a piece of white sewing thread and pulled it thru Velverette glue
and then took my tweezers and arranged the thread to look like laces.
Took forever as this was my first try at it.
An idea which
works for me is to cut some of the basic
-pantaloons, panties, full sleeve, straight sleeve,
etc.- out of
index card/cover weight paper or quilt template
plastic (margarine container tops work too). Write on each
pattern piece the molds it fits and/or adaptation needed to fits
several different. Put in small labeled "coin envelopes" (those
small brownish ones available at the office stores) and store in
baby-wipe box organized like a file box. Now when you want to
your own design you have all the pattern parts already to
and match and trace onto your fabric.
I use to use envelopes for my patterns also but now I am using a 3 ring
binder with the clear pockets (report) so now I can see what I am
looking for easy
question - for cuffs and collar, I would use gross- grain ribbon as it
has that weave look to it. Another thing might be finding a baby sock
the same color and cutting off pieces to make the cuffs and collar
Bev in Colo
nice trim edging is to use a needle and SINGLE thread, run the thread
just under the weave in a spiral fashion, and draw the material tighter
around the wrist. More scale than adding anything to it.
I have often
used grosgrain for cuffs too, if I can find a matching color. Another
thing that works is to cut a strip from regular cotton knit. Fold it in
half... then s-t-r-e-t-ch it across the doll's arm for cuffs.. Glue it
stretched out. Some materials, when stretched, take on a "ribbed" look.
I use silk
thread when I have one that
wise I use regular #60 thread. I don't do much sewing on my
dolls but I do
like the silk thread. It is easier to work with, I think.
I only use silk
threads for mini sewing. Since the costuming is
so small, you
really tiny stitches to maintain a neat appearance. The
>helps to accomplish that. It works so much better with the finer
use silk thread too whenever possible... A gal showed me how to
untwist it into strands so it is super-duper fine years ago...
have used her technique ever since. the English ultra fine
needles #12 and up are wonderful for working on silk... misery to
around here though...
I discovered this great little trim on Michelle Mahler's site called
Flex Braid. When you pull a thread it unravels into a zigzag pattern. It
looks prettier than unraveled bunka as trim around a neckline or collar.
It also comes in many different colors. You can see it by clicking on
the URL below and find it under braid and trims.
everyone! Today I would like to share with all of you how to scale down
real fur and how to emboss velvet. I used both of these techniques on
Sarah. Embossing velvet is done using a rubber stamp and an iron. I
chose a fairly large stamp that had a intricate design because I wanted
the whole gown to have a pattern. You could also choose to have a single
design like a rose strategically placed on the gown.
Cut your pattern
pieces out of your velvet. Place velvet piece nap side down on the
rubber stamp that is placed rubber side up, position as desired. Lightly
mist the back of the velvet with water. Use a dry iron set at medium and
press and hold for about 10-20 seconds right on the back of the velvet.
Don't do a side to side motion. Lift the iron carefully. You may want to
use some tweezers to hold down the velvet when you lift the iron up. The
velvet tends to lift off the stamp and you don't want the piece to
shift. The rubber might give off a slight odor but it should take the
heat, but I would pretest the
rubber first before embossing. If your iron has steam vents, use a
portion of the iron without the vents or use a Teflon pressing cloth.
That's it! This design is not permanent, so you don't want to get it
wet. I was able to do some draping on the gown using hair spray but
sprayed VERY lightly.
Now for the fur... I've only used fur one time and this is just the way
I worked the fur. There might be better ways, but I was happy with my
efforts. I chose mole fur because it is soft and short haired but I
still had to scale the fur down for better proportion. Some of you are
probably wondering what a mole is... All I know is that it's a little
larger than a mouse and considered as a pest. The pelts are about 3" x
5". I should mention that all this work was NOT done on the whole pelt
at one time but done on individual pieces previously cut from the pelt
using little patterns that I made.
To scale the
fur down, start by brushing the fur up against the nap so the fur is
sticking up. You are basically "petting" the fur the wrong way. Then
with small sharp scissors, start giving the fur a "hair cut". Cut a
little at a time, trying to blend the cuts into one another. (I hope
that makes sense) Dog groomers call it "scissoring" . You are actually
sculpting the fur with your scissors. Lay the fur down with your hand to
check if there are any jagged spots in your cutting and to check the
length of the fur. Brush up the fur again and do some more cutting and
blending until you are happy with the look. It takes some time and practice to get it
to look right. Mole fur is not expensive, so you may want an extra one
to practice with. Here is a link where I found some mole fur. They have
other furs and feathers too.
Hope this talk was a bit of a help. :o) I'll be happy to answer any
questions that you may have. It's been a little confusing having two
Cindyís on the list, so it was suggested to me that I could be referred
to as CG on the list. I thought this was a wonderful idea, so when
posting to me on the list, address it to CG. :o)
Hugs, Cindy Gates/CG
use the fur off an animal muzzle (the pelt around the face and mouth)
you will not need to cut it down. You can sometimes purchase mink heads
on eBay from those old stoles. The fur is very short around the face of
the animals and works well on miniatures.
I found out
that you can wash wool yesterday. I bought several pieces at a thrift
store and decided to give it a try. I set the washer to fine fabrics.
When they were done I put them in the dryer for just 10 mins to get some
of the wrinkles out and then line dried them. Worked perfectly. Sure
saved on dry cleaning. Has anyone tried this? I didn't have any Woolite
so I used ordinary laundry soap.
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