Mabel wears a new 100% wool coat in heathered aqua, grey and cream plaid with a wool felt hat in soft brick red, accented with a plaid band. This stylish doll clothing is entirely handmade. It features a partially lined doll coat with turned back cuffs and a teal grosgrain ribbon belt. The front lining gives you the option of styling the coat with the lapels back. The hat is soft wool felt with a band of the same wool plaid as the coat.
This pretty coat and hat set fits all my Garden Party Dolls. The coat measures 9" long by 7" wide and fits dolls that are 10 - 12" in diameter. The hat is 3" tall by 3 1/2" wide and can be worn with the brim up or down.
I love finding just the right materials to give these dolls a ladylike look. This pretty plaid wool is light and soft to the touch. The colors of the coat and hat are slightly greyed which adds sophistication to any doll's wardrobe. The plaid has been carefully matched across the front of the coat so your doll always looks stylish.
With fall's beautiful weather ending soon, the Garden Party Girls are endeavoring to enjoy every colored leaf and sunbeam. Its a chance for them to greet new friends and old and have a gossip among the last of the dahlia blooms. Everyone wants to show off their fall clothes and hats. Let's drop in and see what they're up to...
Here's Myrtle enjoying a cup of tea and a good book. She's borrowed a plaid wool blanket to sit on. Doesn't she look lovely in her turquoise felt coat and red hat? The dolls all agree that Myrtle's hat collection is the most stylish. She likes to play up her strawberry pink hair with shapely toppers and she never says "no" to a bow. She's the one to watch as the seasons change.
Lisel and Millie look good in everything. Here they are modeling embroidered trim coats with fancy hats. These ensembles are available in their favorite shop, PinkGingerKitty on Etsy. They are going shopping later because Lisel wants a new hat and scarf and Millie is looking for leggings to embroider with holiday motifs.
Every doll has their favorites among the fall flowers, something that sets off their hair and complexion. Here they each wear a different style of hat. (Click through if you want to learn how to design your own doll hats.)
Eleanor and Lucy love their sweets. They meet on Thursdays at the Good Day Bakery for goodies and gossip. Since they are naturally slim, today they are indulging in chocolate-pumpkin brownies with a side of candy corn. Lucky girls!
Charlotte tries on a bold color combination. She really likes to mix things up!
There you have it - a roundup of fall fashions via the Garden Party Girl dolls. Want to get in on the fun? Handmade dolls and bespoke doll clothing available in my Etsy shop, PinkGingerKitty. Fresh stock appearing weekly!
If you enjoy fashion, designing clothing for dolls is a fun way to play "Project Runway" in your own home. With just a small investment of time and money you can create a whole closet full of clothing for your dolls. I have fond memories of my grandmother making doll clothes for my Barbie from her sewing scraps. Its a great way to grow your sewing skills and bring joy to your recipient too.
But where does one start when designing doll clothing? You could purchase and download doll clothing patterns and learn by making. That's a perfectly good way to learn basic clothing construction. However I really enjoy the challenge of creating custom doll clothing from found fabrics which are often odd sizes and don't fit pattern pieces easily. Plus I want clothes that fit my own handmade dolls. I bet you would enjoy creating bespoke fashions for your dolls too.
Start with simple pieces like aprons, coats, bags and hats. All of these are quick to sew and will add variety to your doll's wardrobe. Use easy-to-sew fabrics like quilting cottons, felt and thrift store scraps. Muslin is another inexpensive fabric that's great for prototypes.
Books shown above:
Vintage Fashion Illustration from Harper's Bazaar
Inspiration by Tricia Guild of Designer's Guild
Authentic French Fashions of the Twenties, Dover
The Art of Vogue Covers, 1909 - 1940
Pattern by Tricia Guild
I usually start by looking through richly illustrated books. You might prefer magazines, Pinterest, YouTube fashion channels or fashion blogs. Gather a few fashion images that you love to inspire your thinking.
Since I make dolls with a vintage look, I start with period documents such as Dover publications on 1920's fashions or magazine illustrations from the era. Decor books are another way to discover unusual color schemes from far-flung places. India, France, China and England all have distinctive historical color preferences that you can use to jumpstart your designing.
Here are some other ways to build a color palette for doll clothing design:
The fabric store or thrift store is a great place to look for intriguing color choices. A lucky find such as a vintage floral sheet or a stack of beautiful ribbons might be just the thing to ignite my imagination. I might decide to use fall colors or a variety of patterned materials in my mix. Or I might love the colors I used creating a doll and want to build on that scheme.
There is a wealth of fashion inspiration on Etsy and Ebay. Shown here are vintage sewing patterns, dyed feathers you can buy in bulk, vintage embroidered trim, vintage fabric from Sweden, and 100% wool felt sheets. You might use the pattern picture to design your doll dress, feathers for a hat or to trim a cape, embroidered trim as a pretty detail and to set the color scheme. The fabric and wool sheets might suggest making a dress with a coat to match. To gather more ideas, enter "vintage sewing patterns" into Etsy's search line and see what turns up.
Online there are PDF's of vintage fashion publications available for instant download. These resources offer a wealth of information about the colors and styles of various eras. They are much cheaper to purchase than the original documents and have been restored to perfection.
Old dress patterns are also good inspiration for doll clothing. They often have great illustrations on their package covers. You can find these images through Google or on Etsy or Ebay. You don't have to buy the pattern if you're not planning on making the full sized item. Save the image to your desktop or Pinterest and sketch your ideas on white craft paper. Modify the design to fit your sewing skills, i.e. you might want to skip pleats, buttonholes or piping if they are too hard to figure out.
Once you've decided on your design and color palette you are ready to make a pattern. I start by tracing an outline of the doll's body which adds the necessary 1/4 inch all round for seam allowances. Then I draw clothing shapes (jacket, skirt, etc.) on tracing paper, using the doll outline as a sizing template. Factor in an extra 1/4" of fabric at hems and neck seams for finishing them off. I also fold all my larger pattern pieces in half before cutting them out to insure my pattern edges are even. I don't get hung up on the math, figuring that if I cut all matching pieces the same length, I will be able to smooth out any differences on the sewing machine.
I use simple shapes to make my doll clothes. Coats are often a modified "T" or arrow shape. A dress is a tube or triangle shape with a gathered waist or drop waist. An apron is a rectangle, gathered at the top, tucked inside a folded fabric strip. A belt can be fashioned from a strip of fabric or ribbon sewn to the dress front and back before sewing up the side seams. Felt is easy to use for coats and outerwear because it does not need hemming.
Since its impossible to figure out every step in my head I often don't know if something is going to work until I start sewing. I might find out that the sleeves need to be longer or the bottom of the coat should be wider for a bit of flare. This means I need to retrace my pattern, adding the necessary modifications. Its disappointing, but that is part of any art process. Have a cup of tea or a piece of chocolate to console yourself and chalk it up to the learning curve. Then take a second look at your mistake - is there something there that can be salvaged?
Consider cutting off the sleeves of your coat to make a vest, cutting the jacket shorter to make a bolero or adding trim by hand at the sleeve ends to lengthen. Fashion a scarf or broad ribbon bow to cover up an wonky neckline, add buttons or embroidery to make the dress front more interesting. Its all in the details. The fun factor goes up as you gain skills and your doll will look amazing as a result!
Red, white and navy plaid coat with matching red fedora available in my Etsy shop, PinkGingerKitty. Dolls sold separately.
UPDATE: this coat and hat set already sold to a wonderful buyer. No worries: I'm working on other plaid coats this weekend :)
Meet my latest handmade doll, Eleanor James. Eleanor is the Music Director at Hatterfield Primary School. She loves marching bands, show tunes and playing the tuba. She directs the school band and holds workshops in song flute mastery. She has a commanding voice (she would have loved to be a stage star) and wears big hats. Her motto is "Go big or go home!". In her free time she likes going on vigorous hikes with her dog, Mr. Pinkerton.
Eleanor has soft yarn hair in a lovely shade of fuchsia. Her hand-embroidered face features bright blue eyes and a rose pink heart-shaped mouth. She wears a removable purple felt vest with sewn down lapels over her vividly patterned cotton dress. She is 24" long not counting her hat, 14" sitting height, and posable from decorous to sassy. Her hat adds another 3" of noble height to her figure.
Purple cotton stockings and a purple felt hat compliment her vest. Bright pink grosgrain ribbons lace up her shoes and form a double bow at her waist. Her hat has a checked bow sewn to it that matches the ribbon at her neck. Her knickers are pink with a white lattice print like the belt on her dress. She is made of new materials and stuffed with hypoallergenic Polyfil.
Eleanor's arms can be crossed for a bit of spunky attitude which she uses to advantage in class. Her students know that crossed arms means Ms. James thinks they can do better at their chosen instrument. A little hard effort in the right direction is always rewarded by a nod and kind smile.
Eleanor is for sale in my Etsy shop, Pink Ginger Kitty. She's the perfect companion for music lovers!
Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit two distinctly different studios during Boulder's annual Artist's Open Studios weekend. I visited quilting artist Judith Trager's home studio and wood sculpture artist Kristin FitzGerrell's Studio 22.
Judith is a fine art quilter who's luminous quilted pieces remind me of paintings. They range from detailed florals to birds, trees and abstracts. She uses metallic threads and iridescent fabrics to add shimmer to her designs. The resulting works invite close scrutiny and provoke awe at the meticulous application of fabrics and thread. One marvels at the time it must take to create such intricate works of art.
Kristin FitzGerrell's wood sculptures have intrigued me for many years. I am always inspired by her color sense and the industrial cool of her wood pieces. Her home and studio spaces are a pleasure to visit because there is so much to see.
This year she had many smaller pieces available for sale during Open Studios. I loved her new animal "zoo" figures and the "Queen" collages in many color variations. Her fun "Beach Shacks" made me want to collect a whole neighborhood to put on my walls.
Seeing the studio scrap piles awaiting creative play is my favorite part of visiting artist's studios. Other artist's raw materials often give me an immediate jolt of creative energy. At the very least Open Studios gives me license to embrace my current workspace, disorderly piles and all.
Thank you to Judith and Kristin for letting me photograph and share your wonderful artwork here.
New in my PinkGingerKitty shop this week is this red felt doll coat and two (2) hat set.
I call it "Bohemian Rhapsody", a warm red felt coat with richly embroidered trim in black and red with pink and white flowers. In the photos it is shown on Lucy (top) and Millie (bottom). The dolls are not included but there are plenty to choose from in the shop. The coat and hats fit all the Garden Party Girl dolls.
The Bohemian Rhapsody coat set comes with two hats, one a cloche with a stripe of the same embroidery and the other a folded crisscross hat with a black button detail on the back. This gives your doll two looks to play with, suburban mod or city chic. The coat makes a lovely fall or winter change-up for my Garden Party Girl dolls. It also looks smashing next to my "Firebird" coat set.
Here are two more views of the Bohemian Rhapsody coat on Lisel and on Millie. The embroidery makes it fun to play against the various doll hair colors.
The Bohemian Rhapsody red felt coat and hat set, available today in my PinkGingerKitty Etsy shop. Dolls sold separately.
For those of us who love kittens we know the baby stage is all too short. Since kittens have a high cute factor I'm sharing a few photos today of our kitties, Max and Ellie to start your weekend off with a smile. If you're not into cats you may want to look away ;)
You may remember from my post of their adoption that Max is our black and white boy kitty and Ellie is our all black girl kitty. They are now four months and two weeks old. They already look more like little cats than kittens although they are still as adorably playful as when they first arrived. Max weighs 5 lbs 2 oz, and Ellie weighs 4 lbs 14 oz. Kittens gain about a pound a month so they are on target.
These guys are big on diving under pillows for balls and toys. Yarn hung from a stick or feathers will drive them bananas with joy. My husband made wood wands from thin dowels with holes drilled in their ends so we can tie on toys and feathers. They chase after them until they manage to chew the toy off the pole. They carry their trophy to their lair under the couch and rest until someone waves a new toy at them.
Meet my latest handmade doll, Charlotte Simson. Miss Simson is an interior designer with a modern viewpoint. She believes every woman needs a space of her own, no matter how busy she is with her children or husband. Her goal is to create for her female clients a private area in which to work on hobbies and entertain friends. Charlotte's own boudoir is dedicated to crafting frilly pet beds for her five dogs and three cats. She's happy to design something to please your pet too!
Charlotte wears a raspberry pink leopard print dress with a floral patterned belt and matching stockings. Her knickers are pink overlaid with a white lattice pattern. She has on leopard print pink shoes with two tone ribbons crisscrossing her stockings. Over her dress she wears a removable royal blue felt coat with pink grosgrain ribbon belt. Her hat is also royal blue felt with a bright band of patterned fabric to match her stockings. Her hair is denim blue yarn and her hand-embroidered face features green eyes.
Charlotte measures 23" in length, 13" sitting height. She is made from new cotton fabrics, ribbon, yarn, and felt. She is stuffed with hypoallergenic polyfil. Her dress, knickers and shoes are sewn to her body. She can be posed in numerous ways, from demure to sassy.
Charlotte is a voracious reader in her off hours but she's equally at home with a hammer and sewing machine. Her weekends are spent crafting furniture for any pet in need. Her charming home decor delights her clients and neighbors with its mix of bold and elegant fabrics.
I love how Charlotte turned out in her deep pink dress and blue coat. She looks chic and businesslike for fall and winter. Charlotte is available for purchase in my Etsy shop, Pink Ginger Kitty.