Monday, September 27, 2010

One Pattern Four Ways, Part One

I attempted a new pattern over the weekend:  Magalie Houle Dawson's (MHD Designs) Spring Summer Body Shirts.  The pattern makes four variations on a body shirt:  short sleeve with mock turtle neck; short sleeve with sweetheart neckline; sleeveless with bra top; sleeveless with halter top.  The pattern also makes socks in three lengths:  ankle-high, knee-high, and thigh-high.  It does not, however, make the hat shown in the photos on the front cover.  (Darn - I want that hat!)

Black-and-tan body suit taking shape.
(For some inexplicable reason, Blogger keeps turning this photo on its side and I can't turn it back again.)
 While the pattern is designed for SD-sized girls like SuperDollfie 13 and Elfdoll, I set out to make it for my slim minis.  Normally when I sew for the smaller girls, I take a pattern for Ellowyne Wilde and scale up if and where necessary.  But MHD didn't have the same pattern in the smaller size, so this time I worked backwards, starting with the larger pattern and scaling down.  I photocopied the pattern at 75%, which in my experience usually works for dolls like Narae, U-noa, Supia, Soul Kids, and Goodreau vinyl.  When I get around to making one for Iplehouse Tania, I will have to experiment with 80% or 85% and see what fits her broad shoulders, chest and back.

Sleeves with continuous cuff.  After attaching the cuff, I cut the fabric between the two sleeves and cut off the long piece on the right.
 MHD patterns are profusely illustrated with step-by-step color photos, much like the Japanese pattern books I referred to in a recent post.  There is little text.  In most cases this makes the patterns very easy to follow.  Maybe it's just me, but there are times when I would like a little more clarification.  I can't always see what she is referring to in a photo, especially when the garment under construction contains a busy print.  In this pattern, however, the demonstration garment is a solid color, which helps tremendously.

Nearly-finished body suit.  (It is inside-out at this point.)
Stockings are cut out but still pinned to the pattern.
 One feature of MHD patterns that I appreciate is the shortcuts.  When she puts a cuff on a sleeve or stocking-top, one long pattern piece serves for both sleeves or both stockings.  You line up your sleeve or stocking pieces side-by-side, place the cuff across both, pin and sew.  Afterwards, you cut the two apart.  Even though it saves steps, it took me a couple of attempts before I embraced the concept.  It's awkward at first to do something in a different way than you have been doing.  It might not work if your cuff is elaborate or irregularly shaped, but for straight sewing, it's a piece of cake.

Stockings with continuous cuff.  Note the two illustrations (bottom right of photo) which show three pair of socks/stockings joined with one cuff, and then separated.
 This pattern works best with fabric with a lot of stretch.  Of the two body shirts I completed this weekend, one (the black and tan) was made with a stretch lace that didn't have much stretch.  It wasn't all that lacy, either.  The other (the white one) had plenty of stretch in the base fabric, but the trim didn't stretch as much.  I made them both knowing that if they didn't fit one doll, they were sure to fit another.  That did not hold true for the stockings, however.  I ended up with two pair of stockings that fit no one, not even Innuendo, who has the smallest feet and legs of any MSD in my collection.

The white body suit taking shape.  Why, oh why, did I choose this fabric?  The thin lycra lining lies atop the pattern.
 The sweetheart neckline version is partially lined.  This caused me some consternation as I tried to figure out what fabric to use behind the loose white knit.  Anything I used would show through.  And it had to be a stretch fabric.  I had two to choose from: a heavy cotton-lycra knit or a swimsuit lining made of thinner lycra.  I opted for the swimsuit lining.  I don't know which was worse to handle:  the rubbery lining or the cheesecloth-like main fabric with its ruffled trim.  (I didn't add that - it is part of the fabric.)  It was a bad choice, if only because the trim partially conceals the sweetheart neckline.

White body suit with lining and sleeves attached.
 Now that I know what does and does not work in terms of fabric, I expect to have a lot less trouble with the remaining two versions of this body shirt.  My next project, once I get these made, will be to make skirts or pants to complete the outfits.  My models have already informed me that they do not intend to stand around half-dressed for an extended period of time, especially now that Fall has come to the North Country and days grow chilly in Resin World.  They were extremely sulky when it came time for photos, refusing to stand or sit as requested.  They finally consented to lolling on the sofa.  I'm afraid I had to threaten them both with re-stringing!

Narae (left) and U-noa Sist (right) model their body suits.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. That looks like a lot of work. Your dolls are so lucky that you are so talented (and patient).