Sunday, January 2, 2011

Remaking a Dress for U-noa Chibi Lilin

Some time ago I made a dress from a pattern in the April 2008 issue of Haute Doll.  The pattern was called In Powder and Crinoline, a rococo gown for MSD girls from Arcadia Dolls.  At the time I didn't recognize the doll in the photos, so I had no idea what her measurements might be or how they would compare to the dolls at Resin Corner.  Undaunted, I made the dress anyway.

I have since learned that she is a Tiny Fairy from Blue Fairy dolls.  The doll has an immature figure, but because the bodice had darts in front, I figured it would fit.  Long story short:  the dress didn't fit any resident of Resin Corner then or now.  The bodice was too long and too wide, the skirts were too long, and I made a mess of the sleeves.  Why didn't I just throw it out?  Because I loved the fabric.  Because I knew that someday, as Project Runway's Tim Gunn likes to say, I would "make it work."

On the left is the original bodice with the back panel removed.
On the right are the old sleeves (above) and the new sleeves (below).
Recently I pulled it out again (it tends to drift down to the bottom of the dolls' fashion box) and reassessed it.  The crinoline would work for any number of dolls without alteration, as I had made it shorter than the gown.  The outer gown could be shortened.  The matching inner skirt (just a panel, actually, sewn to the crinoline) could be shortened from the top so as not to disturb the lace and trim at the bottom.  The bodice was totally problematic and the sleeves simply had to go.

It would have been better to remake the bodice, but I had only a small piece of the yellow trim left, just enough for the sleeves.  I was reluctant to remove the trim from the original bodice for fear of shredding it.  I tried the bodice on U-noa Lilin, an ironic choice as she is smaller than MSD.  For starters, she didn't need the back panel, so I removed it.  The bodice was still too long, so I shortened it from the shoulders.  It still needs shortening, because when the bodice is put on over the skirts it rides up.  Add a doll stand underneath the dress and the effect is magnified.

The new underskirt in green; the original front panel in yellow print.
(Blogger has inexplicably turned my photo on its side.)
There was enough of the yellow fabric left for me to remake the sleeves completely.  Originally when I made this dress I used inexpensive lace purchased by the spool.  I'm sure you have seen it in your local fabric shops:  it's stiff, pre-gathered, and the gathers are held in place by a strip of tulle.  The pattern called for three rows of lace placed one above the other.  I ended up with sleeves so stiff they could stand unaided. 

This time I used a softer lace sold by the yard.  It also comes pre-gathered, in three layers sandwiched together and held in place by a trip of tulle.  I started buying lace this way when I needed colors that I couldn't find on their own.  The middle layer of each sandwich is a color (pink, blue, lavender, etc.) between two layers of white or ecru.  I take the layers apart, use the color where I want it and save the white or ecru for use in other projects.  (Taking the lace apart requires a little patience and a seam ripper.  Once you find the right thread, all you have to do is pull and it all separates.  The trick is finding that thread.)

I decided to make a full underskirt in a contrasting color in preference to the front panel in the pattern.  There was a piece of green-and-yellow trim in my stash.  It was long enough for the skirt, but what was left over wouldn't extend to a remake of the bodice.  And I can't buy more of it, because I've had that piece for many  years.  That style of trim is still around, but not in those colors.

The fit is not perfect.  I still want to remake the bodice.  But Lilin didn't mind showing off the dress as a work-in-progress.  She is wearing a Mini Shirley wig from Kemper, and for a hat she wears a silk flower trimmed with a piece of lace.

1 comment:

  1. I love what you did with the pattern. The dress is beautiful. I like the wig too!