Sunday, July 31, 2011

Joie de Vie for Smiling Soah

Balljointed Woman has been on vacation for the past week.  It was a stay-cation, i.e., I stayed home.  Having all that time to myself was a wonderful gift, as I was able to tackle an intricate pattern from MHD Designs called Joie De Vie (The Joy of Life).

There are three pieces to the outfit:  a coat dress, harem pants, and a hair piece.  In actuality, it requires many small pattern pieces to put these three components together.  It took me the better part of a day just to cut all the fabric, keeping in mind that most of these small pattern pieces must be cut at least twice (some of them 4 times) to include a lining.  For instance, the sleeve cuff is made up of two identical pieces of the outer fabric, each of which has an identical piece cut from lining fabric.  In order to make two cuffs, it is necessary to cut 8 pieces of fabric.  The only parts of this pattern which are not lined are the upper sleeves and the main pants pieces.

Adding the sleeves to the upper bodice.

Then there were the ruffles, which had to be created from one of the main fabrics.  Magalie Dawson has a video on You Tube showing how to make these.  I am both proud and embarrassed to say that I did not watch it.  I figured out how to make the ruffles and stormed right ahead.  I should probably watch it anyway, because one thing I could not determine was how wide each ruffle should be.  They look small and narrow in her illustrations.  Mine are definitely wider.  And not uniformly wider, either.  If there is a way to ensure that each ruffle is the same size, I want to know it.

This pattern also gave me plenty of practice turning narrow strips of bias-cut fabric.  I could tell from the required length of each piece that this was one time my Itsy Bitsy Finger Turner wouldn't be equal to the task.  I studied the photos in the pattern instructions, which showed a long narrow tool with a loop at one end and a hook at the other.  What the heck is that thing, I wondered?  I thought I had a good selection of turning tools, but this one was a mystery.  After some searching I found it at JoAnn Fabrics.  It is a Loop Turner, from Dritz, made specifically for turning bias tubing.  According to the package, it makes Chinese ball buttons and purse straps, frog closures, button loops, and shoulder straps.  Where have you been all my life?  (And why doesn't the store display these things on the same wall as the tube turners?)

Loop Turner on the left, instructions showing a loop turner center, and
several strips of unturned bias tubing.

Actually, there was a bit of a learning curve as I sought to manipulate the tool.  First I couldn't get the metal latch through the fabric, then I couldn't get the fabric to turn rightside out.  Just as I was thinking I would have to go back to the finger turner, the Loop Turner finally pulled through.  One strip down, six more to go.

I don't want to make it sound like sewing this outfit wasn't fun, because it was not only fun but easy.  Magalie Dawson illustrates her pattern instructions throughout with color photos, so there is no guesswork in following the steps.  You go from picture to picture and before you know it you have a completed outfit that looks professionally made.  Take it one step at a time and you can't go wrong.

Why can't someone invent an invisible doll stand?

I did wonder what I would do for buttons.  The pattern calls for 21 small buttons (or 22 if you use 4 on the bodice as illustrated on the pattern piece).  I had plenty of buttons in my stash, but none were the right size for the fabric loops.  Flat buttons won't do here; you need a shank button because of the thickness of the loop.  I was contemplating another trip to JoAnn Fabrics when it occurred to me that I could use beads instead of buttons.  Of course, none of my beads were the right size either, so I drove down the road to a bead store and found the perfect beads.  Well, almost perfect.  They could have been a wee bit larger.  I suppose I could close up the loops a bit with thread.  For the time being they work well enough.  The color was absolutely perfect.  I took the unfinished coat dress with me to the store and matched the beads to the color of the ruffles.  How cool is that?  I bought twice as many as I needed, because I am going to make the same outfit for Hazy in a different fabric that incorporates some of the same colors.

Some of Soah's 22 buttons:  there are 4 on each sleeve cuff,
4 down the front of the bodice, and 5 on each pants' cuff.
Although they look white in the sunshine, they are a pale aqua.

The ladies in the bead store ooh-ed and ahh-ed over my unfinished garment, and made me promise to bring in the finished piece for them to see.  It looks like Soah is going to have her first public outing, probably next weeked.  These folks have never heard of Asian ball jointed dolls before.  This should be interesting.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful outfit! Well done!! I have purchased a couple of Magalie's patterns, too, and they are very well written :)