Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Anna Project, Part 2

When working with a pattern that doesn't fit your doll, there are many adjustments to make along the way. The smart thing is to make a muslin (i.e., to sew the garment in an inexpensive fabric--like muslin--to avoid wasting your "good" fabric), see where it does and doesn't fit, make alterations and try again.  I did a lot of that this week, with the result that I have one finished piece, have begun to sew another, and have a third just about ready to cut.

The first piece I tackled was the body shirt that will pair with Anna's skirt. These two pieces replace the dress in the Simplicity pattern. The body shirt pattern comes from MHD Designs' Le Pantalon, which I had sewn previously for an Elfdoll Soah. My finished garment was a little big for Mirwen, so I trimmed the pattern down by 1/4 inch all around. Then I started sewing. If you're waiting for the "unfortunately" that seems to qualify each stage of my garment construction, here it comes. My chosen fabric not only snagged each time I touched it, but ran like an old pair of nylon stockings when I had to take out a collar seam that went awry. My "perfect" fabric, perfectly ruined. A substitute knit in my stash helped me avoid a trip to JoAnn's and I completed the body shirt without further incident. It's not exactly the color I wanted, but there's no guarantee I would have found the perfect fabric in the perfect color at the store either.
Last week I mentioned that I had ordered a wig and boots to go with Anna's outfit. They arrived on Tuesday.  Although the braids are too long, I plan to keep the wig as is rather than risk cutting one braid shorter than the other. The boots looked good and seemed to fit. The problem was that Mirwen couldn't stand in them. I was able to substitute a pair of Iplehouse boots. She can stand in these by locking one knee and keeping the other knee slightly bent. And they're so much prettier than the other boots. You can see both the wig and the Iplehouse boots in the photo of Mirwen modeling the body shirt (above).

I had planned to combine the skirt patterns from The Patchwork Pansy's Just My Style with Gracefaerie's #10 Takeshita-dori; however, the more I studied it the more it looked like too much work. I don't mind making adjustments, but this seemed like reinventing the wheel. I scrapped that idea in favor of making a muslin of the skirt part of the Simplicity Frozen pattern. This experiment showed me that even though the waistline would be way too big for Mirwen, simply extending the skirt upwards would decrease the size of the waist. An inch and a half extension looks like it will fit perfectly. It also makes the skirt longer, which is a good thing seeing as the pattern was drafted on a shorter doll. Best of all it allows me to attach the bottom band of the skirt with no alterations whatsoever.
What looks like a yoke on the skirt (above) is simply the extension I added to my muslin. The actual skirt will be a single length of fabric with the bottom band added. I didn't make a muslin of that. You're probably wondering why I didn't continue putting the skirt together. I thought about it. What held me back was all the embroidery at the bottom. I wasn't ready to tackle that, mainly because it needs to be done before I can line the skirt, and I can't judge how much embroidery floss I will need. So I thought I would do something quick and easy first--the vest.
Did I say quick and easy? How about three muslins? That's what it took. First was the vest from the Simplicity pattern (above photo, top and bottom right). Not only was it huge, but I couldn't see a way to make it narrower, add darts and still keep the overall shape. Next I tried the vest from the MHD Designs Le Pantalon. I had to make the waist come to a point, reshape the neckline, and make the vest fasten in back instead of in front, so I made a muslin even though the original vest fits Mirwen. It's a good thing I did, because the resulting garment (upper left, above) was too big. I don't remember altering the original finished garment but I must have, otherwise this version would fit.  My last try was the dress bodice from The Patchwork Pansy's Just My Style (bottom left, above). I had to lengthen the bodice slightly, bring the center front to a point and reshape the neckline. Let's hope I am not being overconfident, because I selected this one as my pattern without finishing the muslin. Not only that--I embroidered the front.
The embroidery guidelines printed on the Simplicity pattern piece don't quite fit the amount of space on my vest, especially as I didn't want to embroider over the darts. They also lack the flowers. I copied the design from movie stills, but then I wasn't sure how best to transfer the design to the fabric. Originally I planned to cut stencils. With a design this small a stencil was out of the question. I do have transfer paper, however, so I cut a piece the size of my design (to avoid stray white marks on the fabric) and used a stylus to transfer the pattern. Working with such a small design made some stitches nearly impossible. I made a test piece (red leaves, above) to see what I could manage. Basically I've got outline stitches and some satin stitches for filler. I didn't need to test the French knots. By the time I took out some stitches on the vest that didn't look right, I had erased part of my design and had to rework it by eye. The result could be better but I'm not redoing it.
I had to leave plenty of blank space above and below the design to accommodate both the seams and some gold metallic bias tape. If after all this the vest doesn't fit, I will simply curl up in a corner and cry.


  1. I completely understand your pain with the fabric for the body shirt, it happened to me!! T_T
    And trying to fit patterns sometimes can be quite a task, but it is better than making the thing and having it with a wrong fit =S
    Your Anna is looking great, though. Good luck with the project!

    1. Thanks Musume! Someone suggested that I could have put a piece of tissue paper over my original body shirt fabric to keep it from snagging as I sew. Of course that would not have kept me from making the mistake I made on the collar, which is what led to the run in the fabric. Who ever said sewing was easy?