Sunday, February 28, 2016

Night at the Opera for Raccoon Lucy: the Bustier

Instead of launching into another Regency gown this week, I put it aside for later and opted to try a different pattern.  Night at the Opera for DeeAnna Denton, from Designs by Jude, is not a pattern I would have attempted for the Raccoon girls with glamour body. As you can see from the photo on the pattern envelope, the finished dress is close fitting through the hips. Raccoon's glamour body is a half-inch larger than DeeAnna's in the hips, while the slim body's hip measurement matches DeeAnna's exactly. I'm not saying it can't be made for the glamour body, only that making it for the fuller figure requires some calculation and redrawing of the pattern. So I am making the outfit for Lucy, who is on the slim body. Either way it needs adjustment for length, because Raccoon girls are taller than DeeAnne.
I started by cutting out a muslin (below) and set to work putting the bustier together. I didn't bother to cut a lining. Instead I hemmed the bustier where the lining seams would go. Because of the doll's ample curves, the bustier pieces were awkward to sew and even more awkward to iron. So who can blame me for taking a shortcut? I eyeballed the muslin bustier, told myself it would fit (actually I muttered, "Close enough,") and started on the garment.
The photo immediately above shows my fabrics for this garment. The skirt fabric looks like silk but I believe it is a blend of some kind. (I buy many of my fabrics as remnants. By the time I get around to using them, the label is long gone and it's anyone's guess what the stuff is.) Despite how it looks on the photo, the skirt fabric is actually more green than gray. I don't know how it will work up as I haven't used any part of it yet. The bone of contention here is the floral fabric in the middle of the photo. Love how it looks, have used it before, know it's a bear to work with but am using it anyway. I think it's suede cloth. The sewing machine needle refuses to go through the painted design--or if it goes through it chews up the fabric and sounds like I'm pounding a tough piece of meat--so I have to sew by hand.
You can get an idea of the awkwardness of this pattern from the above photo. (At the bottom left is the wrong side of the batiste lining. I prefer white, even though it sometimes shows around the edges of the garment, because it lessens the danger that a fabric will stain the doll.)  Even after ironing the seams open, the bottom of the bustier puckers.
In the above photo the top seam has been sewn and trimmed. I wish I had tried the bustier on the doll at this point, because it would have been easier to fix a problem with fit. Unfortunately, I didn't notice how loose the bust was in front until I laced it up the back. Rather than take everything apart, I made a couple of darts (very thick because of the layers of fabric involved) and hoped they wouldn't show. The perfectionist in me says pick it apart and do it correctly. My lazy side tells me to leave it alone as the doll won't care one way or the other. I think my perfectionist side may win out on this one. The bust just doesn't fit right.
The appliques may be coming off, too. They don't really add anything aesthetically. Mostly they just look odd, especially the one on her hip. That one was intended to go on a front side panel. It ended up on a side back panel to cover an uneven seam line.
The pattern calls for eyelets in back to lace up the bustier. I like applying eyelets about as much as I like poison ivy, so I looked for other means of closing the back. There wasn't enough overlap for snap sets. If a corset or bustier closes in front I like to apply lace to each edge and run a ribbon through it to lace it up. There was no point wasting pretty lace on the back of the garment, so next I considered hooks and eyes. Finally I settled on metal eyes and laced a ribbon through them.

Next week I tackle the skirt.
Bonus shot of Lucy, just because...


  1. I have used jump rings on the back of teeny corsets and mostly they work well--as long as they are squeezed shut completely. Otherwise they seem to know to work their way around until they are free of the anchor stitching and then slide gleefully along the ribbon.

    1. LOL...Jump rings sound like a good idea, but if they're going to wriggle free they might not be worth the effort. Maybe a little dab of epoxy at the opening?

    2. Use 'split rings' instead of jump rings. They are like miniature versions of the rings we put our keys on. :-)

      I am glad I'm not the only one who suffers from the curse of 'close enough'. I rather like the lace applique on the bust, but see that the hip one is now set oddly.

      I think Lucy will have a gorgeous gown once you've finished it!

    3. I've never seen split rings that small. If I could find any I wouldn't mind trying to use them.

  2. I think it is looking great! The dress design is lovely. Can't wait to see it finished!

    1. I gave up on the suede cloth bustier and have begun another one in a pretty cotton printed with Japanese cranes. It will have larger darts and hopefully will fit her bust better. The pattern would probably work without alteration on a large bust doll, but all four of my Raccoon girls have the small bust.