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Smaller Isn’t Faster, and What’s Next…

I spent the day doing photography for demos on patterning and making some basic stuff (smocks, skirts, etc). I’m working at sizes to fit Tyler Wentworth dolls, and I just had some sort of completely wrong notion that sewing a smock for a 16″ doll would be easier and/or faster than sewing for a human… But no. The seams are shorter, but little dolly armscyes are a giant pain the tushie.  And as if that weren’t bad enough….

My sewing room is the garage, and it was about 95 with a million percent humidity here today.  However annoying it might normally be to make a narrow french seam for a dolly armpit, it’s easy twice so when the fabric is sticking to your sweaty fingers.  Le sigh.

The radio was on the whole time, and I kept hearing a commercial for the local ren faire.  Apparently, it’s opening Real Soon Now(tm).  And that’s fantastic, because I was out there working on stuff for Ye Olde Basic Ren Faire Garb(age).  It’s not aimed at the hardcore authenticity devotees, so much as the large crowd of folks who want to visit a faire a time or few a year, and want a wardrobe that has a few options.  Pattern drafting info and sewing instructions for:

  • a drawstring neck/sleeve smock
  • a simple square-necked smock
  • a drawstring skirt
  • a circle skirt
  • a fun square overskirt
  • a gored skirt
  • a front closing boned bodice (based on the Basic Conical Block)
  • a back closing boned bodice (based on the Basic Conical Block)

I’ll also be releasing patterns sized for Tyler Wentworth and (slightly later) Barbie.

I’m thinking, after that, of doing what I’ve always wanted to do and trying to recreate the Eleanora de Toledo burial gown for Tyler.  Well, ok, the idea of doing it dolly size is recent – I always wanted to make it for me, but I’ve never gotten round to it and always suspected it wouldn’t be my best look anyway.  Oooooh, and I could stray outside the 1560-80s, you know, and make something with an enormous hip roll or a full-on french farthingale…  I’m still slightly stymied by the size of the darn dolls (have you ever tried to downsize boning?  I’ve spent all these years making bodices that double as flak jackets….  Getting the support right for the scale is crazy-weird, and trying to translate all the fabrics down to something workable – Oy and vey!), but still, at this size I can justify making dresses from all the periods I love even if I have no place at all to wear them too!  It makes me giddy with joy, I tell you.


  1. Beth
    Beth July 8, 2010

    Would fishing line work as a substitute for plastic boning (lawn edger line or electrical ties)? How about buttonhole twist or glue-soaked buttonhole twist for “corded corset” or twigs? Not speaking form experience, just guessing here.

  2. missa
    missa July 8, 2010

    Great ideas, Beth… I hadn’t thought about sizing anything with glue, and I was totally stumped for a cord substitute at the right size. For corsets, I’ve been playing with taking the individual nylon rods out of rigelene boning – they’re heavier than fishing line or monofilament, but lighter than the nylon brim “wire” used in hats. For support skirts, well, I’m still playing. I like using the nylon based stiffeners, because they can be heat set the same as whalebone. Thank you!

  3. Tanya
    Tanya August 6, 2010

    Woot! – something I can help with!

    Plastic milk cartons, cut into strips with an exacto blade and lightly sanded, make great boning material in doll size! – also, jewelry wire slid into the channels works well as long as you’re careful not to ‘munch’ it while working.

    Need to put this in two entries….

  4. Tanya
    Tanya August 6, 2010

    Next – keep in mind your seam allowances – you’ll be adding a LOT of bulk with each and every seam! – expect your finished corset/bodice to add AT LEAST 1/4″ and probably 1/2″ to your dolls measurements!

    (meaning, make your undergarments first, and remeasure before making your gown…)

  5. missa
    missa August 6, 2010

    Thanks, ladies! I appreciate the tips. :)
    Tanya – you’re so right – the seam allowances are one of the things that are causing me a but of grief while developing patterns, even in little dolly waist-bands. That, and, honestly, I’m used to working with humans. The big difference (outside of size) is that humans squish and dolls don’t. This has been a tremendous learning curve for me. *laugh* All these years, I thought I knew exactly what I was doing by now, right? It’s brilliant, though – I get to learn it all over again, but better this time. :)

  6. corsetra
    corsetra September 1, 2010

    dolly boning: 4″ zip-ties, (sometimes you can find the same width and thickness in 6″ and 8″ but often the 8″ are the same as the regular 14″ long so be careful)
    poly styrene strips many widths and thickness, 12″ long

    Hoop boning, stock up on various sizes of yogurt containers. then cut a hoop off. continuous circles the right diameter!

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