Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tuesday's Child is Full of Grace

Tuesday's Child

Its May, the month of flowers, and what better way to celebrate the beauty of our blossoming gardens than to design a pretty pink ballet costume detailed in roses?  Earlier this year I'd made a Mary Frances nurse's uniform for Wednesday's Child, and later learned that Tuesday had not yet been respresented/donated towards the Lawton Loop's Helper Donation sponsored by Jill Kaar Hanson.  This Helper donation will be given to raise money for the UFDC (United Federation of Doll Clubs) at this year's summer convention in Washington, D.C.  Jill accepted my offer to create something to represent the second day of the week (although I feel Sunday is really the first!), so I set my sights on creating a ballet costume.  And, of course, I'd never made a ballet costume before. 
Is Full of Grace

I'd had on hand some slipper pink silk, and hunted down some fine gauge wedding favor tulle in a similar color.  I'd also already had on hand some soft pink jersey for a pair of stockings I intended to make for a costume for Lettie Lane.  Now to draft up a pattern.  I'm a huge fan of Robert Tonner's NYCB (New York City Ballet) dolls, as well as the Jane Child doll he made as a club offering.  One Christmas FAO Schwarz carried Jane Grande Jete, a doll that came with three gorgeous ballet costumes.  There was also a trunk, but I've only seen it on Ebay once.  I did acquire, finally, the doll and all three costumes, but trunk set, complete, has been elusive.  These were the dolls and costumes that I would study for construction and design when approaching this piece.
Tonner's Jane Grande Jete
I started off by tracing around the torso of the 9" Lawton doll's body for a swimsuit style bodice.  One important thing to keep in mind when doing this is to allow for the depth of the body.  I drew several, making muslin mock-ups, until I had a nice fit.  Since these bodices are fully lined, I used another made up version to the Magalie Dawson method that I've described several times in the creative process.  It was rather like sewing a tiny pillow case then turning it inside out.  In the second version I added the ribbons to tie on the shoulders.  In retrospect I should have used 4mm pink silk ribbon for these ties, but I only had 2mm on hand.  Getting them tied on this tiny wooden shoulders was not easy, so before I send it onto Jill, I'll knot the bow so no one else has to do this.  These little dolls have never been easy to dress!
Rosette Embellishments
The tulle skirt was made in graduating lengths of fabric.  I believe there are six layers.  The two most narrow lengths are the under pieces, and get longer towards the top layer giving it fullness and drape.  I also machine stitched to the edge of the top layer of tulle, a row of 2mm silk ribbon.  I really didn't think I could do this, but I went slowly and it did work.  These layers are then sewn together and gathered for fit around the waist, then a pink silk ribbon in 7mm was topstitched on the waist as a band.  A snap closes the skirt.  Tonner uses satin ribbons for these purposes, but again, I was using what I had on hand. 

Pattern Pieces and Products
The stockings were kind of fun to do.  I have no secrets, you know that!  I took apart a pair of stockings from one of Tonner's Kripplebush Kids dolls.  The piece looks like the front of a pair of pants with rounded toes.  You fold the sides into the center to create the tights!  Brilliant!  I had to make two pairs as the body of the Lawton dolls has a longer torso from crotch to waist.  Nice little tights with a good fit!

Finally it was time for embellishments.  I had no idea what I was going to do.  So I began rummaging through the bags in my sewing drawers and found some sheer pink rosettes and a length of silk bowed ribbon.  If I ever do this again, I'd like to work with sparkly gold embellishments, but when I do, the edges will have to be sewn between the lining and the bodice.  A friend of mine has asked several times if I have learned to enjoy sewing for these dolls.  I suppose you can get used to sewing for such skinny little dolls, but as with anything, its the challenge that drives me to create.

Lastly, I made a little crown of rosettes and ribbons to top her head.  The slippers are Lawton Emporium Pink Ankle Ties with longer ribbons added. 

I like that I can now more easily switch between dolls for different styles and sizes of costuming.  Doing this only grows me as a designer and artist, and of course nothing goes out my door without the Miss E. Mouse stamp of approval. 

Miss E. Mouse 

Tonner's Coppelia

One Last Look

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