August, 2015

7 Year Itch Dress for 19″ Marilyn Sculpture

Happy Saturday morning folks! Hope you’ve got great plans for the day. The summer is winding down around here, so get out and do something fun, (right after you bookmark this blog, lol!)

Today I’ll be working an a Marilyn Monroe 7 Year Itch dress. You know the one, the subway grate scene on that hot night in the film? The pleated one? Yup, that one…..


I have made doll versions of this dress before, but this time is a little different. This time it will be for a sculpture, not a doll. My client is having a sculpture made. She’ll be 19 inches tall and will be proportional to Marilyn’s actual measurements.

I researched Marilyn’s measurements and although they changed over the years a little, and there seems to be a tiny discrepancy with regard to her actual height, I was able to find them online in a couple of different places. I also have a few books about Marilyn and the her designers. There is a lot of literature on that “silly little dress” as Travilla (the designer) called it.


His dress, he can call it whatever he wants!

As a point of interest, the dress isn’t even white, it’s bone, or cream. White didn’t really appear white so well on film. Apparently, white looked grey and dingy, so the bone coloured dress gave a more pleasing white on film, which is what they were going for. This version is white, but not bright white, just a soft neutral white.Β  I have chosen a silk/cotton light semi sheer fabric for this as it will pleat beautifully. (I discovered that the designer had fabric specially made for this dress. He specifically wanted some man-made fiber content, which he didn’t normally use much, so that the pleats would stay.)

So, I’ve begun the work on pure math and numbers to this point because I don’t have the sculpture in hand, she may not be finished yet even. New size, so new pattern. The sculptor is crafting the figure to have Marilyn’s real proportions. So I’ve taken her actual height and the height of the sculpture and gotten a percentage which I then applied to her bust, waist and hip measurements. Because this dress has the pleated flared skirt, the hip measurement isn’t all that critical. The most important is the waist because that’s where the dress fits closely. Even the bust cups have ore leeway in terms of size because they will be gathered along the bottom edge and the tied at the back neck, so that affords some size flexibility as well.

All of this is important because I don’t yet have confirmation of the position, theΒ stance, of the sculpture. Are her hands down? or up? Are her legs together? or apart? This will have an impact on how much of the dress can be closed at the back and how it fastens. So I will do what can be done without that knowledge and go from there.

So here is the pleated skirt section in process. I’m doing it by hand with my trusty iron. Note that I have already hemmed this. prior to pleating πŸ™‚


I have done this pleated skirt in an arc before, but it’s tricky that way because the grainline doesn’t arc (of course) so parts of the pleating are more difficult to pleat perfectly. I’m going with a straighter pattern piece here for a better pleat. The fabric is semi sheer and I don’t want to line it, as that would interfere with the pleated look (even if I pleated the lining), so I want a fair amount of pleat overlap. The real dress is three layers everywhere, except the skirt, which is two. My version will be lined everywhere except the skirt and have an extra layer in the pleated bust to waist section.

Here it is all pleated….


The other little gotcha is that the client wants the hem to appear to be blowing up around her as if she’s on that subway grate. But we’ll get to that when the time is right. I have a couple of ideas πŸ™‚

I’ve gone ahead and pleated a piece for the bodice between bust and waist as well.


I have also drafted and cut the bust pieces and the back bodice bits. There is a little more that I can do before the final size confirmation, so I’ll go and do those things while I’m waiting. (Gathering the bust cups and lining, prepping the waist tie…)

That is all for now. I’ll get back to work so there’s more to show next time!

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!




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J-Lo 2000 Grammy Dress

It is said that J-Lo lit up the internet after she appeared at the 2000 Grammy Awards wearing this gravity defying bare almost all little number because so many people were searching for her image in the dress.

I’ve been asked to recreate it on a small scale for a 17 inch tall Tonner Antoinette doll. This dress is what I like to call a “fabric dependent” piece. The fabric is a unique printed silk chiffon, that even if I could find the real fabric somehow, would be in the wrong scale for the doll and wouldn’t look right anyway. Without a suitable fabric to work in, the project will ultimately fail. So I’m careful what I promise when agreeing to this kind of project. I certainly don’t want to disappoint my commissioner!

Here’s the dress (in case you’ve had your eyes closed for 15 to 20…)


Apparently, there was a little double sided tape involved, but I digress!

It’s a beautiful Versace dress that helped launch Donatella’s career after the death of her brother Gianni.

The search was on for fabric. It took a while of scouring the web and my local fabric stores and anyway else I could think of. Buying pieces like this online is problematic. Many stores/sellers don’t give you an accurate representation of scale which is so important when working small and you often can’t tell what kind of hand, or drape the piece will have. Sometimes I take the risk that the piece will be wrong and sometimes it is. I try to be mindful of that, otherwise I wind up storing a lot of fabric that’s wrong for me.

But, joy of joys I found two that were plausible, not perfect mind you, but one of them was pretty close in feel. It was a tropical abstract leaf pattern in a chiffon. A little less blue than the original, but I knew I could help that along by strategically overpainting the material.

I draped the two over a doll – my Sybarite rescue, as it happens πŸ™‚ In this first example, the colour is pretty good, but the abstract dots are wrong. There’s nothing really tropical about this, but did I say the colour’s good?


The second example is the abstract tropical. In this example, the print is better, but the colour is a little washed out and it’s not blue enough. Since I can’t do anything about the print of the first example, but I can help the colour of the second example, this is the better choice IMHO.Β My savvy commissioner picked the second fabric.


With a fabric found and decided upon, I set to drafting the pattern for this dress. It remarkably tricky to achieve a tight fitting dress with so few places on the body where it actually comes together!Β Not to mention, the skirt has to be flowy πŸ™‚

With the fabric being scarce and this being a new pattern, I made a muslin first, to test fit.


It has some merit. It’s a reasonable start point. The neckline is altogether too high of course, but more importantly, the hang at the front is wrong. The hips need more space. Also, the skirt is too short at the back and doesn’t quite have enough sweep either. So back to the pattern paper for refinements!

When I was happy with the pattern, it was time to work with the final fabric. I decided that the easiest way to over paint successfully would be to cut the pieces out and overpaint before I sew. That way, I don’t waste a lot of time painting parts that won’t be used and presew keeps my doll clean and paint free, and it keeps the pieces flat, making them easier to paint.


I tested three different products to overpaint. Drawing ink, fabric paint and artist acrylic. The drawing ink bled quite a bit, so no, probably not. On to the fabric paint which by the name one would think it would be the best choice, but this particular type is quite thick, it wants to be 3D (it’s probably quite good at that) but it doesn’t thin well, and I don’t want 3D here… So last test, artist acrylic: it thins, it can be built up, mixed almost infinitely. It doesn’t bleed, will never transfer to the doll. Yup, this is the one πŸ™‚

The differences are pretty subtle, especially in photos, but, I’m happy with the shift towards blue of the overall look. So much so that I punchd up the greens in many places too. I spent about three days just painting the various bits. I’d get into a zone and think, just a little more here, just a bit more blue there…


The piece on the left is overpainted and the bit on the right is not. It needs more, you can see how it would be tough to stop, lol!

Now it’s looking more pleasing πŸ™‚


After it’s all painted it’s time to sew. Construction mapping on this piece was fun! There is an order of operations at play for best results. This order of operations type stuff tends to run through my mind as I’m waking up. In that hazy pre-awake state where all the great ideas come from. When I’m working on something, that’s where the answers lie. If I’m in between projects, it’s where the best ideas for the next one make themselves known…..

Anyway, back to J-Lo




It’s coming along. Some refinements and tidying need to happen and it needs another pressing. You’ll notice that she’s wearing a blue panty underneath. When I researched the dress, it seems that Vercsace designed this gown to have a nude panty with a jewelled crotch underneath as well as the jewelled brooch fastener. J-Lo apparently opted not to wear the nude panty with the jewelled crotch. Good call J-Lo! I like the blue panty better too πŸ™‚

After much hand work, the dress is finished. Here are some final studio pics for you.



Don’t want to forget to mention the should sparkle and of course the strategically placed jewelled brooch πŸ™‚



Well, that’s it for now! The J-Lo dress is on it’s way to it’s owner and I’m on to another project,

Watch this space πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading,




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Vintage Batgirl for Dawn – Finished :)

That’s it she’s finished and off to her new home. When I last posted, I was in the near stages of completion with just a lot of little details to complete. I had to finish off the belt and then attach it to her, finish off the gloves, add varnish to her heels and belt buckle, perfect her hair and add her hood, and of course add the bat logo to her her costume!

Here’s a little bit of the gloves. Firstly, because I’m using a silk that likes to fray and dissipate to nothing with just the slightest hint of a breeze, (but it’s the perfect colour!) it needs to be handled carefully. The gloves are miniscule! I’m using a fusible interfacing to stabilize the silk. I’ve pressed it to the silk before cutting.



I’d just like to make a side note about the fabric colours throughout the blog posts for this project. The fabrics I’m using have optical dyes in them. The colour of both the silk and the sparkly unitard fabric are both a lovely grape-y purple. When photographed with flash these both appear navy blue. I’ve tried to colour correct throughout, but some shots are better than others….

I did as much as possible with machine, but the rest will need to done on doll πŸ™‚



You can see even with careful and minimal handling, this silk still wants to fly apart! Now that the gloves are completely hand sewn onto the the forearms, the fabric is never coming apart!

After all that, it was time for a final photo shoot. I give you Batgirl!




Looks like Batgirl is striding off to keep Batman out of trouble, or more likely, require saving πŸ˜‰




Hope you enjoyed coming along with me while I whipped up this girl! Thanks so much for reading πŸ™‚




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Vintage Batgirl for Dawn WIP 3

Happy Friday dolly peeps!

Lots to get through here as this project is picking up speed! This girl’s got aΒ mind of her own and places to be πŸ™‚

Let’s start with the lady herself then today. Here’s the lovely Glori pre Batgirl …


Her hair is a little mussy, but nevermind. She’ll be receiving a spa treatment before long…

She is nonplussed that I’m showing her first with messy hair, and then, horror of horrors, with curlers and plastic wrap and pipe cleaners! She is totally scandalized! (But then again, she’s also bodyless at the moment, so what’s she’s going to do?)


She’ll be happy again when I show her all prettied up πŸ™‚

This vintage Batgirl is modeled, as you already know, after Yvonne Craig’s portrayal. I didn’t know very much about Yvonne Craig before I started. I didn’t know for instance that she trained as a ballerina. That explains those awesome kicks that Batgirl could deliver! Bam! Biff! I didn’t realize her other acting credits either. I guess I didn’t recognize her out of her Batgirl mask. I didn’t know she played Marta, the slinky seductive green alien girl in the original Star Trek opposite my man Kirk πŸ˜‰ Here’s a link to her official fanpage if you’d like to know more about her.

Yvonne Craig’s fansite


Here’s Glori after her hair treatment. She has blue eyes now, like Yvonne, and a more accurate lipcolour…



Still needs a little taming. Most of it will hide under her hood and her half mask, but if she ever takes it off, she’ll be pretty underneath! Speaking of her mask…



Good thing I have a little Dawn wigstand so I don’t have to make the mask on a doll πŸ™‚



I like how this is looking πŸ™‚ Still has to be cut of course, but it looks like it should I think.

On to the belt. After carefully cutting out the utility belt boxes and foldingΒ them. I’ll be gluing them up and then painting them to match the inside of her silk cape. The Mask looks on, lol!

Batgirl2WIP3wThose other little bits are the ears of course!

I’ve added a loop to the back of each of the little box pouches for her belt, so they can slide back and forth on the gold leather belt πŸ™‚Batgirl7WIP3w

The belt buckle with the logo is next. I’m using a leather piece for the basis and am painting the Batlogo onto it. Varnish atop for protection. Trimmed the mask as well πŸ™‚

Batgirl8WIP3wMore assemblage of tiny bits….


Bits, bits and more bits!


Shoes! Well the heels and soles anyway πŸ™‚

Batgirl6WIP3wHere’s how the belt looks on her hips…

Batgirl12WIP3wA little bit of touch up here and there is needed.

We’re closing in on the finish line here. Next time, I’ll attach her mask and her hood, put her cape on, add the gloves and the soles and heels. Lastly I’ll place her Batgitl logo onto her chest as a ceremonial last act, and she’ll be ready to travel to her new home πŸ™‚

Right, I’m feeling a power surge, so back to the studio while the creative fire burns!

Thanks for reading!







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Vintage Batgirl for Dawn WIP 2

Well hello there and welcome to WIP 2! Meant to blog yesterday but you know, real life sometimes has to take precedent. Needs must and all of that. Not that work didn’t get done mind you, quite the contrary.

Progress made on the hood, the ears, the boots, the unitard, the belt. It’s all happening! The only thing I haven’t worked on yet are the gloves, but this morning in my prewaking miasma when it’s quiet and nothing else has yet intruded into my consciousness (love that time!) I came up with a plan of execution for them that I am eager to try out. The purple silk you see is proving a little tricky to manipulate on this small scale, and the gloves have those little spikes…. tricky, but not completely impossible.

There are so many fun details to tackle in this costume πŸ™‚

First off, here’s the beginnings of the hood. Just a quick fit test. Doesn’t look like much, but it will after the edges are finished properly. It’ll be open at the nape of the neck to allow her curled red hair to fall freely. Glori’s hair isn’t curled like Yvonne Craig’s yet, but it will be. (Her eyes will be blue too!)


Her hood needs ears of course. They’re fairly big in real size, but pretty teeny tiny for Dawn!


A little fusible interfacing will help me tame this silk! The outside face of the ears are black and will be leather for this version.

Here’s a Β little bit on her utility belt. The original belt is metallic gold and I have the most terrific metallic gold leather for it πŸ™‚ The center belt buckle will be black leather with a tiny yellow bat logo. I’ll be making little tiny yellow box pockets too. I’ve roughed out, size as, how the belt should be laid out…


I’ve plotted out the tiny utility boxes. There are four and I want them all to be alike. If I can leave them so that they can open, I will. But it might not be possible ’cause they’re so tiny. In the pic, you can see against the ruler how small they are! I will paint them yellow πŸ™‚


Much tiny paper and leather cutting later and it’s beginning to take shape.


Her purple sparkly unitard went swimmingly! I absolutely Love this fabric. The quality is extreme and that makes it so easy to work with!



I’ve started on her boots as well. Just the soles and kitten heels left to go πŸ™‚

It’s all coming together and starting to look the real deal. Next time I’ll be working on her face mask, gloves and heels along with the rest of her utility belt. After that, it’ll down to hair style and eye colour update πŸ™‚

Have a great day everybody and thanks as always for reading!


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Posted in awsumgal outfit, dawn and pippa, doll, doll clothes, doll outfit, OOAK, OOAK Dawn and Pippa, replica, Uncategorized, vintage 2 Comments »