CLOTHING FIT FOR A KING…A TRUE KING OF ENGLAND.

The reburial of King Richard III has fired many people’s creative interest, including my own. So after making miniature dolls of this King (and his wife Queen Anne Neville), I longed to have the challenge of making a medieval man’s outfit for a larger doll.

Richard looks like he is deep in conversation with Anne.....I wonder what they might be talking about.

Richard looks like he is deep in conversation with Anne…..I wonder what they might be talking about.

 

Last year I set myself the challenge of creating a Tudor Anne Boleyn costume for a 16 inch doll, and this went well. But I really do like creating historical costumes for male dolls too as I love making men’s fashions.

Anne Boleyn costume for a 16 inch fashion doll.

Anne Boleyn costume for a 16 inch fashion doll.

 

So imagine my absolute joy when one of my customers commissioned me to create a Richard III costume for her 17 inch male doll…there was much happy dancing!

 

With most of my existing male doll pattern pieces being more Victorian to modern day in style, I knew I would have to make some totally new ones. So I decided to make each of them as required.

Portrait of King Richard III of England.

Portrait of King Richard III of England.

 

But first, I needed to choose suitable fabric for such a sumptuous costume. My customer had asked me to base the costume on the well known portrait of Richard, or as near as possible. Whilst the portrait is just a head and shoulders picture, it is possible to work out what the rest of his outfit might be, from historical records of clothing worn at the time.

Main fabrics chosen for the Richard III costume.

For his outer robe, I chose a silk of two-tone gold, shot with claret red and with a tiny fleur de lys pattern. This fabric was the perfect scale for that size of doll.

A dark burgundy/brown silk with an interesting border was chosen for the robe lining and I decided to use the lavish gold border for the turn-backs on the front of the robe.

The other main fabric I chose was a deep red silk jacquard for his doublet, along with several other fabrics which were pulled from my stash for possible use on other costume parts.

 

With pencil and tape measure in hand and my own male doll of the same size to use for fitting, I made a start. First to be made was a shirt, with a gathered neckline and very full sleeves ending in a close-fitting lace-trimmed cuff. For this, I used a soft silky ivory coloured lining.

 

It is always very important with doll clothing to avoid adding unnecessary bulk, so sometimes clothing for dolls has to be made differently than for a real human. The shirt was no exception, being made shorter in length and also fastening at the back for ease of dressing.

The full sleeved shirt with gathered neckline.

The full sleeved shirt with gathered neckline.

 

For the hosen (tights), I used a two way stretch cotton viscose jersey fabric in a subtle shade of pale sage. Back in the 15th century, life size hosen would have been attached to the doublet by means of ties to hold them up. The centre front seam would also have been open with the triangular flap (codpiece) laced over it.

Since this would have been extremely difficult to dress onto a doll of this size, I decided to make a pair of tights, with elasticated waist and a false codpiece, and I found that this gave the right look for the doll.

'Hosen' or tights with false codpiece.

‘Hosen’ or tights with false codpiece.

 

The doublet was made in red silk jacquard and lined in pale ivory, with a false corset of gold brocade underneath the cord lacing at the front. Again, the reason for the false corset was to avoid unnecessary bulk.

The sleeves of the doublet are quite full and end in a tightly fitting cuff with snap closures. Each sleeve is split, with two openings, so that the sleeves of the shirt can be pulled through to form puffs. The doublet fastens at the back with snaps, for ease of dressing onto the doll.

A tie of fancy cord was secured to the waist of the doublet with two loops stitched at each side.

 

The outer robe caused a few headaches, but I got there in the end. The two silk fabrics used for this, were an absolute dream to work with (silk usually is…and I LOVE working with it!).

My customer had requested a full-length robe, but shorter ones were also seen at this point in history. Whichever length was preferred, the long hanging sleeves were standard.

 

 

Having made this kind of robe many times in miniature, I had an idea of the pattern shapes I needed to make, and I was pleased with the outcome of the larger version.

The brown silk lining worked well with the fancy gold border, but there was a bit of a ‘hairy moment’ when I wasn’t sure if I had enough of it to do what I wanted to do. Thankfully, with a bit of ‘jiggery-pockery’ with the pattern layout, I just (only just!) managed to get it all out of the fabric.

I found some lovely (and quite manly) braid at my local fabric shop ‘Stitches-upon-Thames’ in Staines, which I used for edging both the ends of the sleeves and the openings.

 

For the shoulder chain, I found a very attractive faux jet and pearl choker in my stash, that just screamed ‘Use me…I look medieval.’ This worked well but needed fixing to hold it in place with a few stitches on one side, and a little loop to thread it through over one shoulder. (The chain hooks together at the back).

 

The hat was made from a piece of beautifully fine vintage pure wool felt and was stitched entirely by hand. My customer had supplied the beautiful pearly white rose and I hand embroidered the four little green leaves with gold outlines around it.

 

I purposely left the shoes till last, as it had been a very long time since I had made bigger doll shoes. I chose a darker shade of sage for these shoes to tone with the hosen. This very fine soft gloving leather worked well for this style, and enabled me to add a snap fastener opening at the outer side of each shoe.

 

 

In total, I made seventeen separate pattern pieces for this outfit, lost count of the number of hours it took to make, but……….I loved every single minute of it (including the ‘hairy’ ones!) and hope to get the chance to do something like this again.

 

If you would like to see the blog I wrote about the miniature King Richard III please click here.

 

And for his wife Queen Anne Neville please click here.

 

Please click here if you would like to read about Anne Boleyn costume I made for a 16 inch doll.

 

THE MAKING OF A TUDOR ANNE BOLEYN STYLE ENSEMBLE FOR 16 INCH FASHION DOLLS.

TUDOR COSTUME FRONT

As some of you know, I do love a challenge. I also LOVE Medieval, Tudor and Elizabethan costume. Having made many Anne Boleyn style miniature dolls, I thought it was time to challenge myself with the creation of an Anne Boleyn style Tudor costume to fit the popular sized 16 inch fashion dolls.

Miniature (1/12th scale) Anne Boleyn (and Cranmer) doll.

Miniature (1/12th scale) Anne Boleyn (and Cranmer) doll.

 

A while ago, I bought a lovely ‘Nu Mood Breathless’ doll by Robert Tonner of the USA. The Nu Mood dolls are very good, in that they don’t have rooted hair and wear wigs that can be changed. So, they can suit many different styles and costumes.

I had my Nu Mood doll repainted by the very talented doll re-painter, Melissa Mehan and after the re-paint, I felt that this doll (now called Isabelle Rose) would suit a Tudor ensemble very well.

The Tonner 'Breathless' doll before her new face paint.

The Tonner ‘Breathless’ doll before her new face paint.

 

After the face paint and 'Isabelle Rose' is born.

After the face paint and ‘Isabelle Rose’ is born.

I had looked at several Tudor doll costumes on the internet (all of them no longer available) and I wanted to see if it would be possible to achieve a more authentic shape for my doll.

Having researched Tudor costume thoroughly over many years with my miniature dolls, I knew the pattern shapes I needed to design to achieve the right look and so I spent about two weeks making and ‘tweaking’ the patterns for this costume.

The first big design decision came with the underpinnings….what would give the skirts the shape required?

I had the choice of a wired farthingale or a stiff net petticoat.

I knew that it was possible to make a real farthingale as I had made something very similar years ago, but I also realised that, bearing in mind the costume was to be offered for sale, I had to consider the cost of such a complicated and time-consuming piece.

Sure, it would be totally authentic…..but it would also take a very long time to construct and therefore would add a huge amount to the cost of the costume.

So I decided to make a stiff net petticoat that would do the job just as well and be more economical financially.

After all, it would be hidden under the top clothes and it was the top clothing that was supposed to be the star attraction.

The stiff net petticoat provided all the support that was needed, at a much less cost...and time.

The stiff net petticoat provided all the support that was needed, at a much less cost…and time.

 

Next to consider was the under-skirt. The centre panel is designed to be revealed by the opening in the front of the main gown skirts. I chose a beautiful pure silk two-tone dupion, with a woven fleur-de-lys pattern. I stitched the panel onto a plain petticoat of very fine lining. So far, so good…..it was all going to plan.

The plain underskirt with fancy silk centre panel.

The plain underskirt with fancy silk centre panel.

 

I decided to tackle the main gown bodice next, as I knew the fit might prove to be a bit problematic. So, part of my pattern ‘tweaking’ was to make the bodice up in kitchen roll to check the fit on the doll. (You can just see a piece of the white kitchen paper in the picture above).

The entire top gown would need to be lined in pale coloured lining, as dark fabrics can stain a doll’s ‘skin’, so I made up the bodice in lining fabric just to double check the fit… and all was fine.

The over-sleeves needed to be made in two sections: an upper and lower section, so I made these up in lining too, just to check the length and fit. All worked well first time (phew!) so I cut the bodice and sleeves in the main fabric, a beautiful dark green two-tone taffeta that I had kept in my stash for many years…….I knew it would be perfect for something!

The top sleeves are folded back to reveal a gold net lining.

The top sleeves are folded back to reveal a gold net lining.

Once the main bodice was almost complete, I added a frill of soft white lace to the neckline, to replicate the frill from a shift that would have been worn underneath by a real person. Whilst it is possible for a doll to wear all this extra underwear, it is better to keep any bulk to an absolute minimum to preserve a good shape….after all, dolls can’t be pulled in with corsets like real people can!

The main bodice, decorated with soft white lace and a little crystal pendant.

The main bodice, decorated with soft white lace and a little crystal pendant.

The main gown skirts were quite easy to make and I was glad I had decided to add a slight train to the centre back length. For ease of dressing, I attached the bodice to the main skirt. (On a real person, these would have all been separate pieces (even the sleeves) and all would have been pinned into place).

The back of the main skirt with its train.

The back of the main skirt with its train.

I found a lovely necklace in a sale that I was able to take apart and re-fashion into a jewelled hanging belt, which I then attached to the over-gown.

Now that the main part of this costume was completed, I then worked on the false under-sleeves which I decided to match with the centre front skirt panel. These too had to be lined so that there was no chance of the doll being stained by the fabric.

False under-sleeves are lined to prevent staining to the doll.

False under-sleeves are lined to prevent staining to the doll.

I also matched the lace frills at the wrist edge to the frills at the neckline, to preserve continuity within the costume.

The little puffs on the lower edges were hand-stitched using wide silk ribbon. On a real person, these would have been the sleeves of an under-gown or shift, pulled through the openings of the false sleeves.

The completed under-sleeve showing the silk puffs.

The completed under-sleeve showing the silk puffs.

The headdress, known as a French Hood, caused more than a few headaches for me as the shaping was quite complicated. Made in two parts, it took an awful lot of ‘tweaking’ to get the right fit, size and shape….but I got there in the end.

The French Hood headdress shown from the side.

The French Hood headdress shown from the side.

The only change I made was to add snap fasteners to the centre back of the hood as I felt that this would make it easier to dress onto a doll and fasten under her hair. I also added clear elastic under the chin, to help keep the headdress firmly in place.

Headdress shown from the back.

Headdress shown from the back.

Headdress shown from the front.

Headdress shown from the front.

Once again, I chose to line the headdress with pale coloured fabric, just to be on the safe side. I also chose to leave out the back section, usually a black silk tube, as I wanted the doll to show off her lovely hair. (It is entirely possible that young women did sometimes wear their hair loose with these headdresses, and they are certainly depicted this way in many films and dramas. Of course, short of actually travelling back in time, we can’t be certain….but it does look very pretty!)

The final part of the ensemble was a necklace and I chose to make the Anne Boleyn ‘B’ necklace. I searched high and low for a suitably sized ‘B’ and eventually found one in silver….which I painted gold with metallic paint. The rest of the necklace was made by stringing pearl beads onto thread and attaching a pearl bead drop to the ‘B’.

Close up of the 'B' necklace.

Close up of the ‘B’ necklace.

The costume was finally complete and I was very pleased with the result…..but what shall I challenge myself with next? Any ideas?

TUDOR COSTUME SIDE RIGHT

TUDOR COSTUME SIDE LEFT

Although this perticular costume is now sold, it can still be ordered from me in similar colours or in a colour scheme to suit your own taste. Just contact me and ask for details.

SOME OF MY FAVOURITE PROJECTS FROM 2010.

First of all, may I wish you all a very happy and peaceful 2011. I hope it will be all that you want it to be and more.

As some of you know, 2010 wasn’t the happiest of years for me in my personal life but, what kept me going most of all, were the exciting and varied orders and commissions that I received from my wonderful customers. A big thank you therefore to all of you who helped make a sad year bearable.

So, to welcome in the start of a new and hopefully much happier year I’d like to share with you pictures of some of the lovely items I was commissioned to make during 2010.

Those of you who like the Regency era will, I’m sure, enjoy the following miniature and larger doll bonnets and clothing:

Regency stove pipe bonnet modelled by 16 inch Tyler Wentworth. Made with pure hand-dyed silver-grey wool and lined with ivory silk.

 

Side View of the bonnet showing the stove pipe shaping.

Full length view showing the bonnet along with the matching pelisse (cape) and reticule (purse).

Now for the miniature Regency items, all in one twelfth scale:

Miniature Spencer jacket with matching bonnet and reticule. Made in pure silk and hand-dyed cotton lace.

Side View of the bonnet.

 

Miniature Brown silk bonnet with shirred ivory silk lining and matching reticule.

 

Miniature striped cotton walking dress with matching tall bonnet and reticule.

 

Miniature Regency wedding bonnet based on the one worn by Elizabeth Bennet in the BBC's 1990's TV drama 'Pride and Prejudice'. The bonnet is approx just under an inch tall. and is made from silk with shirred silk tulle along the length of the top, ending in a short veil. The little flowers are all hand-dyed by me.

Something for the Maid. A much plainer cotton house dress and apron along with a little mop cap.

 For those of you who like the earlier Georgean (Colonial) era, an interesting order arrived where I had to’ miniaturise’ a larger Marie Antoinette style doll costume, complete with all the underwear.

Here is the original larger doll costume:

18th Century Marie Antoinette style gown modelled by 16 inch Tyler Wentworth. Made in pure silk.

The panniers and petticoat underneath. (16 inch version)

 

Miniature 18th Century Marie Antoinette style gown also in pure silk.

Here is the one twelfth scale miniature version:
Here is the one twelfth scale miniature version:
The miniature version of the panniers with petticoat and hand-applied shoes.

  

 

For the ballet lovers, one of the lovliest projects I worked on was the re-designing of my Lilac Fairy costume for 16 inch ballerina dolls:

New Lilac Fairy tutu (from the Sleeping Beauty ballet).

  

Detail on the top of the tutu.

And finally a most enjoyable project came in the form of a miniature wedding gown based on the one worn by Burlesque star Dita Von Teese.

Miniature version of the Dita Von Teese style gown in one twelfth scale with tricorn hat.Side view of gown.

Close up of miniature stockings, suspenders and hand-applied silk and leather shoes.
To add to my enjoyment was a Barbie sized version of the lovely purple silk dress and hat:

Dita style dress modelled by Barbie.

  

 

Close up of the Tricorn hat.

 

So, all in all there were some really different projects during 2010 and 2011 looks set to continue along that same path.
See you all again soon.
Don’t forget to check out the AIM (Artisans in Miniature) on-line magazine (see my blog links).

HOW ONE THING OFTEN LEADS TUTU ANOTHER!

Many people have asked me how my miniature fairy slippers, tutus and ballet costumes have come about. Well, it was one of those cases where one thing did indeed lead to another. But first I would like to tell you about a particular favourite order that I made for a young Australian ballet student.

I am often asked to reproduce human-sized costumes into doll size and find this a very enjoyable challenge. I especially enjoy historical and ballet costumes and one of my favourite projects was when I was asked to make some tutus to fit the 16 inch Tonner NYCB ballerina doll.

The doll’s costumes were commissioned by Sue, the mother of New Zealand ballet student, Katie and were for a birthday present. Katie was dancing in a competition and the doll’s costumes had to resemble as near as possible, both of Katie’s own tutus. Sue sent me some pictures of the Katie’s tutus and the rest was up to me.

The first tutu was for the part of ‘Princess Aurora Rose’ from the famous ballet ‘The Sleeping Beauty’. This was an absolutely gorgeous tutu in pale peachy pink with lace, pearl and sequin detail on the bodice and top frill. Unfortunately I no longer have the close-up pictures of the lace detail that Sue sent me but here is a lovely picture of Katie dancing in this beautiful tutu.

Katie dancing in her Aurora Rose tutu.

 This costume was made by Katie’s dancing teacher Philippa Campbell and the lace detail was applied by Katie herself.

I found that I had both the right shade of pink silk for the bodice and tulle for the frills plus I was also able to find a really lovely cotton lace that could be cut about to make the details for the bodice and top frill. All the flowers on the lace had to be cut out separately and applied individually around the top of the bodice and down the centre front and then onto the top frill. I then applied all the pearls separately and finally the sequins were dotted over the rest of the top frill. Tulle arm frills were made to match the tutu frills and I made a headdress from wired beads. Here is a picture of the finished costume modelled on my own NYCB Ballerina doll.

The finished doll-sized Aurora Rose tutu.

 Here is a close up of the lace, pearl and sequin detail.  

Close-up of the lace, pearl and sequin detail on the doll's tutu.

The second costume was a really exotic style of tutu for the part of ‘Esmeralda’. This had a bodice in a dark shade of greeny- blue with matching lace sleeves and golden braid decoration, extending into shaped lace and decorated silk panels onto the top frill of the tutu.

Katie dancing in the Esmeralda tutu.

 The top tutu frill was a paler shade of greeny-blue tulle and the rest of the frills were pale ivory in colour. There was also a headdress made from crystals. This costume was made by a professional Aukland tutu maker called Margaret Shore. Here are two lovely pictures of Katie wearing this gorgeous costume: one of her dancing and one of her receiving her prizes.

Katie receiving her prizes in the Esmeralda tutu.

For the doll’s tutu, I found a good match in dark greeny-blue silk dupion for the bodice and panels. The lace was more of a challenge as I had to dye this myself. After a bit of experimenting, the right shade was reached. I already had all the tulle for the tutu in stock as well as the trims. I have quite a stock of different bodice and sleeve patterns for tutus that I have made over the years so the only new pattern that needed making was for the decorated panels that sat on the top of the tutu skirt.

The doll-sized Esmeralda tutu.

Here is a picture of the finished doll-sized tutu (shown below left) modelled by my own NYCB doll (who didn’t want to take it off!)

 Here is a close-up picture (below) of the tutu bodice detail.

Close up of the detail on the doll-sized Esmeralda tutu.

Close up of the Esmeralda doll headdress.

 The headdress was made from lengths of rhinestone chain wired together to fit the doll’s head.

Having made a lot of tutus for the larger dolls, I decided to try scaling down to miniature size (one twelfth scale). I had already been dressing tutus onto the miniature dolls for some years but had not made a miniature tutu on its own without the doll wearing it. Experiments started and I found that my ideas worked out fine and I set about designing some miniature ballet costume sets.

I decided to concentrate on four designs based on the most popular ballet characters.

 These were Princess Aurora Rose (from The Sleeping Beauty)

Miniature Aurora Rose tutu set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                  Odette and Odile (from Swan Lake)

Miniature Odette tutu set.

Miniature Odile tutu set.

                                                                                   and the long white tutu from Giselle.

Miniature Giselle or Sylphide tutu set.

 I also decided to offer each tutu with a head dress on a wig, displayed on a stand and also a tiny pair of ballet shoes.

The ballet shoes for the sixteen inch dolls were not made by me but were commercially produced by an American company but there didn’t seem to be anyone producing realistic looking miniature pointe ballet shoes. I realised that I would have to come up with a way of making them myself.

I had made miniature ballet shoes onto my one twelfth scale ballerina dolls but never made the shoes on their own. I decided to dig my own old (and very well used) pointe ballet shoes out from the back of my wardrobe and take a closer look at them.

My old (and very well-worn) pointe ballet shoes.

After much fiddling around with tiny pieces of silk, I eventually worked out a way of making a one twelfth scale version under an inch in length.

Miniature ballet shoes in traditional pink, gold and black. (Shown with an English penny and American five cent piece.)

 These completed the miniature ballet costume sets perfectly and even became popular on their own too.

 It wasn’t very long before I was asked to provide the ballet shoes in a little hand-decorated gift box of their own

Gift boxed miniature ballet shoes.

 and these have proved very popular indeed, especially as I am able to produce them in a huge range of colours as well as the traditional flesh pink.

Well, one thing led to another, as it so often does and the idea of miniature ballet shoes in gift boxes led me to thinking ‘Why not have gift boxed Fairy Slippers too?’ Once again experiments began and after much fiddling around ( although not as much as with the ballet shoes!) and these tiny pointy- toed silk slippers took shape.

Miniature Fairy Slippers (shown with an English penny and American five cent piece)

 I offered these in decorated gift boxes again and in many different colours and they have also proved extremely popular.

Gift boxed Fairy Slippers....A must for all smart Fairies!

It just goes to show just how making one thing can lead to making several other related items. Without the tutus for the larger dolls, the miniature tutus would not have happened. Without those, the miniature ballet shoes wouldn’t have been developed and without those, the fairy slippers would not have happened.

Alternative Colour Scheme for Swanhilda Ballet Costume.

As a doll costume designer and creator, I always offer my work in alternative colour schemes to suit individual customers’ own tastes.

Recently I was asked to do just this when a long-standing customer asked if she could order my Swanhilda ballet costume in a red and white colour scheme. (The original costume was made in shades of deep pink, pink floral and ivory). Since this was not a problem as far as fabrics were concerned I was more than happy to oblige and here is the result.

I was pleased with this colour scheme as I felt it gave a lovely fresh and clean image, just a pretty as the pink scheme.

New Colour Scheme for Swanhilda Ballet Costume.

New Firebird Ballet Costume for 16 inch Dolls.

Here is my new updated design on the Firebird ballet costume for 16 inch fashion dolls, modelled on Tonner’s NYCB ballerina doll.

I have cut each tutu frill in uneven points to give a more ‘feathery’ and flame-like appearance. The tutu frills are then echoed at the top of the bodice.

I also redesigned the head dress to reflect the design changes in the tutu.

New Firebird Ballet Costume Design for 16 inch Fashion Dolls.