Better Late Than Not At All

So we begin again. Behold the second chapter in our personal challenge to work up all the Vogue Craft doll clothes patterns in our library: Pattern #7536. This took a bit longer than we anticipated, but not for any technical reasons. Mostly.* We did all the prep work for this project over the course of several days. As we mentioned in the preceding post, we have some experience with this pattern already. We worked up View A, with some custom modifications, and ran up View C as well, for our Sundress 2022 extravaganza, but we've never tackled the other three outfits. Looking at all the pattern pieces, we expected it would be another challenge for our skills and test of our patience, but in the end this group turned out to be a good deal less complicated than the previous one – and a good thing, too. Which is not to say it didn't have its own challenges – just not as many of them. Here's a look at that prep work:


This is View A, all sewn up. Glad we started with the trickiest one first. Not that the pattern was all that problematic - just the fabric (of unknown fiber content). First, we just could NOT find a decent thread match. Second, the fabric was slippery AF. Pinning was an exercise in futility - we ended up having to hand-baste just about every seam and dart. We stuck with it, mainly because it is a drop-dead GORGEOUS material. Dreamy. Shimmering. And we love the detail of that Ultrasuede® faux belt with the tiny, tiny buckle. Still needs a few accessories, but that will come at the end. All other pieces in the #7536 project, except for the tote bag, is (happily) built from 100% cotton. Moving on!

Photo 1

Photo 2

After a brief hiatus*, we realized it was time to finish that second item. The top half of the dress was done with no issues, and all that was needed was to stitch up the skirt, then slap the two halves together and it would be WAH LAH Time. But. We only got so far, and no farther, as you can see in Photo 1, just before we hit a wall. The skirt was pinned to the bodice and the gathering stitch was drawn up, and somehow, someway, it all just went to hell. Nothing was working. Unpin it. Loosen the gather. Repeat ad nauseum. Sat back and stared at it for quite some time, and at last the clouds parted and the angels sang. A double line of gathering stitches was needed to get the right result. Frustrated and exhausted by our rookie mistake, we had to walk away. But. We are nothing if not dogged in our determination. Once a hot meal and a glass of wine were consumed, the project was tackled anew. After basting that skirt to the bodice no less than THREE SEPARATE TIMES, it finally came together. Then it was fitted onto an “original body” doll. The poor thing was absolutely swimming in it. It was then tried onto the "curvy" model, and the result was serendipitous bliss. A little snug about the hips, but bliss nonetheless. Absurdly pleased with this unintended happy result, which you can see for yourself in Photo 2. And here we'd been fretting about not being able to use Augusta Ryan for any of these Vogue Craft projects. Trust Fate, yeah?

Absolutely no notes on this one, View C. Easy peasy. Stitched up like a dream. Then again, this is the second time we've done this particular dress. There was a moment of indecision, though. Line it fully as before, or just seam-bind all the edges? Went with the full lining. Still needs some accessories and styling, but again – that's for the future, when all 5 views are done. Not too sure about those shoes, though . . .

We took a number of extended breaks* while working this phase of the Project. When we did get back to work, we decided to skip ahead and assemble the tote bag, View F. Fashioned from a lustrous upholstery fabric sample, lined with bleached cotton muslin, and fortified with the cardboard from a cracker box. Just for something fun. And it was! Gave us an excuse to break out the hot glue gun, at any rate. There was a (very small) bit of sewing involved as well. But after this? It's back to the Singer® and building those two sporty casual looks.

Not quite moving right along* with the Vogue 7536 Project, this is View D. Can't say we're all that thrilled with how it worked up. The capris have a front closure - and weirdly, there was no room for that blouse to get tucked in, JUST LIKE THE RED CAPRIS (from the previous project), only even more snug. The top is baggy across the chest, and the collar set in with some difficulty, with the end result not exactly resembling the pattern photo. The rose-on-a-ribbon at the throat went a long way toward concealing that awkward fit. The armholes were about the only thing we liked. We considered cropping the top length, but decided to leave it alone and worn untucked. With the addition of the wide belt, made of navy blue Ultrasuede ® with a buckle from a child's old wristwatch band, it looks more finished. In the end, we decided it's pretty okay. Still, it needed a hat, and we knew just which one to make.

At last overcoming our pumpkin spice chai induced lethargy, we put some (relative) speed on things, and were able to complete the final number (or letter if you want to get all literal about it) for #7536. View E, to be precise. We had some serious misgivings about doing set-in sleeves for a casual shirt, but the result was a more polished look than we honestly expected. The shorts were a simple construction, and came together quickly. Again, a snug fit about the waist, but a looser fit in the leg. 

We couldn't, in all good conscience, call this phase of the project done until there were hats.

A Quick Aside About the Accessories:  All hats were sewn primarily by hand. Not because we're all that super expert with our hand sewing – it's just ridiculously difficult to work those tiny interior seams by machine.


We spent half a day organizing the final phase of #7536 by digging through our extensive catalog of accessory patterns and sketches, and locating the most suitable fabrics to hand. The first item we rolled out was our take on the ubiquitous baseball cap (which bears an uncanny resemblance to an equestrian helmet, now that we think about it), fashioned from navy blue Ultrasuede® and accented with a powder blue satin rose, labeled as View E.

For the evening gown, we took our inspiration from the House of Dior and their Spring/Summer collection from 2019, reminiscent of early aviators' leather helmets. Labeled View A, the upper photo shows the inspo in a side-by-side, Photo #2 shows the hat and bag, a slim envelope clutch. If you think making a tiny, close-fitting cap from sequined fabric is an odd choice, you'd be right. But we've said it before and we'll say it again - we here in the Atelier LOVE a challenge.

We chose to make a backpack (in navy Ultrasuede® with leather straps) and a sou'wester/slouch hat (in cobalt blue felt) to go with View D. They really elevate the look, and they were a JOY to build – that hat is rapidly becoming our favorite, edging out our previous fave, the classic beret.

The penultimate addition to the project was only a little fiddly: a beaded and sequined oversized pillbox hat in light aqua felt with a beaded and sequined oversized asymmetric envelope clutch in pale pink felt, which paired up beautifully with the View B dress. Tech note: we used vintage matte finish sequins, and super tiny turquoise Japanese seed beads.

And finally, the *ahem* cap on the Vogue Craft Project #7536. It's a modified roll brim cloche in baby pink felt, teamed up with a pocketed shopping tote in light aqua felt. As a moral imperative, we had to tuck in a (hand-dyed) hankie. Everyone should carry one, you know. A hankie, that is. Not necessarily hand-dyed. 

There you have it. Two down, six to go for the overarching Grand Vogue Craft Project. That number is, of course, predicated on our not losing our damned minds and picking up those other two Vogue Craft patterns we've been eyeballing to add to the madness. Also, this is assuming we won't lose steam, or forget to come back to it after National Novel Writing Month (November).

Still not too sure about those shoes . . .

Harking back briefly to the #7108 project - all the outfits, hats, & accessories created for it (see previous post) were in fact a birthday gift for my daughter. And I know she's super busy these days, so I'm sure as soon as she has some time, she'll take a few photos of those outfits on her dolls. HINT HINT.


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*Something about autumn days brings out the “Stop and Smell the Pumpkin Spice” in us – lazing in bed of a morning, reading tales of high adventure, sipping caramel lattes and munching crisp little apples, sitting on the back porch and watching the trees dance in the wind, shedding their leaves like The Seven Veils, sharing meals and spending time with family – no wonder we're two weeks late with writing this post. 


Recent Madness

Ya know, we're just not happy in the Atelier unless we've got a challenging project to tackle, so we set ourselves a fairly tricky one. We're determined to work up every Vogue Craft pattern in our library, no matter how unnecessarily complicated or over-wrought it might appear. There's eight of them at the moment, but we have our eye on another two or three. We're in the business of re-imagining (and simplifying) things around here. We thought to ease into this effort with what on the surface would seem to be one of the less intricate groups.   HA. 

We started with #7108: 

We usually cut everything before we begin. That way, if we get frustrated with working on one thing, we can set it aside while we work on another. Here's a breakdown of the plan:

We began with View A, the wrap coat. Spent a full day wrestling this one to the ground.

We thought this simple piece seemed a little too simple, so we added pockets at first.  They just looked All Wrong - threw off the silhouette. But we thought that as long as we had them in hand, we could turn them into a swag bag. Also, because it was such a simple shape with only a few steps involved, we opted for difficult fabrics. Because we're masochists. The dove gray microsuede has ZERO give, making it a struggle to manipulate. Also? In hindsight, we should have chosen a much softer cotton for the lining, but we loved the old gold color of the more sturdy weave we picked. And we do love the finished look. On to the next challenge.

Two days. View B took more intricate handwork than expected and had us busting out our box of tailoring techniques - some unused for decades.

We dealt with jigsaw-like pieces, set-in sleeves, tricky seaming, "finger pressing," understitching, and all of it times two, as it's fully lined. At least we had the sense to use a lovely soft cotton for both the outer shell and lining, and we love the details - metal finish buttons and buckle, Ultrasuede faux belt, kick pleat et al. We know we said we love a challenge. But really. Two days. Two Freaking Days.

Still and all? Worth it.
We have so many notes on View C, it could be a full blog post all on its own, but we'll try to condense things by simply saying - hostess pajamas just don't work today. We did a bit of re-imagining here. In the lovely red cotton we selected, the top was too bulky to fit under the skirt, and the skirt just looked silly worn over the capris.

So we added a couple of tube tops - a red jersey that went perfectly with the capris, and the original top adapted easily into an open jacket. A black knit velour went with that almost-a-circle skirt, which we decided looked best with the opening in back. We could have re-cut the skirt to be more generous at the waist, but we were out of that spectacular graphic rose print - hence the adaptation. We simplified the pattern by using bias tape for all the edges, instead of fully lining things.

Everything was coming up roses, kids.

Then we hit this one. View D, the formal gown. Working on this was an exercise in practicing patience. We were dropping things, breaking things, losing things, experiencing sudden bouts of fatigue, being easily distracted by shiny stuff (like The Sandman), swinging off on tangents, and generally moving at a snail's pace while trying not to be too frustrated with ourselves.

“Take a deep breath and do the difficult thing first.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

We ran into the Hard Nope. Sometimes you just have to keep going with a thing until you hit that wall before you can see all the problems clearly. And that happened. The fabric we chose, while lovely, was too thick. The lining as well. Combined, it produced a clownish effect with a bundle of pleats that formed a sort of unintended beer gut. In the end, after three different solutions were tried, the final gown wasn't the same fabric we started with - instead of the crepe with the satin lining, we ended up selecting a lovely lightweight pinstripe gabardine.

We opted for bias binding for the edges instead of lining, and we fiddled with a few of the construction details, too. After putting the final touches on it, we were well pleased. Less fairy tale princess, more evil queen, right?
Adapting a cocktail dress to a sundress isn't always a success, but we're calling this one, crafted from View E, a definite win.

No construction notes on this at all. It was a snap to build. And a great way to finish off the project as a whole. The belt in this picture isn't final - we had a much better idea, which you'll see in the final photos. We were absolutely ready to call the 7108 Project complete.

Here it is, the Vogue Craft Project #7108.

Couple things to note: We added a black jersey tube dress to go under the coat, and bonus: it can be worn as a long or short skirt, or scrunched up as a top. Versatility is key around here. Also, not only did we switch out the belt on the sundress, but on the coat as well. TA DA! And all that.

But wait. There's more. OF COURSE.

Can't seem to stop with this group, but to be fair, how could we call this done without more tiny hats? And now it's done.  This time for real.

The Atelier is taking a short break, during which time we'll catch up on our reading, watch-lists, and most importantly - our baking obligations. Family birthdays are coming up. Three of them. Now, once we get our bearings again, we'll kick back into production mode with our next project:

We have constructed View A, with some custom modifications, and we've done up View C as well - both of them for our Sundress 2022 project, but we've never tackled the other three outfits. Looking at all the pattern pieces, it's going to be another challenge of our skills and test of our patience, but we think we'll be up for it. 

But that's in the future, on the other side of The Sandman bonus 2-part episode, the final episodes of "Only Murders In The Building," all the Jodi Whittaker Dr Who episodes, and "She-Hulk: Attorney At Law."



Dolls For Donation, 2022 Edition

Eighteen dolls (seventeen Barbies, one Ken). Nineteen mini-wardrobes. Bonus: two doll wheelchairs with ramps, all ready to be donated to charity. 

The project actually began in the late fall of 2021 with the intention of having it finished by Christmas.

Clearly, that was beyond optimistic. In reviewing all the photo files, we noticed our picture-taking game is improving, thanks mainly to the inspiration of the many fashion doll photographers on Instagram.

Doll #1: Violet

Doll #2: Valentina

Doll #3: Deirdre

Doll #4: Emma

Doll #5: Jane

Doll #6: Lily

Doll #7: Greg

Doll #8: Fiona

Doll #9: Danika

Doll #10: Teagan

We probably have these listed in the wrong sequence, but they were definitely the first bunch completed, sometime in February. 

There was an extended break at this point. Kilts for Kens happened. Then sundresses. Then Endless Muppets. 

But we did get back to the task in June, setting an arbitrary deadline of Christmas in July, knowing it was totally achievable. Not only did we improve our photography game, we got better at documenting our progress, mainly on our Facebook page.

Doll #11: Kirsten

Doll #12: Farah

Doll #13: Laurel

Doll #14: Eric (This doll was removed from the Donation Box to be gifted to a Special Person)

Doll #15: Kiana

Doll #16: Daisy

Doll #17: Cassady

Doll #18: Pippa

Yesterday was the deadline we had set for ourselves. As it happens, we almost made it. Completed this afternoon, here's the final doll in this year's donation project.

Doll #19: Hunter

As mentioned earlier, if you'd like to see other photos or read more about the different dolls or their collections, check out our Facebook page. There's a handy link to it around here somewhere. 

We're now going to take a short break from the sewing of tiny things and attempt to finish a writing project - the second Camp NaNo of the year (we've got 6 days to draft 10 scenes, so wish us luck). This is in an effort to actually finish stuff. 

That's this year's Big Picture - tackling all those lingering projects in buckets and baskets all over the place. Everybody's got their "half-assed stash." Sometimes it feels like this stuff is mud you can't quite move through, or an unclimbable  mountain you can't see over to envision anything new. Next week we start The Big Purge, wherein we go through every project box and bag and decide what's still firing us up, and what needs to be broken down for parts, and what needs to Just Go. 

That should be fun. 

No, really.


TL:DR? It's Hot & Stuff Got Done Anyway

Maybe it isn't a hellscape where you are. Maybe where you are, it's temperate and mild, with faint, fragrant breezes gently wafting about and lifting all spirits in peace, love, and harmony. Right here, right now? We can but dream of such a state of being. And try not to be too cranky.

It's been a while, yeah? So, what's been going on, asked no one ever. We'll tell you anyway.

If you are a regular reader of our Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr nonsense, none of what follows will be news to you, one way or another. Here's an abbreviated recap of the Atelier's recent haps:

1. Art Dolls! With Neil Gaiman's Sandman set to premier soon, we thought it would be a cool idea (and we still think so) to express our love for the characters by creating a Muppet interpretation of the Endless, and it's been HUGE fun.

From Left to Right:  Miss Piggy/Desire, Kermit/Dream, and Sam the Eagle/Destiny.

All the needlefelting was done by my DIL, and costumed/styled by me.  Miss Piggy was the first - I think she still needs a red rose pinned onto that mermaid gown. Maybe right behind her knee. But that's picking nits. Next up was Kermit as Morpheus, or Dream. I could manage the starry eyes, a ruby dreamstone, a bag of sand, even a Matthew - but I just couldn't manage that helmet. I think the moppy hair wins it in spite of that shortfall. And most recently, Destiny. Who BUT Sam the Eagle has the gravitas to carry off the persona of Destiny. This one was a true family affair - DIL did the needlefelting, Daughter crafted the leather-bound Book of Fate, and Son made the buckle for the book and the doll stand - I just pulled it all together and slapped on a monk's hood. The rest of the Endless Muppets are in the !Coming Soon! stages.

2. Baking - Yes, indeed. There was a good bit of that going on.

Cupcakes, muffins, nun's farts (look 'em up), cookies, bread, casseroles, an oven omelet, and my first ever attempt at calzones, which were surprisingly good, if I do say so myself. And I do.

3. Writing. I participated in the April Camp NaNo. I set a goal of writing an ending to the draft of my 3rd trunk novel, and while I hit my word goal, I still didn't reach anything like an ending. I set up an indie project in May, and finally made it. But as it's the sequel to my 2nd trunk novel, it brought up some continuity issues. I spent the first couple of weeks this month addressing those. So that's 4 of my 6 trunk novels with completed 1st drafts now. There's another session of Camp NaNo coming up in July, when I'll tackle the project of finishing the 1st draft of my 4th trunk novel. Should be a cinch. It's the 5th one that's going to kick my ass be the real challenge, but that's for another time - most likely in the very far distant future. And that was way too many numbers in one paragraph - I think I just bored the crap outta my own damn' self.

(I only do this stuff for the super cool certificates)

4. Beadwork sales! I KNOW RIGHT? What's it been - a million years? I might be exaggerating. Just a tad. First, out of the blue, through a friend connection, I was put in touch with a person who had received one of my beaded treasure boxes several years ago. They wanted to give one or two as gifts, and after a bit of back-and-forth, they bought two! - and both of us were thrilled with the exchange. Second, Daughter had an art show in Omaha at the end of April, came here for a nearly week-long visit, then went back to Omaha for another show. A few weeks before she came, she asked me to gather up any and all supplies/tools/beads/stones that were excess to my needs, and she'd haul them to this second show to sell along with all her extra stuff, it having a sort of "artist garage sale" component to it. I ended up sending her off with 85 pounds of stuff in a rolling suitcase. From the sale of my extras, I realized enough $ to fund some other atelier nonsense. And new socks. Everything that didn't sell, Daughter donated to an organization called Beads of Courage.  

These are the beaded art boxes that sold.*
5. And now, to help cope with our insane weather, we decided to bust out some light and lovely frocks here in the Atelier. That's right, we said frocks. A few weeks ago, we felt like we were way overdue for making a sundress or two. Energy being at a premium, we imagined it would be just that - one or two. Naturally, things got out of hand. Without further ado, we present the sundresses of Spring/Summer 2022.

These were the first three produced. Not all that thrilled with them - the colors for the first two were just all wrong for sundresses, and the third one was the wrong color for that particular doll. Also, some new, untried patterns were used here. They're from a pair of books by Annabel Benilan, translated from the French. They were picked up on the strength of their reviews, but perhaps the reviewers were impaired on some level. The patterns were all supposed to be configured for three body types - curvy, tall, and original. They all took a LOT of tweaking, which wasn't what was expected or wanted. These not-quites, while perfectly fine, won't be going into the collection. 

Now we're cookin'. Lighter and sweeter. The two on the left were done up from Vogue patterns, the one on the right from a McCall's, and all mostly without alteration or aberration.

These were built from Vogue patterns, as well. The one in the center was adapted from an evening gown design.

The one on the left is an adaptation of a Vogue evening gown design. The one in the center is from a vintage Pattern Factory design called "In Paris," and was the first sundress ever created for the Atelier, in 2018. The fabric for the skirt is one of a kind, hand-painted muslin, also an Atelier original. Hard to see, but the fuchsia wheel hat sparkles. The one on the right is a hybrid - the skirt is from Butterick #6664, and the bodice is from a vintage mail-order pattern.

And here are the Re-Thinks. On the left, another version of the "In Paris" frock, in the center a wholly original design for the curvy girl, and on the right, an adaptation of a Simplicity evening gown. All told, fifteen new dresses were produced, four of which belong on different dolls. Maybe donation dolls.

Now for a little retrospective. The following six sundresses were all adaptations of Vogue evening gown patterns, and all made for the 2019 Spring/Summer collection. It is the considered opinion of the Atelier that a sundress is simply an evening gown made of cheerful cotton. The point is here most capably made.

Currently, the Atelier is all about making mini-wardrobes for donation dolls (see previous post), with the object of getting them all ready to go by next month. After that, it's finishing the Kilts For Kens project:

Only three more of those to go! And, mercifully, some improved styling should happen, too.

Here's hoping it won't take four months for the next post. 

Happy Summer Solstice, from Our Atelier to Yours

GIF shared from giphy.com

*If you'd like to see other beaded treasure boxes, click on this handy link HERE. It just leads to one of my Pinterest pages.