Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Tale Of Two Swimsuits

Hi there! Happy New Year!! January is here and the snow falling outside my window is testament to the few more months of cold weather we have to look forward to. Sweet! Oh, wait... Unless you're a polar bear, you might be more like I me and want to hibernate until about April. So this post is going to be about the most important wardrobe item a doll can have in anticipation of warmer weather (or a trip to CoCoKeys!) to come. Swim suit ensembles!!!

As are all of the items of clothing I make for dolls, these were made by Upcycling two women's swimsuits into five piece swim suit ensembles for 18inch dolls. I would like to take you step by step through the process of having made both of them but it really is a process that is specific to each source suit you're going to find and work with. So this will be more of an "here is an idea and kind of how I did it" kind of a post. 

With each suit, I just took close looks at them with the dolls size in mind and, having my doll handy to use as fit model, I started trying on different portions of the suit as I could before I started cutting them up. I tried to keep as much of the integrity of stitching and seams in the original item as possible both to make less work for me and to keep the suits from fraying with play later. I think the hardest part was getting brave enough to make the first cuts into the suits but after that, with draping and tweaking and altering, I just allowed the process to engulf me and came out with what you see here. All stitching was done by hand, being me, and I suspect it'd be the best way to go about things because you can have more control over the stitching. 

Regarding the bottoms of the dolls suits. I wanted them to be somewhat adjustable in order to be able to be used for a variety of torso shapes and sizes because we have dolls from American Girl, Madame Alexander, Aldi Style Girls and Tollytots dolls and I wanted them to all be able to wear the suits. So here is what I did. 

On my first prototype suit, the brightly flowered one, I used Velcro and a 'diaper' way of closing the suit in order that the Velcro closures could be slightly adjusted for each doll. It worked well enough but it made the front of suit more bulky than I would like, especially when doll wears the cover up wrap skirt. 

So on second attempt, on the brown and beige, I still went with diaper kind of configuration but instead stitched the sides together over the dolls belly and then tucking the front up under it to hold it closed. This allowed even more adjustability in torso sizes, then I just tuck the extra cloth from it up under the top of suit, making it looks like a tankini. I am much happier with the way it fits on doll and will probably use the second way the next suit I attempt. 

Also, on second suit I had these small bits of elasticized leftovers and puzzled how to use them because I kind of kept making additional pieces in each ensemble until I ran out of source suit to use. So I came up with shoes of sorts. The are really just two circles of elastic that fit tightly enough around the dolls feet to stay on well. I had originally planned to add soles and make them sandles but Christmas came and I ran out of time. Upon further thought, I decided to leave them because unless you're paying very close attention to her feet, you don't notice she is wearing nonsoled sandles and I think they work fine. 

All in all I am very happy with them both as is my dear daughter for whom they were made. She had a trip to the aforementioned CoCoKeys planned over Christmas Break and only had one suit to imagine it all with! The ones that are on market though are so expensive, especially considering the amount of cloth involved!! Both of my source suits came from Goodwill on the 99cent sale. I've been able to find two very pretty suits both times I've looked for them. Just go, find color of the day, head to swimsuits with an open mind, looking for color and suit quality, find one and get a pair of scissors, needle and thread and make an original one of a kind suit ensemble for the doll in your life!! If you have any questions about how I went about things, please just ask and I'll do my best to answer! 

Thanks again for visiting! Drop by again as I plan future postings about all manner of things doll! Have a fabulous first day of the year!! Happy sewing!

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