I have been meaning to make up this dress ever since I picked up Haute Doll magazine's April 2008 issue which featured Arcadia dolls ,one of my favorite doll costumers. The mag included a pattern in MSD size, so no need to re-invent the wheel I grabbed this piece of iridescent taffeta I had lying around and set to work so Loulou could have her dress for the doll meet.
The trimmings I made on the sleeves and on the center panel are pleated polyester lingerie bands. I made the gold colored merrow edges on my serger by putting embroidery thread in the looper, the pleats got stretched out which makes it look like ruffles. I used a honeycomb stitch with embroidery thread along the edges of the skirt, and applied the rose cord trim along the neckline and waist by hand afterwards.
A little bit of silk ribbon and a button for her necklace, a quick little beaded bracelet and voilà! she is ready for the ball.
It's very pretty but I'm not entirely happy with it, it should have been longer for one thing and my girl definitely needs better shoes!
The sewing instructions in the magazine were missing a few steps along the way,no mention of lining the bodice, of using interfacings etc... I'm guessing they got left out for lack of space, nevertheless I basically followed them. The magazine's photos clearly showed that it was a little small at the back waist but since my girl (a Volks SDCute SwD Kaede) is slimmer I figured it would be just fine.
The dress is actually a skirt which ties in the front with ribbons, a separate tulle petticoat with the visible center panels sewn on and a separate bodice. This construction is basically the way dresses were made in the old days. As I made it up and tried it on Loulou, it became obvious that it's not the best solution for a doll.
First you put on the petticoat, which has an elastic waist so it sits there with all its heavy gathers, then you tie on the overskirt, the skirt's waist wants to ride up higher than the sheared waist of the petticoat. This makes the center panel of the peticoat want to hang lower than it should. There is also the ribbon ties in the front which need to be camouflaged under the waistband. Then you put on the bodice and lace it up the back, obviously when it reaches the waist it has a tendancy to ride up. Every time I tried to pose her the bodice would have to be put back in position.You can clearly see on the photo the waist of the skirt showing.
To try and remedy all this, I put some hooks and eyes: one on the the center front waist of the bodice and petticoat, one at the center back. I should have put some on the sides too, but by then I had no more patience with this dress! I also put some snaps along the fronts of the overskirt to keep the edges of the the underskirt panel from showing. An lot of handwork, and dressing the doll becomes a chore as you try to hook up the bodice to the skirt.
I'm going to make it again but this time the overskirt and underskirt will be sewn to the bodice. I will make a slit in the back skirt for the opening which will be hidden by the gathers once the dress is on, no more ribbon ties and extra hooks & eyes.
The center panel will also be made a little wider so the edges won't show when the doll is posed. The petticoat will stay separate although I may use a waistband instead of an elastic to eliminate some of the bulk at the waist.