New pattern! Salwar Kameez and Angarkha

Salwar & Angarkha pattern

This week’s pattern is Salwar Kameez and Angarkha.  This is kind of tricky because Salwar is also spelled Shalwar and Angarkha is also spelled Angrakha.  I went with the spelling that google auto corrected the alternate spelling to ^^; 

ANYHOO, if you’ve been following me even a little, you probably know that I’m as big a fan of sampling different cultures’ fashions as much as I am of sampling their cooking 🙂  And, while the saying ‘fashion is cyclical’ is true, fashion also diffuses across cultures just like any other idea (or recipe!).  Like tempura!  Most of us think of tempura as a totally Japanese thing, but until fairly recently it was considered foreign cooking (in Japan) because frying is a technique they imported from Euro cuisine.  And don’t get me started on tomatoes (a new world crop) in Italian cooking!  Tracing shapes and fabrics in sewing is like following ingredients in cooking: you’ll be surprised where the history takes you!

This fashion pack is to highlight some of the clothes from the Indian subcontinent.  With a lot of Asian cultures, you can trace back the national costumes to various periods in China’s history (ex. the Korean hanbok and Japanese kimono). Over time, they gradually diverge and become their own distinct thing.  Because of geography, the Indian subcontinent has not had as much cross-cultural contamination so it’s a little more unique.

Now, when you think about India, you’re probably imagining the sari. While the sari is pretty gorgeous, it’s more draped than tailored, which would make it very hard for most people to manage in miniature.  It also hasn’t really caught on, globally.  But there are other clothes that have!  India is HUGE, and even bigger before British colonialization subdivided the area.  There’s a ton local diversity.

The salwar suit originated as a unisex garment in the Punjabi region of India and is big in western India/Pakistan.  It consists of the salwar (bloomers) and kameez (tunic).  The traditional bloomers are tight at the ankle and loos around the hips, which doesn’t work so well for layering doll clothes.  Fortunately, most modern gals prefer churidar, which are like extra long skinny jeans that bunch up at the calves like leggings and work way better on dolls.  (Actually, most of the local girls I see wearing this *have* swapped out for spandex leggings or skinny jeans. )

Angarkha is more like a wrap dress.  You really should google image search it because it’s one of those fluttery things that you can’t quite do justice to in miniature.  The skirt is composed of a ton of sewn together darts instead of gathered fabric to make the skirt flow out, and is covered in ornate decoration.  SO pretty <3 Instead of in the west, you’ll find in more in the north: Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh (and, as it’s geographically closer, it’s a little more obviously related to Chinese fashion). 

So how do these fashions show up globally?  Easy!  Forget the fabric, and look at the basic structure: a tunic and leggings.  A wrap dress and leggings.  I’ve gotten tons of requests for these fashions over the past year, and I’ve seen them every time I go to the mall.  They’re made with different fabric combinations and called ‘boho chic’ but structurally, they’re pretty much the same thing.  Hippy/Boho fashion has been borrowing these styles since the 60s.  We’ve been wearing them and adapting them so long we forgot that they came from somewhere else, just like tempura and tomatoes!

/end fashion history lesson

A note for next week: I’m having the carpet replaced in my office, so everything has to go (and then everything has to be brought back and put away…) so I’ll be checking most of my emails and Etsy messages on my phone.  A pattern will be released like normal (I already finished it except for the written instructions!), I just will be a tad slower in responding to messages because I’ll be typing them on my phone. 

Have an awesome weekend everyone!




Beauty-ful Belle-gowns

Aaaaand it's up!

This week’s pattern is Beauty-ful Belle-gowns because I was getting requests for this pattern or asks about how to make this kind of dress  about every other day ^^; 

This pattern introduces vertical gathering.  This is a technique that pulls a much longer skirt up to make that floaty, ruffly style.   It is also a very versatile technique!  I had to rush my parrot to the vet just after I started this pattern (she’s fine now) so I didn’t have time to make a bunch of different gowns to show of the different ways you can use it.  The fun part about this style is that you don’t need to cut different pattern options to get different results: depending on how much you gather the fabric along each gathering line, you can have a dress that has ruffles all the way down like this, or is gathered up high in the front or side with the rest long to have an elegant cut-away to the underskirt. 

You can check it out in the shop now 😉

Friday Pattern: High Fashions

High Fashions on Etsy

This week’s pattern is all about high necklines and high waistlines!  While this isn’t one of the ‘eternal styles’ that you always see in mainstream fashion, it’s a style that is so chic you can find it threaded throughout all different genres.  I mean, just look at it!  It’s so delicious <3

Go check it out on Etsy & have a great weekend!

Das Reboot

While I already posted about how the Monster High reboot seems to have not gone well, that doesn’t mean it is not without it’s merits.  Change itself isn’t bad–just look at Barbie. Barbie has stayed relevant by staying current. So let’s take a closer look at the reboot: Aside from the obvious stuff like the facial redesigns and the scrapping of existing story/characters to be reinvented, there are some subtler changes.

Monster High Reboot Comparison

Here’s new Cleo on the left and old Cleo on the right.  That’s an original, first-run ghoul; I got all the original ghouls as soon as they showed up at Target, tucked away in a back corner because nobody thought this weird new monster doll would sell.

Disclaimer: I started customizing the new ghoul before I took these pictures.  I was just so excited over the molded body, I couldn’t help myself ^^;

Anyhoo, let’s strip them down to make all the differences more obvious: Continue reading

Observations on MH/EAH reboots

I’ve mostly avoided talking about the reboots to the Monster High and Ever After High lines because my personal opinion doesn’t really have anything to do with what happens.  I’ve noticed that just because a fandom is vocal about something doesn’t always mean it’s the right way to go (like a large amount of people demand boy patterns but they sell very poorly).  I figured time would show whether the new dolls were bringing more or less to the fandom.

It’s been about a year since the reboot hit the news, and about 6 months since it’s been almost exclusively ‘new’ type dolls in the stores.  Here’s what I’ve noticed:

  • Monster High & Ever After High sections have shrunken to 1/2-1/4 the size they were last holiday season this holiday season
  • People selling off their entire collections on Facebook fan groups at the rate of rats leaving the Titanic, selling once rare dolls for less than new ‘value line’ dolls.
  • Almost all of the MH/EAH focused blogs I follow on Tumblr are inactive or post <1x/wk
  • Pattern sales for PS size dropped off significantly around the time the reboot dolls took over in stores
  • I haven’t had a single person ask me why a pattern doesn’t fit a new doll (the value line dolls don’t have removable hands, but since their hands are still oversized like the regular dolls, they can’t wear any clothes with sleeves.  Thus why all the clothes they come in and new fashion packs are sleeveless)

The first one… ok, maybe sales were already falling, thus the reboot.  This is probably the case, but I think the reboot sped things up vs reversed it.  Toy stores are very responsive to sales reflected by the shelf space they allot, and the speed of shrink in the second half of the year was much greater than the speed of shrink at the beginning.

The second one could just be an increase as a result of the collectors who don’t like the reboot and new collectors not liking the older type dolls, so supply/demand.  Doesn’t necessarily mean no one’s buying the new dolls, just that old collectors aren’t so much.

The third one… ok, Tumblr blogs go inactive all the time.  People move to whatever the new social media platform is, or lose interest.  But I followed around 2 dozen doll blogs, and have only added 1 new one in the last year.  My Tumblr feed is slowly becoming nothing but cute animal pics ^^;

The fourth: Sales drop in the summer anyway, but they usually pick back up by the holidays. I added over 50 new patterns this year from the same time last year (a little under 100 patterns vs around 150 patterns), but holiday sales were barely 5% higher than last year.  Yikes.  Furthermore, in the first week of 2017, PS size patterns are not the most popular patterns.  This may change, but it’s still a huge disruption in trends.

The last point worries me the most.  I answer about 10 Etsy questions a day on all kinds of topics related to dolls and doll sewing.  I fully expected the first angry message about a week into the new dolls hitting the shelves (the first question is always angry.  All the rest will be normal/nice, it’s like some unwritten rule).  6 months later, still hasn’t happened.  People who sew for dolls are about half collectors and half parents/grandparents/other relatives sewing for or with the kiddos, so it is a logical extrapolation that no one asking means no one considers the new non-removable hand bodies ‘standard,’ so there isn’t much if any new blood.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to stop making patterns for the PS crew!  I am going to be making more for other doll sizes, but I’ve been doing that for a while now.  I was hoping that the DC Super Hero Girls would be picking up the slack, but it’s like Mattel forgot they were making them after the initial launch  almost a year ago ^^;