Medium 11.5″ doll Tea Gowns

Medium Doll Tea gowns

Tea Gowns are now up for 11.5″ Medium Fashion Dolls!

This is a bit of an off choice, but I wanted to get this style out because the vintagizing tutorial in it on tea dyeing will be extremely useful to some doll patterns on the ‘soon’ list for this size, like Hippie and Mori.  You can easily do either of those patterns without tea dyeing, but knowing how to do it and having the option will make those patterns more fun when their time comes 🙂

(Pssst… 10 days left for the Kimono contest)

PS Pattern: Antique Tea Gowns

Petite Slimline Tea Gowns

This week’s pattern is Antique Tea Gowns

One of the things I like so much about historical fashions is that it’s pretty hilarious at times.  Tea Gowns were influenced by Asian/Arabian fashions at the time, styles which did not go well with the S-curve silhouette.  A lady wouldn’t leave the home without a corset (the HORROR) so despite being called ‘tea gowns’ they weren’t really made to go out to have tea at a friend’s house in.  They were essentially housedresses, to be worn in the privacy of your own home around close friends and family.

And this made a lot of people super, super mad.  Tea dresses were responsible for the erosion of traditional values.  Really.  Because if you let women go around their own homes wearing clothes that they didn’t need someone else to put them in/take them out of, who knows what kind of sinful things they might get up to. 


But maybe it isn’t quite so ridiculous?  Clothes you can put on/take off yourself are a kind of independence, something we don’t even think about now.  Imagine needing to have someone else to get your clothes on/off every time you needed to change (for women of means, changing clothes could happen up to 5 times a day!)  Now imagine that after spending most of your life living like that, you suddenly can dress yourself.

This is also the same era of suffragettes (women who wanted to be able to vote), which women in the US didn’t get until 1920.  Let that sink in!  1920!  We haven’t been allowed the rights of full citizens for 100 years yet. 

And what happened after 1920?  Flapper style!  Forget corsets.  Not only can you dress yourself, you can show KNEES.  And SHOULDERS.  IN PUBLIC.  OMG. 

It wasn’t until flapper fashion that tea gowns went out of style, because they weren’t needed as a non-corset alternative anymore.  House dresses and bathrobes became the less formal thing you wore at home over the years.  The legacy of tea gowns and all their ruffly, lacy style went on to influence country western fashion, hippie & boho fashion, and now has hit Japan with mori fashion.  If there is a frock associated with ‘free spirits’ this pretty much it.

Anyway, back to my pattern:  This sort of style is usually most coveted when it looks a bit vintage-y vs freshly made.  You want something that looks like you pulled it out of a linen chest: slightly mellowed, and worn in.  A fresh tea gown is like a fresh pair of jeans, so this pattern also walks you through how to give clothes an instant patina of age by dipping them in some tea. 

Tea staining is a common technique for making things look older than they are, and not just clothes.  You brew extra strong tea, dip in what you want to dye, and you’re done.  You don’t even need to let it soak!  It’s wicked easy and produces pretty cool results:

Tea dyeing

This pattern has been chosen because it works so nicely with tea dyeing, but you can do it to pretty much any outfit you want to antiquify.  It’s like adding a sepia filter to a photograph to give it the vintage look.  This method works with patterns and colors too, but it’s easiest to see the difference with white, which is why I made both of the demo dresses pretty plainly.

April theme & bonus contest!

April challenge/contest!

Why am I suddenly kimono crazy with the recent wa-loli patterns and going to a kimono shop in NYC? 

‘cuz I’m going to Japan!  I’ve got a whole folder of doll-and-fabric shopping tips set up and I’m super, super excited. 

So help me get even more excited with this month’s challenge: Kimono!

If you post an outfit you made using a pattern from the shop in the Facebook group this month, there will be the standard pattern-winning-raffle but ALSO the kimono I like the most will win the maker my personal fabric shopping service while I’m in Tokyo and Kyoto.  I like to tailor my prizes to something that will be useful to the prize winner, so depending on the doll size preference the prize will be fat quarters or yards (about the same amount of fabric in total either way) in the color/style preference of the winner (traditional, kawaii prints, etc).  The only thing the winner will have to pay for is shipping the fabric to her/im after I get back to the US!

And remember–there are LOTS of different kind of kimono, and you don’t have to go traditional!  You can make a lolita style frilly kimono with the wa-loli pattern or make a steampunky kimono using unusual fabrics and decoration.  As long as it’s recognizably some kind of kimono, it counts!  So have fun, and I look forward to seeing every single entry 🙂 


Kimono-fabric hunting NYC trip!

Easter is a big family holiday, but for some reason when it coincides with April Fools, my family is less than insistent that I show up.  I kind of have a reputation. 

For maybe the same reason, my husband has started taking up the habit of keeping me away from home and anywhere I might have been able to set up shenanigans ahead of time on 4/1.  I’m fine with that.  I like travel, and IMO it just makes shenanigans more challenging and rewarding if you have to make one work on the go! 

This past weekend, we went to NYC.  I live about 2 hours from NYC in no traffic, but I never casually go there.  If I get my timing right, I can get there in a do-able 3.5 hours, and if not, it’s more like 5.  Traffic time is never easy time. So I don’t go to NYC unless I can think of a damn good reason involving something that makes that kind of time commitment and an overnight stay worthwhile!  And I totally, totally did:

Kimono House in Manhattan

This is Kimono House, an actual kimono store in the US! Woah.  I honestly never even looked to see if there was one, because I assumed no.  Some reviews have them only selling kimono, some reviews have them selling kimono and kimono fabric. Continue reading

Wa-Loli for 1/4 BJD and 16″ Fashion Dolls

Slim MSD Wa-Loli kimono

You probably expected this after last week.  Ahh… I spent so many, many hours making ruffles this week!  So many.  Ruffles everywhere.

Anyway, this week’s pattern is Wa-Loli, but for 1/4 scale dolls!

Yay!  And there’s a weird thing about Wa-Loli.  See, most patterns, when they go up a size, don’t change much.  A couple more seams, a couple more darts to make something fit better.  I think it has to do with the way kimono are fitted, using a straight torso: in PS size, you have to work to reduce bulk around the waist otherwise you end up with a doll that looks like a rolled up napkin with a holder around the middle.  At M girl size the bust:hip:waist ratio goes all whacky and you have to reduce hip mass while adding waist bulk.  At 1/4 scale, some dolls have waists whole inches smaller than their busts/hips, and multiple bust sizes. 

Fortunately, it’s also the size that layering goes from “fake it whenever possible” to “a good idea sometimes.”  This pattern takes advantage of layering through the torso and skirt to provide support and smooth the torso over as a base for the outer dress and obi to make them less curve-hugging.  It’s not that simple, there are a few more tricks involved, but that’s the essentials.  Just because you make something bigger doesn’t mean it works bigger!  Rules change for different things at different rates.  Physics.

That’s why I only recommend enlarging patterns up to 50% larger or up to 30% smaller without having to change sizes even if the measurements are roughly proportionate, and why I haven’t made flowy, maxi dresses for regular 10″ dolls when I have made them for the giant 17″ dolls.  Sure, you could shrink them down, but it wouldn’t look right. 

And that’s why I spend all week testing these things out behind the scenes so you don’t have to!  Enjoy 🙂