DRESSING AN Embroidered Paper Doll
Hi again! Let's move on to dressing our Embroidered Paper Doll.
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By now, you must be wondering what a strange and cluttered place I must work (and live) in!
It's true, it is quite cluttered. Being home to 2 artists who love books and need to have reference material readily at hand (not to mention the big, black, hairy dog that shares our home), it really couldn't be any other way. Our book, magazine and pamphlet collections go back decades! In addition to this, there's the 'really neat' rock, pretty sea-shell and softly tinted beach-glass collections. Oddly textured and beautifully coloured yarn; strangely-shaped seed pods and branches; a huge Ostrich egg and a derelict Robin's nest all enjoy positions of prominence in our living-room... along with some sort-of-realistic artificial flowers ( I'm allergic to perfume).
All this bric-a-brac (we prefer to call it 'reference material') offers great foraging (aka 'research') whenever a new project is on the horizon. For the Embroidered Paper Doll, a drawerful of lacy discards and the torn-out pages of several season's wedding magazines offered great inspiration.
Oops, went off on a bit of a tangent there... let's get back to the matter at hand!
There were some beautiful gowns amongst my reference materials. Almost all of them though are scribbled across with the words "Too boring to stitch!" One of the most important elements in designing needlework charts is ensuring that the item be a "good stitch". Some stitchers are turned off by a great deal of back-stitching and others (like myself) become bored stitching an ocean of the same colour. Both types of stitcher need to be kept in mind when creating needlework designs.
These little sketches illustrate a few of the design options that I considered when creating the bodice of the bridal gown.
Of course, it takes many more decisions beyond a choice of bodice to design a bridal gown. How long should the sleeves be? Should they be transparent or opaque? Cuffed, bell-shaped, 'Bishop', tapering? Raglan, dolman or set-in? Should they be beaded, embellished with metallic threads or plain?... and all these are just a few choices for one element of the gown! Once all the gown options had been confirmed though, a larger problem could no long be delayed... making the doll and the gown fit one another.
Eventually, this involved drawing a rather stick-like scale sketch of the doll in my cross-stitch design program; printing it out, sketching a very rough dress on an overlay and then hand-drawing the dress back into my program for later refining..
As you can imagine, many changes lay ahead (including completely ripping out, re-designing and re-stitching the gowns' skirt; ripping out and changing floss choices; deciding how best to illustrate a bridal bouquet). From the very beginning, I'd wanted to play with the sheens of various stitching materials... the high sheen of Rayon thread; the luxurious matte finish of Linen thread; the soft, pearl-like gloss of Mill Hill 00123 beads, etc.) Here's a partial list of some early changes...
A nagging and essential detail remained, unresolved, in the back of my mind while designing and stitching the wedding gown... how on earth are the clothes going to be attached to the doll? It would be very difficult to create little paper tabs from the perforated paper (as in our childhood Paper Dolls). Besides, the memory of the frustration that these fiddly and fragile little strips created is still too fresh! Time for a little more research perhaps?
While looking into the history and development of Paper Dolls, I discovered that clothing had been attached in several different ways. There were, of course, the paper tabs that we're all quite familiar with and there were laces, button-like devices and magnets!!! That was it... magnets!
Extremely thin magnetic sheets are now routinely used to create business cards which can be kept at hand on 'fridge doors. Inexpensive, and easily cut with scissors, the sheeting is available at office supply and craft shops. It can be bought in several formats (in a variety of small packages and even on a long roll).
Along the way, your little Paper Doll also acquired a more casual shirt and jean skirt combination... a design task made made much easier by the fact that Crescent Colours "Tartan Plaid" thread stitches up like Denim fabric!
Your little Embroidered Paper Doll is the result of a manic resolve to create this much-loved plaything in a medium about which we're passionate. There were moments when she came perilously close to permanent residence at the landfill site down the highway. But, after much experimentation (and a few more grey hairs) she's done... and I hope that she gives you nothing but pleasure.
I also hope that you've enjoyed this 'Design Diary'... thank you very much for stopping by.
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