4/07/2015

Barbie and tiny glass beads, the story of a new obsession - Part 2, The dress

In part 1 of this series of posts I told you a little about how the "Bead loom a Barbie outfit" project got started.
So what was actually the first step?

Even without being a seamstress I know you can't just whip up a dress without some kind of pattern, and you can't make a pattern without having measurements.
Of course first of all I had to pick out the kind of Mattel doll I wanted to work with. I decided on a Straight Leg Midge with serious hair problems that had been waiting for a makeover far too long. I'll come to the head in a later post, though.

Back to the dress.
I wanted to loom it in one piece and then sew it together down the sides. Now that I knew what doll I would use, I could start measuring.
It being my first beaded dress project, I didn't want it to be too difficult, just a basic straight dress with straps, a rounded neckline and a low cut back. Sounds rather easy, doesn't it?
When I started measuring, it didn't seem that easy to me anymore. After all I couldn't keep taking the dress off the loom and try it on, so it had to be right from the beginning.

Barbie's bustline and hips were the basic measurements for the whole dress. As it was to be straight, I had to measure carefully to make sure it would fit around Barbie's body, but still wouldn't be too bulky.
The armholes would have to be big enough, but not so big to allow glimpses into the dress from the sides.
And of course the straps would have to sit just right which also depended on the size of the neckline, the back and the armholes.
To be on the safe side I rather made the pattern a little bigger than smaller. Many of us know the feeling when you want to button up a pair of jeans and there are just millimeters missing. I couldn't take that chance on Barbie, after all I am not that fond of ripping up a project.

After having fiddled with the outlines for many hours and almost obsessive measuring I was finally ready to design the pattern itself, done in black and metallic medium bronze AB which is an absolutely stunning color, inspired by pictures of dresses from the 20s.

Almost 7,700 beads and a few hours later - also due to the fact that I still kept measuring again and again - I could take the dress off the loom and drape it on the doll for the very first time if you can call pulling her head off and putting the dress on with her neck knob standing out between the warp threads draping, that is. Yes, it sounds terrible, but what can you do?
You should heard my sigh of relief when things looked promising!

The next big task was to weave in all of the warp threads, 196 of them to be precise, and to sew up the sides.

Not only was it a dress, but it also fit!!


I felt it needed a little decoration, though. I added two rows of beads in the back. They keep the straps from moving which might reveal just a little too much back.


The three rows of beads over the shoulders make sure the armholes don't open up too much, but mostly I just liked the look of it.
I am sure I'm not the only one who connects the 20s with lots of fringe, but for this dress I opted for a small fringe of dagger beads instead.


Wow. That was a long post, but designing and making the dress was a long process, too. Thank you if you made it all the way through.
Next week's post will be all about accessories (and shorter, I promise)!

Barbie is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. I am not affiliated with Mattel.

2 comments:

coltpixy said...

The dress is fabulous!

Cat said...

Thank you, Star!