Friday, September 5, 2014

Chloe's Charm Girl: The Costume

I do LOVE this part- I think that pretty much all dollmakers love this part...

I try to stay as true to the ethnic culture I am working within, but I will say as I am inspired by these cultures as an artist. So, it is my interpretation not replication from which I gather my ideas for my designs and I will add other fabrics that will help enhance the specific cultural fabrics.

Chloe's doll is of an African culture and I was lucky enough to have several of these pieces of fabric in my stash! I had some stunning silk pieces from India that I used for the lining. This was my palette that I worked from and did change things every so slightly as I went along.
The Charm Girl costume fabric of silk, linen, and cotton are from around the world to give each doll a unique and well- studied look. Each Charm Girl hold a small gourd with a delicate enameled charm to represent the lore of that piece.
In this post I am going to give you a detailed look of what I created the next posting will show you the entire finished piece...

They costume pattern was designed and now it was time to start sewing.
I usually start with the pants or under garment...In this case I had this wonderful cotton batik that added just enough earthiness to the piece. These pants where edged with the same cobalt blue as the jacket lining. I laid out my fabric to fussy cut so the color way that ran through the fabric from blue to green to purple would cosmetically match up on the pants.
I sewed the skirt/dress once...twice. The initial one was just ok but did not have the punch that was needed, so I resewed it with deeper seams and ended up with much happier results!

The jacket was I would like to point out the not only the outside fabric but the wonderful lining fabric. I also carefully "fussy" cut the jacket's exterior pieces- note how the main circle motif  is on both sleeves.
 Motif to center back...
detail photos Mark Mortensen
Pieces are all individually sewn from a template techniques and then hand-sewn or  machine sewn together where I can use a decorative stitch as below sleeve/shoulder side seams.
Final pieces to be sewn were the shoes and the hat...Shoes were made from a woven silk and dupioni silk and the hat from African cottons and Indian silk.
SOOoo, I placed the hat on the doll and felt it was not quite right...all her fabulous hair was lost in the hat...I then redesigned a multi fabric head wrap which I liked so much better...I believe when creating an art piece you must follow your own personal aesthetic gut, even though the fabric I am using is precious and expensive- if it doesn't work, it just doesn't- do it over until you are happy with it!
Final details...the necklace. I wanted to bring in the blue but want the beads to be a matte finish to continue carrying the theme of earthy accents.
I like to take into consideration the doll from all angles including from the bottom!  Note the sole of the shoes coordinate with the exquisite silk lining!

 Next week- the Turtle Gourd with its symbolism 
and the full shot of the Charm Girl!


  1. LOVE her! Your careful consideration of the colours and textures is perfection, she is exquisite! I do like the headband over the hat, the hair is so beautiful it needs to be seen. Best, Ani in NC

  2. Peggy F via email:
    “The doll is absolutely wonderful. You never cease to amaze me”.

  3. She great! What kind of stuffing do you use? Cotton? Wool?

    1. Hi Valerie,
      I use a combo- in the torso body area I use a wool batting and in the arms and legs I use a silk/poly...the wool gives the torso a warm feel to it. However the wool has a yellow cast so especially for my Asian dolls the wool is only in the torso and the silk blend which is white is used in any body part that shows.


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