Thursday, 6 November 2014

Starting work on a new design.

I've wanted to make a coat for the Tonner male body for some time, now.  I do have the one I created for Ken, but that pattern doesn't work very well if simply enlarged, due to the different proportions of chest size to shoulder width and to the shoulder slant.

So I had to start over.   First I draped kitchen roll on the clothed doll and secured all the bits with masking tape.  I used a water soluble pen to mark the neckline, sleeve openings and all the seams, then carefully cut the paper off the doll. 

One has to be really careful not to cut into the doll's clothing at this stage.

Here are the initial pattern pieces. What a mess, and they're a pain to draw around, but the method works: 

I traced around them on some card, finagled about with the shaping a bit, and added the seam allowances all around.  Then I cut out the card shapes with a scalpel.

I drew out the pattern pieces on some spare fabric that I keep for for this kind of job.  I disregarded the sleeves for now.  I'm fairly confident with drafting sleeves, and at first it's only important that the body will fit.

Once I've basted the pieces together, I slip them on the doll inside out and tweak any seams that need to be altered.  You can see the turquoise water soluble pen along the curved back seam here:

I just keep trying the garment on the doll, pinning, marking and re-basting the seams, until the fit is good. I must say in this instance, my shoulder seams and side seams are perfect.  Yay me.

I faff around for a long time with this and it's like a whole day's work with not much to show for it, but possibly the most important part of designing.

Then I put the garment on the doll the right side out, just to be sure the fit is right.  This picture below shows the final fit.  Incidentally, if you don't press your seams as you go, this is the kind of badly-finished garment you will end up with!  I'm a stickler for it in my pattern tutorials.  It makes all the difference for a couture finish.

The seam at the small of his back has been taken in just a wee bit too much, so I've redrawn the pattern to add a little more wiggle-room. I love the curve of a man's back.  It's a thing.  Which is why I love a beautifully shaped centre back seam on my male doll's waistcoats and jackets.  It's kinda sexy.  :)

But I digress.  I took some time to draft the sleeve patterns, which I can do now just by careful measurement.   As for the collar - that's a bit hit and miss for me.   I used some kitchen roll and draped it around the doll's neck to get the basics right, but collars are always a case of trial and error.  I might make two or three coats before I've got the collar right.

I've just started marking out the coat and its lining on the fabric I'm going to use.  This first coat will be scary as I put a lot of work into it and it may be wrong in places.   I'd rather that than make a rough garment, because then at least my own dolls get some half-decent clothing if it turns out nearly perfect.

For this coat, I'm using gold coloured patchwork cotton for the lining, and black brushed 100% cotton (flannelette) for the  outer.  The brushed cotton simulates wool on a doll beautifully and it's gorgeous to work with.

These bits will all be fray-checked and cut out.  My back aches today which is annoying, or I'd be sitting there doing exactly that.   So I'll be reaching for my cosy Ngaiao Marsh whodunnit instead.



  1. Looking forward to seeing the finished coat.... I got quite excited seeing the floral pattern thought it might be something for Ell .... my eyes are tired or I might have realised that was your headless boy... never mind I'm sure it'll be lovely lol (I've plenty of things to make for Ell I have a box full of satin and lace - now if I could just stop buying and start sewing again lol!!)

    1. Haha, sorry to get you excited. I do that too, I keep buying and then realise I really need to make something out of all the stuff I've got....


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