Design Academy

To record my ideas as I work through Design Academy. 


  • Look at 1/3 to 2/3 proportion in an outfit for a pleasing appearance. 
  • Size of print - eye size to hand size
  • Strip - look at width of stripe to finger on the doll
  • Buttons- do they look appropriate for the outfit. Are they too big or too small?
  • Hem, ribbons, etc. need to give the outfit a real look.
Take pictures and look at them to make sure everything is balanced. 

Design Board

First Try

This design is ready for me to try and draw up on the croquis. I know what I want and I hope to accomplish it. 
The yarn in the picture will be made into a bolero and I have a nice denim yarn to knit into a jacket for this outfit. 
I have another one to design today but am not sure if the design on the fabric is too big. If so, I will have to look for another fabric I love. 

Second Try

I did a second try that really goes with the above board. I spent a good hour doing the croquis and am delighted with the result. 
I'm still mulling the idea of the skirt being pleated without the flounce on the bottom. I will draw it up one morning and see how it looks. 
I keep thinking of white capris with the top but still like the blue ones. I can make the white ones to see how they turn out. 
The fabric with the blue. 
I'll probably stick with the blue capris as the sweater will help tie it all together. 

Focal Point

Repetition or Rhythm

It is a repeat of 

  • color
  • design element
  • style
  • form 
so one has visual unity and consistency. It is not busy looking. 
Do not use a fabric too many time but repeat colors in different fabrics and textures. 
  • shop for fabric at one time
  • look for fabrics in ready made clothing and use them
  • use a theme or a style
The colors in the dress are used in the petticoat. The ribbon and jacket are different shades of the main color in the dress. 
 One to three colors and patterns used to create rhythm.
One color or fabric used through texture, layout, and trim to create rhythm. 


Harmony is when an outfit looks visually pleasing and all the elements belong together. The outfit shares common traits

  • colors
  • shapes
  • textures
  • patterns
  • material
  • theme
  • style
  • size
  • functionality
Harmony is brought together through the previous elements of proportion, focal point, and repetition. 

This next one amazed me as it brings together both curved and straight lines. Using a small print and white pulls it all tougher. 


You can use color to

  • for emphasis
  • to create an emotion - cool colors vs warm colors. 
Decide which color is the foundation and which is/are the accent colors. Decide on proportion of these. 
In this outfit, the fabric is a lovely blue with white dots. The white is the accent color and is used in the rick rack.
 In the above outfit, the red is the main color with cream as the accent. Is there proportion there? Yes as it looks well balanced. 
In the outfit I made, the blue in the check is the main color and the white is the accent as shown in the rick rack and bolero. This dress needs a white ribbon at the waist. 
Pantone has colors of the year and season. This year the color of the year is Living Coral. 
Coral, pink, yellow, and green are spring colors. Could the creamy color be called corn and be included? Probably. 


There are as many fabrics and we tend to use what we are comfortable with. Draping fabric to see how it drapes is of importance for some clothes. You may want fluid lines in an outfit or you may need structure. 
The dress fabric is somewhat structured to be form fitting in the bodice area. The skirt is not flowing where it comes out from the darts or tucks at the waistline. The sweater is a knit fabric and looks like it is a mid weight as there is drape in the front where the clasp holds it nice folds. 

In this outfit, the denim in the jacket makes for a structured look. It will, through time, become softer. The skirt is structured and probably a heavier weight cotton. 
The skirt fabric is soft (wool, viscose, ?) and the pleats drape nicely as they are not ironed into a sharp line. The sweater is a knit and the ribbing holds it in place for structure at the top but it seems as if the top has a 1x1 ribbing and the body a 2x1 rib for less structure. 
The lines of this dress show structure and the need for a fabric that is light enough to drape but heavy enough to keep the bodice structured. Fabric choices given are: Broadcloth, Linen, Light Weight Denim, Raw Silk.
When deciding on what you are making, you need to choose the correct fabric. Here is an example of this. 
I will make an assumption that the skirt is out of a rayon/viscose blend as the pleats are not pressed and drape from the top part which has been sewn in place. 
The skirt I made is from a light weight cotton and the pleats were pressed into place. If I had wanted to make a skirt like Kate Middleton's I would have had to use a rayon blend fabric and sew the pleats down at the top and let the rest flow out. The lightness of the fabric would have allowed that to happen. The cotton I used would have just stuck out and not draped into niceness. 


The principle of surprise and delight makes an outfit or item of clothing special. It is something different than what you would expect. Ideas include:

  • Linings - a bright pop of color or an unusual print inside a jacket or vest. 
  • Inner waistband - ribbon for elastic casing or cotton for a waistband lining
  • Shoulder straps - braided
  • Use of two types of fabrics - cotton and cotton knit in the same color
  • different fabric inside of collar stand and cuffs
  • hand stitching with embroidery floss
  • beading
  • lace yoke or pleated dart in back of shirt or jacket
Add a surprise to the back of the outfit where we seem to forget due to using closures. 


Using two different stripe knits but the element of surprise is the sleeves stripes are going the opposite direction. 
 The front of this dress is very simple with the focal point being the hat. 
The back has an element of surprise -- its buttons run up to the shoulder on one side and the walking pleat has been pleated. 

Bias plaid pocket and yoke are an element of surprise on this shirt. 
Another bias plaid yoke. 
Surprise is something I would like to work on. Slowing down and thinking of an element of surprise on an outfit is key to what I want to do. Each outfit can be somewhat different but I would love to have an element of surprise in most that I make. 
One element of surprise is to make shoes to go with the outfit. Pick a Plain Jane shoe pattern and master it. 


The waistline is the demarcation between the upper and lower torso. It can be placed anywhere between under the bust to the hips depending on the style. 
Three ways to get it right so the 18" doll looks human rather than a dumpy doll. 

  • Use fitted clothes
  • Pay attention to waistline placement. Moving the waistline up a bit can make your doll look leaner and slimmer. 
  • Create tops that fit over your bottom pieces to give the illusion of having a waistline. 
Waistlines defined:
  • Empire waist - under the bust line. 
  • Natural waistline - play with this a bit - up to a slightly narrower part of the doll's body so it will give the illusion of a small waist.
  • Dropped waist - at the hip line or slightly below it. 

Waistline ideas
The top is slim fitting and ends at the hips giving the torso a slim look. 
The slim fitting top and angled belt give the illusion of a slim torso. 
The belt on the hip give the illusion of a slimmer waist. The top could be a slimmer fit. 
The trim and 3 vertical buttons on each side help define a slimmer torso on this dress. 
The empire waistline allows the body to look slimmer. The 1/3 - 2/3 look also give the illusion of a long lean body. 
The low hip and curved line placement also gives the body a long lean look. 


You can take a look from something, not refer to it and be okay. Do not mention it belongs to some icon or image. 

  • Make your outfit look similar but not exact to recreate a look.
  • Use props or pictures of something to help create the outfit name. 
  • Use fabrics and color schemes to reflect a place you are thinking about doing. On the farm, some area of a country or a city will help pay homage to the outfit or line of clothing. It can be a time period also. 
One idea mentioned is to use characters from Disney and update their outfits to a modern day look. One I really liked was taking the idea of the dress and recreating the top into a t-shirt and the skirt into leggings or jeans. Add runners, and a purse/backpack and it's 21st century. You could do ideas using skirts and pay homage to the colors and fabric details (polka dots). 
Disney Ideas
Another idea that float in my head is visiting the ocean. Most think of nautical prints and sandals but I think stripes, rubber boots, runners, leggings, t-shirts, sweater, hat and jacket. What about visiting grandma's country home? 
Here is an idea for summer in Scotland - 

With a warm cotton cardigan or sweater, scarf, a cute and comfortable long sleeve shirt, a pair of jeans, boots or comfortable leather shoes, and a waterproof jacket or a trench coat (and an umbrella of course) and you can hit the town! Travel tip: It doesn't hurt to pack a hat and gloves.
The shirt could be a plaid and the sweater could pick up one color from the plaid as could the waterproof jacket. Ideas are floating in my head. 
Agyle Sweater


Create work that is stripped down to its most fundamental features. 

  • Remove all zippers, lace, embellishments and other extras. Focus on simple clean lines that create a stunning silhouette. If a zipper is needed, use an invisible zipper. 
  • Let your fabric be the star. Make sure its not busy. Simple is best. 
  • Replace all the drama with intense focus on the quality of the sewing
    • expensive fabrics
    • fully lined
    • hand stitching -- hem in particular 
    • invisible zipper
A very simple dress in a small print or texture (monochromatic), that is lined and has high end finishes is a good choice. 
I need to design this dress with no waistline or darts and have it skim the doll's body. The circle sleeves are a beautiful addition but not necessary. 
This coat could be very high end as it is lined. The simplicity of the pattern allows for the addition of scarves. 

Sewing Techniques

Learn a few techniques and learn them well. Take your time and sew well using good basic techniques with some couture techniques. 
Use linings and top stitching and do them well. Do seam finishes like the hong kong seam finish or french seams. Other things you can learn to do well are:
Buttonholes - Shari Fuller
How to Make a Pleater Board for pleats
Pleats with a Fork
I will add more as I do my research. 
Ultra Thin Velcro that was recommended for doll clothes.

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