Making a Bikini Bottom Pattern for Knit Fabrics

This entry shows how I went about making a bikini bottom pattern for the Tonner Antoinette body. The pattern in the following PDF is at the actual size generated by this process, but is intended to be used with stretch knit materials, and scaled down appropriately for the amount of stretch of the material chosen. If printed and sewn at actual size from knit fabric, the bottoms will have a loose fit. I typically scale down to 90% in the left-right direction when making these from knit t-shirt type material. If using a woven fabric with no stretch at all, a slit with closure may be needed down the back, or side closures, in order to get them onto the doll (I’ve only ever used stretchy materials).

 
Example of finished product made with the pattern from this tutorial:

 
The objective of this pattern is to provide the approximate shapes needed, experimentation is required to get a perfect fit for any particular fabric.

 
Pattern Download (PDF): cami_bikini.pdf

 
The supplies include: doll, masking tape, #11 scalpel (best) or fine-point x-acto knife, scanner, Adobe Illustrator or comparable drawing software.

 
The first step is to tape over the bottom of the doll like a diaper, making sure to overlap the leg joints

 
Then, carefully cut at the joint edges, without cutting your doll. A scalpel is much better for this than most hobby knifes (x-acto) because the sharper blade means less pressure and sawing motion are required.

 

 
After the leg holes are trimmed, I marked lines where I would want the garment to actually be. I have two lines drawn: higher one for panties, and a lower one for bikini bottoms.

 
On the side, I mark a line for the seam, which lines up with the seam on the doll’s body.

 
I’m extra careful cutting this seam. Notice how the blade is pointed away from the doll. I do this by cutting while lifting the tape away from the doll, without the blade riding along and scoring the doll.

 
Peel the tape off in one piece, and stick it to a sheet of paper. If your software and scanner combo don’t exactly preserve sizes of things, you might wish to first mark a scale on the paper with a ruler, for adjusting once the pattern is scanned.

 
Her I’ve brought the scan of the tape piece into Adobe Illustrator as a guide layer, and I’ve started placing a crude outline (key points).

 
I’ve used the Bezier handles on the points to fit curves to the tape shape. Because the tape piece is not perfectly symmetrical, I’ve chosen one side to represent the pattern, and I’m ignoring the right side.

 
Duplicate the left side outline, join into one shape.

 
Lastly, because I’m going to be using materials that have pattern or grain, I’m separating the pattern into a front and back piece, with a seam at the bottom of the garment. I used the offset outline command to add a 5mm border around each piece, for seam allowance. This is the drawing that I print and pin or transfer to my fabric. If I’m using a material without grain direction, the drawing above can be used as the 1-piece pattern.

If the Shoe Fits: An FR:16 Cinderella Story

One of the first things I did as a new FR:16 doll owner was begin to look for clothing and shoes. I found some anecdotal evidence about what fits them and what doesn’t–from other doll lines–but there is not a lot of information yet, nor a lot of pictures of these dolls on Flickr to get ideas from. So, I had to buy a bunch of stuff and see what fits. This blog entry is about the shoes I got: which ones fit, and how well. The ratings I provide after the name of each pair are how good I think the fit the FR:16. These are not overall quality ratings! I rate fit without stockings first, then with thin stockings (not knit fabric tights). If I have concerns about the quality of a shoe, this will be in my description, but is not reflected in the fit rating.

FR:16 have the same feet as 16" Poppy Parker. AvantGuard dolls also came with these feet as an option, which allows them to wear the flat-foot shoes reviewed here. Of all the shoes shown here, only the tall boots will fit differently on each of these dolls, since their legs are not the same.

 

Pair 1: Tyler Wentworth "Fierce" Shoes B-/B+

Some of the first shoes I got came in Tonner outfit sets. First up here are the strappy shoes from the "Fierce" set for Tyler. They were a little too big, and like most other 16″ doll shoes made for a high-heeled foot, the bend in the FR:16 bendy foot does not fall in exactly the right place. I also had to modify the ankle strap to get the buckle to fall in the right place and allow it to close tight enough. The end result is that the foot naturally falls into the shoe such that there is a little room behind the heel, and the toes protrude a bit. I’d give the fit of these shoes a B- bare, coming up to a B+ with stockings, once modified (original fit would be at best a C).

 

Pair 2: Ellowyne Essentials 5 D/C

Ellowyne’s shoes are just too big. These heels are a sloppy fit, even with stockings. With a little padding in the toe they can photograph passably with stockings, but I would not recommend buying them for FR:16.

 

Antoinette Influential B/A-

Antoinette’s shoes fit better than Ellowyne’s, no mistake. They are still a bit long for FR:16, but with stockings the fit is acceptable.

 

Doug James’s Decora Violett and Gabby Shoes B+/B

The shoes from the Decora dolls fit quite well on the bare FR:16 foot, they are just long enough. With stockings, things can get a bit tight. With tights, they would be no-go. They are too cute not to recommend, and Gabby’s outfit in particular looks killer on the FR:16′s, her short shorts fit perfectly. The shoes are not the highest quality production, but they offer a style not easily found elsewhere.

 

Sherry Fang V3 Sybarite Pumps A-/B+

Very well made. These don’t fit FR:16 perfectly, but the fact that the foot does not bend properly in the shoe is largely disguised by the shoe’s opacity. If there were any peep holes in the shoe, it would need a lower rating. But as is, the FR:16 foot goes in pretty flat and the end result is a decent look. These will fit with thin stockings, but not with thick tights.

 

Sherry Fang V3 Sybarite Pointed Pumps with Ankle Strap A-/B+

Very well made. These don’t fit perfectly, but the fact that the foot does not bend properly in the shoe is largely disguised by the shoe’s opacity. If there were any peep holes in the shoe, it would need a lower rating. But as is, the FR:16 foot goes in pretty flat and the end result is a decent look.

 

Sherry Fang Ellowyne Thigh-High Boots A-/B-

Firstly, due to the tallness of these, I am showing fit on FR:16 only. 16" Poppy and AG dolls have different legs, and fit will differ.
These fit well on the bare FR:16 leg, and the build quality is superb. They have room in the toe, of course, but you can’t see that. I don’t give them a solid A rating only because the leg contour is not perfect for this doll; I have no doubt that it is perfect for Ellowyne. On FR:16, the calf bump falls a little too low, and the top of the boots have a little room. Still, quite usable. The doll can bend her knees while wearing these.


 

Sherry Fang Sybarite Spike Heels B/n.a.

These don’t fit the curve of the FR:16 foot, but you can stretch the vamp and make them fit acceptably, IMHO. It’s about as good as you can expect for getting a super-high-heeled look on a doll that does not have a high-heeled foot. These are going to fit on bare feet only, no room for stockings.

 

Unknown Action Figure Brand Adidas Trainers A/A+

I found these on eBay, from a domestic US seller of action figure stuff, and they are just amazing. I hope to find more. The fit could not be any more perfect, even with lightweight socks. Seriously, how cute are these?!

 

Monsi Toys Low Converse B+/n.a.

Many Hong Kong sellers of action figure clothing sell these, and the fit is OK without socks–not quite wide enough, but they work. Won’t go on with socks because these are not rubbery. Quality is so-so, not great fit and finish, no coloring on the stitching. I’d buy them again though, they were only $10 on sale.

 

Monsi Toys High-top Converse B+/B-

Another Hong Kong gem. These fit well, but with the huge caveat that it took about 8 minutes to get them on the doll. These aren’t a pop-on product, I had to actually loosen the laces with a crochet hook and then tighten them once they were on. Will fit with stockings, but will be tight, mostly a width issue. Decently well made, rubbery.

 

ACI Toys 8-up Doc Martens B+/A-

The detail and quality of these is top-notch. Nice finish, rubbery, just awesome. Without any socks, they are big on the FR:16. With socks, they look and fit better, though still big. Of all the shoes here these are actually the closest ones to being realistically in scale with the doll. As you can see in the full-body photo, they make her look more like a real person and less like a tiny-footed fashion doll than usual. Even though they were $20.99, I’d buy these again in a heartbeat, and plan on getting them in the other colors (this was a trial purchase).


 

Action Figure Crocs A/n.a.

Rigid plastic crocs from eBay Hong Kong seller. Available in many colors. They fit just right with no socks, but with no room for stockings. Quality isn’t great, they feel like they could break easily.

 

JamieShow Wedges B/B+

I bought two pairs of JamieShow shoes from AngelicDreamz, and this pair was worth the entire order price. Once again, not a perfect contour for the FR:16 foot, but the upper hides enough to make them still look pretty killer. I love these, and they are very well made.

 

JamieShow Black Wedges C-/C

These are the other pair of JS shoes I got. Fit of these is awkward at best. The upper is too revealing of the ill-fitting nature, so I don’t use these. Also the strap broke the first time I tried to buckle the right shoe! The strap/upper material was made too thin to be durable for passing through the buckle easily. I would not personally recommend these, even for a doll they would fit on properly, because of this durability issue. I’m not rough with my doll things, this strap tore with very little tug on it.

Tutorial: How I Made Doll Stockings

 
When I got my latest dolls, who are Integrity Toys FR:16s, I realized that there was a shortage of things made just for them, including shoes and stockings. So, I decided to make stockings rather than try to find ones from another 16″ doll line by trial and error, which could be expensive and possibly also a waste of time.

I also could not find any tutorials on the entirety of the internet that show clearly and specifically how to make doll stockings from very stretchy material. If such tutorials exist, they are not readily Google-able. The best I could find were some sock-making instructions for American Girl dolls, which featured regular cotton knit material and did not tell me what I needed to know.

This blog entry is a tutorial, showing how I went about making the stockings for my Saskia Tate FR:16 doll. The techniques here can be used for any sized doll or action figure.

Disclaimer: I’m not a tailor, couturier or any other kind of fashion professional; I’m a video game programmer who likes to make stuff. So if something here is done in an unconventional way, well, there is your explanation :-) There are probably other ways to do this. Better ways even. In fact, I’d love to hear any ideas you might have for improvements. I came up with this process in a virtual information vacuum, with some help from my wife and from general sewing FAQ sites.

 

 

 

Making the Pattern

I don’t have a pattern for stockings for the FR:16 doll, so I had to make one. I didn’t expect it to be perfect on the first try, since I’m using a very springy 4-way-stretch material and just guessing at how much stretch to allow for, but it ended up working out pretty well. Normally, I’d do the following process entirely on the computer, from a reference photo traced and manipulated in Adobe Illustrator, but to make a simpler tutorial that doesn’t require any software or software expertise, I worked with good old fashioned pencil and paper. First, I traced the doll’s leg:

 
The outline:

 
The following 4 photos show how I manipulated the outline into a shape that has a flat edge and is scaled down to allow for stretch of the material. First, I drew a line from the top of the leg section to the tip of the toe, to form the new "front edge" of the stocking pattern:

 
Then, I drew a new "back edge" of the stocking, essentially moving this edge over the the left by the same amount as the offset between the new and old “front” edges. The light horizontal lines I drew are the key points where I re-plotted the back edge. At each of these horizontal lines, I measured the gap between the new and original front edge lines, and then plotted the point for the new position of the back edge to the left by this same amount. The "=" in the drawing shows an example of how these offsets are equal:

 
In this next step, I drew the new top line for the stocking, about 90% down from the top to allow for vertical stretch. I also drew a smooth curve along the newly-plotted back edge, also pulled in a bit to allow for stretch (to about 80% in this direction). I’ve seen a lot of doll stocking patterns, and I freehand drew the curves based on how doll stocking patterns usually look:

 
Then, I inked over the pencil sketching with pen:

 
I cut out the shape, and marked it "FR:16". This is the finished pattern:

 

Sewing

I cut out two pieces of black spandex "power mesh", a material I got in the dance and activewear fabrics section of Jo-Ann’s. This material is a 4-way-stretch material, but it has a bias. If you look closely at the material, it has straight lines in one direction, and staggered lines in the other, like a tiny brick wall pattern. When this type of fabric is used for stockings, the straight lines should run top-to-bottom, like the brick wall is on its side.

 
The following product is very important. This type of stretch material cannot be sewing in a sewing machine without a stabilizer backing. The product I use irons on and tears away. There are also stabilizers that stick on like tape, and some that are water-soluble and wash away in hot water. Use what you’re most comfortable with, but use some kind of stabilizer:

 
Update: Since making this tutorial, which used Sulky Totally Stable, I’ve found that Pellon’s Fuse-n-Tear works a little bit better because it’s lighter weight and requires less heat and time to fuse.

 
Here I have ironed the stabilizer onto the mesh fabric. If your fabric has a right and wrong sides (outward and inward facing on the finished product respectively), then iron the stabilizer onto the "wrong" side because we’re going to fold this in half to sew it, and turn it right-side out after we’re done:

 
After ironing the stabilizer paper to the fabric, I folded each piece over and ironed a crease, to make it easier to identify the middle:

 
Next, I traced the pattern onto the stabilizer paper using a fine-point Sharpie. I only need the full pattern on one side, the side that faces up when I sew it. You’ll see that I traced the top part onto both sides, so that I’d know where to attach the elastic:

 
And attach the elastic I did! I used 1/4" braided elastic banding that has a nice little sheer trim on it. I pinned this down to the top of the stocking, on what will be the outward-facing side of the stockings:

 
I held the pinned pieces up to a light, to verify that the elastic was pinned accurately. I’m a bit of a perfectionist:

 
I set up the sewing machine for a zig-zag stitch with 2.5mm width and 1.0mm stitch length for sewing on the elastic banding. Don’t sew your elastic on with a straight stitch, it will not stretch anymore if you do this and you’ll be a very unhappy camper with stockings that are too tight to fit on your doll!

 
For the back (main) seam of the stocking, a small straight stitch will work, because you want a thin seam and very little stretch is needed overall. I used a 1.8mm stitch (3.5mm width setting here is not used by this stitch):

 
Sewing the stocking seam (still from video):

 
Here’s what it looks like after both stitching passes. I recommend triple stitching both the toe and the seam where the elastic ends meet, for extra strength, by sewing over the area forward, then in reverse, then forward again (all in the same pass). You can click on this photo to see it much larger:

 
After sewing, cut the loose threads and cut a small (1/8" or 2mm) seam allowance:

 
Now comes the fun part of tearing away the tear-away stabilizer. OK, actually it’s not fun at all, it’s a pain the ass. Do this by hand, because if you use tools you risk ripping out stitching by accident. Expect this to take at least 5 minutes per stocking:

 
Now trim the excess material off above the elastic top:

 
Nearly done! Turn the stockings right-side out, I insert my Sharpie to do this:

 

Finished Product!

 
Click to see large:

New Suede Shoes for Poppy

I had some time off these past week, and during the colder part of the week I made Poppy some new shoes. These are made in the same way as her suede thong sandals, but using the tiny buckles I got from Rio Rondo, where they are sold for making miniature horse tack. The suede is from Michaels. It’s all glued together with E6000.

I threaded the ankle strap through backwards, but didn’t realize this until I was editing the photos, this is why the buckle is facing inwards in this shot.

New Face for Poppy Parker!

Ever since my first encounter on Flickr with repainted dolls–the first being a Lilith repaint by OOAKPARK–I knew that someday I would not be happy with just making unique custom clothing and shoes for my doll, but that I’d have to actually make the dolls unique. This past weekend, I finally went for it. I solicited for doll painting advice from folks on Doll Divas and Pink Parlor, absorbed all I could from the tutorials fed to me, and ran with it. A.C. Moore had a 40% off sale on all things Liquitex, so I took advantage of that to get some quality paints and mediums.

Acrylic Paints and Media

 
Here is the big step that took me a long time to get up the nerve to do: wipe the face off my $120 Poppy Parker without actually knowing if my repaint attempt would turn out acceptable, or if my hands would shake, my paint would blob up and I’d end up hurling Poppy’s head at the bin. Rest assured though, had the latter happened, I would not have blogged about it. The fact that you’re reading this means things turned out OK :-)

Poppy Gets a New Face 1

 
Fortunately, once I got started, I found that my hands were not shaky, and that I had a clear favorite among the brushes I bought: The Princeton Select 10/0 Short Liner from A.C. Moore. I’ll be getting more of these brushes for sure, they are wonderfully pointed, stiff and easy use like writing with a fine pen.

 
I did the eyewhites first (with very light grey), and dark red on the lips. By the time I took this first step photo, I had done the eyebrows as well, with a brown primarily of raw umber. When the lips dried, I added lighter shade vertical strokes for lip creases, and darker brown hair lines to the eyebrows:

Poppy Gets a New Face 2

 
Here I’ve added eyeliner (black) and dark blue base for the irises. As you can see from the underside of her eyes, the 10/0 liner can do very fine, nice lines.
Poppy Gets a New Face 3

 
On sunday, I set to work adding color to Poppy’s eyes about every two hours. I built up her irises from increasingly like shades of blue (mix of ultramarine, emerald green and TiO2 white). Then I did the black pupil dots and eyelashes, then finally the white specular highlights in the eyes. Of all the work, the eyelashes are what I’m least happy with. I need to find a 20/0 or 18/0 brush (or smaller) that is as good as my 10/0. The one I used was a La Corneille, which which was too soft bristled.

 
Here Poppy’s head is sitting for overnight drying of her varnish (gloss on the lips and eyes, matte everywhere else):

Poppy Gets a New Face 4

 
And that is how she turned out! Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised. I showed absolutely no knack for painting on 2D canvases, and did not really have high hopes for my attempt to repaint a tiny doll head freehand. But I’m happy with how she looks, and excited to do the next one even better! I have much to learn to make repaints like the ones I’ve really admired from Park and Jon Copeland in particular. I need to learn to use transparency, and how to thin for brush-stroke-free fills. I’ve ordered a 2.5X magnifying visor to help with doing the iris details, I’m told this really helps.

New Shoes for Poppy Parker!

Over the past two weekends, I worked on making some new shoes for Poppy Parker. She can wear quite a few Momoko shoes, and all the shoes I made for Misakis, but I have enough Poppies now to justify making some that are custom fit for her foot, which is similar to Misaki’s, but smaller.

Below, Poppy is wearing the latest pair I made just for her, the final construction steps of which are the subject of this blog entry. The shoe is built around a custom-molded polyurethane wedge sole, the creation process for which is documented in an earlier entry: Misaki Wedge Soles. This blog entry will focus on the steps that happen after the plastic casting, to create the finished product:

This first photo shows how I secure the thong portion of most of my thong style sandals. I first drill a hole all the way through the sole that is the right size to pass through the cord, which is typically 0.7mm elastic bead cord but in this case is 10-pound hemp cord. Then, I counterbore the underside with a larger drill bit, so that the knotted end of the cord will fit snuggly in the recess without pulling through:

Here you can see how I pulled the cord tight from the top, and the knot fits into the recessed hole:

The next step for this shoe was to mark where I intend the top straps to go. The top straps I made from braiding 3 different shades of brown 10-pound hemp cord into a flat braid. These marks, made with Sharpie, are my guides for where to cut recesses for the straps with my Dremel tool:

Then I Dremel the grooves for the straps. The point of the grooves is so that when I wrap the sole with leather, the ends of the straps don’t make ugly bumps visible through the suede.

In this next photo, I’m holding the straps in place around Poppy’s foot, to mark the position of the straps:

Then I glued the top strap into the carved channels:

Here the strap glue is drying, and I’ve trimmed away excess braid:

Now the fun part, wrapping in suede. I applied a thin coat of E-6000 industrial craft adhesive to the suede and the sole, waited a couple of minutes for the glue to pre-set, then wrapped the leather around the sold and trimmed off the overlapping ends:

After the glue set, I trimmed the excess with a new scalpel. This step requires the sharpness of the scalpel to get a super clean cut–an X-Acto would be a poor substitute here, though a single-edged razor blade would work OK in place of the scalpel. Cutting is done with each stroke pushing towards the center of the shoe, so that the leather is pushed against the sole during the cut, not torn away from it.

When I got to this point, I realized that what I really wanted for the thong cord was a loop that goes up through the sole and around the top strap. I used my small drill bit like a file to enlarge the small portion of the hole to accommodate two ends of the cord side by side. Once threaded through, I knotted them underneath while Poppy’s foot was in place, to get a tight fit. I used a small dab of rubberized Super Glue Ultra Gel Control to secure the knot in the hole. When the glue dried, I scalpeled it flush to the bottom of the sole.

Here is the finished product:

Crochet time

My first attempt at knitting was an epic fail. I made a test squares of stockinette stitch, but that was about all. I found that I did not have the patience for it. I actually found that having a bunch of live stitches on the needle gave me anxiety. I would have written off fiber arts altogether, were it not for my particular fondness for the look of crocheted tops on 1/6 scale dolls. I recently got a trio of bikinis from watbetty, which look fantastic on my dolls, and this inspired me to give crochet a fair trial.

What I found is that this particular craft suits me just fine. After making some swatches in fat yarn first, and learning what the loops and stitches look like, I had no difficulty working at the size 10 thread scale. My first project was to try making my own Misaki bikini, and it turned out OK, though the top is a bit wide for her bust.

Emily's Crochet Bikini

Emily’s bikini is made from #10 Cébélia crochet thread, worked with a Clover No. 2 (1.5mm) hook.

After making that, I gave half-double crochet a shot, and made Alice a halter top:

Alice's Halter Top

Next up: smaller thread. I’m experimenting today with DMC Pearl #12 and a 1.25mm hook, to see if I can make something less bulky and more toit.

Stretch Knit Shirt!

Michelle bought me some iron-on, tear-away Sulky stabilizer, and the world of stretch knits opened up to me! I’ve got a ball-point needle in the machine now too. On order: a straight-stitch foot and needle plate, and a Teflon foot for working with grippy fabrics.

Here is my second sewing attempt, the same shirt from the Doll Coordinate Recipe beginner book, but this time from a 96% Cotton, 4% Spandex two-way stretch knit. I still need to select and add a closure. I think the next one I make will be altered slightly too, I’d like it to be a little more form fitting and not so wide at the shoulders:

Lacy holds the first draft in her hand:

Not sew easy.

This weekend, I opened up the manual for Michelle’s sewing machine for the first time, and read about the basics of using the machine, from threading it to adjusting the stitch sizes, tensions, etc. After making a few straight passes on some muslin, I felt like this whole sewing thing was going to be pretty straightforward. I was wrong.

I tried to start with the simplest pattern in the Doll Coordinate Recipe beginner’s book, which is a simple jersey tank top. The first thing that happened was that the machine punched the edge of my garment right down into the bobbin area, because I was sewing so close to the edge of the stretchy material. Secondly, I found I could not turn the material to sew a curve; the feed dogs won that battle, and my attempts to reorient the piece only resulted in stretching and distortion.

Here, I backed up a bit, and decided to try the pattern with 100% cotton muslin. The end result was, well, not a complete disaster, but not a haute couture garment either :-/ My curved seams have messy directional corrections, and some of the hem tabs weren’t folded over enough. I definitely learned a few things though, like the fact that I need a metal plate in the machine with a smaller needle hole in it, and I need some little pusher tools to guide the fabric through the machine. I need to be more precise in folding over my hems as well. Here’s Lacy Modernist wearing the results:

Here you can see the not-so-perfect stitching and the fact that I haven’t added a closure yet:

These are the pattern pieces I copied out of the DCR mook:

Here’s my cut-out fabric before I began sewing it:

Misaki’s Sandals

Misaki’s now wearing her first pair of sandals made from the newest wedge mold. The straps and thong piece are PVC.