May 062011

Diesen Beitrag gibt es auch auf Deutsch.

…Commissions…?Yes, I take commissions for doll costumes – given that I a) have the doll for which the costume is to be made* and b) that I also like the costume 🙂
Almost any costume from movies, paintings or photographs is possible – please email me if you are interested; my email address is given at the bottom of each page in this web.

A few things in advance:
A *good* doll costume takes less material (fabric and trims, that is – anything that’s required by yard or square feet. Rhinestones and buttons, for example, are of course used according to the number on the ‘original’ costume, therefore their amount is not ‘less’ – just their size is ‘less large’), but as much work as a human dress – sometimes even more work because anything that is carried out in this scale has to be made with incredible care and accuracy.
For example, if a seam line is 1mm / a bit more than 1/32 inch off on a human sized dress, the wearer wouldn’t notice it – but on a tight fitting doll bodice, you would. As ‘historic’ costumes should also have the proper undergarments – as chemises / smocks, corsets etc. – which often consist of pattern pieces that are barely 2mm wide, this definitely *is* something to think about.
All materials (patterned fabrics, rhinestones, buttons etc.) have to be 1/4 the size of a human outfit, and sometimes it’s difficult to find something like this for a doll and if it’s found, it’s difficult to use. I’m very picky when it comes to certain materials and am not satisfied with a substitute.

An example:

gown from ‘Gone with the wind’, worn by Vivian Leigh / Scarlett O’Hara, is all over decorated with garnet colored rhinestones in golden bezel settings:

(this picture shows only few of them along the neckline, however, the golden bezel settings as well as the size of the stones is clearly visible in this picture, so this will do for study.)
If you compare Vivian Leigh’s iris size to the size of those rhinestones with the bezel settings (e. g. by measuring both with a ruler), then you’ll see that each round stone has about 3/4 the size of her iris. And why is that relevant?
The average human iris is 1.25cm / 1/2 inch in diameter. Almost always (run to a mirror and measure yours)!
Assuming that the average woman is 160cm tall, and ‘our’ 16-inch fashion dolls are about 40cm tall, this means that they are 1/4 the size of the average woman. This can be verified by measuring a doll’s iris – which is about 3.5mm / a bit more than 1/8 inch – multiplied with 4, we would get to a human iris size of 1.4cm – which is almost correct, considering that dolls tend to have such rather ‘large eyes’.
Having that said, we can now calculate the required rhinestone size for the above shown costume:
– Rhinestone + bezel = 3/4 iris size
– Iris size = ~1.25cm
– Rhinestone size for ‘human’ costume must be (Iris size)x0.75 = ~9,3mm.
– Rhinestone size for ‘doll’ costume needs to be 1/4 of this: 0.93×0.25 = ~2,3mm.
– 2,3mm means a 12SS Swarovski rhinestone with the rim setting around it, which is not rare.
Unfortunately, Swarovski stopped producing garnet colored flat back rhinestones some years ago. Siam colored ones are too light, Ruby colored are too lilac for this costume. There’s the possibility of using real cut garnet gemstones, but they are expensive and not foiled back, so they don’t sparkle that much.
If I would have to make this costume, I would now go hunting for 12SS Garnet colored Swarovski Rhinestones on Ebay – and I would need 3 gross of them (1 gross = 144pcs.) to be able to decorate all of the gown with them.
Keep in mind that some Ebay sellers who think they still have garnet colored Swarovskis look at a totally different color, so there’s a possibility that you are getting a different color than you ordered. It’s highly unlikely that one seller will have 3 gross of them, so I would have to pay the shipping several times. Note that surprisingly, the large (=20SS and bigger) garnet colored flat back rhinestones or the pointed ones are often to be found on Ebay – but not the small, flat backed ones which I would need for this costume.
Additionally, I would have to search for 12SS golden bezel settings, which, in case of rhinestones, are called ‘Rim’-Settings.
When I have found those rhinestones and settings, I’ll go hunting for an extremely short-piled silk or rayon velvet (just because they have that incredible shimmer). If you would dress a doll in velvet with a ‘normal’ (=~2mm high) pile, this would look as if she would wear plush (remember: 1/4 human size, so 2mm piled velvet for a doll would mean 8mm piled velvet for a human – that’s not velvet, that’s plush!). I will also have to take into consideration that the material must have a light proof dye which will not fade if the doll is on display in a very bright place for a longer time.
I’ll also have to find very thin marabou boas, to be able to imitate the ostrich feathers from the original gown. The boa will almost certainly be thicker than required, so I’ll have to cut it – and I mean ‘carefully, and each feathery hair single’ to avoid a ‘shaved’ look.
I’ll also have to search for an extremely small-webbed netting for her stole.
Then I will need a good lining – something that will not loose any dye on the doll when worn for a long time.
The process of just hunting down those materials well takes some hours, spread over several days as I have to send mails and wait for replies. Note that I still haven’t put a single minute of actual hand work into the doll costume or have made any pattern for it!

This little anecdote is not a fairytale – it’s reality on each and every costume I make, and I have just told you that story so that you, in case you didn’t realize it yet, now know that good doll costume making is in some cases even harder than making a human costume.
Rhinestones may still be easily found, but think about buttons, hooks & eyes, rivets, eyelets, pearls etc.! Keep in mind that one seller who can provide the rhinestones might not be able to provide the rim settings or the fabric, so you’ll have to pay the shipping several times.

So in case I have to research and get one or more special materials for a costume you would like to commission, I will need some time to do so.
This means that it can take up to six weeks until your commissioned doll costume is ready to ship, because researching materials isn’t everything – I also have to order and receive them when I have found them. And then I still need to work with them 🙂

These factors – the research, pattern making and actual work and material that goes into a well made, ‘human’ looking doll costume makes such a doll costume expensive – almost as expensive as a human sized costume.
The more ‘simple’ costumes (whereas ‘simple’ means something a bit simpler (or made with a less pricey material) than this, for which I didn’t need special, small sized materials – just a pattern, 1 yard of $100/yard fabric and a week of time – I wouldn’t want to make a really simple stretch thin strap dress for a doll…) start at $200 – shipping not included.
A dress like the red velvet dress from ‘Gone with the wind’, as described above, would cost about $650 (of which the materials alone – including *their* shipping, and the import taxes I have to pay if ordering them from foreign countries – would cost me $200 to get them…).
If I would make something like my ‘Pelican’ gown in doll size – *with* all those decorations, and each and every single item I have made for the human sized costume (undergarments, jewelry etc.), I would charge about $1,500 for it, depending on the actual price for the materials at the time the costume is ordered – by the way, a rerooted Emme would make a beautiful Queen Elizabeth I.! Such a ‘Pelican’ in doll size would take up to three months to make (including the material search).
And if you would want a really extravagant doll gown encrusted with real diamonds, I would see no reason in giving out the end of the price scale here 😉
As I have said… anything is possible, all you need to do is ask – which, by the way, is of course free 😉

I’m looking forward to your inquiries!

Best wishes,

*) At the moment, I have Tyler, Emme, Kitty Collier (18”), Gene, Jadde Lee and Brenda Starr at hand.

Navigation for this part of the page:


 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Math test (actually, this is spam protection ;-) ): * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.