Mad Wife In The Attic

Fashion Illustration for Dolls

{Click for photos of Heartbreak Bride in my Flickr Archive}

When I’m dreaming up a new doll outfit, I like to do sketches to work out details before cutting into special fabrics.  The sketches are usually just a tool to help me with the mechanics of the garment.  A sketch for my “Heartbreak Bride” fashion is above–you can see more photos of my dolls fashions and some sketches in my Flickr photo archive (link).

Last spring, MetroDolls (my doll club) asked me to do some illustrations for a special doll costuming project — the club was having some 20th century iconic fashions made for dolls as part of a fundraising event for charity.  That meant that other seamstresses would be working from my sketches!  Doll clothes are frequently constructed differently than “people-clothes” so figuring out how to construct them to fit properly without bulk can be very tricky–ideally my sketches would make things easier for the seamstresses.

My sketches and some of the flats are below with pictures of the finished garments. It’s a kick seeing the concepts and results executed by other people!

MetroDollsNOTE:   You can buy these outfits and other unique fashion dolls, clothes and accessories on the MetroDolls website–sales support our fundraising projects.  MetroDolls will be having another charity luncheon in the fall of 2015.  If you would like to be on the contact list for the event, send me a note.  The luncheons include great speakers, artists, museum quality exhibits, an auction of one-of-a-kind dolls, a sales room, fun people, and lots of money raised for charity.  Click the logo>> to visit the MetroDolls website. 

This is my sketch for a suit based on Yves Saint Laurent’s “Smoking,” a feminine reinterpretation of the tuxedo.  Unveiled in 1966, it was quite a shocker.  Women didn’t wear pants to formal occasions but this suit became an elegant alternative to the little black dress for a liberated woman of the 60’s — and we still love the look today.

Here are some images of the flats.  Note how the pants construction is different for a doll version.  There are more sketches for this outfit in my Flickr photostream (link).

YSL Flat cropped

And here is the finished outfit made in candy-apple red wool and satin.  Photo courtesy of MetroDolls.  Outfit available for purchase from MetroDolls.

YSL Model1 YSL Model2


This dress is a combination of elements from Gianni Versace evening gowns, rather than a copy of one special garment. Versace was the most popular Italian designer in the 80’s and 90’s, and was known for mixing high art and pop culture. More than anything, he made classic styles look sexy. He used an image of Medusa as his logo, so I’ve given my model a hairstyle of writhing curls.

Versace Flat 12

And here is the finished doll fashion. Photo courtesy of MetroDolls. Outfit available for purchase from MetroDolls. Versace Model12


In 1923 Coco Chanel introduced her elegant, boxy suits for women–based on menswear, made from functional fabrics, and tailored to flatter a woman’s figure. The classic silhouette of the “Chanel Suit” would be refined, accessorized, and reinterpreted for decades. Her designs spoke to women who wanted to be active in the world without the constraints of corsets and oppressive embellishments. Coco Chanel once declared, “I freed the body.” In doing so, she invented modernism in fashion.

There are a lot of erasures in the flats below — there were several options for pockets, trims, buttons, etc.Chanel Flat1

This is the finished outfit with an additional wrap skirt. Photo courtesy of MetroDolls. Outfit available for purchase from MetroDolls. Chanel Model1


We didn’t forget the accessories!  The club also made some beautifully detailed shoe and handbag sets.  Here are sketches for 2 of the handbags.  One is based on a 1940s case style bag and the other is a 1980’s Brit-Punk messenger bag.  The 1940s set has sold out, but the punk set is still available from MetroDolls.



Artsy Tip:  If you design or if you enjoy the art of fashion, the “Fashionary” from is a great tool and their site is full of great inspiration.  Many museum couture shows don’t allow photography but you can sketch.  The “Fashionary” contains pages of faintly printed figures so that you can rapidly sketch fashions over them.  It also has a fashion dictionary of terms, measurements, and drawings of fashion elements.  They are available in many formats — I have one that is small enough for my handbag.  They also have a blog and a gallery of illustrations by their users.  Great resource!


This entry was published on February 16, 2014 at 4:28 pm. It’s filed under Doll Clothes, Drawings, Fashion, Sewing, Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “Fashion Illustration for Dolls

  1. Marianne McG on said:

    What a fun view of dolll sized couture from artist to completion! Thanks for posting this, Robbin. I especially enjoyed your stunning leather Heartbreak Bride……

    Marianne McG

  2. tkarengold on said:

    Thanks for the link to this post, Robbin. I did not know that you designed the “Smoking” ensemble. I love mine.

    • I saw your gorgeous pictures of your dolls in this outfit — also the Eventail dress — beautiful dolls and photos. I’m not sure I could say I “designed” the outfit — I guess it was more of an “adaptation.” I did design the vest though — our vision for it was more vague so I did put more of myself into it. Thanks for checking out my blog — I always enjoy your blog (

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