1. Think reuse and recycle. If you have trouble finding fabric in a fabric store because of seasonal supplies, don’t hesitate to look in your own closet or make a trip to a thrift store. You will be amazed at the beautiful fabric you will find in men’s and women’s dress slacks, or the beautiful wool in a man’s suit, or the fine cotton in men’s shirts. Remember that the pattern pieces are small. You would probably be able dress an entire Pony Club out of one man’s suit.
2. If you have a young rider who has grown out of her riding clothes, consider using the fabric from a riding jacket or old breeches for your project.
3. The half-chaps can be made using leather rather than synthetic material. You can look for genuine leather and suede garments, purses and boots at the thrift store. Look for soft leather because it is easier to sew. Use a “leather” or heavy-duty needle in the sewing machine. Go slowly when you are sewing the leather because once you have stitched the leather, there will be holes left in the leather if you change your mind and attempt to re-stitch the seam.
3. It is always worth the money to purchase wool fabric for any jacket project. Wool presses beautifully and your seams will look much more polished and professional with good quality fabric rather than a polyester or polyester/blend fabric.
4. 100% cotton fabrics look beautiful in shirts, but if you think that the shirt will end up stuffed into a wardrobe box, perhaps a cotton/poly blend would be better.
5. If you choose a jacket fabric that has a pattern, remember that you are working in a miniature scale and “human” size pin stripes will not look great in an 18-inch format.
1. Look for 1/4” or 1/8” plastic buttons at the fabric store. Usually they only come in white or black. Use a permanent marker that color-coordinates with your jacket and simply color the white buttons. White buttons would not be appropriate on a colored jacket. If you need a specific colored marker to match your fabric, check out markers for professional artists. There are many, many colors in that area of the art store.
2. You can make your own buttons using a polymer clay such at Fimo or Sculpey III. Find a clay that matches your fabric, or feel free to buy two bricks and knead the colors together. Follow directions on the package and knead a portion of the clay brick. Roll the clay out to 1/8” thickness. Find an old wooden pencil. The metal band that holds the eraser makes a very good cookie cutter for buttons. Remove the eraser and the pencil. Using the metal ring as a cookie cutter, cut out buttons (gently push the clay out of the cookie cutter from one side of the metal ring.) Using a toothpick, a metal cake tester, or a large safety pin put two holes in your tiny button that will be big enough to allow a sewing needle to pass through the holes when you sew the buttons on the garment. Bake the buttons on a cookie sheet for about 5 minutes at the temperature suggested on the clay packaging. The buttons will be pretty strong. Sometimes if they are too thin, they will be brittle. Experiment a little and you will become an expert button maker in no time. You will make MANY buttons out of a brick of polymer clay. Store them for future use.
3. Creating “brass” buttons for your dressage jacket is pretty easy. Sew either the plastic buttons that you have colored with a gold permanent marker or your “polymer” buttons onto the garment. Purchase gold metallic fabric paint from your local craft store. Lay your garment on a flat surface. Test the fabric squeeze bottle on a test piece of paper away from the garment so that you eliminate the air bubbles in the nozzle. Carefully squeeze a tiny amount of the gold paint onto the button. BE CAREFUL and GO SLOWLY. Don’t move the garment for at least 24 hours to make sure that the fabric paint is dry. You don’t want to smear the paint all over your beautiful garment.
SEWING AND CRAFT TECHNIQUES:
1. A full size ironing board is a good thing, but you might find that a sleeve board is a better size for pressing your REINWEAR garments.
2. In order to press the armhole and sleeve seams, make a pressing ham out of cotton socks. Roll up a white cotton sock and stuff it into the toe of another sock. Tie a ribbon around the open sock to keep the rolled up sock tight in the toe. Put this “ham” into the armhole seam and press gently. The ham will help keep the shape in the shoulder seam.
3. You can make a ham for the breeches seams. Tightly roll up a white cotton sock into a cylinder shape. Pin the sock so that it stays rolled. Use this pressing ham inside your breeches to press the side seams.
4. A clean tennis ball works perfectly as a pressing ham when making a helmet. There is an oversize tennis ball that is available for young tennis players that is closer the the diameter of the doll’s head (12”.)
5. In order to not get press marks on your wool, either press from the inside, or use a cotton hanky as a press cloth. Take care to not press wool on the right side of the fabric without a pressing cloth. The seam allowance will “ghost” through the fabric and it will never go away.
6. Use a steam iron on a wool setting for 100% wool fabric. If you are pressing a wool blend fabric, lower the temperature slightly. You can always increase the heat, but you will never remove a burn mark.
7. Use a steam iron on a cotton setting for 100% cotton fabric. If you are pressing a cotton poly blend fabric, lower the temperature slightly. You can always increase the heat, but you will never remove a burn mark.
8. Press as you sew. Once all of the seams are sewn, these small garments are tough to press.
9. Whenever the pattern calls for a hand-stitched hem, make sure that you use small stitches and that the hem stitch is a TINY prick on the outside of the garment. You should never see a large stitch from the front side of the garment.
10. Fabric glue is popular for hems. Test a small scrap of your fabric by applying a small amount of glue and creating a fold-up hem. If the glue bleeds through the fabric, try using less glue. It is best to use the smallest amount of glue needed.
11. Silver pearlized fabric paint looks like pearl snaps on the Western shirt. Start by squeezing a tiny amount of paint onto a piece of paper in order to get any air bubbles out of the bottle (otherwise you might get a huge blob of paint.) Keep the squeeze bottle pointing down and very gently squeeze a tiny amount of paint out of the bottle to create the look of a snap. If you do not have a steady hand, squeeze a bit of paint onto a piece of paper and use a toothpick dipped in the paint as a tool to put a tine drop of paint onto the shirt.
12. Embroidery and decorative top stitches look much better if an “embroidery stabilizer” is used. Embroidery stabilizer comes in a number of kinds. The iron-on tear-away type is a favorite because the excess stabilizer can be removed easily and the finished garment is not as thick and heavy as it would be if a regular interfacing was used.
13. Hot glue is a wonderful product. The “cool setting” type is not as adhesive as the “hot setting” type. Be sure and use either a plate or aluminum foil as the resting spot for the hot tip of the gun. A mini gun is useful because the rate of glue flow and the size of the gun is good for small scale projects. It is worth the small investment.
14. Fabric paint is an ideal product to decorate the Arabian Native Costume. The metallic gold, silver, or platinum have glitter in the paint and the finished result is a similar to gold thread. Always be sure squeeze a drop of the fabric paint on a scrap surface to eliminate any air bubbles that might pop out and spatter paint on the garment. If you make a mistake, quickly wipe off the paint with a cotton swab or a piece of paper towel. Try again. Practice on a scrap of paper or fabric to get a feel of how to “draw” with the paint tip. A beautiful final product is worth the few minutes of practice!
15. Scale or the size of one object in relation to another object is the difference between believable and a cartoon. When selecting commercial trim, jewelry findings, buttons or embroidery designs, take a moment to hold your selection up to the doll and garment and judge weather you have made a good or a hasty choice of product. Wise choices yield beautiful products!