Filed under: Featured, Giveaway with tags: De Belles Poupees, March Talent Showcase
It’s week 4 in this fantastic March Talent Showcase! This week I have Manon, the mastermind behind De Belles Poupées. A background in costuming lends itself well to the world of sewing for Blythe, it would appear! We all know that I love pretty things when it comes to Blythe, and Manon’s work definitely qualifies – and then some!
Hi Manon! What can you tell us about yourself?
What can I say about myself? Well, my name is Manon Antoinette, though everyone calls me Manon, I am 36 years old, born and raised in Amsterdam. Am a mother of two sons, age 15 and 13 years old. I’ve been together with the love of my life for almost 2 years now and he is the most wonderful man I know. I also have two cats. My childhood was spent with either my grandmother doing knitting and sewing, or my mother doing sewing and drawing. I grew up loving arts and crafts, and horses! I studied Graphic Design and Management, did some freelance webdesign while a stay at home mom. It wasn’t until after my divorce in 2002 I got into creating costumes for roleplaying. I’ve always loved costume drama and history, it was an eyeopener and a passion I discovered to create historical dress, and lead to running a business doing so from 2005 and sadly I closed it down in 2010. I’m also a spiritual person and I love nature.
How did you discover the world of Blythe?
How I discovered Blythe? My friend Marise who I have known for several years collects Blythe, or actually she stopped collecting but still has 32 Neo Blythe girls. She has a lot of older models. I’ve known she had Blythe for a long time but the thought of buying one myself only came later in 2011, after I ended up home with disability. I suffer chronic pain and chronic fatique due to hypermobility. Also due to unfortunate events involving my ex-partner I’ve been diagnosed with PTSS in 2009, and thought it would just pass as he moved back to the US. It didn’t. After struggling to survive for 2 years I just couldn’t continue, and was also pushed and supported by my wonderful man to start taking care of myself. Buying myself a Blythe for Christmas was the best thing I ever did for myself in a long time! It was a Very Vicky. While I was home sick I started browsing Blythe girls and it was Marises Prima Dolly Cassis that gave me the Blythe bug. Marise also gave me homework, taught me how to wash the hair, and showed me the differences in the molds. A wonderful teacher, with some lovely girls <3
What made you decide to start sewing for Blythe?
What made me start sewing for Blythe; Well first of all, one set of stock clothing is never enough for a doll is it? Haha. No really, it was the possibility to create that drew me to Blythe. I strongly believe that if you are feeling in a rut or don’t know where you are going in life, you should look back to what you loved doing as a child. What I loved doing most was knitting, crafting, drawing, creating… and at the age of 10 I used to do this for my Barbie’s and Barbie horse. At first I really believed I would only have one Blythe doll, I was very wrong… I know own 21 Neo Blythe, 3 Middies and 1 Petite. But I’ve also created a soft spot for Hujoo, I’m not sure where this will end! I love the creative community surrounding Blythe and I’m very happy to be a part of it all. I need creativity in my life and sewing for Blythe gives me the possibility to do so, it’s actually also therapeutic in a way — reconnecting with my innerchild in a way.
You have a background with costuming and finely detailed work – has that helped or hindered you in any way regarding Blythe-sized clothing?
Having a background in costuming means I know the importance of pressing a garment, this is of real importance to any sewing project! I’m used to creating gathers, pleating and doing hand sewing. On the other hand I attempted to sew my very first garment for Blythe, a salopet (pattern from the puchii collective), the way I would a costume. Using couture sewing techniques, that just didn’t work! I ended up handsewing down the band around the legs around my finger. The biggest difference is in putting things together, fabric choices and the seam allowance. Since I’ve started sewing for Blythe I have bought a new addition to my sewing machine which I can’t do without! A straight stitch needle plate. I am a very detailed person, and this certainly helps when working on any scale, I also like to be well informed and do my homework. I would love to recreate historical garments Blythe size! It’s just as hard to find good trim that will work for doll clothing as it is finding good trim for historical costumes though. Creating for Blythe has a lot of positives for me, it causes less strain on my hypermobility and not as demanding time wise compared to full human size costuming. The other benefit to my background is the amount of fabrics I have in my stash! and of course my sewing machine, I used a Pfaff 360 automatic for a very long time and switched to a Pfaff Quilt Expression 2048 in 2009.
What’s the biggest challenge with sewing tiny clothes?
The biggest challenge with sewing tiny clothing is tiny stitches! Haha. A lot of difficulty is the difference in scale and construction, I had to learn a new way of thinking of how to construct a garment. The biggest challenge I want to be able to master in the foreseeable future…. are tiny flat felt seams… I have some old jeans from my children, waiting to be repurposed. The other challenge lays in the finish and details. I have a lot of experience with costumes and creating inter facing for unlined bodices and construction like creating accordion pleats on 8 meters of fabric and hand attaching it to a bodice. Now I just have to practice and practice until I have the same skill and experience to create the same results on a much smaller scale. I am trying to look at this as a good opportunity to practice my P?ramit?, especially Patience.
What can you tell us about the first item that you sold for Blythe? How did it make you feel?
The first item of clothing I sold for Blythe, that I made myself, were some small capes and big furry “Wolf” hats. I actually made a few more of the hats on demand and it feels really good when someone likes or even loves what you create and enjoys it. Everything I create has some of my energy attached to it and something from the heart, from me it’s something personal I like to share and hope people will enjoy and love. It’s like making paintings, an artist never stops after creating one painting and the artist shares it’s work at art galleries where people come in to love and enjoy the work created, of course you can never please everybody, it’s important to keep true to your inner muse. If you start creating out of plight you might fall out of love with what once made you feel so filled with inspiration and enthusiastic energy. People are very kind and supportive which truly is a blessing, for I am a perfectionist that tends to get lost into details and a critic of my own work the most! Without the support and positive reactions to the items that I have already sold I may not have taken the step to open a webshop.
What is your favourite of all of the designs you’ve come up with so far?
I’m a very fickle lover, there are some dresses I fall in love with all over again when I see them. The grey/mauve cotton blend worn by my Veronica Lace covered with the burgundy lace that came from my first attempt at a Victorian costume years ago, is very special to me. I don’t think I have a favourite design just yet, though I’m quite taken with the more Regency-feel type of dress. With the over-done long sleeve (many Regency sleeves fell over half the hand) the ruffled collar and an overall longer length, I love Jane Austen and many other period authors. The white satin with black pinstripes fabric Rococo inspired dress with the baby blue satin ribbon bows is also a contender, I have some ideas to enhance the pattern still! I think it’s the excitement and thrill of the creation bringing the ideas and inspiration in my head to something you can see, feel and touch – that I favourite above all, like the excitement of a new love or winning the lottery for the anniversary girl!
The world of Blythe designs is always changing – how do you fit into it?
Let me start with a quote: “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” by Oscar Wilde. If there is one thing that I believe is that you do not last by following a fashion or exploiting trends. A lot of my inspiration comes from the Fairytales and Folktales I grew up with, not Disney, but rather more along the lines of Grimm — I used to read at my grandmother house — it’s something close to myself, which also includes the passion I have for the 18th and 19th century and even my favourite producer, author or movies. The whole beauty in Blythe is that Blythe can carry off any style, you are the one that defines their style and their personality. Just like fashion we change, we get inspired and learn and become more ourselves, nothing is really certain, every year I look at myself and ask myself some basic questions: “Do I like who I am?” “Do I like where I’m going in life?” “What would I like to change?” I have every intention of keeping my inspiration fresh and not create like a machine, I shall always put my heart in it. I’ve only recently celebrated my first year of owning Blythe and probably not even come to grasp all that there is out there concerning Blythe design. I don’t worry about fitting in, I’d rather concern myself with expressing myself in the creating, feeling inspired and enjoying Blythe. Maybe I fit in because I’m not trying to fit in.
What’s a sewing tool that you use that you find irreplaceable and that is a “must have”?
Besides a needle, thread, sharp scissors, an iron, pressing ham, two hands and a good set of pins… I really think a really small seam ripper is something that is a must have! When removing basting, gathering thread or need to correct a stitching mistake, the seam ripper is your friend. I even use it to remove glue residue when changing eyechips, though always keep in mind it’s sharp. I have to admit there are other tools that make life easier when sewing for dolls, such as a folding bone. It’s a tool used for covering books as well as sewing, if you prefer lining to interfacing your garments, a folding bone will get into the narrow corners and make the garment that much easier to press.
When you’re coming up with new designs, what kind of process do you go through?
I love looking at historical dresses in museums, it’s very inspirational. So are fairytales and folktales. Even the seasons play a part. Usually it’s an idea that comes to life and develops in my mind. The grey dress I made for my Flora (VL) was made with her in mind, Blythe can give me a lot of inspiration, they are such amazing models — never complain, always are the size they say they are, don’t gain or lose weight and are always on time. At other times I come across a fabric that just jumps out at me, which is probably the reason I have more stash fabric I dare to admit! I go through a thinking process of several days or longer to work out how many dresses and what kind of pattern I want to make or use. Usually I end up with two to three designs which I start working with, sometimes I think up an extra one or two as I go along. There are so many options it can be very tempting to try them all — and overwhelm myself. I have so many ideas in fact that I really need to write them down, as an introvert and incorrectable day dreamer, I can have an overactive mind coming up with many new ideas. Not everything will actually be made, sometimes that “perfect fabric” for a design is a bit elusive and will have to wait.
What’s something exciting that we might expect from you in the future?
I’m very excited about the next set of dresses I have in mind, some Gothic black/white dresses, inspired by Neo Blythe release Ambrosial. Planning to create more furry hats, coats and also…. corsets! In fact I hope to create complete sets of historical inspired undergarments, I have suitable boning to create little hoopskirt and/or elliptical hoops and panniers. I just have to take some time to sit down and start trying it out, it all comes down to patience and some confidence, really.
Thanks so much for doing this interview with me, Manon! What advice do you have for someone learning how to sew?
Thank you! I feel honoured to be interviewed by you! My advice to people learning to sew would be to give yourself time and take your time. If you are learning to work with a sewing machine the easiest way to learn to control your stitching, is to take a piece of paper and draw a straight line and a curved line. Do not put any thread in the machine. Stitch over these lines, as soon as you can follow the lines easily you will have an easier time when starting on your first fabric projects! Basting can be a life saver, pressing will give your sewing project a higher quality feel, great seams, look and even fit. When I started sewing I used to do something sewing related everyday for an hour at the very least. If you start sewing doll clothing it may be helpful to mark the seam allowance to get a feel for the distance compared to the foot of the sewingmachine, but will also help with hand sewing. Last but not least, there are a lot of “ABC everything you need to know about sewing” books, don’t be afraid to read one or have one to consult when needed. I’m not even going to count the amount of sewing techniques, tailoring, embroidery or costume related books I have!
Manon of De Belles Poupées is offering up this beautiful black and white dress in a giveaway! This giveaway is open to international entrants, however if you wish to have registered shipping (e.g. tracking), the winner will have to pay for the difference between registered and non-registered (due to high costs).
You can get up to ten (10) entries for this giveaway draw and you can enter until Saturday March 30th 2013 at 11:59pm Pacific. The draw will be held on Sunday March 31st 2013 and the winner will be announced on BlytheLife.com. Remember to use a valid email address for all comments. If you win, your email will be forwarded to Manon so she can get in contact with you regarding sending you the prize.
Please only use one email address per person, those using multiple email addresses for more entries will be disqualified.
Mandatory Entry: Comment below about the interview with Manon of De Belles Poupées! This is worth 1 entry into the giveaway.
Bonus Entry #1: Tweet about the contest! Please retweet the following once per day from your public Twitter account! (If you look below, there is a box for you to include your Twitter username, if you do, I can easily verify your bonus entry!) Each tweet is 1 entry into the giveaway for a maximum of 2 entries into the giveaway. Please comment below to tell me that you’ve been tweeting (1 comment per tweet!)
Check out the @blythelifecom interview with Manon of De Belles Poupées! #giveaway http://bit.ly/15ZoAD2
Bonus Entry #2: Blog about the giveaway! Be sure to include some details about the contest and include links to BlytheLife.com, this interview/giveaway page and the De Belles Poupées website! For 1 blog entry, this is worth 5 entries into the giveaway! You must comment below with the URL to your blog post.
Bonus Entry #3: Share this giveaway on Facebook! Include a link back to this interview page! For 1 Facebook share, this is worth 2 entries into the giveaway! You must comment below with the URL to your shared link.