Yeva’s coat has arrived!

And you can see a picture of her wearing it here,




A Trip to the Ballet

Last Wednesday night I (Melinda) got to go to the dress rehearsal for the ballet! Pacific Northwest Ballet is currently performing George Balanchine’s Jewels, and it’s well worth the effort to go see it, if you live in the area.

Before the ballet, I went to a lecture about the costume designer. Her name was Barbara Karinska, and she was apparently quite the character, in addition to being fabulously good at costume design. She really understood how dancers’ bodies needed to move, and found some innovative ways to let them do so while still keeping the garments close-fitting.  However, she was very demanding–to her, getting it right was most important. She didn’t care how often she had to redo it or how expensive the materials were!

emeralds2Of course, the costumes were fabulous. Which brings me to the ballet itself! First was Emeralds. The ballerinas danced across the stage to music by Faure in gorgeous, knee-length, floaty skirts. It was all very green and wonderful. (I’m putting up the pictures that PNB has online, so you can get a feel for what it was like. ) The music for this was my favorite part, though–it was part of Pelleas et Melisande, I think, and wow! it was terrific! I forget how much better music is live, especially when (as in this case) it’s music for lots of strings and a harp and some flutes.

rubies2Then, after an intermission, was Rubies. The music was Stravinsky, and if you’ve ever listened to Stravinsky you’ll probably know it gets a little weird at times, especially if you’re not into modern classical music.

The thing about Rubies, however, was that the choreography and the music lined up beautifully; each made the other make sense! To go with the various little melodies floating about above dissonances, the dancers did moves that weren’t strictly traditional ballet–lots of flexed feet and high kicks, among other things. It was quite the pairing, and very entertaining to watch.

diamonds2Last was Diamonds. This was the bit you wait for all night, especially if you’re a ballet purist. It was traditional and lovely, filled with amazingly graceful dancing to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no.3. One of the movements was an incredible pas-de-deux; such fluidity and grace those two dancers had! They had some solos, too. But there was also a pretty large corps de ballet supporting them, and at times you could barely see the stage because there were so many dancers all on at once! It was quite amazing to see them all together.

Here’s the website: Jewels is definitely worth seeing if you have the chance!


Yeva’s Soviet Coat

Sometime before Christmas, a lady on Etsy contacted us and said she wanted a coat for her 1960’s Soviet doll, Yeva. She sent along some pictures (you can see them right below this paragraph), and Melody and I both thought  it was super cute! Without much deliberation, we agreed to do it.  This morning, I finished the coat. And we all think it looks smashing!



Yeva and her owner, Colette, very kindly picked out their own fabric and buttons and sent them to us. So our job was to turn the materials into a coat exactly like the photographs.


I did most of the sewing work. I started with a basic pattern for a jacket, and altered the pieces from there. I had to make two-piece sleeves from one-piece sleeves (which is a little harder than you might think!) and create the skirt pieces, complete with pleats, as well as shortening the bodice.



After I finished the patterns, the next step was a ‘mock-up’, which is basically a rough draft for patterns to make sure they’re all doing what they’re supposed to. The collar was misbehaving and the sleeves were too tight, so I fixed both those things for the final round.


Melody was invaluable during this process. She patiently tried on the coat at every stage of production to make sure it fit correctly, and helped me decide if the proportions were right or not.


Finally, I had the pattern just right, and it was time to cut into the real fabric. Yeva and her owner had sent us a deliciously thick, soft wool for the outside and some smooth blue fabric for the lining. Melody and I fell in love with the wool—absolutely luscious, and the perfect weight for a coat!

As I was putting on the buttons, we all brainstormed about our favorite part of this coat. Was it the super-cute pleats in the back, or the hand-stitched, functional buttonholes in the front?



The question was finally settled after I’d finished the coat and had the photoshoot.

I left Melody and Lisette to package the coat while I went to email Colette and Yeva that it was done. When I returned, some fifteen minutes later, the coat still wasn’t in the box and Melody and Lisette were taking turns wearing it and dancing around the studio! I guess wearing it beat any technical glories the coat could boast!yevasovietcoat-018

Introducing Lisette

lisetteishere-018Meet Lisette, the newest member of the little Melody Valerie Couture world.

She’s a delightful mix of charming and spunky, and full of truly ladylike grace. Samantha and Melinda and I are all thrilled to have her along.

Lisette Is Here 19She seems to be enjoying herself so far; she used to work at Nordstrom Rack matching shoes, but modelling custom dresses is way more glamorous.







Plus she’s a beautiful painter, and she’s already set to work covering our walls with images of far-away places, fantastical creatures, and (my favorite) a visual representation of Debussy’s Second Arabesque! She’s such a talented girl that it seems like every day we discover something new she can do.copy-of-ensemble

So, here’s Lisette. I hope you all enjoy getting to know her at least a tiny bit as much as we are!


How to make a hand-rolled hem

photos-002Why a post on how to make a hem?

Well, to tide you over during the long, cold winter until we launch the spring line (more on that later!), we’re hoping to write lots of posts on various topics: what our dolls like to do in their free time, recent adventures in the Great World of Fabric, and snatches of poetry that make Melinda dream anew of gorgeous weeds.  And little bits of technique about how we actually put the dresses together.

So, here it is, the first post in our new category: Sewing 101!

Nothing finishes a beautiful dress quite like a tiny, hand-rolled hem; it does take some time, but it’s really not all that hard. Here is Samantha to show you how! How to Hem 1

I caught her while she was hard at  work putting the hem in one of the Madeleine dresses. She was more than happy to demonstrate her technique.

“First,” she says, “you have to let the dress hang overnight, so that any stretch in the skirt will come out. Then you can mark where you want the hem with pins. Make sure it’s even!” 

How to Hem 3The next step is to cut off the extra fabric. Give yourself a little seam allowance (we’re using 1/2″) and cut off that far below the pins. Then you take out the pins and press the hem up and to the inside (so that there is one crease just where the pin line used to be).

How to Hem 4“This last step takes the most time,” says Samantha.  “Here you have to finish turning up the hem, pin it in place, and then stitch it down.” (You can see all these steps at once in this photo.)

I asked Samantha what she thought the hardest part was. “Probably the stitching,” was her reply. “It’s tricky to make your stitches tiny and invisible at the same time!”

How to Hem 5

Samantha is well capable of tiny, invisible stitches, though, as her finished hem testifies. 

“It really isn’t that hard, once you’ve practiced a bit, and it’s definitely worth the effort!”

Happy Hemming!
—Melinda, Melody and Samantha