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Vintage ’40s in Blue and Red

Although this dress is obviously influenced by years past, Bunny Bear Patterns describes her design, “Soda Pop,” as vintage 1940s.  I’m no expert, but I see this more like the 1950s or even the 1960s. The clothes from all these years make me happy, so I guess the point is moot. Here is the dress:

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The bodice fit is this pattern’s best feature. I love the darts in the front and back; few doll clothes patterns include darts. This pattern has no neck facing; it is impossible for me to make my work neat without a facing, or better yet, without a lining for the bodice. I lined the bodice and hand-stitched the hem of the cap sleeve and the lining for it.

For some reason, white collars have almost become a trademark of my doll dresses. I often spend time perusing fabric stores for white print on white so that I can easily mix the white collar or white blouse with a bolder print. This closeup view features this collar in all its glory. Hopefully, you can see the white design on the white background that is machine embroidered. I was a bit nervous about getting this collar even. A mistake is always more obvious with a white collar against a darker colored dress. This collar is just about perfect.

Here are some thoughts about sewing collars, lapels, pockets, ties, or any shape that is sewn together and turned right-side out. This is a bamboo point turner like the one I’ve used for several years. When I started sewing with more delicate fabrics, I added more point turners to my sewing tools. Amazon has a variety of them. In the past, I was so hung up about getting my collars or other items perfectly pointed that I’d accidentally stretch the fabric while trying to shape the corner. I’m learning to hold back. This particular collar was a challenge because the embroidered fabric added bulk to the seam. I trimmed the seam very close to the point before turning the collar. Then I was careful when I turned the collar. My “point” is “round” at the end, but it looks pointed from a distance.

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This pattern suggests using 1/4-inch ribbon. I couldn’t grasp the idea of sewing two rows of stitch on delicate ribbon so I used 1/4-inch double-folded red bias tape. I’m getting pretty good at sewing on bias tape. In case you didn’t know, one side of double-folded bias tape is slightly wider than the other side.

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If you sew on the narrow side, you will be certain to catch both sides without falling off the under side edge. Further more, if you try different presser feet, you can find one that makes sewing very close to the edge easy. I didn’t go off track once with this sewing project. My stitching is not perfect, but it is close to it.

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I’d planned to attach two bows to this finished dress, as the pattern suggests. I’d purchased ribbon that matched the bias tape thinking the similar colors would fool the eye. But I realized that my ribbon was 3/8-inch wide, 1/8-inch too wide. It didn’t look right. I decided to fall back on my favorite rose that I learned to make with McCall’s 6875.

This dress is unequivocally one of my favorite projects EVER. I give the pattern designer much credit for this sweet dress. However, I think the pattern requires lots of experience because the photos aren’t as clear as they could be. I can usually get by relying on the instructions, but I’ve sewn many dresses and only need guidance on the details. I think the pattern would be better if the bodice were lined, like I lined mine. The neck should at least have a facing. Otherwise, there’s just a small clipped 1/4-inch seam on the other side of the neckline.

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You might be able to see how straight my stitching is in the photo above, especially with the red thread on the white lining. I’m not bragging about my talent; I’m showing you a skill I have learned, not based on talent; it’s based on trial and error and figuring out what to focus on in order to sew in a straight line. In this case, the edge of my presser foot lined up close to the edge of the bias tape. I still have trouble controlling the presser foot when I’m sewing over something too thick for the feed dog to work properly. In that case, I’m liable to go off the edge or get stuck.

A little word about using Velcro. I’ve tried pinning it on, and/or basting it, but pushing straight pins through the Velcro and the layers of the garment is difficult, even risky. I’d always stab myself. Now, I use one straight pin for general placement only, and then I hold the strip of Velcro in place with my fingers as I stitch it. I start sewing somewhere in the middle of the long side of the strip, instead of the end; this way the Velcro doesn’t shift out-of-place while I’m stitching over the bumpy beginning of the strip.

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You can find us on Pinterest.

soda pop clip art

Marshmallowjane Gets a Haircut

This week Marshmallowjane went to The Cutting Room to get her hair cut and styled. Although she isn’t the most gorgeous model we have, she is the president of our organization. It is her sense of style and individuality that makes her a natural leader. Because she inspires others (she is often imitated), it was important for us to find her a qualified stylist.

The photo below shows Edith’s dedication to give Marshmallowjane a perfect cut; it was no surprise to hear Edith comment, “I must do a meticulous job. Her hair won’t grow back.”

marshmallowjane's first haircut by Edith at The Cutting Room

Here are “before” and “after” photos. What do you think?

Although Marshmallowjane enjoys adorning her long hair with crazy color, she wants a chic style to go with her new Derby (or bowler) hat.

before and after

I’d been planning on cutting Marshmallowjane’s hair for the last year or so. I have some “looks” that I want her to model that scream for a shoulder-length bob.

Warning: American Girl dolls are expensive. I think cutting a doll’s hair should take much thought and consideration. I’ve cut the hair of other dolls (Madame Alexander) with pretty good luck. These dolls are usually cheaper, and making a permanent change isn’t much of a risk. The newer Madame Alexander (18-inch) are sold with their hair in braids, pigtails, and other styles that kink or wrinkle the hair. I’ve purchased such dolls, thinking that I could somehow get rid of these permanent kinks myself. I’ve had a little luck, but I completely ruined one doll’s hair after watching a YouTube demonstration on how to carefully use an electric straightener.

I thought I was careful. I’d purchased the Madame Alexander doll because of her rare “Asian” features, even though straightening her hair was a gamble. Since I got bad results, I will have to find a wig to go with her pretty face. For now, she will have to take a back seat to my American Girl dolls.

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imagesYou can find us on Pinterest.

 

 

Play Dress in Seasonal Colors

It is common for me to alter an existing pattern and change it all together. In this case, I had a “look” in mind and I went through my patterns until I found something I could use. I begin here with Simplicity 1485. Knit fabric is recommended for View F, but I use woven fabric of cotton. I specifically want a play dress with a seam that is higher than an empire waist.

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Because I didn’t use a knit, I can’t just hem the neckline, so I face it with a red bodice lining. View F has a simple short raglan sleeve which makes the doll’s shoulders look nice and wide, but I wanted long sleeves. After cutting out long polka dot sleeves, I place the hemmed shorter sleeves (that match the bodice) on top of the polka dot ones and attach them along the hemline. Then I sew both layers of sleeves to the bodice with right sides together.

The skirt is gathered with two additional strips added to the bottom, instead of the one strip in View F. The challenge is making the inside look neat and professional.

See View F in bottom row.

See View F in bottom row.

The most fun I had putting this dress together was choosing the fabric. I ordered the plaid fabric from Low Price Fabric online. It was originally meant for Christmas. It looked green and red in the photo, and I was disappointed until I found this fat quarter for the bodice at In Between Stitches in downtown Livermore.

I like to have plenty of small polka dot fabric on hand. I originally purchased this red and white fabric for doll bloomers and slips with lace at the hem. This fabric was a couple of dollars a yard at Wal-Mart, the only store that has fabric in my town! Boo-hoo. I seem to keep my fabric room well-stocked without a fabric store nearby. Here’s another view of our model Saige wearing the dress.

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My plan was to get started early on Christmas outfits for my dolls. I keep forgetting that Thanksgiving is still ahead. Because the plaid fabric looks gold and red, instead of green and red, this dress can easily be worn to Thanksgiving dinner.

As I’ve previously mentioned, the Velcro for the back closure can easily catch on serger stitches, so I’ve been compromising when I use Velcro. In this case I serged the bottom seams. But to avoid the Velcro issue, I hand-stitched the edge of the skirt closure.

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I love this color combo. You can look forward to seeing more of my brilliant holiday color combos in the near future.

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You can find us on Pinterest.

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Pink on Pink Ruffled Dress

I love this colorful dress, but while sewing it, I realized that I don’t enjoy gathering skirts that much. I will continue to make skirts that are gathered but this one has two rows of gathers, one on top of the other.

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For this reason, this dress was a challenge that required much patience. I tried to line up both tiers and gather them together, but—as you may guess—the ruffles lost their personality when lined up together. On the other hand, as careful as I was, after I’d attached the top ruffle to the bodice, I noticed that the bottom ruffle had unraveled away from the body (bodice), and there was no quick fix. I had to take everything apart and regather both tiers.

This pattern by Eden Ava Couture is influenced by vintage 1930s fashion. However, once I cut out the dress, I decided to use a different collar. I took the removable collar from a different Eden Ava Couture dress that I previously made, added it to this dress and sewed three buttons to the color.

I also trimmed the bottom of the drop-waisted bodice; I didn’t like the way it was cut. Let me say that I like the style of Eden Ava Couture patterns, and I admire anyone who is brave enough to create a pattern and offer it for sale. It’s like publishing a book. Credit goes to those who do. So far, my patterns are not ready for sale, so I don’t want to slam Eden Ava. You can go to Pixie Fair patterns and find other Eden Ava patterns and judge for yourself. I love the Vintage Silhouette Dress with the removable collar.

Here’s another look at this dress with a hat.

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I added the same hat that I often make. I can practically make this while I’m blindfolded.

Don’t you think these pink clogs are cute? They have a little push-in button that hooks the back strap to the shoe, making it easy to get dressed.

I always line my doll clothes whenever possible. Here’s a view of the inside of this dress and the Velcro fastener on the back.

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I think that this 1/2-inch double-folded bias tape on the edge of each ruffle creates a nice effect. In this case, I was able to use some printed (pink checked) bias tape that I found in my personal collection of ribbon and tape.

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You can find us on Pinterest.

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Vintage Green Print

For this dress I use another favorite piece of fabric, instead of saving it that elusive special day. No more saving. The holidays are approaching quickly, even though January 2014 was yesterday; wasn’t it?

Saige wears a dress that is perfect for a December party. Perhaps she’ll wear this to The Nutcracker Ballet. Who ever said that red wasn’t a great color for red-heads?

Because some of the flowers on this print are on the large size, I took care in where these flowers were placed. For instance, I tried to have roughly the same amount of flowers on each sleeve, instead of all green background on one sleeve and a huge flower on the other.

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This “look” is a bit childish perhaps. I didn’t simulate Young Vogue or Seventeen as I usually try to do. My 10-inch Madame Alexander dolls come dressed like this, wearing several layers of gathers. I wanted to try something new that I might use for formal dresses and wedding gowns.

The obvious standout of this look is the polka dot slip that purposely shows underneath (it matches the sleeves and the collar); FYI, it has less gathers than the dress to cut down on extra bulk at the waist. The lace was simple to attach. I look forward to adding more undergarments to future doll clothes.

This basic dress begins with Simplicity 9381:

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The version of the dress I made is on the right side with the shades of pink and green on top of a red slip. If you look closely, you can see that the dress hem has been pulled up on each side by gathers, and a bow is placed on top of each gather. My big problem with this pattern is that the placement of these two side gathers is too far from the center. The rendering of the dress on the envelope doesn’t match the real placement of these gathers. Therefore, my own gathers are difficult to see unless Saige is turned sideways. This type of gather creates permanent holes in the fabric so I wouldn’t want to move them. I ironed some interfacing to the back of the skirt to prevent the holes from getting larger.

The short sleeves of this pattern are actually too long and puffy for my taste. I prefer to stick with the short sleeves from my “vintage” patterns. I used the same sleeve pattern that I’ve used on my last two dresses. Using a sleeve from a different pattern is perfectly acceptable, as long as the armhole shapes on the bodice of each pattern are similar.

The slip and the skirt are perfect lengths but the bodice of S9381 is too large. I should have cut it smaller. Instead, I added this red belt to give it shape. I had to include one of my berets.

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I added some single-folded bias tape to prevent raveling and to cover the rough edges of the gathers at the waist.

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Please find us on Pinterest.

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