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Grace Wears Easy Bandeau Blouse

Grace wears a bandeau blouse and a matching beret. I don’t know whether French people actually wear berets, but Grace is a Francophil who wears a beret when she gets the chance.

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The top is easy to make, using the bandeau blouse pattern by Liberty Jane. It is basically a lined strip of fabric with the ties inserted. Then the bottom of the blouse is attached and all unfinished edges are hemmed or finished. The back closure uses Velcro.

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I use my own pattern for the beret and pants. I like to use elastic in the back of the pants only. The waistband in the front, covers the edges of the inserted elastic on the sides to make a nice finished garment.

Here’s another look without the beret. I could photograph Grace all day. She is the most beautiful American Girl doll so far.

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One more view of the top; this one is from the wrong side.

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I finished the sides and bottom using a serger. Then I hemmed the bottom by hand.

This pattern has an option to add a ruffle to the bottom to create a little summer dress.

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You can find us on Pinterest.

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My Beautiful Asian Doll Wears a Peplum

Since Madame Alexander dolls have no visible stitching at the neck and armhole, I choose “Lily” to wear this Peplum top by Liberty Jane at Pixie Faire. Her waist is slightly smaller than American Girl’s waist. Last time I worked with this Peplum pattern, I combined the print top with plain pedal pushers. Today I use a generic skirt pattern that matches the top.

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This peplum top is easy to make, and, as usual, the Liberty Jane pattern is easy to follow. I had no matching zipper for the back closure, so I used Velcro which made the closure a little tight in back. Always check the fit as you move along.

This skirt is a generic pattern that’s a rectangle measuring 13 inches x 5.5 inches, or cut on the fold, it’s 6.5 inches x 5.5 inches. If you’re fortunate to have a serger, finish the top and bottom edges. Create a casing for the elastic at the top. After threading the elastic through the casing with a bodkin or safety-pin, secure both ends of the elastic with a straight pin and stitch the side seam together. I basted the seam with the regular sewing machine and then finished it with the serger. You can make this skirt in an hour or less if you do everything by machine. I like to hem by hand, once the lower edge is finished.

I don’t always use a serger so if you don’t have one, you can still keep the inside of your doll clothes nice and neat. However, I’ve never been successful at using a zig-zag feature to finish my seams. The thread bunches up, making the zig-zag stitch bumpy. Or if I stitch close to the edge, I end up slipping off the edge, making a big mess. The stitch I end up using looks like small straight stitches in groups of three (called a Straight Stretch Stitch), undoubtedly designed for something else entirely.

If anyone has suggestions about using the zig-zag feature to finish seams, I’d love some feedback. Please share your successes.

I love making hats, especially berets. The standard beret pattern includes a circle, a large hoop that corresponds to the circle, and a band that goes around the smaller side of the hoop. I wanted to keep this look dressy, so I chose an icy color to correspond with the blue dress and this beautiful necklace, created by 2SistersSewCrafty at Etsy. This beret fabric was an unlabeled remnant. I don’t know what it is, but I doubt I’ll ever use it again.

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I spent far too much time on a project that developed  into a horror story. I used the smallest sewing needle that I could find but still had difficulty sewing without the fabric bunching up and tearing. I sewed much of the hat by hand to avoid hitting the sequins. I lined the hat with Dotted Swiss (or Swiss Dot, depending on the manufacturer). Instead of making the hat band from the sequin fabric, I used the lining fabric—-and I prayed while stitching the band to the hat with my sewing machine that my needle wouldn’t lock or break.

I love the inside of my doll clothes to look pristine whenever possible. Here’s a peek at the inside of the top, skirt and beret.

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You can find us on Pinterest.

beret cat

Delicate Light-weight Cotton Vintage

Here’s another vintage “inspired” dress from the 1930s. I love these delicate flowers on the fabric. This light-weight cotton reminds me of the dress that Faye Dunaway wore as Bonnie Parker at the beginning of Bonnie and Clyde. In the introduction, Bonnie looks out the upstairs window (while she’s nude) and sees Clyde trying to steal the family automobile. She runs down the stairs while she buttons the front of her dress and ties it in the back.

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This is Bonnie’s dress from the movie:

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Bonnie’s dress,  created by Theodora von Ruckle, doesn’t look the same exactly, but certain significant similarities cannot be denied. Although Bonnie’s dress buttons down the front, and it has long sleeves, its fabric is light and airy. Both dresses fit nicely with a seam under the breastbone and both have princess seams in the skirt. Both tie in the back. If you should happen to catch this version of Bonnie and Clyde, you might notice how her dress moves with her. Although it was Bonnie’s long darker skirts that became a part of Faye Dunaway’s fashion image when the movie was released, Faye/Bonnie wears a fresh cotton dress again on the way to her unexpected demise.

I love the cut of this dress, but it has not my favorite vintage-inspired dress so far. Here’s a photo of the original pattern below. You can buy it in PDF form from Dollhouse Designs at Etsy. This pattern has three options for the neck. There’s a collar available that is sewn to each side of the square neckline; it doesn’t go all the way around the neck. I found the weight of the collar resting on an unlined bodice top to be too heavy. Using lace around the neck is another option, but none of my lace was appropriate. I ended up with a plain neckline with square corners.

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I prefer a small, almost cap sleeve when I’m going for puffy sleeves. Just my taste. Look at the photo above and then compare the photo of my dress at the top. My sleeves are slightly smaller. I often use the same gathered sleeves from one of my Heritage patterns, FYI. Just my preference.

The included neck facing is too small for the neckline. I re-read the directions. I had stay-stitched both the neckline and the facing before working with the pieces, but the neckline was too large. I recut the front facing by matching it to the top front bodice.

There are five skirt pieces. I was very careful at matching the labeled sides, but I still had a piece on each side that was 3/8 inch too long that I adjusted when I hemmed the dress.

The back tie is made from a measurement, not from a pattern piece. Mine measured perhaps 1/8 to 1/4 inch wider than it should have. Due to my error, my side ties could not be used without getting them caught in the upper or lower seem when I assembled the dress. After sewing the ties, trimming them, turning them back right-side out and then ironing them, I realized that I had to start over and create new ties. (The new ties worked perfectly.)

I tend to pick products apart somewhat when I review them. My main reason for doing this is that I want people who sew, especially beginners, to know that certain mistakes are not their fault. Even when they are your fault, it’s important to keep going. Almost anything can be fixed.

I find that most of the doll clothes designers who are selling patterns on the internet to be helpful and fair. I originally planned to make my own patterns but I thought I’d try other existing pdf patterns to see what other designers were doing. Now I find trying a new pattern much more fun that creating a pattern of my own. I’m a little stuck in a world of cute doll clothes and no income. I have some cute ideas for my own patterns. I need to get with it.

I experienced some frustration with this pattern, but now that I’m finished, I’m looking at the dress and liking it a lot. Dollhouse Designs sells a very thorough pattern with explanations that will help the beginner. Also, her patterns pieces are not drawn by hand; she uses a computer program to make her designs professional. I made a similar dress that is a bit easier.

Grace is American Girl’s current Girl of the Year. She is my third AG doll with freckles. This is Grace’s first time to model a new dress for Marshmallowjane. This style would probably suit Kit better (because Kit came from the Depression), but this light print made a blonde Kit washed out. And Grace looks beautiful wearing anything. By the way, after taking this set of photos, I removed Grace’s “permanent” braid, and I trimmed her bangs to get them even.

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Grace’s earrings and bracelet are from my favorite AG jeweler 2SistersSewCrafty. Her beret in the top photo is by moi.

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You can find us on Pinterest.

beatnik beret

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.

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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.

 

 

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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