Archives

Polka Dot Circle Skirt

I have had fun styling Grace, the prettiest doll that American Girl has created so far. She is my third doll with freckles. She’s one of the few AG dolls with substantial lips. I wish I could say I’ve had as much fun sewing this skirt for Grace as I’ve had dressing her. Since I’m committed to including my sewing failures and challenges in each blog, hang onto your seats, my friendly sewists. This outfit that appears to be a success has been one long frustration.

Since saddle shoes don’t go with many outfits, I jump at this opportunity to use these navy and white ones. In addition, I’ve become a polka dot “freak,” and I can’t wait to use this fabric, dark/navy blue and a weird color of green that is almost turquoise. In spite of the goofs I end up making with this outfit, I pursue the finish line.

DSC_0007

This skirt is cute, but not as cute as the original pattern. (Usually, I like my version better when I use someone else’s pattern, but not in this case.) I’m going to post a version of this skirt pattern.

circle skirt polka dot

I had originally planned to make the version of this skirt with the tulle slip underneath. You can almost see this version in the little box on the lower section of the box, but here is a better photo. By the way, I recently found small rolls of tulle at Wal-Mart and Joann’s that are 6 inches wide by 40 yards or more. Tulle for dolls is much easier to handle this way on a small roll. The pattern for the slip that goes underneath is made of fabric cut like a circle skirt, but shorter than the outer skirt; then a gathered length of tulle is attached to the bottom of the slip. This slip ends up peeking out a couple inches longer than the skirt.

Unfortunately, I have trouble attaching white tulle to white cotton. This step is cumbersome; I keep losing the gathered tulle off the edge of the cotton slip; I have difficulty seeing the white on white (tulle on cotton), and I don’t like the way the pieces looked sewn together. I scrap the slip for now. Here’s another type of peeking slip that I have done in the past. I will work more with slips in the future.

I go on to the skirt, and I have problems with this as well. The waistband is a bit too tight. I either need to cut the waistband larger or make smaller seams at the ends of the waist band. I remove all the stitching (“in the ditch”) and recut the waistband and attach it, this time with more care to fit it on the doll before my final steps. Here’s a photo from a slightly different angle.

DSC_0013

As I iron the skirt and clean up the pieces of thread from the old stitching, I accidentally pull out a thread from the fabric weave and leave a tiny white mark on the skirt. At this point I’m ready to throw the project away. I certainly can’t sell the skirt like this, but I love the fabric too much to toss it.

I have planned to use my favorite Heritage blouse pattern to go with this skirt, but since I messed up the skirt, I use a blouse that I have previously featured. If I decide to remake this skirt, I’ll remake the same blouse at that time. While I iron the blouse, I notice a light spot near the bottom hem, so I wipe it with a wet rag and dry it with the iron. Somehow, while fixing the spot, I pick up two dark pink spots from my ironing board cover or my iron or the rag. I am always so careful, but now I have pink spots on the blouse. AND THE ARE IRONED IN!

Do you ever spend hours sewing and end up with NOTHING? LOL. Mistakes can happen to the best of us. And one of the purposes of this blog is to show that all of us—or most of us—make mistakes when we sew.

I happen to have a set of bows on hand. Fortunately, the green one matches the skirt polka dots. Then I make a scarf to tie around Grace’s 1955-styled ponytail. The scarf fabric is a soft polyester rayon blend. I iron and hand-stitch a rolled hem on every side. I comb Grace’s hair before dressing her in her skirt and blouse, so she isn’t a wrinkled mess for her photos. Voila! Grace is ready for her high school sock hop.

~~~~~

paris-avatar

You can find us on Pinterest.

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:

DSC_0009

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.

point turner

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.

DSC_0003

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.

DSC_0010

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.

DSC_0013

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.

~~~~~

You can find us on Pinterest.

soda pop clip art

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.

DSC_0006

This is Bonnie’s dress from the movie:

bonnie and clyde

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.

sleuth photo

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.

DSC_0004

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

~~~~~

You can find us on Pinterest.

beatnik beret

Separates with Two Polka Dot “Looks”

I decided to make separates for a change when I came across this cute top pattern called Summer Breeze by Doll Tag Clothing.  The instructions give several ways to finish the front panels. Since I prefer to have the inside of my garments tidy, I opted to line the front. In addition, I lined the back, but I still used the provided neck facings. I was able to tack the neck facings down to the inside lining without leaving visible tacks near the outside neckline.

I wish that this pattern included armhole facings, instead of instructions to hem a curved armhole. Hemmed armholes are not a good look for me. I picture myself re-doing the narrow hem several times before I’m happy with it. My handmade polka dot bias tape solved this problem, but the armholes turned out a bit tight. Next time I sew with this pattern, I will make little armhole facings, or I will trim the armholes 1/4 inch before adding the bias tape.

Summer Breeze Top with Shorts and Emma Bag in Pinstripe

I adore these coordinated shorts that I made with my own generic pattern. I generally put a waistband in front and a casing with elastic in the back. The pink cuffs on the shorts were simple. I sewed a rectangular piece of solid pink fabric to the wrong side of each shorts leg and folded the hem over onto the right side and top-stitched the solid piece.

This pinstriped “Emma Bag” with an adorable gathered pocket was easy to make using a pattern by Bonjour Teaspoon. I look forward to making this bag out of various prints (like the one below out of pink polka dots). I appreciate coordinated clothing but not too matchy-matchy. The pink bag would have been too much for the outfit above. But with the gray dotted Swiss pants below, the pink bag is perfect.

Summer Breeze Top with Pants and Emma Bag in Pink Polkadots

I use a lot of dotted swiss. Some of it is better quality than the rest; some of it loses its shape. This gray dotted Swiss unravels a lot, but it combined well with the pink and gray polka dots and the pink and white polka dot bag.

I’m not sure why, but I rarely make separates. Give me a vintage dress to sew anytime. But I was intrigued by this Summer Breeze top pattern. Its clean shape is versatile with the shorts and long pants. I should probably add a little skirt. I love these smart pink clogs, and my models tend to wear this fabulous bracelet by 2SistersSewCrafty.

Clockwise Beginning on Top with Pinstripe Bag, Pink Polkadot Bag, Shorts with Pink Cuff, Summer Breeze Top, and Gray Dotted Swiss Pants

Each separate shares the above photo. The Summer Breeze Top has a back closure with a white slim strip of Velcro. You may see a glimpse of the polka dot bias tape around the armhole. The bag was easy to make, using the pink polka dot cotton. But the striped seersucker is another matter. The fabric unravels like crazy and must be handled with care.

~~~~~

tulips in pot

You can find us on Pinterest. 

Styling Saige for the Holidays

This red and white checked cotton dress is perfect for Saige who wants to be festive during the Christmas season, but she can still play outside without ruining a more delicate party dress. I previously made this pattern using beige and black plaid, but I thought the original pattern was way to short. This time I added just over an inch to the length; the dress may now be a little on the long side.

DSC_0001

The proportions of American Girl can be tricky. There isn’t much room between her knee and the top of her leg. The hem can go from too long to too short in a nano-second. This length is all right but I might remove 1/4 inch.

I made this dress with a pair of red boots in mind, but the boots overpowered the dress. Notice these little shoes and socks; aren’t they cute?

This shrug is Simplicity 3547. This acrylic funky fur is fairly easy to work with, if you don’t mind eating and wear white fuzz for the remainder of the day. I exaggerate here. When you cut this fabric, the small tips of the fur make a mess, but this mess is easy enough to clean up.

~~~~~

cats

You can find us on Pinterest.