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

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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.


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.


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.


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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The Real Skinny on Fat Quarters

In my last blog I talked about buying fat quarters and remnants. I have bought remnants that I end up throwing away because I find flaws inside the rolled up piece of fabric; sometimes the fabric is dirty. Or I’ve lined a coat with fabric of unknown contents, only to end up with a big raveled mess.

Fat quarters are probably made up of newer fabric than remnants. The idea behind fat quarters isn’t to get rid of old merchandise. Customers often like fat quarters due to their convenience for making quilts or doll clothes. The customers can buy less of many prints, instead of more of one or two prints. It’s like buying small bags of chips that you put in Junior’s lunch. Fat Quarters are convenient. They usually are not cheap. If you get a fat quarter on sale for $1.50, and the fabric was originally $5.00 a yard, you’re coming out okay but you’re still paying over the original amount.

In my last blog I made an error in describing the size and shape of a fat quarter. I had thought that a fat quarter was half as big as it is, but a kind reader corrected my mistake in the Comment Section.

I did more research, and I now I thoroughly understand the fat quarter. It is as long as a half yard but only half as wide as a yard.  Huh? You say what? If you’re a visual learner like I am, when you see this diagram your whole life will make sense, and you’ll know there is a God.

fat quarter

Please feel free to comment about fat quarters or remnants.

The dynamite diagram of the fat quarter is courtesy of, Home Quilting. 

DO_Swirly Stem3


Beware of Fat Quarters

I’ve always thought that buying fabric remnants was a smart move. After all, spending less money to obtain more product is generally a good deal, isn’t it? When there is less than one yard remaining on the bolt—or the store would like to make room for newer inventory—the last of the fabric may be sold “as is,” still on the bolt. Or it may be cut into smaller pieces and sold as remnants.

In recent years the “fat quarter” has become popular. A fat quarter is one-quarter of a yard—1/4 of 36 inches equals 9 inches. What can you do with 9 inches of fabric? You can cut out quilt squares or doll clothes. However, a fat quarter should be called a “skinny quarter.” The width of most fabric is generally 44 inches; but the width of a fat quarter is cut in half to approximately 22 inches.

(Please note: A smart and knowledgeable woman corrected me about fat quarters.; you can read this correction in the Comments Section. I seemed to have calculated them incorrectly, and I will explain how they’re measured exactly in another post. Thank you, Linda.)

Why would someone buy a fat quarter or piece of fabric that is 9 inches x 18 inches?

I usually buy 1/2 a yard at a time for doll clothes ; I also buy remnants and fat quarters.

Doll clothes can be sewn with very little fabric. Several quilt squares can be cut from 9 x 22 inches.

Instead of buying one yard of the same fabric, you could conceivably cut up one yard into 8 fat quarters. Let’s say you pay $1.50 for one fat quarter. Because a fat quarter in only 1/2 yard wide, a whole yard of fat quarters (8 of them) would cost:

$  1.50 x 8 = $12.40

These figures aren’t too dismal if the original price of the fabric was $12 a yard. This isn’t an unusual price for cotton, but cotton can be closer to $7 or $5. Joann Stores has fabric at $10 or more, but you can usually buy it at 40 percent off. Fabric at Joann Stores is often on sale, and there is ALWAYS a Joann’s coupon for 40 percent, or even 50 percent.

I have often purchased remnants, but now that I’ve been sewing consistently for a couple of years, I’ve come to pay closer attention to the prices and the quality of these remnants.

Since I don’t work at a fabric store, I don’t know how fabric is chosen for fat quarters. These are often found in a stack or bin underneath the matching bolts of quilting fabrics. I’m guessing that the stores find selling these fat quarters profitable; they are also convenient for quilt makers buy.

Although I have purchased fat quarters, I have more experience with remnants. I’m motivated to write about buying fabric because I’ve recently found flaws or stains on my remnants that were not revealed until I unfolded or unrolled my piece of fabric. I’ve also been more careful to calculate the price per yard after making some disappointing purchases. I once picked up a 1/4-yard remnant that had been marked down from $2.10 to $1.88.  What a good deal, I thought, until looked at the original price per yard, which was $4.99.

I’ve also noticed that fabric is often cut crooked, and a crooked line is more noticeable when the piece of fabric is small. The edges should line up when you fold the fabric. Whenever I buy fabric I watch while the store clerk cuts it. Obviously, I’m unable to watch when I buy something that is cut ahead of time.

I think that buying fat quarters or remnants can be fun. Doll clothes can be made with surprisingly little fabric. I enjoy combing two or more prints . I usually include polka dots. I thought I was careful when buying fabric. The green polka dot cotton that is toward the left bottom of the above photo was a remnant, and as I was rolling it up, I noticed flaws that make some of these dots look like a Pac Man. I probably have plenty of fabric. I could have done without the green.

In the future I plan to take my own advice and quit buying remnants unless I absolutely love the fabric. There is probably less risk in buying fat quarters because it is cut up as a money-making device that saves the customer’s time.

Back in “the day” when I made my own clothes, fabric was relatively cheap. This can still be true for the smart and patient shopper who looks for sales prices and good deals. My advice is to pay attention to the quality of the fabric, and do the math.

DO_Tiny Flower