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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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soda pop clip art

Plaid Sheath Dress

Although I have a fondness for creating vintage-inspired dresses, I also like to style my dolls in modern clothes. The fit of doll clothes is of utmost importance. Too large means “this looks homemade.” There is nothing chic about what I call the “prairie dress.” You can see one of my first attempts at following a pattern for the 18-inch doll here. 

I have discovered since I first got my feet wet at sewing doll clothes of this size that I had to alter at least half the patterns to get the effect that I desire. The dress that Julie wears below, the Sheath Dress by Liberty Jane, is a great example of a perfect fit. I love this dress!

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Styling this dress is another matter because I did not want to cover the bodice section of the garment. I added a simple infinity scarf from McCall’s 6804. Next time, I’ll make the scarf longer; this one cuts off the neck.

Trying to dress Julie like a little girl or teenager is a challenge. Her legs are very short between her knee and her waist, which means that a hem above the knee practically meets Julie’s underwear. She must be careful when getting out of her car that the paparazzi don’t see her dress ride up. Her opaque stockings keep her classy; and they create contrast for these beautiful black boots that add richness to the plaid fabric.

You will not detect my side seams. I matched the horizontal lines of the plaid when I cut out my pattern pieces, and I basted front and back pieces together while keeping them pinned to avoid as much shifting as possible when I sewed them together. I still had to re-do a couple of sections that shifted. I also made sure that there is a nice vertical column traveling down the middle of the dress.

Here’s the dress without the infinity scarf. This design is plain but the shape of the top from the neck to the shoulders is chic.

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Julie’s bracelet and earrings are from our favorite jeweler 2SistersSewCrafty.

Here’s a shot of the lining. Please note that I used velcro, instead of an invisible zipper. I plan to phase out my velcro eventually.

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This white cotton lining is nice and soft. As I increase the use of serging to finish my edges, I will gradually use zippers and buttons for my closures.

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DO_Spotty Flower

Dress for the Belmont Stakes

Here is my second version of McCall’s 6875. A matching pattern for little girls is in the same envelope. The bodice is lined, and the seams are either serged or finished with a 1/8-inch top-stitched hem.

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The instructions were just as difficult the second time round. Fitting the demi-sleeve to the bodice is difficult. In my opinion, it can’t be done neatly without making a risky slit in the front and back bodice right below the sleeve insertion (where the lining is clipped).

Otherwise, I love sewing this dress. The beautiful cotton print was pricey. The solid dark orange came from Joann’s collection of solid colors, and it was on the inexpensive side. I had difficulty getting the wrinkles out of both of these; go figure.

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I’m so happy with this completed dress and matching hat that is my own generic pattern. I figured that if I bought doll gloves, I could see how they were put together and copy the construction for my future gloves. But I’m not thrilled with these gloves; they’re very pretty, but too loose.

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Isn’t this parasol stunning? I don’t recall off-hand where it came from, but I can find the vendor in my records if someone wants to buy one. Most of the other parasols and umbrellas are made of plain fabric in limited colors. If anyone comes across a black parasol, I’d like to know about it, especially if it’s black lace.

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Edit: I changed the title to “Dress for the Belmont Stakes” because we might have a Triple Crown winner!

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