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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

A Vintage Print for Doll Clothes

After warning readers about the risks of buying remnants, I couldn’t resist this print that has a beautiful vintage look. I can think of several ways to use this print, but I chose a dress with simple lines. You can find this “Recital Dress” pattern in Joan Hinds’ book, Doll Fashion Studio.

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As usual, I tweaked the pattern that called for contrasting bias tape to outline the sloped chest seam and the waist seam in the front. I decided that corking would look richer; I prefer a thin, subtle color contrast. I also added the plain strip of pink at the bottom of the skirt.

My dolls have several pairs of pink shoes but I decided to pick up the darker color in the print with these burgundy ballet flats.

I had already been working on ways to streak my dolls’ hair but American Girl beat me to the punch by developing some contrasting strands of hair that come in a package of pink, blue and lavender. If you lift up a section of hair, you can easily attach a strand of pink with a small clip.

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This photo shows a better view of the purchased belt. I originally wanted a pink belt to match the cording but now I prefer the lighter color. I like to coordinate fabrics and accessories, but I do not like things to be matchy-matchy.

By the way, this fabric remnant was full of flaws. The weave had several pieces of thick thread that created visible bumps in the design. I had to recut some pattern pieces.

I’m happy with the fit of this beautifully lined dress, and I will probably adapt other patterns from this bodice. All visible edges have been serged. All rough edges are safely tucked underneath the lining.

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I am unbelievably picky about the neatness of my work and the standards that I would pass along to someone purchasing my doll clothes. This dress will probably be my first item listed at Etsy.

DO_Spotty Flower

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.

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Please feel free to comment about fat quarters or remnants.

The dynamite diagram of the fat quarter is courtesy of About.com, 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