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Saige Dresses for Success

I loved making this dress. I want to rave about Matilda’s Closet who designs and distributes this pattern in PDF form. Although this pattern is on the complicated side (I didn’t know how to put it together without reading the directions), the pattern directions were easy to follow and so were the photos.

A closeup of Saige's dress with a large collar and pleats down the front

Since this is a close shot, I’ll interject a note about these buttons. I have a beautiful collection of buttons, and I have more pink accessories than I could ever dream of using. But I was surprised that I had no tiny pink buttons, except for buttons with four holes. I prefer two holes so I used these. You might notice that my sewing stitches on the buttons are all horizontal. No matter how you stitch your buttons, I suggest that all buttons be stitched in the same direction. This way, the precise direction of the thread adds to the design. In addition, the stitches look better if you overlap the button threads as little as possible.

I love these little hoop earrings (or demi-hoops) that are made by 2 Sisters Sew Crafty. These earrings are classy like plain hoops can be, but the ends of them are straight so that they fit into the doll’s pierced ear and head. I think I got the pearl bracelet from Carpatina awhile back. I don’t see it now but the site has some pretty jewelry.

Here’s a full shot of the dress that only looks good with long hair that is pulled back or off the neck due to the size of the collar.

Full view of this dress for success

The two pleats above the waistband and the two below the waistband are simple to create. The pattern pieces are marked with notches on the pattern edges. The marked fabric pieces are folded so that the notches meet, creating a fold for each pleat. This same method is used at the skirt part of the dress. When the top and skirt are sewn properly to the waistband, the pleats line up. If you look at both these top photos of the dress, you can see the pleats. If you go to the Matilda’s Closet pattern, you will see other photos of this dress. The pleats are much easier to view on the dresses made of solid fabric.

A view of the dress off the hanger reveals more of the construction. These attractive tabs are inserted into the side seams.

Dress off hanger

The side zipper (four inches long) can be spotted below. I also hand-stitched a strip of one-inch bias tape to cover the seams of the wrong side of the waist band. When I can, I keep the inside of my doll clothes tidy. In general, both finished and covered seams hold up better than unfinished seams if a garment should need laundering.

Off the hanger with view of zipper and liner band

I haven’t used other patterns by Matilda’s Closet, and I don’t know her personally. I usually favor “vintage-styled” doll dresses, but I adore this dress pattern.

I originally planned to try out patterns by a few doll clothes designers before creating my own. But I’m having so much fun sewing that I’ve gotten sidetracked. I’ve come across various patterns in PDF form, all of them good in one way or another. I’m impressed by the pattern pieces, even the ones that are hand-drawn. I enjoy looking at dolls styled by designers, bloggers and AG lovers on Instagram. I love American Girl (and Madame Alexander), and I’m having a great time styling these beautiful 18-inch dolls.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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