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Easy Separates in Pink

For this blog I’m using separates that I’d previously made for other “looks,” except for the skirt. The nice thing about separates is that you can mix and match and make whole new outfits, which is what I’ve done here. The pink top came with one of my American Girl dolls. The skirt is a plain rectangle, or Simplicity 3551.

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The last time I saw my eight-year-old granddaughter she made herself a straight skirt using this heart fabric. This was her first project for herself. I finished the seams for her using my serger, but she was able to do everything else herself. She has the talent to put together looks; she is a fashion-forward girl. She has the perseverance to sew. She is able to sew straight lines. I wish I had a picture of her in her skirt; this is what she looked like a few years ago.

She loves pink, so I figured she already had other pink items to go with the skirt, but she didn’t. After purchasing some pink tennies for her, I found similar pink tennies for American Girl. I figured I might as well whip up this doll skirt and send it to her with the shoes.

There was one challenge with both skirts: the printed hearts didn’t line up on the (cheap) fabric, even if I pulled and stretched the fabric. I’d wanted the hearts to follow the hemlines of both skirts. I had to re-cut both of them slightly to get them to look accurate. Both skirts have a casing for the elastic waist that is created by folding over the top of the skirt. Threading the elastic with a bodkin tool, shown here, is simple.

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I have already featured this bag in Separates Have Two Polka Dot “Looks.” This vest is a cute experiment using this funky white fabric with Simplicity 2296.

This blog has demonstrated how easy it is to create a look with several simple items. Little girls like wearing separates; I’m guessing they enjoy dressing their dolls in them as well.

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You can find us on Pinterest.

sparkle pink

Grace Wears Easy Bandeau Blouse

Grace wears a bandeau blouse and a matching beret. I don’t know whether French people actually wear berets, but Grace is a Francophil who wears a beret when she gets the chance.

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The top is easy to make, using the bandeau blouse pattern by Liberty Jane. It is basically a lined strip of fabric with the ties inserted. Then the bottom of the blouse is attached and all unfinished edges are hemmed or finished. The back closure uses Velcro.

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I use my own pattern for the beret and pants. I like to use elastic in the back of the pants only. The waistband in the front, covers the edges of the inserted elastic on the sides to make a nice finished garment.

Here’s another look without the beret. I could photograph Grace all day. She is the most beautiful American Girl doll so far.

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One more view of the top; this one is from the wrong side.

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I finished the sides and bottom using a serger. Then I hemmed the bottom by hand.

This pattern has an option to add a ruffle to the bottom to create a little summer dress.

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You can find us on Pinterest.

french

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

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.

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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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You can find us on Pinterest.

angel moon

Casual Winter Plaid

This outfit began with Butterick 5865, a simple dress with a capped sleeve, perfect for Julie. I love working with plaid when the rectangles are small enough for doll clothes. Once I cut the front and back bodice pieces to line up the horizontal lines on the sides, I thought the pattern would be a piece of cake.

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Unfortunately, the skirt gave me some grief. Although the pieces were to be gathered, they were cut at an angle, like a wedge, or part of a circle. I pictured the skirt hanging nicely to create more of a vintage look. I must laugh at myself a bit because after cutting the side seams of the skirt pieces so that the horizontal lines of the plaid design would match, the joke was on me. I realized that matching plaid won’t work for this type of skirt—or I couldn’t figure out how to do it.

My sewing motto is, “Anything can be fixed”—almost. I figured I could recut the skirt using a plain red or white or a coordinating print. Those options weren’t working for me, so I decided to cut a plain gathered skirt without angled seams. Unfortunately, I only I had a scrap of fabric left, just about enough for testing my Serger stitch whenever I re-thread it. Fortunately, I was able to eke out a tiny skirt with an elastic waist.

Since I had already ironed a hem in the bodice lining (that would have covered up the gathers of the original skirt), transforming the bodice of the dress into a blouse was simple. The blouse is a tiny bit large, so I used the whole width of red Velcro.

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The skirt was so simple with a Serger—or without one. I finished all sides of the fabric. Although it is easier to sew the back seam of the skirt last, the skirt turns out neater to form the seam before hemming the bottom and forming a casing for elastic at the top. The skirt waistline is less bulky if the ends of the elastic are sewn together with one end on top of the other end, once the elastic has been threaded through the casing with a safety-pin or a bodkin.

Julie wears an “owl” necklace and matching earrings created by my friend Ann at 2SistersSewCrafty.

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The deep red plaid is a nice background for the rustic finishes of the owl necklace.

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hand

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