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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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sparkle pink

Delicate Light-weight Cotton Vintage

Here’s another vintage “inspired” dress from the 1930s. I love these delicate flowers on the fabric. This light-weight cotton reminds me of the dress that Faye Dunaway wore as Bonnie Parker at the beginning of Bonnie and Clyde. In the introduction, Bonnie looks out the upstairs window (while she’s nude) and sees Clyde trying to steal the family automobile. She runs down the stairs while she buttons the front of her dress and ties it in the back.

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This is Bonnie’s dress from the movie:

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Bonnie’s dress,  created by Theodora von Ruckle, doesn’t look the same exactly, but certain significant similarities cannot be denied. Although Bonnie’s dress buttons down the front, and it has long sleeves, its fabric is light and airy. Both dresses fit nicely with a seam under the breastbone and both have princess seams in the skirt. Both tie in the back. If you should happen to catch this version of Bonnie and Clyde, you might notice how her dress moves with her. Although it was Bonnie’s long darker skirts that became a part of Faye Dunaway’s fashion image when the movie was released, Faye/Bonnie wears a fresh cotton dress again on the way to her unexpected demise.

I love the cut of this dress, but it has not my favorite vintage-inspired dress so far. Here’s a photo of the original pattern below. You can buy it in PDF form from Dollhouse Designs at Etsy. This pattern has three options for the neck. There’s a collar available that is sewn to each side of the square neckline; it doesn’t go all the way around the neck. I found the weight of the collar resting on an unlined bodice top to be too heavy. Using lace around the neck is another option, but none of my lace was appropriate. I ended up with a plain neckline with square corners.

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I prefer a small, almost cap sleeve when I’m going for puffy sleeves. Just my taste. Look at the photo above and then compare the photo of my dress at the top. My sleeves are slightly smaller. I often use the same gathered sleeves from one of my Heritage patterns, FYI. Just my preference.

The included neck facing is too small for the neckline. I re-read the directions. I had stay-stitched both the neckline and the facing before working with the pieces, but the neckline was too large. I recut the front facing by matching it to the top front bodice.

There are five skirt pieces. I was very careful at matching the labeled sides, but I still had a piece on each side that was 3/8 inch too long that I adjusted when I hemmed the dress.

The back tie is made from a measurement, not from a pattern piece. Mine measured perhaps 1/8 to 1/4 inch wider than it should have. Due to my error, my side ties could not be used without getting them caught in the upper or lower seem when I assembled the dress. After sewing the ties, trimming them, turning them back right-side out and then ironing them, I realized that I had to start over and create new ties. (The new ties worked perfectly.)

I tend to pick products apart somewhat when I review them. My main reason for doing this is that I want people who sew, especially beginners, to know that certain mistakes are not their fault. Even when they are your fault, it’s important to keep going. Almost anything can be fixed.

I find that most of the doll clothes designers who are selling patterns on the internet to be helpful and fair. I originally planned to make my own patterns but I thought I’d try other existing pdf patterns to see what other designers were doing. Now I find trying a new pattern much more fun that creating a pattern of my own. I’m a little stuck in a world of cute doll clothes and no income. I have some cute ideas for my own patterns. I need to get with it.

I experienced some frustration with this pattern, but now that I’m finished, I’m looking at the dress and liking it a lot. Dollhouse Designs sells a very thorough pattern with explanations that will help the beginner. Also, her patterns pieces are not drawn by hand; she uses a computer program to make her designs professional. I made a similar dress that is a bit easier.

Grace is American Girl’s current Girl of the Year. She is my third AG doll with freckles. This is Grace’s first time to model a new dress for Marshmallowjane. This style would probably suit Kit better (because Kit came from the Depression), but this light print made a blonde Kit washed out. And Grace looks beautiful wearing anything. By the way, after taking this set of photos, I removed Grace’s “permanent” braid, and I trimmed her bangs to get them even.

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Grace’s earrings and bracelet are from my favorite AG jeweler 2SistersSewCrafty. Her beret in the top photo is by moi.

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beatnik beret

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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Easy Plaid Jumper

I recently made an adorable 1950s inspired jumper. After finally finding the right blouse to go underneath it, I realized that this new blouse solved many past wardrobe issues. I’d been looking for the right blouse for a long time. I was in the mood to make another jumper and found one that I’d previously started. The construction of this Simplicity 7083 jumper is very easy.

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This is a straight “shift,” the word we used to use for this simple construction. If I make this jumper again, I’ll line it but this pattern has a facing that covers both the neck and armhole areas. It basically lines the top third of the jumper.

The only complication to this jumper is the plaid design that makes it essential to intersect the horizontal lines perfectly at the side and back seams. When the pattern pieces are lined up perfectly, you shouldn’t notice the seams at all.

I love plaid fabric for doll clothes. But these rectangular patterns must be small, or they can’t be used for doll clothes. This fabric stretches and doesn’t keep its shape as it should, and it easily ravels. Because plaids that are small enough for dolls are limited, I take what I can get. I love the finished look, and our model has an outfit that goes with these adorable navy saddle shoes.

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Vintage Holiday Jumper

If you’re like me, you might be unimpressed when you peruse the doll clothes pattern catalogs at the store. Have you noticed how badly some of the dolls wearing the completed sample garments are styled? Often, the sample garments don’t look like the seams were pressed during construction, or the dresses are too large. My own doll clothes turn out better than the clothes on the pattern envelopes that get little care when made.

Recently Simplicity Patterns partnered with some great doll clothes designers who have already shared their designs on the internet. If you get the opportunity, check out both Simplicity 1244 and 1245, each done by separate designers, both vintage inspired. Kit wears this jumper below that originates with Simplicity 1245.

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I love this jumper but I cannot say as much for the 1245 blouse. I had two issues with the blouse pattern, and both were collar/facing problems. The thin strip, referred to as a “facing,” did not allow the collar to be free at the back neck opening. Because the “facing” was so narrow, I could not get the back opening to look neat and professional. Furthermore, this same facing needed to be tacked to the inside of the bodice, and the necessary tiny stitches showed through at the front neckline. That was attempt no. 1.

With attempt no 2, I lined the blouse, instead of using the “facing,” but I still had problems with the back of the collar that does not hang free from the back opening. I wasn’t in love with the sleeves either, but that is personal taste. After removing the collar and making the blouse “collar-less,” I found that I’d set in one of the sleeves inside out. I had been using a beautiful white striped on white fabric that showed every small hole created by a mistake, and, unfortunately, I didn’t discover my sleeve error until I’d clipped the underneath of the sleeve seams. Rather than creating a new sleeve to go with a collar-less blouse and the other sleeve that I didn’t particularly like, I foraged through my patterns to find a blouse pattern that would hopefully work better with this jumper, and here it is from Heritage Doll Fashions at Pixie Faire.

By now I was tired of my white on white fabric and switched to this white pique. I had no problems with this blouse that I love except that I added one inch to the length. Incidentally, this is my favorite sleeve style, bar none. A short, moderately full puffy sleeve with a band around the bottom.

This beautiful jumper pattern is both practical and clever, but I got confused at a significant step, when it came to attaching the waistband lining to the inside of the jumper. After reading the directions and staring at the photo until I looked cross-eyed, I misinterpreted the directions, creating more work for myself. But once I understood the right way to construct this jumper, I was very impressed with how it is put together.

I love this jumper and I love the Heritage Doll Fashions blouse. And why shouldn’t I, when I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this outfit (while I watched Project Runway: Threads, where the children on the show seem to sew faster than I do). I won’t even admit to you how long it took me to make this outfit all together, but I love this look, which I’ll definitely repeat. And I will no doubt use the blouse pattern several more times in the future.

I like to show the back and the inside of my doll clothes whenever possible.

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The jumper and blouse together create two layers of velcro closures in the back. I used the whole width of the velcro on the right-hand side (instead of using half that width) to provide adjustment for the closure. I wanted to provide extra room underneath the jumper for a different blouse that might have much bulk. In other words, I can tighten or loosen the closure, depending on what blouse or top that Kit wears.

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