Tag Archive | buying fabric

Red Versatility Dress

I made this dress using a well-constructed pattern that offers several different but subtle choices. The structure of the bodice is beautiful but I should have used plain fabric so that the princess seams in the bodice showed up as part of the design. Here’s a link to the original pattern.

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The top-stitching of these (invisible) bodice seams in front and back double as a chic decoration; the original dress requires little jewelry or other accessories. But since I opted to use this red print, I added this removable white collar (from the Silhouette Dress pattern) and I include my own tiny heart-shaped buttons.

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This is the perfect school dress for Kit, but when she goes to church on Sunday, she trades her collar for Auntie’s set of pearls. I think I got these pearls from Carpatina but they don’t have them now; you may want to check from time to time.

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The dress below is perfect for a field trip to the museum. Kit wears a more casual necklace with glasses she should wear all the time if she wants to see properly.

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Connecting the skirt to the top is straight forward. I ironed a 1/4-inch hem on the bottom of the bodice lining to make it easy to slip-stitch the lining over the skirt seam at the waist. I used velcro to attach the back opening, and I serged all the skirt seams.

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The red bracelet above, and the owl necklace both come from my favorite Etsy jeweler, 2 Sisters Sew Crafty. Although we have lots of red shoes in our collection, too much red looks “matchy-matchy.” The white shoes look better, especially with the white collar.

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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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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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Silhouette Dress in Polka Dot

After wrestling with my last sewing project, I decided to choose a tried and true pattern for this blog entry. This is called “1950s Vintage Inspired Empire Silhouette Dress” that I first made on September 25, 2014. You can find the Eden Ava Couture pattern here. I love polka dots! I love anything vintage inspired.

DSC_0009This pattern is straight forward and fairly easy. I had some small challenges this second time around. I seemed to have stretched the skirt when I ironed it. I am always careful, but I was unable to attach the skirt to the bodice with the seams matching perfectly. I also think the lighter weight fabric that I used last time hangs slightly better.

I chose this yummy greenish blue polka dot print that I’d saved for a special occasion, until I said, “What am I waiting for?”  I have at least 30 favorite pieces of fabric. This color is both warm and cool at the same time. I’d thought it was green until I looked for matching buttons and shoes. I’m curious: What color do you see?

Fortunately, I was able to get some decent light through my large window and I took more pictures of this dress. My beautiful model’s features show much better than in the previous photo I had originally posted to this blog.

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Edited: 12/12/2014 

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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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