Tag Archive | cotton

Polka Dot Circle Skirt

I have had fun styling Grace, the prettiest doll that American Girl has created so far. She is my third doll with freckles. She’s one of the few AG dolls with substantial lips. I wish I could say I’ve had as much fun sewing this skirt for Grace as I’ve had dressing her. Since I’m committed to including my sewing failures and challenges in each blog, hang onto your seats, my friendly sewists. This outfit that appears to be a success has been one long frustration.

Since saddle shoes don’t go with many outfits, I jump at this opportunity to use these navy and white ones. In addition, I’ve become a polka dot “freak,” and I can’t wait to use this fabric, dark/navy blue and a weird color of green that is almost turquoise. In spite of the goofs I end up making with this outfit, I pursue the finish line.


This skirt is cute, but not as cute as the original pattern. (Usually, I like my version better when I use someone else’s pattern, but not in this case.) I’m going to post a version of this skirt pattern.

circle skirt polka dot

I had originally planned to make the version of this skirt with the tulle slip underneath. You can almost see this version in the little box on the lower section of the box, but here is a better photo. By the way, I recently found small rolls of tulle at Wal-Mart and Joann’s that are 6 inches wide by 40 yards or more. Tulle for dolls is much easier to handle this way on a small roll. The pattern for the slip that goes underneath is made of fabric cut like a circle skirt, but shorter than the outer skirt; then a gathered length of tulle is attached to the bottom of the slip. This slip ends up peeking out a couple inches longer than the skirt.

Unfortunately, I have trouble attaching white tulle to white cotton. This step is cumbersome; I keep losing the gathered tulle off the edge of the cotton slip; I have difficulty seeing the white on white (tulle on cotton), and I don’t like the way the pieces looked sewn together. I scrap the slip for now. Here’s another type of peeking slip that I have done in the past. I will work more with slips in the future.

I go on to the skirt, and I have problems with this as well. The waistband is a bit too tight. I either need to cut the waistband larger or make smaller seams at the ends of the waist band. I remove all the stitching (“in the ditch”) and recut the waistband and attach it, this time with more care to fit it on the doll before my final steps. Here’s a photo from a slightly different angle.


As I iron the skirt and clean up the pieces of thread from the old stitching, I accidentally pull out a thread from the fabric weave and leave a tiny white mark on the skirt. At this point I’m ready to throw the project away. I certainly can’t sell the skirt like this, but I love the fabric too much to toss it.

I have planned to use my favorite Heritage blouse pattern to go with this skirt, but since I messed up the skirt, I use a blouse that I have previously featured. If I decide to remake this skirt, I’ll remake the same blouse at that time. While I iron the blouse, I notice a light spot near the bottom hem, so I wipe it with a wet rag and dry it with the iron. Somehow, while fixing the spot, I pick up two dark pink spots from my ironing board cover or my iron or the rag. I am always so careful, but now I have pink spots on the blouse. AND THE ARE IRONED IN!

Do you ever spend hours sewing and end up with NOTHING? LOL. Mistakes can happen to the best of us. And one of the purposes of this blog is to show that all of us—or most of us—make mistakes when we sew.

I happen to have a set of bows on hand. Fortunately, the green one matches the skirt polka dots. Then I make a scarf to tie around Grace’s 1955-styled ponytail. The scarf fabric is a soft polyester rayon blend. I iron and hand-stitch a rolled hem on every side. I comb Grace’s hair before dressing her in her skirt and blouse, so she isn’t a wrinkled mess for her photos. Voila! Grace is ready for her high school sock hop.



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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.


This is Bonnie’s dress from the movie:

bonnie and clyde

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.

sleuth photo

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.


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


You can find us on Pinterest.

beatnik beret

Plaid Sheath Dress

Although I have a fondness for creating vintage-inspired dresses, I also like to style my dolls in modern clothes. The fit of doll clothes is of utmost importance. Too large means “this looks homemade.” There is nothing chic about what I call the “prairie dress.” You can see one of my first attempts at following a pattern for the 18-inch doll here. 

I have discovered since I first got my feet wet at sewing doll clothes of this size that I had to alter at least half the patterns to get the effect that I desire. The dress that Julie wears below, the Sheath Dress by Liberty Jane, is a great example of a perfect fit. I love this dress!


Styling this dress is another matter because I did not want to cover the bodice section of the garment. I added a simple infinity scarf from McCall’s 6804. Next time, I’ll make the scarf longer; this one cuts off the neck.

Trying to dress Julie like a little girl or teenager is a challenge. Her legs are very short between her knee and her waist, which means that a hem above the knee practically meets Julie’s underwear. She must be careful when getting out of her car that the paparazzi don’t see her dress ride up. Her opaque stockings keep her classy; and they create contrast for these beautiful black boots that add richness to the plaid fabric.

You will not detect my side seams. I matched the horizontal lines of the plaid when I cut out my pattern pieces, and I basted front and back pieces together while keeping them pinned to avoid as much shifting as possible when I sewed them together. I still had to re-do a couple of sections that shifted. I also made sure that there is a nice vertical column traveling down the middle of the dress.

Here’s the dress without the infinity scarf. This design is plain but the shape of the top from the neck to the shoulders is chic.


Julie’s bracelet and earrings are from our favorite jeweler 2SistersSewCrafty.

Here’s a shot of the lining. Please note that I used velcro, instead of an invisible zipper. I plan to phase out my velcro eventually.


This white cotton lining is nice and soft. As I increase the use of serging to finish my edges, I will gradually use zippers and buttons for my closures.


You can find us on Pinterest.

DO_Spotty Flower

Vintage Blue and Beige

Although I adore fashion from the 1930s to the 1950s, my absolute favorite era is the 1930s. Kathryn Hepburn, Alice Faye, Joan Crawford, Shirley Temple, or Bonnie and Clyde may stand out in your mind as memorable images from this period.

I made this dress from a Heritage Doll Fashions pattern at Pixie Faire.


I enjoy working with Heritage patterns. Although I appreciate the way this bodice is lined, I found some of the instructions confusing. I had to recut the bodice waist lining to make it stretch across the midriff. I also shortened the midriff (the area between the yoke and the waistband) by a half-inch.

I recently found this graceful cotton print at Joann’s. Even though I have a room full of fabric, I moved this print to the front of the line to use for this dress. I think this fabric is gorgeous.

The beret is my pattern. If you look closely, you may see that the hat is eyelet.

This stunning bracelet and classic earrings came from my favorite jeweler to the stars—the “doll stars,” that is—-2SistersSewCrafty at Etsy.


You can hook up with marshmallowjane on Facebook here.

sewing machine

Saige Wears a New Sundress

If you’ve followed my blog, you’ll know that I’m picky about the patterns I choose. When they don’t deliver on their promises, I want other sewists–especially beginners—to know when there’s a pattern mistake that can spoil the outcome of the dress. This dress pattern is by Lannah Designs.  As far as I can tell this is Lannah’s first downloadable pattern on her Etsy page where she sells other items as well. This dress style isn’t unique or original. Three tiered skirts have been stylish for a while, especially in the little girls’ sections at both stores and pattern catalogs.
I will explain why I love this “Three-Tier Twirl Dress” pattern. First of all it’s cute and still trendy. This pattern is well-suited for combining different fabric prints, and it can be used several times with different fabrics and colors.

The pattern instructions are well thought out. The top is lined, and where the gathered skirt meets the bodice, the stray ends are tucked away. The back closing is also neat, and the bodice fits nicely. There’s no gap at the neckline between the two shoulder straps.

This pattern gives a good explanation of how to measure the skirt tiers. For instance, the first tier is 22 inches; the second tier is 44 inches (the approximate width of most cotton fabric); and the third tier is 88 inches (or double the width of most cottons).

Saige is the model I chose for this dress; she is American Girl‘s “Doll of the Year,” and she is only available until December 31, 2013. Although Saige comes from an impressive lineage, I never choose a doll because she’s an investment.

Look how beautiful Saige is! Her hair is stunning and easy to comb. I’d been afraid to buy a doll with wavy hair . Sometimes a new doll will arrive with a curl or kink or crimp that is permanent, unbecoming, and it makes the hair impossible to style. Generally, it’s a safer bet to buy a doll with straight hair that comes without clips or braids or a band of any kind. Saige arrived with her hair in a loose protective braid that caused no problems.

I’ve come to favor dolls with freckles and red or auburn hair. Although there is nothing like a pair of big brown eyes, I find that dolls with blue eyes generally photograph the best. Saige is “smizing” with her blue eyes.

DO_Swirly Stem2