Tag Archive | fitting doll clothes

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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

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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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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