Tag Archive | garment fit

Vintage ’40s in Blue and Red

Although this dress is obviously influenced by years past, Bunny Bear Patterns describes her design, “Soda Pop,” as vintage 1940s.  I’m no expert, but I see this more like the 1950s or even the 1960s. The clothes from all these years make me happy, so I guess the point is moot. Here is the dress:


The bodice fit is this pattern’s best feature. I love the darts in the front and back; few doll clothes patterns include darts. This pattern has no neck facing; it is impossible for me to make my work neat without a facing, or better yet, without a lining for the bodice. I lined the bodice and hand-stitched the hem of the cap sleeve and the lining for it.

For some reason, white collars have almost become a trademark of my doll dresses. I often spend time perusing fabric stores for white print on white so that I can easily mix the white collar or white blouse with a bolder print. This closeup view features this collar in all its glory. Hopefully, you can see the white design on the white background that is machine embroidered. I was a bit nervous about getting this collar even. A mistake is always more obvious with a white collar against a darker colored dress. This collar is just about perfect.

Here are some thoughts about sewing collars, lapels, pockets, ties, or any shape that is sewn together and turned right-side out. This is a bamboo point turner like the one I’ve used for several years. When I started sewing with more delicate fabrics, I added more point turners to my sewing tools. Amazon has a variety of them. In the past, I was so hung up about getting my collars or other items perfectly pointed that I’d accidentally stretch the fabric while trying to shape the corner. I’m learning to hold back. This particular collar was a challenge because the embroidered fabric added bulk to the seam. I trimmed the seam very close to the point before turning the collar. Then I was careful when I turned the collar. My “point” is “round” at the end, but it looks pointed from a distance.

point turner

This pattern suggests using 1/4-inch ribbon. I couldn’t grasp the idea of sewing two rows of stitch on delicate ribbon so I used 1/4-inch double-folded red bias tape. I’m getting pretty good at sewing on bias tape. In case you didn’t know, one side of double-folded bias tape is slightly wider than the other side.


If you sew on the narrow side, you will be certain to catch both sides without falling off the under side edge. Further more, if you try different presser feet, you can find one that makes sewing very close to the edge easy. I didn’t go off track once with this sewing project. My stitching is not perfect, but it is close to it.


I’d planned to attach two bows to this finished dress, as the pattern suggests. I’d purchased ribbon that matched the bias tape thinking the similar colors would fool the eye. But I realized that my ribbon was 3/8-inch wide, 1/8-inch too wide. It didn’t look right. I decided to fall back on my favorite rose that I learned to make with McCall’s 6875.

This dress is unequivocally one of my favorite projects EVER. I give the pattern designer much credit for this sweet dress. However, I think the pattern requires lots of experience because the photos aren’t as clear as they could be. I can usually get by relying on the instructions, but I’ve sewn many dresses and only need guidance on the details. I think the pattern would be better if the bodice were lined, like I lined mine. The neck should at least have a facing. Otherwise, there’s just a small clipped 1/4-inch seam on the other side of the neckline.


You might be able to see how straight my stitching is in the photo above, especially with the red thread on the white lining. I’m not bragging about my talent; I’m showing you a skill I have learned, not based on talent; it’s based on trial and error and figuring out what to focus on in order to sew in a straight line. In this case, the edge of my presser foot lined up close to the edge of the bias tape. I still have trouble controlling the presser foot when I’m sewing over something too thick for the feed dog to work properly. In that case, I’m liable to go off the edge or get stuck.

A little word about using Velcro. I’ve tried pinning it on, and/or basting it, but pushing straight pins through the Velcro and the layers of the garment is difficult, even risky. I’d always stab myself. Now, I use one straight pin for general placement only, and then I hold the strip of Velcro in place with my fingers as I stitch it. I start sewing somewhere in the middle of the long side of the strip, instead of the end; this way the Velcro doesn’t shift out-of-place while I’m stitching over the bumpy beginning of the strip.


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soda pop clip art

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.


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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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.


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.


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.


christmas avatar

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Vintage in Lavender

My original plan was to make doll clothes that mimic current fashion for little girls. I had little interest in old-fashioned dresses that (to me) look like prairie dresses. I’d wanted to focus on separates, and I especially wanted my doll clothes to be chic and trendy.

I have discovered that some current fashion does not suit an 18-inch doll’s body because American Girl and Madame Alexander have a shape that is boxy. I’ve always preferred these dolls over “Barbie” probably because I was just outgrowing (phase one of) my dolls when Barbie arrived upon the scene. I want a flat chest on my doll. I prefer a boyish figure for my doll.

I have found one characteristic of the 18-inch doll that creates a challenge for dressing her. This doll has a chunky/boxy back from the waist to the butt. She has no small of the back. Pants and skirts and clothes that reveal this boxy shape aren’t that fun for me to make. This is one reason that I prefer making dresses for American Girl.

Also, I love vintage clothes, particularly from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. The follow is a Heritage Doll Fashion that is sold by Pixie Faire.


As much as I like this dress pattern, the polka dot trims don’t stand out as much as I would like because the floral fabric is busy. Yet this same floral fabric warms my heart; it reminds me of a house dress my mother wore when I was a child. Here’s another view of the dress that shows a slightly better view of the waist placket.


This dress pattern is fairly straight-forward to follow. The biggest challenge is getting all the seams the same size (1/4 inch) so that the collar, sleeve cuffs, pocket trim, and plackets look perfectly even. I did not choose to use the front placket or the tied bow in the back of the dress.

I did not follow the directions for the side plackets or the pocket trims. I chose my method. Instead of pressing a 1/4-inch hem on every side of the placket, I cut two plackets (four all together) and sewed them right sides together, leaving a small opening so that I could turn the plackets right side out and press. My method is more accurate and neater (and therefore easier).

I enjoyed using this Heritage pattern. I also made another Heritage pattern that I call Vintage Blue and Beige.

I’m using my favorite doll jeweler called 2SistersSewCrafty at Etsy.


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flower with fairy



Project Runway: The Insanity Must Go

Each of the competitors was asked to design an outfit for one of Project Runway’s super fans. I generally prefer challenges that use professional runway models, but I must say that these ladies brought much spunk and positivity to the work room and to the runway. Unfortunately, I do not see a list, even at the Lifetime website, of these gorgeous ladies’ names.

Let’s talk about Ken first because he has been getting lots of attention for losing his temper and intimidating the other designers by yelling and sneering at them. “Sneering” is a perfect word for Ken’s side glances that are full of hostility. Ken was a perfect, considerate gentleman to his super fan. After their trip to Mood, they ended up with this green fabric that nobody seemed to like, including Ken. (Ken mentioned several times that his super fan Susi is the one who chose the green fabric. Here is Susi’s version of the story in Notes from a Super Fan.)


Ken’s delightful super fan, Susi.

I don’t think the green is terrible. I rather like the dark leather pieces. Ken doesn’t think that PR portrayed him accurately at all. You can read his own words, if you’d like. Ken’s Website. Ken’s Twitter account.

Last week when I visited Tom and Lorenzo’s blog, I made the comment that Ken’s viciousness and lack of self-control had probably led to him serving some jail time. One of the other posters called me a racist for putting a black man in prison. Actually, I didn’t mean prison. I’d envisioned somebody calling the police as a result of Ken losing his cool. I must conclude that anyone who will behave in front of the camera in this manner will certainly do worse. He’d tried bullying everyone, including the women. He’d even said to Alexandria, “Don’t you even look at me.”

When I said that this situation wasn’t about race, this woman said that usually when people say “this isn’t about race,” this is indeed about race. Many of the other posters at Tom and Lorenzo complained about Ken’s rages, and they are relieved that he was eliminated this week. If you are curious about this last week’s episode and Ken’s behavior, and you have a couple of valuable hours to waste on Ken, I invite you to check the links I’ve posted.

It was obvious that the conflict between him and Ken knocked Alexander off his game. He has consistently produced good designs on the show. This wasn’t one of them.


Alexander’s unfinished look

I’m not loving his unfinished outfit, nor can I see what he could do to improve upon it much. Fortunately, the judges consider the designers’ body of work during the season, so they eliminated Ken who had been in the bottom two several times.

This next look, going from miss to hit down the page, is by Alexandria. (What a pain it is to distinguish between the two names, “Alexander” and “Alexandria,” this season. Oh, well.)

Alexandria’s super fan requested a look that she could wear to job interviews. I like this better than the judges did, but I find Alexandria’s design esthetic difficult to understand at times. Her work runs the gamut from fashion forward to awkward and zany. The dark jacket doesn’t photograph well over the dark waistband—or cummerbun.


Will this “look” take Alexandria’s client to a job interview?

These super fans came to the show for full makeovers. Everyone agrees that this new hair color is fabulous on Alexandria’s client.

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