Tag Archive | serger

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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You can find us on Pinterest.

sparkle pink

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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You can find us on Pinterest.

beret cat

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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You can find us on Pinterest.

soda pop clip art

Casual Winter Plaid

This outfit began with Butterick 5865, a simple dress with a capped sleeve, perfect for Julie. I love working with plaid when the rectangles are small enough for doll clothes. Once I cut the front and back bodice pieces to line up the horizontal lines on the sides, I thought the pattern would be a piece of cake.

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Unfortunately, the skirt gave me some grief. Although the pieces were to be gathered, they were cut at an angle, like a wedge, or part of a circle. I pictured the skirt hanging nicely to create more of a vintage look. I must laugh at myself a bit because after cutting the side seams of the skirt pieces so that the horizontal lines of the plaid design would match, the joke was on me. I realized that matching plaid won’t work for this type of skirt—or I couldn’t figure out how to do it.

My sewing motto is, “Anything can be fixed”—almost. I figured I could recut the skirt using a plain red or white or a coordinating print. Those options weren’t working for me, so I decided to cut a plain gathered skirt without angled seams. Unfortunately, I only I had a scrap of fabric left, just about enough for testing my Serger stitch whenever I re-thread it. Fortunately, I was able to eke out a tiny skirt with an elastic waist.

Since I had already ironed a hem in the bodice lining (that would have covered up the gathers of the original skirt), transforming the bodice of the dress into a blouse was simple. The blouse is a tiny bit large, so I used the whole width of red Velcro.

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The skirt was so simple with a Serger—or without one. I finished all sides of the fabric. Although it is easier to sew the back seam of the skirt last, the skirt turns out neater to form the seam before hemming the bottom and forming a casing for elastic at the top. The skirt waistline is less bulky if the ends of the elastic are sewn together with one end on top of the other end, once the elastic has been threaded through the casing with a safety-pin or a bodkin.

Julie wears an “owl” necklace and matching earrings created by my friend Ann at 2SistersSewCrafty.

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The deep red plaid is a nice background for the rustic finishes of the owl necklace.

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You can find us on Pinterest.

Love Child Chic

Here is my flower child, wearing embroidered jeans and a tie-dyed blouse with big sleeves. American Girl features historical dolls, and this one is “Julie” from the early 1970s.

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This blouse is Simplicity 2296. You can see how it looked before I altered it here. I used the same print for the yoke, sleeves and body, and I added much width to the bell sleeves for additional drape and drama. I had planned to create my print using a resist dye method,  such as tie-dye or batik, but then I found this stunning print. Isn’t it amazing? I loved ironing the fabric and cutting out the pieces. I looked forward to working with the print, and I’d wanted to return to Joann’s and buy more fabric to adorn myself. I didn’t mind that the fabric ravels because the seam was easy to serge. But this stunning fabric wrinkles when I touch it. I had to fix Julie’s hair and add her jewelry before putting her in the blouse.

Since this blog is about sharing both my successes and challenges, I might as well mention this: I give much attention to detail, and the inside of my garments will look as neat as possible. For instance, I covered the gathers of the blouse with lace hem tape, and I serged the back seam and opening. Here is the big problem that most doll clothes makers will probably encounter. After attaching velcro to the back opening, the velcro snagged the serged stitches loose in two places.

I believe that the Velcro Company now manufactures snag-free velcro. I think it only has one strip that serves as double-duty for both the male and female strips. (This is the best way I can describe velcro.) I’ve only seen this Velcro in white and black. I’d love feedback on this subject.

Here’s a funny thing about sewing this blouse: I’ve often complained about the difficulty I find setting in a doll clothes sleeve without gathers or tucks. In this case, however, the blouse called for gathers, and I was able to set the sleeve in without a gather or wrinkle. Go figure.

I did a lot of handwork on this blouse because a garment will often hang better without the weight of the continuous thread of the machine hem, especially on the sleeves of a doll blouse. If the fabric is lightweight, the relatively heavy hem can create a shape of its own and prevent the fabric from draping naturally.

I tried to lighten the color of denim by bleaching it and washing it several times. I think the trick is to sand fabric to make it look worn. These bell-bottoms are my basic pattern. I actually basted them together to check the fit and then took them apart to sew beads on one of the legs.

Julie’s bracelet and earrings remind me of jewelry I once purchased from the vendors on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley and Polk Street in San Francisco. If you’re looking for reasonably priced, beautiful doll jewelry, you can find similar pieces at 2SistersSewCrafty on Etsy, and their turn-around time is excellent.

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