Tag Archive | shopping for fabric

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.


You can find us on Pinterest.

soda pop clip art

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.


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.


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.


I love this color combo. You can look forward to seeing more of my brilliant holiday color combos in the near future.


You can find us on Pinterest.


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.

Continue reading

Buying Fabric for Doll Clothes

DO_Tiny Flower100_0384

Doll clothes don’t require much fabric, and if you’re resourceful, you may find scraps around the house, like blue jean legs or old t-shirts. I find that sheets or pillow cases make good bodice lining. This is good news for me because I live in a city without a fabric store—-or let’s say without a store that sells fine fabric at a price that is practical. We have a quilt store with a beautiful variety of cotton, but there is nothing under $9.99 a yard. Don’t pay that much unless you are absolutely nuts about the fabric, and you can use it ten different ways.

The smaller JoAnn Stores aren’t that exciting, but the newer JoAnn Super Stores have a variety of fabric depending upon the geographic location of the store. My sister lives in Fremont with a significant population of Asian and Indian fabric buyers. As a result the store carries stunning silk and sari fabric. The new-ish store in Dublin has stunning cottons with batik prints, ginghams, seersucker, fake fur, and other fun fabrics. A newer store is opening in Livermore, which is even closer to me. But unfortunately, there is no JoAnn Store on this side of the mountain pass unless I go to Manteca.

I find myself shopping in Walmart which is low in rich fabric, and even lower in sewing notions, but I can make do. In fact, I should probably note which of the doll clothes I’ve made so far that originated with fabric from Walmart. I see that maybe half of my projects began there. Here is an example of my favorite fabric.

The above fabric is an unbelievable find from Walmart.

Isn’t it stunning? This fabric looks like it was hand dyed. I’m not sure about making doll clothes with this find. I think I’ll make a vest for myself, and with the remaining remnant, I’ll try a doll skirt which could be interesting.

DO_Tiny Flower