Tag Archive | sleeves

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.


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.


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.


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



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Vintage Green Print

For this dress I use another favorite piece of fabric, instead of saving it that elusive special day. No more saving. The holidays are approaching quickly, even though January 2014 was yesterday; wasn’t it?

Saige wears a dress that is perfect for a December party. Perhaps she’ll wear this to The Nutcracker Ballet. Who ever said that red wasn’t a great color for red-heads?

Because some of the flowers on this print are on the large size, I took care in where these flowers were placed. For instance, I tried to have roughly the same amount of flowers on each sleeve, instead of all green background on one sleeve and a huge flower on the other.


This “look” is a bit childish perhaps. I didn’t simulate Young Vogue or Seventeen as I usually try to do. My 10-inch Madame Alexander dolls come dressed like this, wearing several layers of gathers. I wanted to try something new that I might use for formal dresses and wedding gowns.

The obvious standout of this look is the polka dot slip that purposely shows underneath (it matches the sleeves and the collar); FYI, it has less gathers than the dress to cut down on extra bulk at the waist. The lace was simple to attach. I look forward to adding more undergarments to future doll clothes.

This basic dress begins with Simplicity 9381:


The version of the dress I made is on the right side with the shades of pink and green on top of a red slip. If you look closely, you can see that the dress hem has been pulled up on each side by gathers, and a bow is placed on top of each gather. My big problem with this pattern is that the placement of these two side gathers is too far from the center. The rendering of the dress on the envelope doesn’t match the real placement of these gathers. Therefore, my own gathers are difficult to see unless Saige is turned sideways. This type of gather creates permanent holes in the fabric so I wouldn’t want to move them. I ironed some interfacing to the back of the skirt to prevent the holes from getting larger.

The short sleeves of this pattern are actually too long and puffy for my taste. I prefer to stick with the short sleeves from my “vintage” patterns. I used the same sleeve pattern that I’ve used on my last two dresses. Using a sleeve from a different pattern is perfectly acceptable, as long as the armhole shapes on the bodice of each pattern are similar.

The slip and the skirt are perfect lengths but the bodice of S9381 is too large. I should have cut it smaller. Instead, I added this red belt to give it shape. I had to include one of my berets.


I added some single-folded bias tape to prevent raveling and to cover the rough edges of the gathers at the waist.


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DO_Spotty Flower

Vintage Silhouette Dress

This Silhouette Dress, by Eden Ava Couture, was inspired by a 1956 dress by the Advance Pattern Company. I dressed my 1930s doll Kit in this dress because I think it looks more like a dress from the Depression Era.


The seams are difficult to see in this photo but the skirt has seven sections, making it almost circular, and giving this empire dress a beautiful shape. This is one of the few doll dresses I’ve made that has plenty of room for the back closure, but the roominess does not take away the shape.

The white pique collar is removable. I have a glorious stash of buttons, so I added these as an afterthought. The collar snaps in back.

I serged most of my seams. Unfortunately, most Velcro will snag the serged edges. Although I used Velcro here that is “snagless,” it still snags a bit. My goal is to use strictly zippers and buttons eventually. See the inside below:


A couple of comments about this pattern: I love it, and I will use it, over and over again. However, I think my dress turned out nicer than the dress on the pattern cover (see link above). Maybe I ironed mine better; maybe my choice of fabric was better. I added a row of top-stitching to the empire seam to make it lie flat. I also used a different sleeve pattern. I didn’t care for the way the pattern was cut, and I have several patterns for vintage dresses so I simply swapped the full sleeve out. I am happy with the results.

I almost always include a Beret with my vintage dresses. This Beret pattern is mine. This dress has the look of a 1930s dress when Berets were very popular (think of Bonnie Parker).

I added this bracelet from my favorite Etsy store, 2SistersSewCrafty, even though it’s a bit fancy for Kit.


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flower and ivy



Dressing for Easter

Finding a cute dress that includes a pattern for both little girls and 18-inch dolls is a rare find. Here is McCall’s 6875 in both sizes. I suggest sewing for your little girl first.


Since I only had my doll model available, I had to peek at the girl’s instructions for clarity. I like the way the little cap sleeves fit the bodice. The seams must be exactly 1/4-inch wide for the bodice and cap sleeve to fit together properly. With an exact fit, the lining covers the bodice perfectly.

View B (for dolls) omitted instructions to add the sash front; it gave clear instructions for the back of the sash but the bow looked cheap and sloppy made from the plain pink fabric. The seams of the sash showed through the bow. I considered finding a different fabric, but instead, I removed the back of the sash (the tie-bow) completely.

The flower on the sash front was easy to make. The directions say to pin the rose to the sash front but I didn’t want to leave a huge hole in the plain pink fabric so I tacked the rose to the sash front with a fine needle and thread.

The dress is a perfect fit for American Girl, but I removed 1-1/2 inches from the skirt bottom before adding the pink band to the hem. Due to the shape of the skirt, I had to adjust the size of the pink band before attaching it to the hem.

This pattern is a perfect Easter dress, especially if your little girl and her doll would like to match. The girl’s dress has a zipper; the doll’s dress closes with velcro.


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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.


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.

DO_Swirly Stem2