Category Archives: pattern

Dressing Dollies

In preparation for Christmas as well as a birthday (this week!), I have been sewing some doll clothes for the little girls.  This is such fun sewing!  I have several more on the cutting table, but thought I’d share a few before they leave the house.  These are for the 18″ dolls such as the American Girl dolls, Gotz dolls, etc.

I have my wonderful Dolly’s Wardrobe book, which has patterns that match the Children’s Corner patterns.  You can still purchase this book from Children’s Corner store.  I used these patterns to make doll clothes for our daughter, and used them again for the granddaughter’s.

I had a couple blouses cut out and partially sewn from when our youngest daughter still played with dolls.  They are vintage now!  LOL!  So, I finished one of them up to go under a jumper.

The jumper pattern is from Genniewren and goes together very quickly.  Her patterns are excellent as are the instructions.  I used the a-line dress pattern, but didn’t do the color blocking for this dress.  It’s an easy change to make.  If you don’t want to change up that pattern, her Melanie pattern top could be used – just add length.

I have another jumper made, but need to make a blouse to go with it yet.

The next dress made turned out so sweet!  I love smocking and was thrilled to make up this Lucy dress pattern.  I made up my own smocking design, though Genine has a pretty smocking design included with the pattern.  I think this is my new favorite dress pattern!

Instead of embroidering small flowers, I used tiny buttons from a craft pack.  That worked out great and was very quick and easy.

The last finished outfits are pants and a smocked top.  Genine made the top pattern to match my Temily top that was in the Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine several years ago.  It has just a bit of smocking in the center.  Her top pattern is called Kataya.  The pants are a very quick sew with an elastic waist.  I used the Melanie pattern and added length to the pants.  The pants can be worn with either of the tops.

I did make a change to the top pattern and had it open all the way down the top for easier dressing.  I wanted to make this as easy as possible so that “mom” didn’t have to be involved in dressing the dolls.  LOL!

Again, I did my own smocking design, though Genine provides a pretty smocking design in the pattern.  This is such a small section to smock, it can be finished in about 1/2 hour.

On this white top, I decided to try the neckband without elastic and with only a bias band.  It worked out well, but in the end, I prefer the elastic.

For all the doll outfits, I used snaps for the closures.  I like the Snap Source snaps – they come in so many colors and with either a closed cap or an open cap.  For the doll clothes, I used the size 14.

Today I’ll wrap up a couple of these for the birthday party, and save the others for Christmas.  I have many more needed for Christmas!!!  Next up for sewing is the doll coat pattern!  I can’t wait to sew this up – it’s cut and ready!!!

Have you started your Christmas sewing yet?  If not, I highly recommend the Genniewren patterns as well as the Children’s Corner Dressing Dolly book.

Sewing For Boys – The Pants Problems….

The weather will soon be cooler, and Liam will need pants to wear.  Shopping for pants for him has proven to be quite the challenge.  Why?  Skinny pants won’t work for him.    Ideally, some pull-on type of pants would be perfect so that he can get them on/off easily.  Have you tried looking for a pull-on pant that isn’t athletic wear?  They are almost impossible to find!!!

Naturally, I thought I could make pants for him.  However, finding a pattern that would fit was equally challenging.  I have many, many pants patterns from our favorite heirloom pattern companies as well as patterns from the big 4 companies and the Ottobre magazine.  Ottobre definitely has the most stylish clothing for boys and stitch them with plenty of the same details that you find on ready to wear garments.  But going through all my magazines and then tracing – ugh!

I have found that nearly all my pattern from heirloom sewing companies as well as the big 4 companies have “issues” – either the crotch ends up too low or the rise is way too high, coming above the belly button or both.  🙄  Also, the legs tend to be quite wide.

In the end, I decided to use a pair of Izod pants that I had purchased (the only pair suitable that I found) for reference.  With Liam’s measurements  and the sample garment, I made my own pattern.  Well, the first go at it was an epic fail!!!  😂  They ended up in the trash!  But, I stuck with it and the second pattern was a winner.

I used some royal blue poplin that was in my stash.  I didn’t spend time on many details since this was a test of the pattern.   I did add the same waistband treatment with the buttonhole elastic across the back.

With the sample finished, I tried the pants on Liam.  He wasn’t too thrilled with trying on clothes.  LOL!  But, we did manage, though you will need to excuse the silly poses – I love this funny boy.

Notice how the pants are below the belly – just like ready to wear.  Why can’t sewing patterns keep up with the style/trends that ready to wear have?  No children are wearing their pants up above the belly button!  Even when/if they try, the pants will slide down below the belly – it’s just the way they are built!

Thankfully, in spite of his antics, I could see that these were a good fit.  I had some khaki fabric in the stash and it was just the right fabric for some casual church type of pants for him.  The mannequin is a bit small for these pants, but you get the idea.  That said, this picture is the best representation of the color.

Pockets were added to the back.  I think I may make them slightly smaller the next time.

Pockets in the side seam were also added and a lighter weight fabric used for the pocket bag.

The pocket was edge stitched on the front and then extra stitching was added at the base of the opening for durability.

The inseam was edge stitched for both appearance as well as durability.

A mock zipper was added to the front of the pants and then a button above it to give the appearance of a button/zip closure.

I think these will work well for Liam – he will be able to pull them up and down easily but they still have the appearance of a dress pant.  Just like that, we’re ready for the cooler weather – whenever it wants to show up!

Are you ready for fall?  What are you sewing???

 

Another Dress + Zip Tutorial

Another day, another dress!  When I delivered the last dress to Ella, Eva was very downcast that she didn’t get a dress (in spite of the fact that she told me she didn’t like it and didn’t want it the day before!).  So, since she requested a purple and pink one just like Ella’s (the C’est Dimanche Roma remake), I had to make one for her as well.  It’s a fun dress, so I was happy to make something that she actually wanted!!!  She hasn’t been a fan of any of my creations lately – only the dolly dresses.

 

I drafted the dress in a size 5, did some stash diving to find a purple and pink floral for her – she wouldn’t want “dainty”, but rather something bold.  I found a suitable purple and orange.  I hope that will suffice – there’s some pink in there!

I chose a contrast center panel for this dress – just to break up the busy print.  I am happy with the choice as well as the bright orange piping.  With fall right around the corner, I decided to add sleeves to this dress.  Keeping with the lines of the dress, I chose to draft a straight sleeve and piped those and lined them with the contrast used on the front panel.

Because I wasn’t thrilled with the button back option of the first dress, I decided that this dress would get a zipper.  I find a zipper to be a much more practical option than buttons all the way down the back – especially since this will be a play dress.  Trying to minimize the opportunity for a wardrobe malfunction!  Eva is one busy and wild girl, so wardrobe function is important.

I had Livvy and Liam over yesterday afternoon, so I got Livvy to try on the dress.  I think that it is a bit big on her – I made a size 5, and it’s a perfect fit on my size 5 mannequin, but Livvy is still 4, as is Eva.  I may have to make a size 4 pattern and sew some 4’s for Livvy and Eva.  Isn’t she cute!!!  I think I’ll add a narrow sash to the back so that it can be snugged in and worn now.  Pardon the cell phone picture!  LOL!

There are 3 different zipper choices that could be made – invisible, lapped zipper or centered zipper.  I didn’t have an invisible zipper, so opted for a lapped zipper back.  I think it’s a nice, clean finish and almost invisible.

When I learned to sew, we were taught that the centered zipper looked “cheap” as it was used on the mass-produced garments seen in less expensive stores, while lapped zippers were seen in better clothing.  I don’t even know if these distinctions are even made anymore, but in my mind, a lapped zipper looks better.  I’m happy with the results and it will make dressing quick and easy.

I know that so many seamstresses (both new seamstresses as well as seasoned ones) have a fear of zippers, so I thought I’d share my easy application that I’ve used for many years. (I had to use cell phone pictures, but I think they are clear enough)  When I learned to do zippers this way 20+ years ago, it was such a game changer for me.  I hated the basting, etc. that was taught in home ec classes and was never happy with the end results prior to this method.  I have chosen contrast fabric/zipper/thread so that it will be easy to see.

Choose your zipper, place it next to the seam area and with the top of the zipper even with the upper edge of the fabric, mark along the seam where the bottom stop of the zipper is (the metal part at the bottom).  Sew the seam below the mark with a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Press the seam allowance open.  Then press open the 5/8″ seam allowance on both sides above the stitched seam.  A seam guide works really well for this task, giving the fabric a nice crisp crease while measuring at the same time.

With the zipper foot on the machine, place the top edge of the zipper even with the top edge of the fabric and place the zipper seam allowance underneath the fold, placing the raised edge of the zipper right against the folded edge of the dress fabric.  Stitch very close to the folded edge (1/8″ or slightly less).

After taking the first couple stitches, leave the needle in the fabric and raise the zipper foot and carefully open the zipper past the zipper foot area.  Continue stitching along the folded edge.  After a couple of inches have been stitched, leave the needle in the fabric, raise the zipper foot and close the zipper.  Put the zipper foot back down and continue stitching until you reach the bottom of the zipper, where you placed the mark.

At the bottom of the zipper (make sure that you are just PAST the metal stop), leave the needle in the fabric, raise the zipper foot and pivot the fabric/zipper 90º.  Take the other side of the seam allowance and place the folded edge right on top of the stitching line and lower the zipper foot.  Hand crank the wheel of the sewing machine for 4 – 5 stitches.  You want to be just on the other side of the zipper.

Then raise the zipper foot, pivot the fabric 90º, lower the zipper foot and begin stitching back up towards the top of the fabric, keeping the stitching line evenly spaced from the folded edge (use masking tape to aide with stitching straight if needed) and with the folded edge staying exactly on top of the previously stitched line (you want to JUST cover that line of stitching).

When you approach the pull tab of the zipper, put the needle down into the fabric, raise the zipper foot and open the zipper.  Place the seam allowance of the fabric so that it is aligned with the seam allowance of the zipper.

Continue stitching keeping the foot the same distance from the folded edge and stitch to the end of the fabric.

With my contrast thread, you can see that I got a little jag over when I opened the zipper foot – I was hurrying rather than being careful.  Of course, with matching thread this wouldn’t be visible.  However, the goal is to keep everything perfectly even.  😛  It took me less than 2 minutes to put this zipper in – it took longer to stop and take the pictures during the process than it did to stitch the zipper!

As you can see, the lapped zipper is even, the stitching line is covered by the fold of the lap.  When a waistband or facing is sewn to the top edge, it leaves a beautiful finish.

If you’ve been afraid of zippers, give this a practice try – you’ll be amazed at how easy zipper installation is using this technique.

What’s next in the sewing room?  Maybe another pattern draft, though I have pulled out and washed some knits that I may give a try sewing.  😃

French Pattern Review and Remake

If you read my last post about the knit nightgowns, you know that my friend sent me home with a French pattern that she was anxious for me to make.  So, that was my project for the day yesterday.

Over the weekend I spent time researching the dress pattern since I wasn’t at all familiar with the pattern line or this specific dress.  The pattern line is called C’est Dimanche and the pattern name is Roma.  Because my Norton security indicates that the website may not be “safe”, I have not gone there for any information or to see what else is available.  I’m notorious for getting viruses.  😳

Isn’t this the cutest dress!!!  The designer clearly has some fabulous design ideas.  Cuteness sells, and I think she’s sold quite a few!

Pinterest was my main source for research.  I like to see the fit of the dress on a real child since I know that sketches can be misleading.  The pictures on Pinterest weren’t encouraging – most looked to be ill-fitting and too long-waisted.  I also found a blog with a “tutorial”, which is obviously needed given the instructions it was really tragic, to say the least (bias cut on the straight, etc. – and it turned out as bad as you are imagining!!!).  I decided a muslin of the bodice was necessary before cutting into good fabric.

This pattern is so trendy and fun – I can certainly see the appeal.  The open neckline and the faux Peter pan collar are something that young moms really like!  True necklines and classic Peter pan collars are things that I continually hear young moms call “old-fashioned”, not to mention that they believe that the necklines are too tight.  Kids today aren’t used to the close fit of a true neckline, so I can see where they may be perceived as too tight.  Generational differences.  LOL!

Cutting out the muslin and then attempting to sew it proved to be more of a challenge than i anticipated!!!  The pattern was first offered only in French, but later an english version was offered, which is what my friend bought.  That said, the english version is most interesting.  LOL!   I have to wonder about the translation.  These are phrases that aren’t ones I’ve ever encountered in my many years of sewing.

The description leaves a lot to be desired and the diagram doesn’t really help.  LOL!  Thankfully, I don’t really need instructions.  Pity the seamstress that does need them!!!

There were several things about the muslin that I found to be strange.  After sewing the shoulder seams, I thought that they looked very oddly shaped.  What’s with that jut outwards at the shoulder seam?

Once I got the muslin going, I found other minor issues that were easily corrected.  The biggest problem that I found was the lack of directions regarding the seam at the back bodice – I couldn’t find any directions or diagrams for that.  I suspect that is the reason that there are no pictures on any fan blogs of the back of the dress.  The pattern markings are only in French.  You do cut the back lining shorter than the bodice lining at the back edge. I believe that the bodice is to wrap around to the back to make a facing, and then join to the lining.  However, I never found any instructions in the pattern that addressed the bodice back and I’m not sure how that happens after you stitch the entire neckline.  😳  Thankfully, it is only a muslin.  I marked the center back line and left the back unstitched.

Once the bodice was finished, I tried it on my victim.  The fit wasn’t stellar and the longer waistline just looked frumpy. I decided that rather than work with this pattern draft, I would take the idea and draft my own pattern from a bodice that I know fits.  I’m so glad that I did!

The pattern instructions leave out so many instructions – no interfacing is advised, no instructions to clip curves before turning, no under stitching, no stitching reinforcement at that sharp turn of the collar section (though a circle of iron-on interfacing is suggested as optional), etc.  I don’t know if the designer assumes that this is common knowledge, or if she’s  not familiar with these techniques.

My final assessment of the pattern is that the designer has a wonderful idea, but the pattern and instructions leave a LOT to be desired.  I wouldn’t recommend it, though she has a fan blog with many glowing reviews.

My dress is made from a lightweight print chambray.  I added piping to the armholes as well as the waistline.  I interfaced the faux collar to give it body and crispness and, of course, interfaced the facings in the back.

The original pattern has a gathered skirt and a waistline that is lower, more at the true waist. I don’t care for that look on little girls (most of the Pinterest pictures confirmed that), so I went with my usual raised waistline.  I thought that the style of the dress was very “Laverne and Shirley” (you have to be over 50 to be familiar with that reference), so I decided to put a circle skirt on the bodice.  I love the result!!!

I did choose to button all the way down the back, which isn’t my favorite for kids.  Next time I think I’ll do an invisible zipper, which I think will be a better choice.

I can’t wait to see this on Ella!  My mannequin is a professional fitting mannequin, but a size 5 and the dress is a size 7.  Not idea, but it’s the best I can do.  This dress is really for next spring/summer for Ella, but I’m sure that she will be able to wear it a little big for the remainder of the summer.  Now that I have the pattern drafted in Ella’s size, I may try another one with more of an heirloom twist.  We’ll see….

I think my next project will be a quick and easy dress for Eva’s doll.  She doesn’t like anything I sew for her 😂, but she’s all about new clothes for her doll.

 

 

 

Beach and Bonnets!!!

Last weekend was spent at the beach with friends.  We had a wonderful time and great weather!!!  I can’t wait to go again!

During the 3-1/2 hour drive there and back, I was smocking bonnets!!!  I love a sweet bonnet and all our little girls (daughters and granddaughters) wore bonnets.  After returning home from the beach, I got busy putting together the bonnets so that I could get my new pattern listed on Etsy.  I’m thrilled to offer this bonnet pattern.  I’ve named it Bella’s Vintage Smocked Bonnet.  It was inspired by the many vintage bonnet patterns that I’ve seen.

I’ve included 2 different styles for the bonnets – the bonnet on the left has more smocking and bias trim details while the bonnet on the right is a quicker and easier style with just a bit of smocking at the bonnet brim, narrow hemmed sides and a casing with ribbon for the back closure.

Because baby head sizes vary so much, I’ve included 4 sizes in the pattern.  A Preemie (5 lb.) size, which also fits the Bitty Baby dolls, a NB – 6 mo. size, a 1 – 2 and a 2 – 3.  I believe that pretty much covers all sizes that would wear a bonnet.  LOL!  It is just as sweet on a doll as on a baby!

This is the NB sized bonnet being modeled by a Lee Middleton doll.

This is the Preemie size modeled on an American Doll Bitty Baby doll.

Graphs for all the sizes are included in the pattern, so no need to figure out how to downsize the graph.  I’ve had such fun making each of these bonnets!

All of my bonnets were made from Imperial batiste for easy wash/wear.  I know how quickly a little drool can “decorate” the bonnets, so something easy to wash and put back on the baby was planned, though it would be beautiful in the special heirloom fabrics as well. I look forward to making more of these to have for baby gifts!  I hope that others will also enjoy making them as well!!!

So, that’s what I’ve been stitching lately – what have you been up to?.