Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Doll: Vintage Sheet Dress

First of all, please excuse the quality of the picture. It has been raining nonstop here for days, and my light box is out of commission at the moment. I tried to adjust the settings in my editing software so you could actually see the dress. The dress turned out exactly the right shade after editing, but it made the doll look rather dark.

I didn't style her hair, either. That's my daughter's doing. She's pretty good for seven years old, and she'll be a pro before long.

I've been sewing up a storm lately. Did I mention that these dolls have a whole new wardrobe by now? This dress was one of the first ones I made, and it's from a free pattern. You can find the pattern from My Cup Overflows here.

There are a few things you should know about this pattern.
  • First of all, and most importantly, make sure it prints full-sized! Even when I tried printing it at 100%, it didn't come out to the proper measurements. (Check in the comments where she mentions the length of the sleeve band to give you an idea of proportion.) It may just be my printer (we're not on speaking terms at the moment), but I thought I'd let you know just in case.
  • She's not kidding when she says it's a tight fit. If you sew all the seams at 1/4" (or even slightly less), you won't be able to get the doll's arms into it, whether you try putting it on from the top or the bottom. My solution: Add 1/4" to the sides of the bodice pieces (but not where the neckline is). Like this:

  • If you do this, be sure to add 1/2" to the side of the skirt pattern so everything will line up properly.
  • Even after those modifications, I still had trouble getting the doll into it. There's no way a child would be able to do it on a regular basis. Then I had one of those "duh!" moments - I should have left the entire back of the dress open and used Velcro. I did it on another one, and it works perfectly. The trick is to leave at least half of the skirt back open so you have room for her arms to get into the dress. (If she were jointed at the elbow, it may not be a problem.) I may even try a small (maybe 6-7") zipper at some point, since I really like the look of this dress and plan to make a bunch more.
  •  If you have fabric on hand, this is very fat-quarter-friendly as you can see here:
  •  If you're buying fabric, you'll need 3/8 yard. You'll have enough leftover to make something like a skirt with. A matching headband would be really cute, too. I've been thinking about those, but haven't made any just yet.
  • The lack of any bodice facings irked the seamstress in me, especially since I find it harder to narrow hem the round neckline than to actually use a facing. My easy solution was to cut an extra set of the bodice pieces and use them like a lining. The side seams and armhole seams are still "raw" (although I did serge them to make them neater), but it solves the whole problem of the neckline quite easily.
  • The sleeve cuffs work beautifully when done in a wide ribbon. 
Well, I think that's about it. I really like this pattern because it's so basic that you can do anything you want with it. Change up the bodice or the skirt, add some ruffles or trims, and you can have just about any style that you want.

I'll be showing you more dresses from this pattern in the coming days.


Shoregirl said...

Cute dress and what a perfect use for vintage sheet material!

Eileen said...

I have that same doll! Does your daughter have problems with her hair being really slippery?

Christa said...

I've noticed that it's a lot more silky/slippery than the off-brand dolls we have, but I don't know if it's more slippery than other AG dolls because this is the only 18" AG that we have right now. We do have a few Bitty Twins whose hair is comparably silky/slippery, but it's not very long so it's hard to compare. It might be worth noting that the Pleasant Company Bitty Twin we rescued from a thrift store is not quite as silky-haired, but that may be because of her age or how her hair was or was not taken care of at her previous home.

I'm not complaining, though, because the slipperiness is part of what sets their hair apart. Properly taken care of, it's not going to frizz as easily as the off-brand dolls we've rescued from thrift stores. It's also much easier to style, once your fingers get used to the silkiness of their hair. (The off-brand dolls' hair tends to get frizzed so badly that you can't section it for braids without doing a Downy dunk.)

Have you tried the tiny no-breakage elastics from the dollar store? They look like shiny rubber bands. They come about 500 to a pack and are designed for use in human hair without causing split ends. They grip the hair well and can hold hair sections in place until you're ready to style them. If you get the clear ones or ones that match her hair, you might not even need to remove them to style the hair.

I'm not sure if that helped or not. Feel free to ask more if you'd like!