Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Easy Doll's Outfit (to Match Tulip Dress)

I had some scraps of material left after making my grand-daughter a dress, and as she currently carries her dolly everywhere, I thought I'd make Dolly a dress, too. 
Back view:

Dolly's dress was so quick and easy to do, I thought I'd share how I made it. There are also matching knickers.

First, I measured round Dolly's chest (actually, it was another doll's chest that I thought was the same size). I added about 1 1/2" to this measurement. I wanted the yoke or bodice to be about an inch and a quarter deep, so I cut a rectangle about 3 1/2" by the chest-measurement-plus-1 1/2". That allowed for about half inch seam allowances.

I then cut another rectangle that was about one and a half times as long, by about 5-6" deep. (You can measure this according to how long you want the skirt.) One side of the long measurement had a selvedge, thus meaning I didn't need to hem it. (The length was entirely arbitrary, you could make the skirt as gathered as you like.) 

I folded the yoke in half longways, right sides together. Then I sewed along a half inch seam allowance at either end. I trimmed the seam and especially the sewn corners, so I could turn it the right way out and press it.

The order in which you make the skirt is up to you. I did it like this:

First I ran a line of stitches along. If you do this by machine, use the largest stitch length. However, this is such a small piece you could do it by hand, as I did.

Next, you need to get the skirt to be the same width as the yoke - the finished size of the yoke between the seam allowances.

Note that if you don't have a selvedge on the bottom, this would be a a possible time to turn up a little hem. Fortunately allowing room for growth is not something we need to worry about with doll's clothes. Or you can leave it until you've done the back seam.

You could then attach the skirt between the two layers of the yoke (the two long raw edges). However, I made the back seam of the skirt first. Note that I left the top of the seam open to form a sort of placket. Just as well I did this, as you'll see when it comes to the fitting. So I folded the skirt piece in half, right sides together, this time not lengthwise but vertically, and stitched from the bottom up to about an inch and a half from the top. Make sure you over-stitch the opening so it is strong.
You'll see from the diagram above that I also made little minimal hems on the sides of the opening above the back seam. This would be a further good point to hem the bottom edge if you need to, should you not have done it earlier. You can make a slightly neater hem if you do the seam first.

The next task was to attach the skirt to the yoke. Pin the right side of the gathered skirt to the right side of one edge of the yoke (leaving the other edge free). Then stitch along it, and press.

After pressing the seam, turn it over so you are looking at the wrong side of the skirt. I also pressed in the seam allowance on the back side of the yoke just to make it easier. Then hem it, so the skirt is encased between the two layers. I did this by hand so the stitches don't show on the right side. But you could oversew it by machine if you wanted.

Next, I sewed two little bits of Velcro, one on the outside of one side of the back, and the other on the inside of the other side, so you will have a slightly overlapping opening. The opening will go partway down into the skirt, but don't worry about that - because of the gathering, it will be fine!

The final thing was to make straps. The dress was so tight it would hold up without, but this was supposed to be a sundress, not a boob tube! In my sewing drawers, I had, as it happened, some pale pink elastic. I don't think you really need elastic, if you are making a close-fitting dress, but using elastic meant the fitting could be a bit flexible, as it needed to be. (Client not present during design and making of dress.) First I made two little loops and attached either side at the back. (The little white bit on the yoke in the picture below is supposed to represent the Velcro that is on the outside. You can't see the other bit as it's inside.)

And finally, I made two strings (also of the pink elastic) to attach to the front. These then go over the shoulders, through the loops at the back, and tie in a bow. You could use any type of straps and fastening you want, make buttonholes if you prefer, and finish the dress beautifully. I was making for speed, as Dolly had carelessly lost her other outfit (or it needed to be washed, I don't remember). And anyway I don't do button-holes - or very rarely.

By the way, this method of fastening a dress (with loops and straps) is very similar to the one used by Preethi for her Wiidi Creations Mela dress, though not with elastic - so thank you for the idea, Preethi.

Then, we tried it on. Unfortunately, Dolly must have put on some weight since she was measured for this dress, as you can see below. Well, in fact, it wasn't her I measured, as she was with Jane, and not with me. I measured another 14" doll that I thought was pretty much the same size if not rounder. But Dolly's soft body means she is a little tubbier round the middle than I realised. Fortunately, because she is soft bodied, she is squashable, so she just has to breathe in a bit when we fasten her up. And her dress matches Jane's.

I should say that the whole dress took me no more than about half an hour, making it all by hand. I'll add the matching knickers later.

PS I did later give her a bit more breathing space by redoing the bodice part. I unpicked one end and added a little extension, so it's not quite so tight now.

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