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Welcome to my Blog

I am a grandmother to 4 little girls. I blog about the things I make for them, review patterns, provide tutorials on how I've dealt with techniques or problems, which I hope may help others, and give links to the (mostly) free patterns I use. Every so often, I do a 'Best of..' post listing the best free patterns I've found under specific headings - babies, girls, boys etc. Enjoy the Blog!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Top and Pants for Dolly

I've been busy making a few outfits for my grand-daughter's 15" doll. She's had to spend a bit of time recovering from an operation, not allowed to mix with other children until she's back to full strength. So dressing and undressing her Dolly and putting her to bed has helped fill in a few frustrating hours.

This outfit  comprises a little top or short dress, and a pair of knickers to match. I made a pattern, which is easy to copy, and I've written up how I made it up as a tutorial. It will fit a doll 15-16" - but it is quite forgiving and could easily be adapted. And they are ultra simple to make. To find out more - follow the jump!

Doll's panties / knickers

The knickers used the same pattern as other outfits I've made for Dolly. You may think when you cut them out that they look rather wide, but trust me, once they're elasticated, they'll crunch up small, and will provide enough stretch to get the knickers on and off. This shows a pair as cut out, with another pair after elasticating them.

And here they are again after elastication of both pairs!

Materials required:

  • Free pattern here. Two pieces, front and back.
  • A fabric scrap about 18" x 5" or 9" x 10" - or you could probably get 3 or 4 pairs out of a fat quarter
  • Sewing thread
  • Narrow elastic (less than 1/4" - mine was 6mm) for the waist x the doll's waist measurement long - mine was 29 cm or or 11 3/8" long
  • Shirring elastic (or you could use very narrow elastic - but I found shirring elastic was easy and quick)

How to make up the doll's knickers

First, print the PDF pattern. It should open up as a pdf which you can download and print. Make sure you print it actual size, not 'fit to scale' or anything else. However, it is drawn on half inch graph paper, so if it doesn't look the right size (on A4 paper) it would be easy to redraw square by square onto a new piece of graph paper. As a guide, the centre front (the fold) of the knickers is exactly 9 squareas, or 4 1/2". Because I used half inch graph paper, I have to measure it to give you that in centimetres. It measures approximately 11.4 cm.

Next, cut out the two pieces. You'll notice the back is higher than the front. I'm sorry that on the picture below, this isn't as clear as it should be. Front and back are actually the same width, but the perspective makes the front (shown at the bottom of the picture) look much larger - and the pattern, at the top of the picture, looks tiny.

At this stage, with the bits still flat, I like to fold and press down the waist hem, about 1/8" and then 1/4". I also press in the leg hems, usually I don't bother with a double hem but just fold in the raw edge about 1/8" and press it. Pressing at this stage just makes it a bit easier later on. You won't see this on the pictures below, because I was making these while on holiday with my grand-daughter, so I was making the whole thing by hand. But that's what I SHOULD have done!

Next, open the folds out at the ends and make the crutch seam and the two side seams, using 1/8"-1/4" seams. For these little doll's clothes I don't bother too much with finishing seams beautifully, but you can serge them if you have a serger (I don't) or zigzag the edges if you want. In practice, I have often been knocking up these little clothes while away from my sewing machines, and they have been done by hand. So tiny, it only takes minutes anyway. 

Here they are sewn up, sides and crutch seams. Press the seams.

Now your pre-pressing of the hems can come into its own. Refold the hems, and sew them up. With the leg hems, just make sure you catch in all the raw edge. With the waist hem, which is double folded, keep as close to the hem edge as you can so you can thread elastic through the channel, and leave a gap of about an inch so you can do this. 

Attach a very small safety pin to your waist elastic, or thread the elastic through a blunt-ended flat bodkin, and feed it through the channel you've made. Sew the two ends of the elastic together overlapping by about half an inch, and sew up the gap you left in the waist hem.

Finally, take your shirring elastic and thread it into a needle. (You'll need one with a big enough eye to get the elastic through.) Starting at the outside leg, simply sew the shirring elastic around the leg, leaving two long ends.  I don't necessarily go through both layers to the outside of the knickers, just through the hem - but to be honest I'm not that fussy. Once it's pulled up you can't see the difference either way. This is on a different pair, but same idea.

I tie the ends in a loose bow until I'm ready for the fitting. 

Ideally, when you've done both legs, you'll now try the knickers on the doll, and pull up the shirring elastic so it fits round the leg - but not too tightly, you want to leave some stretch in it. If you don't have the doll present to do this, you can guess. However my method enables you to adjust. Sometimes I just leave the ends tied into a bow. But you can tie them up properly in a reef knot or similar firm knot, and cut off the excess, once you've got a good fit. (And made sure they come on and off.)

Here are two little knicker legs.

And that's it for the knickers!

Doll's top / mini-dress

Materials needed

Free pattern here. One piece, cut two one each on the fold for front and back.
A fabric scrap about 12" x 18 "
Optional - narrow double fold bias binding. Alternatively cut two strips of the same fabric as the dress on the bias, 1 5/8" or about 4cm wide, x 12" or 30 cm.
Sewing thread

Two pieces of narrow elastic (say 6mm) for the chest, each 2 1/2" - 3 1/2" long - depends on how wide the doll is across the chest

How to make doll's top

First, cut out your front and back, each on the fold. They are identical. In the pictures below there is the same distortion as on some of the earlier pictures, the dress looks much wider than twice the pattern piece, and the piece at the front looks bigger - they ARE the same size! If you wanted, you could cut the dress an inch or three longer so it's more of a dress than a top, but you'll use exactly the same method to make it.

As with the knickers, I folded and pressed the hems. Both the top hem (which will house elastic)  and the bottom hem are double folded - the bottom hem about 1/4" folded then another 1/4", and the top hem 1/4" then 3/8". In fact, you could make the top hems now if you wanted, but the more detailed instructions below assume you do it later.

Join up the underarm seams, unfolding the bottom hem as you do this, and finish them as you wish (or not). Press them flat.

Next, turn your bottom hem back up and sew it. You can probably see I've done this by hand, but you could machine sew it.

Then make the small hems at the top of the front and back (if you didn't do them earlier). These were turned about 1/4" and 3/8". I was going to thread 6mm elastic through, so this defined the depth of hem I needed. Here are all the hems done. (Dress is inside out.) So the bottom is a complete circle, but you have two separate hems for the top, front and back.

With such small hems it sometimes isn't possible to get a safety pin through to draw through the elastic, but luckily I had (accidentally) taken my whole set of tapestry needles and bodkins on holiday with me, so I could use one of those to feed the elastic through. Starting with either the back or front - they're identical so it doesn't matter which - feed the elastic through from one side till the tail end is just level with the edge of the bodice, and attach it firmly before continuing to thread the elastic through - then attach firmly to the other edge. You've now got a gathered back (or front). Repeat for the front (or back). I didn't take a photo of this specific step, but this is the end result on the finished top:

Next, you make the arm holes. You could do ties, and I'll give you that method as well, it's slightly easier. But I made them elasticated, as Dolly has very sloping cloth shoulders. Make two strips of bias binding about 12" or 30 cm long. These have to go round the armholes and over the doll's shoulders, with a bit of elastication over the shoulder part, so that defines the length you need. My self-made bias binding was made from 1 5/8" wide bias cut strips. If you have a bias binding maker, make these into double fold bias binding, if not, iron them in half lengthways, then iron in the edges to meet the centre line and finally refold on the centre line and press again.(You could instead use bought tape that will fold to be about 3/8" wide.) 

Join the short ends to make a circle. 

Open the first fold of the tape out, and start pinning the right sides of tape to wrong side of armhole, matching the seam you just made in the middle of the circle, with the side seam, and matching the first fold of the bias tape with the seam allowance (I had about 1/4" seam allowance round the armholes.)  Stop pinning at the top of the front and the top of the back, and sew the seam. Do the same with the other armhole. Refold the bias tape. Try this on the doll so you can judge how long to make the elastic over her shoulders. The order you finish the shoulders is up to you, dependent on whether you don't mind a bit of hand-sewing on this scale, and your preferred way of theading elastic through. 

Here's one way. Oversew on the right side as close to the edge as you can, starting just after the top on the back and finishing just after the top on the front. Leave a gap big enough to start feeding your elastic through, then oversew the edges of the bias of the strap until just before the other end, so you leave a gap to pull the elastic through. Feed your elastic through until the tail end is still just showing and attach it firmly to the top. Then pull it right to the other end and attach it to the end as well.

Another way is to oversew the bit round the armpit, catching in the first end of the elastic, then hand sew the strap encasing the elastic as you go, pulling it through as you sew.
If you measure carefully, you could elasticate the top part of the strap before you join round the armpit. I'd find this too fiddly and holding too much risk of not having the right length left to sew round the armhole. 

The third way is to do the whole lot by hand if you wish!

Top and bottom done!

I said I'd give you an alternative to elasticating the armholes. Purl Soho have a great tutorial for making summer rompers for kids, and they use a similar approach to making the top, of elasticating front and back, then finishing the armholes. But they use strings that can be tied. I can vouch for the pattern, I've used it a lot. See here, and here. If you'd like to see their very clear explanation of how to attach ties, look at their web site. You will need to use longer pieces of bias tape than for the elasticated method. I'd guess you'd need 2 strings about 16" long or about 40 cm, but I'm guessing. It would be safest to measure before cutting, bearing in mind you need enough at each end to tie a bow or knot.

You could make several in different bits of material! Or you could try some of my other doll's clothes pattern on my blog.

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