Sewing Doll Clothes

Lucy plays with Sophie's doll

Lucy plays with Sophie’s doll

Recently I spent some time trying to figure out how to make a new dress for Sophie’s rag doll, whose dress has a rip I can’t repair.

I’m usually a bit more clever at planning things out, but I was pretty tired. So at first I tried to free hand draw a template and cut out fabric. The result was laughably too small. I mean ridiculously too small. What was I thinking?

Sophie put the ridiculously small dress on the duck.

Sophie put the ridiculously small dress on the duck.

Next, because Sophie was really anxious about the process and just wanted something new for the dolly to wear, I cut out the bottom of a pair of ripped pajama pants and quickly stitched up a little plaid jumper. Sophie was not thrilled exactly, but not unhappy either. Her dolly had a new dress.

So then I made a new template based on actually using the existing dress as a pattern. But I forgot seam allowances or something. It was too small to work as a dress but made a nice coat. Sophie was thrilled with the combination coat and plaid jumper. Suddenly the doll seemed quite regal. I’d never have paired those patterns, but they worked for her.

Dolly in her new ensemble.

Dolly in her new ensemble.

Dolly in her new ensemble.

Dolly in her new ensemble.

Dolly in her new ensemble.

Dolly in her new ensemble.

Dolly in her new ensemble.

Dolly in her new ensemble.

The lion rattle is about the only toy who can wear my first, ridiculously small dress. The rag doll is modeling the plaid jumper with the green floral coat.

The lion rattle is about the only toy who can wear my first, ridiculously small dress. The rag doll is modeling the plaid jumper with the green floral coat.

After that I made a new template with much more generous seam allowances. I stitched up a new floral jumper with the same green floral print as the coat. Sophie was really thrilled. The next day I was still wanting something that looked more finished. So I hemmed the neckline and arm holes. It was better.

Green floral jumper dress

Green floral jumper dress

The doll in the green jumper dress with matching green coat.

The doll in the green jumper dress with matching green coat.

But I decided to try something a little more finished even than that. I made a little reversible dress with the same template: pink butterflies on one side and a dark green floral print on the other. It was a huge success even if I did forget to add some extra seam allowances and the neckline was a bit too tight. Fortunately rag dolls’s heads are squishy and forgiving.

piecing the reversible dress

piecing the reversible dress

The reversible dress finished

The reversible dress finished

the reversible dress finished

the reversible dress finished

the reversible dress finished

the reversible dress finished

You can see the pink lining

You can see the pink lining

Reversible jumper dress

Reversible jumper dress

Next up: Bella really wanted something with sleeves. But I’m not very sanguine about my ability to design and set sleeves to match my jumper dress template. Instead I made a new template, a basic T design like my saint/Halloween costumes. Result: a plaid nightgown that Bella is thrilled with.

Long-sleeved nightgown for Bella's doll

Long-sleeved nightgown for Bella’s doll

flannel nightgown on Bella's doll

flannel nightgown on Bella’s doll

In the future I can try to play around with set-in sleeve design. I’d like to figure out how to do a dress that fastens so it can be tighter on the neck and not have to slip over the head. But I’m not very comfortable with buttons or snaps or velcro nor do I have supplies for any of those options.

It’s been fun learning how to sew doll clothes by trial and error and I hope the process has taught my observing children a little something about perseverance. I made plenty of mistakes along the way but most of them have been able to at least somewhat salvage for other purposes.

8 Responses to Sewing Doll Clothes

  1. Katherine November 22, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    I admit the picture of Sophia’s smile at the duck makes me laugh but the dresses and nightgown are awesome. I so wish I knew how to sew clothes in general but, well, Calah’s post says it all on that. Maybe one day though. 🙂

    • Melanie Bettinelli November 22, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      Oh I wish I could sew clothes too. I experimented a bit in high school and made a skirt and blouse and a friend helped me sew a fancy Ren Faire dress, but she did most of the work. So I do know how to use a machine, how to rad a pattern, and have some basic ideas of techniques. But I’m scared to try to make clothes for myself and the kids. But I’m thinking when the kids are older and there are no toddlers underfoot, I’m going to try to learn.

      I’ve had this post in the works for two weeks, but I do think the timing with Calah’s post is hilarious, by the way.

  2. Jen a November 22, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    You could maybe do a drawstring or some other type of tie-back closure?

    And I love the reversible dress for the rag doll. So cute

    • Melanie Bettinelli November 22, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      I worry about the fragility of either drawstrings or tie backs, but maybe?

      I was really proud of figuring out the reversible dress. Major patting myself on the back.

  3. Kyra November 22, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    You can do pretty stout ties for the back. Good work on the dresses, they’re lovely.

    • Lissy November 23, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

      So cute!

      How about an elastic neckline?

      For a back closure, velcro? Or snaps?

      • Melanie Bettinelli November 23, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

        Elastic, velcro, snaps, none of those do I have on hand or have experience with before. It’s the first part that’s the hitch. Those would all require me to make a special trip to the store instead of just raiding my stash of sewing supplies. Going to the store with five kids…. It might happen sometime, but that’s a special extra outing. We don’t do those very often. It could be months and months.

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