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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.