Friday, April 22, 2016

Update to instructions for 1802 Round Neck Blouse

valspierssews doll clothes

It is difficult to put yourself out there at the mercy of product reviewers.

I always read my reviews and make every effort to clarify instructions or make improvements and then update the file.

At present I am doing my own review of my early patterns and making some minor changes so they are nothing but 5 star quality. I have left them in the shop as I work through them because there isn't anything actually wrong with them but I am finding that my increased experience with doll clothes sewing and design enables me to find better ways to do things or explain things.

It seems that 1802 was less than perfect in the instructions so I have made some sections more clear.

I also included a sentence about my use of notches. Because doll clothes are so small it is not usually feasible to make notches that match two pattern pieces together.
But sometimes a mark is needed:

  • to show which side of the collar you sew or 
  • to show where you put your gathering threads or 
  • to show which side of a pants yoke is the waist edge. 

You don't need the notch on the collar to show how it fits on the neck and you don't need the notches on the sleeve and bodice to show how the sleeve fits in and you don't need the notch on the yoke to position it correctly.

I know it can be frustrating to start making a garment with your good fabric only to find that you make a mistake because the instructions weren't clear. I am always willing to offer advice or further explanations if you convo me in Etsy or email me from Craftsy.

I have started my Pattern Update News page so you can check if you have the latest version. Just contact me if you think you need the update.

Happy Sewing,

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Wardrobe Capsule - I'm 12 - Summer. Part 2: Using the Fabric Formula

valspierssews doll clothes
The Fabric Bible

The Fabric Formula

To narrow down the type and colour of fabric to buy I have a formula.
Theoretically it goes like this:

  1. Choose a shirt weight fabric with a design that has three or more colours.
  2. Using the colours in this first design, choose a solid colour fabric suitable for making trousers.
  3. Using the colours in the first fabric, choose a solid colour fabric suitable for a skirt.
  4. Choose a knit fabric in a neutral colour for a top.
  5. Choose either a patterned or plain fabric suitable for a jacket or is this case, a vest.
  6. Choose one other plain or patterned fabric for an accessory of some sort. I wanted to add a highlight frill to the skirt and make a shoulder purse.
As A Rule of Thumb: 
When buying several co-ordinating fabrics always buy 3 solids to 1 pattern. If you want another pattern make sure it matches the 3 solids as well.

Massaging the Formula

In this case I really wanted to use a denim look fabric for the skirt so that came first for me. I then chose the spotty fabric which has some light blue spots to match the skirt.

The other fabric I really wanted to use was the satin floral fabric. So my jacket/vest fabric came next.

Other colours I thought I would use were pink - from the spotty fabric and the flowers on the satin.
Also green from the satin pattern. My green has some tiny yellow, blue and pink spots that helped it fit in.

I played around putting the fabrics next to each other and found that the pink looked great with the spotty fabric and the satin looked great over the white and OK over the spots but not so good over the pink. So the pink was my choice for trousers rather than a top.

The green I will use for a highlight on the skirt and also to make a shoulder purse. If I have enough for later it will also look great as a blouse under the satin vest with either the pink trousers or the denim skirt.

A Neutral to Suit all Dolls

My white is not snow white, more like egg shell white but still quite white looking. Brunettes are not supposed to wear white and blondes and black haired dolls are supposed to wear white white. By choosing egg shell white I can put it on all my dolls and to break up the white for the brunette I will add a small highlight of the green for the placket of the grandpa top.

What Else Might Work

There are lots of other ways you can go. The dark pink fabric I used for the skater skirt will look great with the spotty blouse fabric and also would make a good blazer over matching trousers. I have a fawn coloured suede like fabric that will go perfectly with the spotty blouse off white fabric as a jacket or trousers or skirt.
I also have some colourful cat fabric that will go great with the denim skirt and the pink trousers. 

Tricking the Senses

Sometimes you need to make your decision based on the colour combination that suits the doll best.
Red heads shouldn't wear pastels but if you make a jacket from the fawn suede it will look perfect over the spotty fabric with the pastel spots.

The Fabric Bible

You really need to know what you have in order to buy more fabrics. You can make sure you are buying coordinating fabrics if you take your fabric bible with you if you are likely to visit the fabric store.
Mine is an A5 note book and I have started taping in little squares of the fabrics I have selected for each wardrobe capsule. Now I can be sure that the new fabrics I buy will enhance my doll wardrobe capsule rather than lead to orphan garments.

Part 3 will be about the garment making and I will show off the first outfit.

Happy Sewing,

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Adding Lace to a Sleeve Band for Doll Clothes

I am always trying out new ways to use a pattern. While updating 1810 I decided to add some lace to the sleeve bands as well as using lace instead of the bib insert.

Trouble is, every time I do something different it means I have to explain what I did if I want to use the sample garment to sell the pattern.
Rather than put more instruction in the Pictorial Tutorial I have put some photos in this blog post and made a link to it from the cover page of the pattern.

The Bib
Pin the lace in place. Stitch around the neckline.

Trim the ends of the lace.


The Sleeve Bands

Stitch the right side of the lace to the right side of the band
with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Turn under the edge with the lace. 
Just the same as if you had no lace.

Fold the band in half to cover the seam allowances.
Stitch close to the lace edge to secure.
The same as if you had no lace.

This particular dress is made with velvet. I didn't think it would be too thick but the extra thickness took up all the ease in the design so it was a tight fit. 
I recommend that you print the pattern pieces at 102% if you want to use a thicker fabric. The design is for light weight fabrics like quilting cotton or poly cotton shirting and rayon.
I want to try a version with sheer sleeves one day. 

There is a pattern piece for the bodice with a scoop neck but it doesn't need the bib insert. I just thought it would be a nice addition.

Happy Sewing,

Skater Skirt Doll Clothes Pattern for American Girl Doll and Australian Girl Doll

 Skater Skirt

Since I came to the decision to style the girls as 7 years old, 12 years old or 17 years old it has been much easier to make up the outfits.

Hair and shoes seem to make quite a difference apart from the clothes design.

I made the pink skirt from quite a heavy fabric but I loved the colour. I had to make the elastic casing a fraction wider after making this pink skirt.

When I got around to making the quilting cotton skirt for the Australian Girl Doll the casing still wasn't quite wide enough so I put another 1/8" on it. Hopefully that works.

I love this new top that I designed. It looks so sophisticated. Lea (above) is modelling the I'm 17 look today.
I had to add a 1/2" to the length of the skirt so it would look good on the Australian Girl Doll. I don't think she can carry off the I'm 17 look as well as the American Girl Doll but the off the shoulder top just about does it. I will be publishing this top soon. I need to make it in a few different fabrics first.

This cockatoo fabric is very Australian for Emily. 

I'm 7 years old.
Here is Lea again but this time posing as a 7 year old in her all pink outfit.

I made the blue skirt from 8 way stretch fabric. I think you call it 8 way or maybe it is 4 way. Anyway it is very stretchy like lycra. I figured the waist band could act as its own elastic so I cut it the same length as the elastic and made the waist of the skirt a bit smaller to fit it. You just fold it in half and overlock it on.

I'm 12 years old.
Jennifer is modelling my 12 year old look. The t-shirt is a bit tighter but still fairly modest.

This fabric runs if you pull it but with the hem cut in a circle it stays pretty neat. I didn't bother to sew the hem on this one.

You could also make this skirt with just elastic as the waist band. I haven't tried this yet but I described how I would do it in the Pictorial Tutorial. There is also elastic that should show that has a fancy edge but I will let you work that one out.

Get the Skater Skirt combined with the Hankie Skirt from Craftsy or Etsy

Happy Sewing,

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Wardrobe Capsule - I'm 12 - Summer. Part 1: Using the garment formula

I am starting another wardrobe capsule and I am going to follow my own rules and recommendations that I made in my first Wardrobe Capsule series.

Step 1

First you have to decide on a style.
I want my doll to look about 12 in her outfits so I am looking for something that is a bit trendy but I also want it to be casual for summer fun. So I am leaning towards Sporty/Casual with a taste of Edgy/Trendy

Because summer can be really hot or just warm depending on where you live I have decided to stick to long trousers this time but shorts would work just as well.

Step 2

My garment formula is:

  • 2 tops
  • 2 bottoms
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 accessory

I have decided on:

  • A drop sleeve grandpa top in a knit.
  • A peasant blouse.
  • A denim skirt.
  • Long trousers/jeans with cuffs
  • A vest
  • A small purse with a shoulder strap.

I chose the garments with some fabrics in mind but I only settled on the fabrics after I knew exactly what I was going to make.

Next instalment is about the fabrics. I will be trying to stick to the fabric formula but ultimately it is the garments that decide the fabrics.

Happy Sewing,

Friday, April 1, 2016

I Wish I Could Work Faster

I am working hard to get all my early patterns updated to the format I have finally decided on. There are about 1/2 a dozen to go.
I really enjoy making the Pictorial Tutorials rather than the photo tutorials and I think they are easier to read.

Valspierssews Doll Clothes

The latest to get the update is 1813 Gathered Pull-Ons. I don't even offer a link to the photo tutorial any more because I have changed the construction method slightly to make it faster and easier. It has been over 12 months since I first did this pattern and I have learnt quite a bit from experience since then.

I have also settled on a style - 3 styles actually. I will aim to dress the dolls as 7 year olds, 12 year olds or 17 year olds. I probably won't always get it right because I think fashions for young teens look way too grown up so my 12 year old style may still look a bit young for some.

I made a couple of new samples for 1813.
The first one is the boxer shorts done as play shorts for a summer outfit. I made a little top from 1805.

I'm 7 years old.

The second one is capris pants made with the bias casing. Again, a cute summer outfit.

I'm 12 years old

The gathered pull-ons are part of my Snugfit Range of basics. They lend themselves to all sorts of creative design ideas.

Anyone who has bought the pattern can ask for the update. Craftsy members get it automatically. Etsy members will need to "Contact the Shop" from their Purchases and Reviews page.
You can see which patterns have been updated for any reason on my Pattern Update News page.
See my Etsy Shop on my Pattern Shop page

Happy Sewing,