Saturday, March 31, 2018

3 Steps to a Custom Doll Clothes Design for 18" Dolls


  1. The cute bodice on 1827 is perfect for using with lots of different skirt styles.
  2. You need 1827 and you just replace the front bodice with the V-neck one.
  3. For the skirt I used the 'just below the knee' pattern pieces from 1804. There are several length choices for the gathered skirt in the 1804 design.
    I used the V-neck variation that you can get for free.

Sign into and enrol in the Fashion Files Resource Library. This is just one of the Fashion File extras I have created.

I sewed the braid on after completing the bodice because I wasn't sure if it would look just right. If I do the braid again I will sew it on the main bodice before joining it to the lining. I centred it on a line 3/8" from the seam line.

Other feature that made a huge difference to the overall look were the 3 button down the front and the red top stitching around the neck and armholes. It looked really boring without the buttons and the neck looked too low without the top stitching because the braid seemed to look like the edge of the neckline.

The dress is so fast tp make and using different fabric for the bodice and skirt means you can use smaller pieces left over from other projects.

The belt is a rectangle 1 1/2' wide by 15 1/2".

I folded it in half and creased the fold then turned under 1/4" along each side. I also turned under 1/4" at one end. I stitched it together down both long sides and across the finished end.

I slipped the raw end into the buckle and sewed it together to hold it in place.

You can buy 1827 from my Etsy shop now.
It comes with a gorgeous full circle skirt for the dress and a cute blouse to wear under it as a jumper dress.
Next I am going to use the pencil skirt from 1828 with the original neckline and the blouse to go under.

Happy Sewing,

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Happy Doll Dressmaking,

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Spring Dress for my 18" Doll


I was really happy with the concept of this spring dress. After I made the Easter dress I realised I needed a few changes to the design. The fit was perfect because I used pattern pieces from other Snugfit Range patterns. I have designed them specially to be swapped around so you can create favourite designs you see for little girls or easily create your own custom designs.

Based on the things I noticed with the Easter dress I have;

  1. Used the narrow peter pan collar from 1804
  2. Used a floral pattern without an obvious design that will be affected when I pleat it
  3. Made the growth pleats 1/2"
  4. Made them look closer together (by making them wider)
  5. Made the ties from a strip that I folded in half.
  • One more thing I did was go back to the narrower sleeve band that is in the 1810 pattern. I just think it looks a bit daintier than the wider band I created for the Easter dress.

I have to admit I would call myself awkward when it comes to trims.
With lace I have trouble choosing the right sort and deciding where to put it.
With braid I have trouble with scale and colour.
I consider myself great with buttons and pretty OK with ribbon so I use buttons a lot and ribbon bows at the neck or ribbon stripes.

The growth pleats don't show up in the photo very well.
They look nice in real life.

The only thing I think I could have done different on this dress is to have used a narrower rick rack around the collar so it would sit better.

I love the improvements I made  and think I will be doing more designs with that sleeve. There are a few more things I can try with that particular shape. 

If you like this dress design you can make it for yourself following the instructions I will post in a few days. I just need to get the Fashion File kit ready for the shop. The kit is a great way to file the design in your collection but the DIY version is a great way to get a new design for free if you already have 1810 and 1804. You can buy these two patterns in my shop.

Happy Sewing,

In the post with the instructions I will include free skirt pattern pieces with the growth pleats. I am experimenting with some automatic emails and signing up to get the free things I offer on my blog. Each free file leads to its own mailing list so even if you already get my newsletter you will need to sign up to get the free file offered on any of my blogs of late. When I do something else with the pattern related to the free file I will send out an email to that particular list. 

As I work on the automated emails there will end up being 3 or 4 emails after you get the free file suggesting new ideas or suitable patterns to combine with it and the like. As usual, you are free to unsubscribe at any time.

I love designing these marketing actions almost as much as designing the doll clothes. It certainly works the mind.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

5 Things You Need to Know When Designing an 18" Doll Dress


Valspierssews patterns are great for mixing around fashion elements to get different custom looks. But not everything is meant to go together.
I used the regular collar from 1804 instead of the narrow collar not even thinking about the collar touching the sleeves. It was also my first go at growth pleats. However, I knew it was going to fit perfectly because all the patterns in the Snugfit range use the same basic sizing. I'm just being a bit picky because one day I will put this design in my shop as a Fashion File.


I have learnt some great tips while creating this one that can be applied to all sorts of custom dress designs.

  1. Use a narrow collar when you have very puffy sleeves or don't use a collar at all.
  2. Don't use growth pleats on fabric that has faces or images of cartoon characters or people.
  3. Make your growth pleats more than 1/4".
  4. Make your growth pleats close together.
  5. Make the ties for the waist from a strip folded in half so it is double sided rather than a single layer strip with rolled hem edges.

You can see how the collar bumps on the puffy shoulder of the sleeve.

You can see how the rabbits have their faces shortened. The pleats just look a bit too narrow for the skirt. They also seem to be a bit too far apart.

The sash is difficult to tie so the wrong side doesn't show. This would be OK with most plain fabrics.

When I make the next dress in this style I will be applying the things that I learnt from the bunny dress. Once I get it perfect I will be putting up some instructions so you can have a go at making it for yourself. It uses pattern pieces from 1804 and 1810. The skirt with the growth pleats is new and I will be putting up the measurements for that when I am sure it is just right.

In the mean time you might like to make a dress like this one using the same sleeves from 1810 and the pointed bib from 1804a. It uses the skirt and bodice from the lined version of 1804.

Look out for the next blog post featuring my improved design.

Happy Sewing,

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How to get even more from Valspieressews Patterns

valspierssews 1827 variation

Want patterns that allow you to create your own custom designs?

Do you struggle to get the perfect fit when you want to create a new design for your doll?

Do you wonder how you can get more from a pattern?

When I started my design journey I was trying to solve these problems for myself. I created classic designs that allowed me to easily swap sleeves, skirts, bodices and collars. Sometimes it is just a matter of a slight change to the neckline to give a whole new look.

Use the link at the end to get the front bodice with the V-neck that I drew up for this dress. And before you scroll down you should join my Newsletter Friends by using the sign up form in the side bar of my blog, just incase you are not already receiving my newsletters.

While I was working on my drop shoulder bolero series 1870, I needed a dress with a V neck to look just right under the curved hem of Module 3 Bolero.

I needed:
  • a wide neckline so it matched the neck of the bolero
  • a neat fitted bodice
  • no sleeves
Looking through my patterns I found 1827. This is a 50s design with the wide shoulders and neck and a circle skirt. It has darts in the bodice for a nice tailored look.

Without changing the fit I just drew in a v-neck. The front bodice pattern piece is half the front and cut on the fold. All I had to do was draw my line and fold under a tiny section of the pattern at the centre front neck.

I know that it takes a bit of getting used to the idea that you can make small changes to get just the look you want without compromising the fit but I am happy to show you how. 

I have included the adjusted front bodice pattern piece as a free download below. You can add the circle skirt or a gathered skirt from 1804 or have a go at pleats like I did. The pleats are a story on their own that I will save for another post.

So add this pattern piece to your pattern envelope and make some notes on the back of the envelope for next time.

Get your V-neck variation pattern piece for 1827

Start looking at designs you wish you could make and think about the different elements of the design. Do you already have patterns with those elements? If you have been collecting Valspierssews Patterns you know that lots of the elements can be mixed and matched to create your favourite custom designs.

If you would like to add 1827 to your pattern collection you can get it in my Etsy shop. 

It comes with easy to follow pictorial instructions that are perfect for printing. The design includes the dress that can also double as a jumper dress using the cute 50s style blouse that comes with it.
The bodice is lined and it is easy to enclose the waist seam for a neat look on the inside as well.

I have lots of ideas to share about customising designs.
Valspierssews Patterns allow you to mix and match design elements so you can create your favourite designs and get a perfect fit without multiple test garments.

Make sure you download the free pattern adjustment for the 1827 front bodice and keep it in the pattern envelope.

Get your V-neck variation pattern piece now.

If you don't already have pattern 1827 you can get it here:

 Find 1827 in my Etsy Shop

Happy Sewing,

Monday, March 19, 2018

Bolero Mania - So many and So Simple to Sew

The 1870 Bolero Series continues with another must have bolero style.

Module 3 is out now.
Find it in my shop.
1870 Module 3

  • Make it in fur or regular fabric
  • Make it completely reversible
  • also Super easy non reversible version

Modules 1 and 2 are in my Etsy Shop

Module 1 has a square front. It can also be buttoned up.

Module 2 is a cute shrug. Do it in fur or fabric.

I make my designs with a view to using them as jumping off points for creative custom designs. The bolero series provides many variations but there is still room for unique customisation. 

* Lengthen the sleeves and have a turn up cuff (you can use pattern 1868/2068 as a guide for the length)

* Cut off the seam allowance around the hem edges and add a ruffle

* Gradually add to the curved edge from the hem to the neck edge until it is 1/2" wider at the neck. You can now overlap it and do it up like a jacket.

* Place the bodice from 1804 Round Neck Dress on top matching the centre front to the seam line on the front of the bolero and match the necklines and shoulder lines. Trace the armhole for the dress on top of the bolero piece. You can now add many different sleeves to this little jacket. 

These are just 4 ideas that spring to mind.

One of the reasons I kept adding to this Bolero Series as I was creating it was because there are just so many ways to make a bolero and I can't stop until I have designs for them all. Well, I have decided that I just have to stop at 5 Modules because I will never get onto anything else.

Adjusting designs is just so exciting. I keep seeing how I can change things just a bit and I generally don't even worry about making a sample to check for fit - I just use my best fabrics straight up.

That's what I did when I altered the neck on the wide neck dress 1827. The fabric is gorgeous. It feels so nice. It did cost me $27 a metre so I only bought enough to make one dress with sleeves or two without sleeves. I know the dress will fit so changing the neck a bit should not affect the fit. 

I didn't muck around doing a cheap version. I'm not saying that I recommend this for all designs but when you use my designs as slopers and just make small changes there is minimum risk of failure.
1870 Bolero Series is a collection of Bolero variations.
They are great to use as slopers for all sorts of custom designs.
There is no need to make lots of ill fitting test outfits if you like to create your own designs.

Look out for Module 3 of my Bolero Series in my shop soon.

Happy Sewing,


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Friday, March 2, 2018

Make a cute patchwork tote for your 18" doll

This is a post from my sewing blog some years ago before I started the Doll Designs blog. I have left the free pattern the same. But I did change my mix of inches and centimetres to just inches. I hope to modernise the instructions completely one day.

I found a link to this lovely tote bag made in regular size and thought it would make a cute doll bag. I wrote the pattern for an 18" doll size.

The instructions for making the Moda Bake Shop bag may be useful for helping with the basic construction so I have included the link here.

Make sure you sign up for my newsletter. You get free patterns for 18"dolls and some tips on how to stay on top of things as well as interesting links. Of course, if you like a bargain you get some exclusive offers and first go at the sales.

Happy Quilting and Crafting,

P.S. I don't have sales very often because I offer you my best price all the time. Visit my Etsy Shop for 18" doll clothes patterns and 20" doll clothes patterns that fit Australian Girl Doll.