Friday, February 22, 2019

Valspierssews Pattern Club and a Drafting course

The Pattern Club

If there is one thing I really enjoy doing it is creating new designs by making small changes to my existing designs. This is similar to using a pattern block.

I used a sleeve block to create these cute flared sleeves. The sleeve pattern is the sort of thing I will add to my Pattern Club.

Once I get my pattern blocks sorted for each doll there will be no stopping me!

I love to share all my ideas but unless you have the basic pattern pieces it is difficult for others to sew the design variations.

This little dress can be made using a bodice block. All you need is to draw in the lines where you want the seams to go, cut out the panels and add seam allowances. This is the type of design I would add to my membership site. For me it is a simple variation of the round neck dress and I would love to share it. Giving it away for free doesn't fit my financial goals and selling it as a stand alone pattern doesn't seem fair when it is just a small variation on the 1804 dress.

What I have been working on is a Pattern Club where customers have a subscription and get access to lots of patterns. I will be able to add fashion files to the library of patterns without any need for you to make the changes yourself or pay extra for a pattern file.

At present you either have to have the base pattern and make the changes I describe in my blog post or you have to buy the Fashion File as a stand alone file.

I want to make it easier for my customers to sew lots of different designs and I want to make it easy for me to share all my ideas without giving up on my business.

The Pattern Club is up and running but the early memberships are restricted as I grow the pattern collection. The next membership enrolment opens early December 2019 at just $15USD per month.
You will have access to all the patterns already listed as well as 3 new patterns a month. At the end of December enrolment closes for 6 months. The price for the next opening will be $20USD per month.

If you join in December you keep your great price of $15USD per month as long as you are subscribed.

If you don't want to miss out on the sign up period click the link below and leave your email address.

Sign up to be notified when the Valspierssews Pattern Club is open to join

I will still be adding free resources to my Resource Library at 
If you are not already signed up you should check it out.

For keen Designers
The pattern block drafting course

I am working on the lessons for the pattern block drafting course I want to publish this year.
I love the concept of having a well fitting pattern block for all my dolls and then just creating identical designs for all the dolls using their particular pattern block.

I am perfecting a system for measuring and drafting in as few steps as possible.
Here is my work on the Glitter Girl Pattern Block.
I still have to sew the toile together for a final check.

This is the bodice front ready to sew.

I am perfecting a system to make it as easy as possible to
create a block for any doll.

It means drawing similar lines on all the blocks rather than trying to resize an 18" pattern to a 14" pattern.

If I want a crossover wrap dress design for all the dolls I create the bodice pieces for the 18" doll using the 18" doll bodice block and I create the bodice pieces for the 14" doll using the 14" doll bodice block.

If you do it this way you know that each doll is going to have a well fitting dress.

This is what I can now make for my Glitter Girl, knowing it will fit perfectly.

If you have an uncommon doll or a vintage doll I will be showing you how to make a well fitting bodice block or sleeve block or skirt block so that you can create all your favourite designs and know they will fit.

There are a finite number of fashion shapes for bodices or sleeves or skirts and once you have a base pattern block you just need to add some new seam lines to create a multitude of fresh designs for you dolls.

So that is the thinking behind the course. It will be published in my Teachable classroom at Look out for it towards the end of the year.

Happy Doll Dressmaking,

3 Suggestions to Vary the Princess Line Doll Clothes Dress 1843: Part 2

Don't you just love ruffles! All the Princess Line Dresses are perfect for adding ruffles or trims and ties. If you have an 8 panel dress pattern it shouldn't be a big leap to draft some of the designs below.
  1. You can make the two centre panels into one
  2. You can split your single front panel down the middle and and create a button down front by adding a front facing
  3. You can reduce the flare so it looks more A-line as well as add more seams, gathered sections, colour blocks. 
The 8 panel style offers great potential for many different looking designs. If you are interested in discussion on designing and drafting please come along to my Facebook group.

Dresses with 1 Central Panel

Some of the princess line designs only have three panels in the front. What I would do to make the two front panels into one is trim the seam allowance off the centre front seam line on the pattern pieces. Then lie them up together and work out what needs to be done with the centre flare. You don't want to just cut it out all together because it will change the shape of the dress front but not the back.

I suggest cutting some of the flare out of the centre front then increasing the flare on the sides of the centre panel as well as increasing the flare a fraction on the side panels. Fold the new centre panel in half and cut the neckline how you want. 

You can make some styles like this:




Dresses with a Button Down Front

If you want to create one of the variations that has buttons all down the front. I suggest that you cut a front facing piece using the front piece as a guide. Just don't forget that you need to overlap the fronts this time so you need to add 1/4" to extend the centre front piece at the centre front seam only. Copy it then use the copy to create the facing.

I really like the ones with the scalloped fronts.

Here are some examples of button down versions:



You would need to keep the back opening for this one and
add extensions for the front placket.

Many of the A-line designs from the 60s use the princess line.

It is probably easier to use an A-line dress to create the panelled A-line designs. You can use the curved side seam of the princess line dress 1843 to shape the A-line in at the waist a bit if you like.
This one looks like it shapes in at the waist. You can do the top part of the bodice with an add-on yoke rather than sew it as a seam.

This one also shapes in at the waist just a bit.

This one is a simple A-line with straight panels. Not princess line because it doesn't shape in at the waist but the panels look great.

There are also variations that have an extra piece as a yoke at the top and gathers below. It wouldn't be too hard to cut the centre panel then add 3 or 4 inches to the centre front edge of the panel.

From what I have read, you draw the grain lines of the panel perpendicular to the Centre front and centre back lines. In the next instalment I will be showing you step by step how I create one of these designs from dress pattern 1843.

See Part 1introducing the Princess Line, and

Part 3 a tutorial on how to vary pattern 1843

Happy Doll Dressmaking,

2 Step Variation to go from 1843 Princess Line Dress to a Whole New Doll Clothes Design: Part 3 - The Tutorial

Doll clothes pattern fashion file based on 1843. 40s pinafore dress by valspierssews

Let's make this dress using 1843.
This is 1843.

It is a cute 40s design but it is going to take a bit of ingenuity to get the ruffles continuous over the shoulder.

The first thing is to print out the 4 pages with the panels 1a 1b 2a 2b.

Before cutting out panel 1a you need to create the square neckline. I used this one on the pink florally one but if you want it a bit lower just make it 1/4" lower.. I used the lower version on the pattern I made up for the shop.

Next you need to create the centre front fold line. The centre front lies on the seam line. Because you are cutting out some of the flare you need to add a bit to the panel seam edge. you don't want to increase the waist so just slant it out from the waist line. I expanded it by 1/2" at the hemline.

If you are a bit more drafting minded you can cut a slit from the middle of the panel up to the side dot of the neckline and flare it out so the neckline changes too. This helps it to fall more neatly when it is sewn up.

Cut out all the panels. When you cut out the front panel cut straight across the hem edge at the centre front.

It's not ideal, but I had to put 3 panels one way and 1 panel on the perpendicular grain. 

A friend of mine who has been involved in the garment and sewing industry for many years told me that the lengthwise and crosswise grains are the same in strength for fabrics woven on modern machines. As long as you get the pieces exactly on the straight grain, you can use crosswise or lengthwise grains. Of course, you need to be aware that a design may differ in each direction. My all over floral seems safe.

Don't trust that you will know which panel is which when you take the pattern pieces off. I put a pin on the right side of the side front panels. Then unpinned the side back panels and immediately pinned the front and back side panels together at the shoulder seam. 
Pin the front panel and the back panels at the shoulder seams too. Stitch the shoulder seams.

Sew your trim onto the panel seam allowance. Curve it off the edge at the waist. You can sew it to the front and back panels or the side panels. I sewed mine to the front and back panels.

She's looking pretty cute so far. I hope you still had the pin in the side front pieces so you get them sewn on the right way. I had to ease the back pieces a bit to get them to fit together neatly. The trim takes away any stretch you get on the panel it is sewn to. Overlock the seam and press it towards the centre front and back. Stitch close to the seam line on the centre front panel side of the seam to hold the panel seam down.

Here is the finished garment.

Rather than write it all twice I am going to continue the instructions in the PDF tutorial that you can find at

When you sign into my teachable classroom don't check the box to stop marketing emails or you will not go onto my newsletter list. Teachable won't send you marketing emails, only me. If you are already on my mailing list it won't make any difference.

The tutorial continues, showing you how to add the ties for the bow at the back as well as showing you how to create the lining and sew it in.

I hope you get pattern 1843 and have a go at this 40s pinny. It is easy to do. The 1843 dress is very cute too and perfect for either a 40s or a 50s dress.

I am always making variations on designs so I need a good place to save all my adjusted pattern pieces. I used the editable envelope that is available in my shops. You can edit the title, side title and size by opening the file in Acrobat Reader. Just make sure you 'save as' so you keep your original as a blank.

To get this image I enlarged the blog post image on my ipad and holding the envelope front with two fingers in the ipad surround I lightly traced the image with a pencil. I then went over it and put the envelope together.

You can make notes on the back if there is something you need to remember for the next time you make it. All my patterns from my shops come with an envelope for the design. It makes filing in a folder or a box, neat and easy.

Pin this blog post on your doll board. Just mouse over an image and click the pin icon.

Get your free photo tutorial at in the Fashion File resource section

Buy the editable envelope in my Australian shop or my Etsy shop

See Part 1 Introducing the Princess Line, and

Part 2 on types of variations on the basic princess line.

Happy Doll Dressmaking,

Friday, February 8, 2019

Princess Line Doll Clothes: Part 1

18" doll clothes pattern by valspierssews. Variation on 1843 to fit American Girl Doll

  • Mixing up gores and panels and princess line
  • Fabulous vintage panels
  • Using 1843 to create these designs

Mixing up Gores, Gussets, Godettes and Princess line panels

I rediscovered the panelled dress that I made some time ago. I went looking for the pattern. It's title is 8 gore dress so I thought I would do a bit of research on what gores were because I had a feeling that I was not naming it correctly.

First I looked up the meaning of gore. It seems it is synonymous with gusset. The dress making version comes from a word meaning arrow.
The following comes from Wikipedia:
The word is derived from Old English gār, meaning spear. In the course of time the word came to be used for a piece of cloth used in making clothes. In dressmaking and hat making, it refers to triangular or rhomboid pieces of fabric which are combined to create a fuller three dimensional effect.

I also came upon this fabulous website called The Renaissance Tailor that I have book marked for some later reading. There looks to be lots of great information on historical outfits, drafting, sewing techniques and more. I have put the link to the site map because the menus seem a bit haphazard.
There was a great section on gores and gussets that helped clear up some misconceptions I had.

So a skirt can be made from trapezoidal gores. My 8 gore skirt pattern is correctly named. I also made a godette skirt pattern. It seems that gore and godette are the same but I tend to lean towards a godette being the triangular insert in a gored skirt.

So what is the princess line? 
Well, this is a relatively new fashion term thought to be introduce by Charles Frederick Wentworth in the 1870s. he named it after the elegant Princess Alexandra of Denmark.

A princess line is cut in long panels without any waist seam. the curve of the panels shapes the waist.

In 1951 Christian Dior presented a collection called the Line Longue that was based on the princess line.
I found a useful A to Z of sewing and fashion terms at the Business of fashion website

So I am going to rename my 8 gore dress to the 8 panel princess line dress.

Fabulous Vintage Panels

I looked up some examples of princess line dresses and some variations. The princess line is common in vintage designs.

You can find all these and more in my Pinterest board

Using 1843 to Create These Designs

My Princess line dress pattern is a great starting pint for recreating all these vintage designs. I love the pockets set between the panels.
I'm thinking I will have to include a round neck version in the pattern. At present it is a sweet heart neckline but if you cut straight across from the shoulder point then sew the panels together you can use any bodice pattern piece to shape the neckline.

This is pattern 1843...

... and this is a variation I made using the add-on bibs collection 1804a and the collar from 1804.

If you want to join the discussion on designing doll clothes then you need to join my Facebook Group

See Part 2 on how to vary the princess line design, and

Part 3 a tutorial detailing how to use 1843 to make a new design.

Happy Doll Dressmaking,

Friday, February 1, 2019

10 Colouring Pages Based on valspierssews Doll Clothes Patterns (Patterns out soon)

  • A colouring book that matches the doll clothes you can make and comes in different sizes .
  • Use it as a project planner or
  • Just have fun with the vintage fashion theme for girls

For quite some time I have been working on a colouring book that matches the doll clothes patterns I was creating. I like linking things together. Now children can play with the doll clothes and play at fashion designer with the colouring book too.
You can buy the colouring book at my Australian website or on Etsy

As the dressmaker you can use the images to experiment with colours and patterns before making up the garments. Give your children or grandchildren the opportunity to plan the clothes for their doll. They can discuss the best fabric types and the colours they want then they can search through the fabric stash and add swatches to the page just like designers do. Adults and children can both try there hand at recreating the fabric pattern on the colouring-in image.



Designers even create miniatures of their designs.

You can have miniatures made of your wedding dress to put on display. Making doll size clothes is a legitimate fashion career.

This is a Dior miniature.


If your little designer wants some inspiration to follow a design career this website is well worth a look.


I really enjoy creating the images for the colouring book. It adds another dimension to my designing. Normally I just look at photos then work up the draft pattern pieces. Doing the drawings enables me to think more about the fabrics I might use and how the design details can be best modified for the doll.

I attempted some digital colouring. It is a skill I will have to work on.

Of course colouring-in is just fun. I looked around and couldn't find many colouring books that had pretty fashion drawings for girls to colour. Better than a regular colouring book this digital download means you can colour the pictures more than once in different colourways. You can print it full sheet or print it as a half size booklet using the Booklet button in Adobe Reader. There is also a little fold-a-book version that fits on one page and folds into a little doll size book. If you print it at 70% it also makes a cute Wellie Wisher size book.

Good news for my Australian and New Zealand customers. You can buy your instant downloads from my Australian online shop without having to pay GST because I don't have to register to collect it yet. I am gradually getting my stock uploaded. if there is something in the Etsy shop and you want to buy it from my Australian website just let me know.

Visit my Australian Shop at

European and UK customers will still have to buy from my Etsy shop since all digital sales to these countries don't have a threshold for collecting sales tax.

You can buy the colouring book at my Australian website or on Etsy

Happy Doll Dressmaking,