Friday, November 17, 2017

A bit of designing, sewing and shopping.

Today I am well on the way to completing the work on the new bodice I have designed.
It has darts and a wide neck and extended shoulders. I have been really working on the extended shoulders lately. It is such a flattering style. I am happy with the fit. I just need to draft some neckline variations.
This dress is not quite finished. I am still trying to decide on the trims and I wish I had some gold shoes.

Doll clothes patterns by valspierssews
Work in progress

Inspiration from Pinterest
I was browsing through pinterest as I usually do and discovered lots of cute Barbie size dresses that had a wide neck and extended shoulders. I loved how they could be made to look so different using different embellishments, trims and fabric combinations.



I am always collecting new design ideas on Pinterest. https://www.pinterest.com.au/valspierssews/

The first draft
I just had to try this for the 18" doll so I whipped up a first draft using my 1804 dress bodice as a sloper. I was surprised that it fit so well the first time. It is not always so easy. Especially with those extended shoulders. You have to get the shape just right. This is my first draft from a while back. It is similar to the bodice in 1827 but the shoulders extend quite a bit more.



Using it with the longer gathered skirt
Now I knew the bodice would fit I wanted to create a lovely dress. I went on a special shopping trip to find some nice Christmas fabric. The fabrics with the sparkly finishes look so festive and elegant. I bought this gorgeous red and gold fabric. It was quite expensive at $25.95 AUD a metre. This is around $20 USD a yard.


I chose the longer skirt from my 1804 pattern because I wanted it to have a formal look to it. I love the skirt and I am thinking I will make a petticoat so it puffs out more. I will include just that one length in the new pattern. There is so much more in 1804



Using it with other skirts
I love making patterns that have lots of potential. This one is no different. The waist of the bodice is based on the 1804 bodice like many of my designs so you can use it with the pencil skirt from 1828 and also the circle skirt from 1827 or the half circle skirt from 1810. I really want to try it out with the pencil skirt.

Plans to make different necklines
I have plans to make the neckline to match the other options in my fashion doll Pinterest board. I like the square neck and I'm sure I can do a scoop neck and a V-neck to go with the extended shoulders.

Embellishment
How to embellish my Christmas dress is something I have been thinking about. I like the idea of narrow ribbon close to the neck edge but I am also keen to sew on some seed beads. I haven't done that before. I would do a random scattering around the neck and shoulders. The waist always looks a bit plain on the dresses but I envisaged a fussy ribbon or flower. As a temporary measure I have put on four strands of narrow ribbon and tied a bow.



When I went looking for fabric I really wanted to visit the shop I had heard so much about in the town about an hour away. Luckily the community bus was planning a trip to the markets there so I booked a seat. I spent a lovely day out at the markets and then the fabric store. This store is an old fashioned type haberdashery. They had just about anything you could use for sewing.



I spent so much time looking at the fabrics that I didn't really get a good look at all their laces and trims. I will definitely be going back. As well as the Christmas fabric I got some cute Minnie Mouse fabric. I will probably use it to make another version of my new bodice.


So that is what I have been up to lately. I plan to do some work on the 1820 Bulky Knit Sweater by adding lots more features and variations to create more of a collection as a long term project but the next design on the drawing board is looking like it will be a coat or jacket of some type. I'm still trying to sew up a wardrobe capsule from my basic designs. I really need some good denim for the jeans to make things look right so I have been putting it off. I saw something that looks good in the Spotlight catalogue so it looks like another fabric shopping trip is on the cards. What a surprise!

Happy Sewing,
Val

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Photo Tutorial for the Pencil Skirt from 1805

doll clothes patterns by valspierssews

There are a couple of different ways to make the skirt from 1805.
I found that the gathered method was by far the easiest but I think the little pleats look the best.

Gathered Skirt
No need to mark the pleats but you do need to mark the back on the side of the placket with a pin.
Gather the front and back separately. You sew two gathering threads starting and finishing 1/2"  from each end. (I forgot to do the gathering threads before the side seam. I think I was worried about getting the seams mixed up like I did on the blue skirt.)



Gathering Tip: Back stitch at one end for short lengths
Do a back stitch at one end because it is such a short length to gather. I always leave long tails at both ends for full gathered skirts.

Place the front on the back, right sides together. Stitch the unmarked side seam and overlock it.
I always mark the back if I need to know back from front.

Overlock the other side seam edges and the hem edge. Press up the 1/4" hem to crease it.


Pull up the gathering threads a bit ( to 6" front and back) so they roughly fit the waist band.



Fitting Tip: Waist band length check
I found that the waist band was a bit too long for one of my dolls so I have decided to make sure the waist band fits the doll I am sewing for by folding it in half and placing it around her waist. The ends will overlap and I pin it in place. Depending on how you want to use the skirt and what fabric you are using you will make it tight or create some ease. If you want to tuck things into the skirt you will need some ease. If you are using a medium to heavy weight fabric you will need some ease. 
It always amazes me how much length you lose when you sew a seam and fold the garment along the seam line. The folding takes up an 1/8" to 1/4"  for thick fabrics.
The overlap needs to be a scant 1". Trim the end of the overlap so the overlap is 1".

Too much overlap
Trim the overlap back to 1 inch
Press under 1/4" along one long side of the waist band.

The back half of my waist band is 1/4" longer than the front half so to find the side seam mark I fold the waist band with 1/4" sticking out on the back half. Mark the side seam point on the waist band with a pin.



Place the right side of the waist band against the wrong side of the skirt. Pin the side seam.
Pin the back of the skirt - marked with a pin - so the the waist band is 1/2" past the skirt. I extended mine 5/8" past because I am using quite a thick fabric.


I'm not worried about the fit because I left some ease when I checked the length and this fabric is a knit so it gives a bit.

Fold in and finger press the side seam allowance on the skirt front, just at the waist edge. Pin the waist band on so it extends 1/4" past the skirt.


Pull up or let out the gathering threads so the skirt fits the waist band and knot the threads.

Gathering Tip: Knotting the thread tails
Tie two knots then swap hands with the thread tails and tie two more knots. This prevents slipping.

Even out the gathering across the skirt sections and add more pins.


Pinning Tip: Right angles to the seam or hem edge
I often start pinning on one side then turn the garment over to finish pinning and stitch. By pinning at right angles to the fabric edge I can always see my pins as I stitch.

Stitch the waist band seam. Trim it back slightly.
Fold the waist band back on itself, right sides together. Stitch across the ends with a 1/4" seam allowance.

This back part sticks out past the skirt edge after you have stitched it.

Trim the ends a bit. Don't cut too much off because it makes it harder to tuck it all inside the waistband when you sew.

The front part of the waist band is flush with the edge of the skirt.
Turn the band and press. If I was using this fabric again I would cut the waist band about 1/4" wider than the pattern. The thick fabric rolls rather than creases so the fold takes up nearly a 1/4" extra.

Push out the corners of the waist band and pin it in place along the stitching line of the waist band seam so it just covers it up. Stitch the waist band in place.

Stitch the placket side seam a bit more than halfway up from the hem edge. Turn the seam to the front and pin the placket closed. Come in from the waist band edge and stitch across the lower edge of the placket. Stitch the seam down on the front edge of the placket.


With the skirt right side out. Turn up the hem and stitch it inside the skirt tunnel along the wrong side so you can see to catch the hem properly.

Add a velcro patch to the waist band. Hooks on the inside of the front and the loops on the outside of the back.

I have been crazy about buying shoes for a while now. They really make an outfit and the regular shoes are only 3 or 4 USD with free postage on Allie Express.

This one has the little flats. Looks like a high schooler.
This one has the lace ups and socks. Looks more like a middle schooler.
These shoes need a bit pf persuasion to get them on with socks.
A 5 yr old couldn't do it but a 10yr old could.
The little tie is just a strip of gross grain ribbon tied like a tie. The blouse is my open neck design 1806 View 1.

The skirt is the Bonus Pencil Skirt from 1805. That skirt in the photo is from 1817. Unfortunately 1817 is on the back burner until I get lots more motivation. One day.



Hope I have inspired you to make more skirts. I think the gathered one looks best with this shirt rather than a T-shirt. The pleated one is nice for having the top tucked in.

Happy Sewing,
Val

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Making Doll Clothes

valspierssews doll clothes pattern

I have done lots of computer work over the last few weeks and decided it was time to sew some outfits.


I started off with the idea to make a 3/4 sleeve T and ended up trying a few new things. I have had a flounce pattern hanging around for a while. I made a cute skirt with it a long tome ago. This time I have put it on the sleeves of the top. It is all art of experimenting. I think I will make a new flounce pattern with a two circle spiral to get a different look. My original is just a circle with a hole in the middle. It is a perfect fit for joining 2 across a front or 3 around a v neck or 4 all around a top.

The neckline is cut out just at the shoulders, not at the front, so it looks a bit wider than round. Very easy to do. I just folded it at the shoulder seam and trimmed a bit off.




I wanted to make a new vest and skirt and few other garments from the different views in 1805 to celebrate the updated pattern printable.

  • I have added the shading for the right side of the fabric in the diagrams. 
  • I have spaced it out a bit more and enlarged the heading to make it easier to read. 
  • I have enlarged the pattern envelope so you can fit an A5 booklet in it. 
  • I have divided the pattern into 2 files - one for the pattern pieces and extras to be printed at 100% and one for the Pictorial Instructions so they can be printed either as A4/US Letter or as a booklet to be folded in half and stored in the envelope.



Booklet, Envelope and Filing Divider page

To make a booklet all you have to do is open the Pictorial file in Adobe Reader, choose booklet and print. Most printers print double sided these days so it is really easy. Use two or three staples close to the fold to hold it all together.

You can buy 1805 in my Etsy shop for my basic pattern price.

Happy Sewing,
Val

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sewing Knits, My New Easy T and Some Fashion Ideas

Doll clothes patterns by valspierssews

Doll clothes patterns by valspierssews

Hi everyone,
I am having a great time playing with my Easy-T design. It doesn't have a number yet. It is just in the drafting folder with a few other ideas.

It is a continuation of my obsession with the kimono sleeve and drop shoulder. The jacket is in the drafting folder along with a shaped dress and an a-line dress.


So the t-shirt has the drop shoulders which is a very flattering style for the dolls.
This pattern will have lots of features.

  • Hemmed neck and sleeves
  • Neck and sleeves with ribbing
  • Straight hem
  • Hi-lo hem
  • Draped hem
  • and I am going to try it with bias on the neck and folded to the wrong side.
  • So far I can see that there will need to be an extra 1" added to the bottom hem to make it great for the 20" Aussie Girl Doll too.

You must try sewing with knits.
They look so good for modern outfits.

How do I sew with knits?
  • Use a stretch or jersey needle
  • Use a very narrow zigzag for the seams
  • If you don't want the neck or hem to stretch then you need to hem them with a straight stitch
  • Straight stitch works for the back facings and the sleeve hems too

  • When I sew on a band I use the narrow zigzag.
  • To get the band right, pin it at one end of the garment and stretch it quite firmly past the neck, sleeve or bottom. Use a finger to mark where the garment edge touches the band then pin it in place.
I had to stretch the band quite a lot to get it to gather the thicker red fabric.

  • Bands fit depends on the strength of the garment fabric and the band fabric. The band has to be able to gather up the garment. The easier it is to stretch the band the more you will have to stretch it to make it gather up the garment.
  • Don't bother finishing off edges or seam allowances. 
  • Pressing as you go is great, even on difficult to press knits
  • I am going to try the bias facing at the neck. I think this will be good for very stretch knits

The Santa sweatshirt with the black shorts is a bit of a modern take on the Christmas outfit. It looks cute bit not too old fashioned. The Santa is a motive I cut from some fabric I had with various motives for Christmas. I just put an oval of fusible applique paper on to cover the motive then cut around close to the Santa and ironed him on.


I'm still working on some stockings and a beanie. Once they are done I will post a bit more about what I did.


I used the 1820 Bulky Knit sweater for the jumper but I had to lengthen the sleeves because they have no cuffs and I made the knee shorts length as boxers from 1813.
I know, we haven't even got past Halloween and I am onto Christmas. 

Looking for a quick fix for halloween? Sign up for my Newsletter to get some applique letters to add BOO to a t-shirt. Perfect size and perfect placement. I have done all the experimenting so all you have to do is pop the letters on an existing t-shirt  or sweatshirt and your doll will be set for Halloween.

Happy Sewing,
Val

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Progress report and revisiting the ski pyjamas from 2 years ago.


This sleeveless roll neck top is made using 1801. It is perfect for spring or autumn and looks great under a jacket or coat or cardigan for winter.

I have been working steadily on my E-book. Not settled on the title yet but it will be about creating a 4 season wardrobe for your doll from several patterns. It will include what steps to take for choosing fabrics and colours as well as outfit ideas using all the pieces. I'm really excited about this. I just need to make all the items.
I will probably launch it through my newsletter first and add a special offer. Look out for my first
E-Book in the next few months.

I am also working on the first draft of the school dress collection. This is the first design. It looks pretty cute so far but already I am drafting some changes. The collar needs to be a bit narrower and I didn't quite nail the tuck in the bodice. I will be changing it just a bit.



Over the years I haven't quite managed to get the Australian Girl Doll summer items out at the same time as I publish the American Girl Doll winter items. I tend to just make whatever I feel like. If there is some garment that you have always been wanting to make for either doll just let me know and I will have a go at drafting a pattern.

The ski pyjamas that I blogged about more than 2 years ago still look really cute and are quite easy to make using 1801 and 1813. I have just put together a Fashion File for the ski pyjamas that I will publish as soon as I make another set for photos. The Retail Fashion Files that I publish have all the pattern pieces you need so you don't have to go looking through your pattern collection and you don't have to do any alterations. I do it all for you.


You can check out the DIY blog post here.

Happy Sewing,
Val

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

New Doll Clothes Designs for 18" dolls

I bought my fabric at Spotlight in Australia

I love collecting design ideas on my Pinterest.
Lately I have been absorbed with hi lo skirts and a wide neck bodice that looks great on Barbie.

This is the new bodice design. It is very wide necked and the shoulders are extended.


I have designed a gathered hi lo skirt that will go on any of my waist length bodices from my patterns such as the 18" Dress 1804 or the 50's dress 1827 or even the new Trapezium Dress  bodice.


I am still a bit obsessed with the kimono sleeves. The little T-shirt is a spin-off. There will be an A-line dress and wrap around robes and jackets too. I already have the coat with a collar or a bolero well under way.



I made a combo dress using one of the sleeve styles from 1804, the sweetheart bodice front from 1863 Rompers with the bodice back from 18" Dress Lined Bodice and the hi lo gathered skirt. The Hi Lo Skirt 1849 gathered or flared will be published end of September 2017.



This is just an example of how you can combine my pattern pieces to make new designs for yourself.
This particular dress will be available as a stand alone pattern hopefully by the end of September 2017. I publish the Fashion File as I call it as a blog post with simple instructions and also as a retail pattern in my shop.


You may remember I did this with my Ruffle Party Dress. The blog post and the retail pattern.
I have lots of Fashion Files posted on my blog but this will only be the second one I have published with the pattern pieces collected together with all the features of my regular retail patterns. I know that not everyone loves to play with the designs the way I do. Sometimes you just want it in a neat package.


Look out for my new designs coming soon. Why not subscribe to my newsletter so you can keep up as well as get the occasional free pattern.
See the sign up form at the top of the side bar. Check out some of my links while you are there.

Happy Sewing,
Val


How to sew doll clothes: Lining a kimono sleeve bodice


Pattern by Valspierssews


This is a photo tutorial that goes with my Trapezium Dress and T-shirt pattern No. 1868/2068. It is both 18 and 20 because it fits American Girl 18" dolls and Australian Girl 20" dolls.

Pattern by Valspierssews

Stitching up the side seams of the lined bodice is a bit difficult to represent in diagrams so there is a link to this post on the title page of the pattern that you purchase.

After you have stitched the main bodice to the lining around the neck and back edges and the hem edges of the sleeves you trim the seams and clip the curves. Then you turn it right side out and press it.
The next steps are for the side seams.

Place the bodice flat on your bench. I have marked the critical points with my big safety pins. First you bring together the underarms of the main fabric only.

This bodice is the longer bodice not the high waisted bodice
you are supposed to use with the Tapezium Dress. I didn't
realise I had cut out the wrong length until after I had sewn
on the skirt. I had to unpick it and cut the bodice shorter.
One day I will learn to follow my own instructions!


Next you bring together the waist edges of the main fabric only.



Then you have to pick it all up and move the lining out of the way a bit so you can bring together the ends of the sleeve hem seam. I nest the seams one to each side.



Bring the underarms of the lining together.


Then pin the waist edges of the lining.


You get a donut. That's what I think it looks like anyway.


Stitch the seam. Trim the seam. Then carefully clip into the underarm of the both the main and the lining.


Hold the sleeve in your hands so your thumbs go inside the main sleeve. (My other hand is holding the camera).


Pull the main fabric through until you see the lining.



Leave the sleeve lining inside the main sleeve. Smooth out the sleeve hem seam. Press it. Top stitch around the sleeve hem edge. Turn up your cute cuff.





Happy sewing,
Val