One of the neat things about writing stuff available to the world at large, when I say that I mean to do something, I tend to do it. I guess it’s the accountability thing, where I feel the need to live up to my own words. So in that spirit, I present the two dresses I have been working on for the last week or so.
Mom, it’s 50 degrees out, and I need a jacket because I’m freezing
Santa brought my daughter an eighteen inch doll for Christmas and she has been hounding me ever since for more doll clothes. I had been avoiding the subject for a bit and then my daughter found McCall 7074 in the pile of patterns I got sometime this year. Of course that meant that they needed matching dresses, so here we are. My daughter went diving through my over-full fabric stash and picked out the main dress fabric because it had flowers and pink and purple and it hit all of the right notes for her. I was honestly not sure how it would turn out, but she had faith.
Here you can actually see the box pleats that give the shaping to the skirt
The first hurdle to cross was finding a yoke fabric that worked with all of the colors going on with the main fabric and that’s harder than it looks. Hancock had no blues that matched the background color and purple is a nightmare of a color to match so no joy there either. Weirdly though, I found a zipper that almost perfectly matched the main fabric. Unfortunately, I bought the zipper before I picked out the navy blue for my contrast, leading to the zipper pull being visible.
Very, very visible
I forgot the joys of switching thread colors umpteen times in a project to match whatever fabric I was messing with, but that was nothing compared to making the horizontal seams match up along the zipper. With the high contrast of the blue, I wanted to get it right. I basted that sucker four times, but finally got the final result within my tolerance, so I’m happy with it. I lined the dress with the same fabric as the contrast because it was pretty lightweight and I figured it wouldn’t be too obvious around the armhole seams where I normally mess up and have visible lining fabric.
This may be the best seam matching I’ve ever done. I should do this more often.
I never follow the order of construction for sleeveless dresses as I prefer to get the entire front assembled and then the entire back and then use the burrito method for sewing the lining in. This means that the side seams are the last major seams to be sewn up, and I have a tendency to not line them up properly because I’m lazy and so close to the end of the project that I can get slapdash. Today, I actually did them right and the waist seam along both sides look like the above picture. I’m sort of pleased to have done it right and not allow myself any excuses otherwise. I should do that more often and not make excuses for myself.
Making the doll dress was easier than I expected in large part thanks to the quarter-inch seam allowances. They were so nice to work with as I just used the quarter-inch foot, which made for pleasantly mindless sewing. I was paying absolutely no attention to the instructions, so imagine my surprise when I figured out that the dress skirt and lining skirt sections were supposed to be sewn together at the bottom, basted together at the waist seam and then attached to the bodice with the bodice lining slipstitched in place. Umm, yeah that’s not happening, especially on a doll’s dress, but thankfully I hadn’t put the Velcro in yet. Attempt number one reminded me why I suck at visualizing bagging linings, as I ended up with the Moebius strip of doll dress that couldn’t be turned right side out. I finally turned everything to where I wanted it, pinned the skirt and lining together, turned it inside out, and then manipulated the fabric until I had the entire hem stitched up. Then voila, it turned right side out again properly. And yes, the child’s dress was supposed to be done the same way, but I just hemmed those normally and called it a day as I already had the zipper in and the sides closed up.
This left just the Velcro to apply, and I have to say, it was so much more forgiving than a zipper. I serged together the dress and lining along the edge where the Velcro went and then just sewed in place. The left side has you fold the Velcro to the inside, but with the four layers of fabric it seemed bulkier than I would have liked. I sewed down the top edge and along the center back, and I’m much happier with the effect. Unfortunately, with the half of the center back box pleat there at the waist, I couldn’t sew along the perimeter of the entire rectangle, which I would have liked to have done for symmetry.
All in all, I would call this a successful project and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the doll sewing. Also, this means one Easter dress down and one to go for me.