This weekend is going to be spent partying! All three of my children have a different friend celebrating their birthday. My daughter's friend has an American Girl doll and I thought it would be fun to make her some new doll clothes for a gift. I was able to quickly sew some pajamas, a leotard and tutu, and this new spring dress. (Don't tell her, but I only paid $1 for everything. Doll clothes use so little fabric that you can usually just use your scraps.)
The one I will show you how to make is my own pattern. Ariel wanted to sew her friend a dress and I knew we were going to need to keep it simple. I started to help her use one of my Simplicity doll patterns, and then decided it was beyond the simple sewing skills of my daughter. We threw it out!
This is what I came up with, a very basic dress that my daughter could sew, but one that is still pretty. Ariel calls it a formal dress since it's so long on the doll. In order to make the pattern, I decided I should make another dress for Ariel's Kit doll. Now her and her friend will have matching dresses!
When you print out the pattern pieces make sure you print actual size. Don't scale it down for the page, as it will be too small for your doll. Even fractions of an inch will be too tight. I made the dress very form fitting.
I like to make the cuffs of the sleeve a contrasting color. You could even make the bodice pieces a different fabric.
The skirt pattern piece is missing a tiny little corner. It's just barely too large for a letter size piece of paper. Your printout should take up the entire sheet of paper. I taped on the tiny piece that was missing.
Here's what all of your pattern pieces look like:
To start off, I first sewed the shoulders, with the fabric right sides together. I try to do 1/4 inch seam on most of this dress. The clothes are so tiny that when you do anything larger, you lose part of the dress.
You want to do a small hem on the neckline.
Before you sew your cuffs onto the sleeves, you first need to iron them in half lengthwise. Next pin them onto the sleeves with all the unfinished edges together. The cuffs should be a little bit longer than your sleeves. Trim off the excess.
I like to use the zigzag stitch to close my seams and keep them from fraying too much. I iron the seam toward the sleeve. Then I do a quick gathering stitch on each sleeve.
Pin your sleeves on the arm holes, and then stitch them with a 1/4 inch seam. You really need these sleeves on tight! The dress is so tight, that you'll be tugging quite a bit on the arm holes to get the dress on.
Now we sew the armpit. On this seam I try to keep it very small, and I reinforce it with a zigzag stitch. If you do an entire 1/4 inch, you will have trouble getting the dress over the doll's body.
You need to hem the back bodice pieces. This time I do a double fold for the hem, but still keep it small. You need as much as you can get to get the dress on the doll.
Now that the bodice piece is finished, you need to work on the skirt. I used a 1/4 inch seam here. Once you're finished you can flip the skirt to the right sides showing.
This really is a very simple dress. We're almost done! To attach the bodice and skirt, I placed the skirt in through the neck hole. You need to line up the seam you just sewed on the skirt, with the back bodice pieces. I first pinned the back closed then I pinned it to the skirt. This part is kind of tricky to sew as the opening is not very large.
The pieces should be the same size. I noticed when my daughter did the sewing; the skirt was a little bit too large. You can take in a little on the waist, but I would try to make your seams smaller on the bodice instead. (The parts that you hemmed on the back bodice pieces or on the armpits) Again if it's too small, it won't fit over the doll's body. This dress is very snug!
You're almost done! Depending on how long you want the dress, you need to do the skirt hem. I did a double fold about 1/4 of an inch, 1/2 inch total.
The only thing left is to decide how you want the dress to close. You could sew snaps on, or use Velcro. My sewing machine sews buttons on really easy, so I opted for one button at the top.
I love how the dress turned out! I think the part I especially enjoyed was how easy it was to make. I've made my daughter some complicated doll clothes in the past that take me all day long to make. This one only takes about 1 hour to put together. (Two hours if you're like my daughter and new to sewing) Simple, but beautiful. You gotta love that!