Monday, December 06, 2010

I finished something.

Yesterday afternoon after we watched the Saints squeak out a victory, I decided that I must immediately retreat to the sewing machine to finish the Christmas project I started for my nieces way back in July. July? Can that be? And I "finished" something, and I feel oh so accomplished.

First let me explain why this project has been lingering. I was still working on parts of this project when I first found out I was pregnant back in August. I was sort of nauseous all the time then. And one day when I sat down at the sewing maching I must've been feeling seriously gross. And since then I've been having a negative association with the act of sewing. Isn't that bizarre. Other triggers include the smell of basil pesto (Rykert was taking the lead in preserving the basil from our garden around that same time). This is sad, because I seriously love basil. I hope it passes. Also, the smell of dog food. I'm incapable of feeding our dog without plugging my nose. I have similar negative associations from college, but the triggers are more specific: tequila and Southern Comfort. I can barely even type the words.

I decide to face the sewing association head on and sat down to finish the American Girl doll dresses and clothes that I started. When I started this project I had huge plans. I bought more patterns and supplies then I had time (or the energy) to finish. But I did finish a few things and packed them all up in a cardboard suitcase along with a few store bought items like a swim team swimsuit and goggles and the shoes.

Note: I need to apologize about the pictures. Because it gets dark so early, I'm at the mercy of my light shelf and it's pretty small for photographing these types of projects.

The first thing that I made were really basic skirts. I didn't use a pattern for these, but there basically just a rectangule sewn into a tube and with an elastic waistband. These are seriously simple, and I could make 2 out of a fat quarter.

Doll Skirts 01

Here's an idea of what they will look like on a doll.

Doll Skirts 02

Using a fabric store pattern (not sure which) I made some really simple elastic waist jeans. Not unlike maternity jeans, actually.

Doll Jeans

I also bought this pattern, and had every intention of finding some of my own old jeans to use as the fabric and then to distress them. But it didn't happen. Maybe someday...

For shirts, I stuck with this peasant style because it was really simple. Again, I made these with fat quarters.

Peasant Style Shirts

If you aren't familiar with the American Girl doll marketing genius, they create dolls from different eras and then sell historically appopriate clothes and books to match. My nieces don't have the historic dolls, instead they have a doll that is chosen to have the same eye and hair color ad the child. But when I was searching for patterns, I really liked the style of the 1940s and 1930s dresses.

I'm not experienced at garment sewing, so I needed a pattern that would be easy to follow. After doing some research, I popped for this 1940s dress pattern. The pattern was exceptionally detailed and easy to use, so it was more than worth the cost. And as a bonus, you can print and cut it out multiple times (for your own use) is you lose a pattern piece.

While the results are still a bit wonky here and there, I'm overall pleased with the results.

1940s Doll Dress 01

1940s Doll Dress 03

1940s Doll Dress 02

The 1930s dress pattern came from the same site, and I found it equally well written and easy to follow.

1930s Doll Dress

I think I already shared this, but I also made a poodle skirt ensemble.

1950s Poodle Skirt 02

Which was the reason that I had to order the saddle shoes.

1950s Poodle Skirt 03

Again, I'm not an expert seamstress, and some days I can't sew a straight line. But not unlike costumes, there's a lot of room for fudging on doll clothes. But here are my beginner tips:
  • Make sure patterned fabrics are scaled appropriately for a doll. The patterns need to be small.
  • Prewash all fabric.
  • If, like me, you don't have a serger, zig zag the raw edges before you sew the clothes together. Some of these patterns have impossibly small (at least for me) seam allowances. I also assume that the clothes will possibly, at some point, need to be washed and this will prevent fraying.
  • Unlike clothes for humans, finish the hems before sewing the sleeve or side seams.
  • Early on in the project, I bought a Mini Iron using a 50% off coupon. And while I'm still constantly afraid that I will burn the house down (or my fingers) with it, it works wonders on these tiny seams.
  • Generally speaking, the patterns that I found online (at the sites linked above or etsy) were superior to the fabric store (Simplicity/ McCalls/ Butterick) options.

Like I said, I still have more ideas, but probably won't have the time before Christmas. And honestly, I'm not sure how much longer my nieces will be interested in American Girl dolls. If I had to guess, I am concerned that is already starting to wane. But here's what I had planned:

  • Flapper dress and headband.
  • Dorothy costume
  • Hawkeye Cheerleading Uniform
  • Pajamas
  • Ball gown/ Formal Dress
  • More jeans and pants
  • Jean skirt
  • Hula skirt

There are lots of online resources that offer tips, patterns, etc. So if you are interested, a little googling should do the trick.

3 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

Emily said...

Those are all adorable. They'll love them!

Shari @For the Little Doll In Your Life said...

Wow! When you get busy, you don't mess around! Kit is the 1930's era American Girl doll and is my favorite, so I really love those dresses and fabrics. Thanks for the reviews on the patterns too.

I know how it goes with morning sickness waylaying your plans. I had just started a year long "block of the month" class to learn quilting when I got pregnant with my youngest. My morning sickness was so bad the first trimester that I fell way behind and had to drop out of the class. She's 21 months now, and I'm just now getting back to trying to learn some quilting.

Shari @For the Little Doll In Your Life said...

And that suitcase is adorable. I bought something similar last spring at Michael's, and I noticed that they seem to be getting them in again this year.

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