Sewing doll clothes can be a pretty quick project as a general rule. The pieces and seams are small, they don’t take long to cut out, and they don’t use much fabric. However, if you want to sew a lot of clothes (like for a craft show) or you just have a short nap time to work in, here are four tools that can save you a little more time and make your sewing time more efficient, and, in my opinion, are really worth the investment.
1. A good Serger- sergers are funny machines. People that sew fall into three categories. Those who can’t live without a serger, those that bought one but it’s still in the box and are afraid to use it, or those who simply don’t want one or see its benefits. No matter which category you fall into, one sure way to speed up your sewing is with a serger. First of all, the speed settings on a Serger are higher than a sewing machine. It doesn’t stitch backwards, but it goes faster! 🤗 When you use a serger, you learn to work with flat construction. This also speeds up the sewing process. Spend some time on you tube watching videos of your specific model, as well as how to use one in general. If changing the thread is intimidating, you can simply leave it with gray or white thread for most fabrics. 😉 I love my jet air threading Evolve serger made by Babylock! (I use stickers to help me remember the settings for quick stitch changes!)
2. A Ruffler foot- if you like gathered skirts and ruffled hems, this one tool can save 10 minutes per outfit- at least! My machine is a Bernina, and yes, the ruffler foot was pretty pricey. I watched one you tube video and I was off and running. There is a great e-book here if you want to get serious with the math. I just started to experiment and kept a spreadsheet with every measurement I tried. With that sheet, I have a baseline to start with to vary the stitch length to ruffle the skirt from each if my patterns with. It doesn’t have to be exact- just “close enough” at first. (You can always pull a little back out at either end if it ends up too short.) It takes 15 seconds to gather an 18 inch doll skirt this way! Well worth the hefty price tag and time to learn and experiment in my opinion. (You can also attach and gather the ruffle to the fabric at the same time…I intend to learn how to do that too, I just haven’t gotten to it.)
3. An overlock foot- this probably came with your machine; mine did. This is a much cheaper option than the serger. Again, hop on over to you tube and learn how to use it. Since I purchased my new Bernina last June, I have really started taking advantage of all the feet that are offered. I change feet at least 9 times an outfit. (Bernina has an easy one hand hook mechanism so this doesn’t take long at all.) My Serger is around the table from my sewing machine. In some cases, making a quick switch to the overlock foot is faster and just as productive as using the Serger. I also really like this thinner stitch for underarm sleeves on smaller doll clothes. Will this save you a whole lot of time? Probably not like the two above, but it’s another tool for your tool box and a great option if a serger machine is not on your wish list or in your budget.
4. The Cricut Maker- this is definitely not your cheapest time saver! At $399, it’s a big price to pay for something you can do with a nice pair of scissors. (You can save 10% with a subscription to cricut access; click AD: here to read more about that.). If you’ve never used an electronic cutter, you may need to get familiar with your machine and its software first. Once you are comfortable using it, and you spend the time to get your files set up, this can really be a huge time saver, especially if you sew mutliples items at once! The cricut maker cuts up to 12×24 inches- it’s perfect for doll clothes! I set up all of my patterns for the cricut maker and can cut them out quickly and cleanly in literal minutes! See this tutorial for more specifics. There are also so many other fun things you can do with a cricut machine; sewing doll clothes is just the start! (If you don’t want to splurge on the Cricut maker, or already have a cutting machine, the time to set up your files can be worth it to cut out your printed patterns as well, as another way to save a little time.)
So many sewists have a room full of tools and toys and still sew with the same 2-3 sewing feet or stitches day in and day out. Hopefully this post has given you a little inspiration to dig out something you’ve already bought, or invest in something you hadn’t thought of. The right tool for the job makes this hobby even more fun! What tools might you add to this list? If you try something new, leave a comment and tell us about it!