Tips for Beginners- Learning to Sew

sewing doll clothes beginner tips

I posted the following question on my facebook page:

Oh Sew Kat! patterns are designed with the beginning sewist in mind. What is one tip you would give to a young or new sewist who is just starting out in making doll clothes?

Readers from all over posted their tips if you are new to sewing- whether it’s doll clothes or other sewing projects, these few things will help get you off to a great start!

  • Jenny:  Go slow and read the pattern directions. Read them twice before even beginning your project. Nothing has to be perfect. If you don’t like your creation, put it away for a day or two and then come back and look at it. You might be surprised that you now like it!!
  • Anneke:  I never expect a planned pattern to come out as it should. My advise would be go with the flow. Let the fabric tell you what it wants. Sounds hazy and dreamy (which I am NOT) but that’s the way it works for me. I have no technical advice all. But before I start I do sit down read the instructions. Toss them aside and have FUN
  • Cindy:   Press, press, press
  • Deirdre:  Don’t be afraid to rip out a seam and sew it again, the truth is even experienced sewers have to do this at times.
  • Bee:  Read through all of the pattern first before you get started.
  • Julie:  Iron as you sew.
  • Barb:  Take your time. Read the instructions completely before you start and follow each one in order.
  • Jeanna:  Always double check your seam allowances as you go. Nothing worse than making an adorable outfit only to have it be too small 😫
  • Karen:  My advice is (and I really should take my own😂) that perfection, although nice…it isn’t necessary. Enjoy the process of making something cute. It took me ripping apart a genuine cabbage patch outfit to make a pattern to realize this! It was terribly sewn from the factory.
  • Nina:  Learn your sewing machine inside and out. Practice the threading pattern so it’s easy enough to do in your sleep!
  • Gail:  Turn on the iron before you turn on the machine. Sew a seam press the seam. Sew a seam press the seam. Every time!
  • Julie:  Have fun with it!! Really, doll clothes take such a little bit of fabric, if you make a mistake, you haven’t wasted a lot of fabric. Just toss it and try again! That takes the pressure off to be “perfect” and makes it so enjoyable 🙂
  • Paula:  Use good quality fabric. It may be tempting to use lower quality fabric to try it out, but it is much harder to sew on.

You probably see a few themes emerging here … read all the directions before you start and to press every seam.  But the themes of “you don’t have to be perfect” and “have fun” are obvious too! If you are just starting out learning to sew, doll clothes give you such a low cost way to jump in the pool and start to swim.  Enjoy the process and know your skills will build with every stitch!

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Sewing patterns for dolls list of Beginner Tips

What tips would you add to this list?

Sewing for dolls? Find an assortment of over 50 digital patterns to print on your home computer in my Etsy Shop and start sewing today!

Sewing patterns to make doll clothes by Oh Sew Kat!

 

 

 

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Tester Tuesday- A Girl For All Time Sewing Pattern Party Time Peasant Dress

Here are a few more Party Time Peasant dresses stitched up by the Oh Sew Kat! testers to ispire you. This popular pattern has been resized for these sweet, British dolls.  Find the pattern in my Etsy Shop. (It is also available in other popular doll sizes.)

Peasant Dress A girl for all time sewing pattern for dolls

This simple dress is all one piece- with a fitted waistband and pretty puffed sleeves that can be made with or without the elastic cuff.  Carol Greklek made this pretty three tiered version for her doll, Maya.

Maya A Girl for All Time Doll in blue peasant dress

Sasha dolls are a little more slender than A Girl for All Time Dolls.  Use a bit less elastic and this pattern will work for them too! Julie Helmer, of Sew Dolled Up 81 made this pretty dress for her Sasha doll.

Sasha doll in cream Party Time Peasant Dress

Be still my Irish heart!  Carol Meadows made this gorgeous green dress below.

A Girl for all Time in green shamrock dress

See more Party Time Peasant Dress ideas here and here, and visit the Inspiration Gallery here. This pattern is now available in 5 sizes:  18 inch doll, 16 inch Animator, 16 inch Slim, 14.5 inch Wellie Wishers, and 15 inch Bitty Baby.

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Bloomer Buddies 50s Style Dress for Maryellen Larkin

BeForever character, Maryellen Larkin, is a ten year old girl living in Florida in 1953.  Fifties fashions were all about fun prints, gingham, and full skirts!

With just a few modifications, you can make a cute 50s style dress  and scarf for your Maryellen doll (or her friends) using the Bloomer Buddies pattern from Oh Sew Kat!  I used THIS PIN from my Maryellen Pinterest board as my inspiration.  Make the scarf from matching fabric from THIS tutorial.

Maryellen Larkin BeForever Doll in blue Bloomer Buddies 50s dress

First, you need the pattern. Find it here.

Sewing patterns for 18 inch dolls by OH Sew kat dress and top and bloomers

The pattern has a little slimmer silhouette than the pinned image.  I made two modifications when I cut out my dress.

  1.  Move the dress center front fold about 1/2 inch.  This will give an extra inch of fullness to the front of the dress. You do not need to change the lining, as the finished front will still be the same size, just have more fullness.
  2. Add pockets to your dress front before you gather it and sew it to the yoke. Even though you can do it after, it’s just easier to work while it’s still flat.   I made my pockets so they would be two inches square when finished.  I used one edge on the fold, so my pocket pieces were 4.5 x 2.5 inches.  Press in all edges by 1/4th inch first.  With right sides together, fold in half and stitch the two short sides, plus the corners and some of the long side, leaving a 1/2 inch opening to turn.  Turn and press, tucking in your opening along the crease lines.  Top stitch the top edge if desired, then add to the front of the dress where the hands end up, stitching around both short sides and the bottom.

How to add doll pockets to a doll dress by Oh Sew Kat

Blue Gingham Bloomer Buddies Dress for dolls

Make the dress according to the pattern instructions.

Maryellen Larkin 50s gingham Bloomer Buddies Dress

 

To make a matching head scarf, click HERE for the tutorial.

50s style gingham head scart tutorial for Maryellen Dolls

Click here to see the Sunshine Dress made for 60s character, Melody Ellison and HERE to find the headscarf tutorial.

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Step it Up Series: How to Sew a 70s Sunshine Dress for Julie

The Sunshine Dress, with its three variations and classic A-line look can easily be adapted to look like it came from the 70s era with just a few minor tweaks to the pattern.

Julie american girl doll in pink daisy trimmed dress

I used this photo from Pinterest for inspiration.  Here’s another one.  Based on the first photo, I am using View C, the princess seamed option, but I really think that any of these views can be easily adapted to create this daisy trimmed look. The second photo definitely looks like View B.

Start with the Sunshine Dress pattern.  This pattern has had a recent update.  Check your file and make sure that it says Copyright 2018 at the bottom of the front cover.  If it doesn’t, you can find the updated version where you purchased the pattern, or contact me.

Sunshine Dress sewing pattern for 18 inch dolls

  1.  Raise the neckline by quite a bit- I used almost a half inch for the 18 inch size doll. Don’t forget the lining piece needs to match too!
  2. Skip the top stitching after assembling the dress front.  It would be covered by the trim. If you want your trim to disappear into the seam at the shoulders (and not go down the back), you need to add it over your seams before you stitch the front to the backs as I did hereIf you want the trim to go over the shoulder and down the back, it will be attached after the dress front and back are joined but before you do the hem.  I just attached mine to the front (to conserve my trim mostly).  Add the daisy trim with transparent tape to ensure you have the look you want; you can follow the seam lines if you have them, but if you don’t, put the trim where you think it should go. Stitch in place.  I used a machine and just carefully stitched down the center of my flowers.  You can also add your trim by hand.  If the trim was wider, or for a real girl and would be washed, I would put a row of stitching down each side to hold it securely.
  3. Raise the hem by an inch or even more. Dresses for girls were short then too! (I usually do this after the dress is sewn together unless I’ve done it before and have a good measurement.  Once the dress is done, it’s easy to (use a ruler) and trim off the right amount for right look for the era.) .
  4. Optional:  Add lace (again by hand?) around the neckline.

70s daisy dress for Julie Albright American Girl DollSewing Patterns for Julie doll by Oh Sew Kat

One final note.  I do not profess that this pattern is historically accurate.  I found an image on Pinterest and used my own pattern, which looks very similar.  However, in the world of child’s play, “close enough” is usually enough to save you a few dollars at the American Girl Store if you have a young friend pleading for Julie Albright or items from her time period and collection.  When my daughter was very young, and a new doll was released, I usually kept her focused on who she already had with just a few new doll dresses to fit the new era or theme.  The one that comes to my mind is when Elizabeth Cole, Felicity Merriman’s best friend was released in a beautiful pink, ball gown.  I was able to make and buy a few colonial dresses for my daughter’s Mia doll, and off we went to Williamsburg happy as can be.  Elizabeth never did join our doll family by the way.  😉

Sewing patterns for DIY Doll clothes 70s fashion

PLEASE NOTE:  The Sunshine Dress has been updated since it was first published. The current version has Copyright 2018 on the bottom of the cover page.  If you are unable to get the updated copy from where your purchased it (download it again from your Etsy or Craftsy account, or find the link in the update email from Pixie Faire), please contact me at ohsewkat@gmail.com with the details of where and when you purchased the pattern and I will get you the updated copy!

See other ways to make clothes for Julie here and here, and more ways to sew the Sunshine Dress here.

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How to make a summer head scarf for dolls

50s style gingham head scart tutorial for Maryellen DollsThis quick project will give you the perfect head scarf for your doll’s favorite summer outfits.  It’s also perfect for making 50s style outfits for BeForever character, Maryellen Larkin like THIS. Girls in the 70s, like Julie Albright also wore scarves like this.

scarf tutorial for dolls by oh sew kat

 

Maryellen Larkin BeForever Doll in blue Bloomer Buddies 50s dress

  1.  Cut one 8 1/2 inch square of fabric.
  2. With right sides together, fold in half along the diagonal.  Start 1/2 inch from one corner near the fold, and stitch along the edge, around the top corner, and back towards the fold.  Stop 1/2 inch before you reach the fold.
  3.  Turn right side out and press well, being certain to push the top corner out.  Tuck the raw edges to the inside of the corners as you press.  Top stitch if desired.
  4. Cut 3/8th inch wide elastic to 2 inches.  Tuck each end into a corner of the scarf and stitch in place.

sewing pattern for doll size head scarf

See more tutorials for your dolls here, and coming soon, how to make this cute, 50s version of the Bloomer Buddies dress.

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50s style gingham head scart tutorial for Maryellen Dolls

iCreate Monthly Doll Magazine May/June 2018 now available – Final Issue!

iCreate Magazine for Dolls

iCreate Monthly is available for May/June 2018!  This month’s theme is Makin’ A Splash!  This post contains affiliate links.

Whose dolls are ready to head into the fun and sun of summer! Be sure to head over to at iCreateforDolls.com to get your issue of the iCreate magazine! It includes full color articles, how to’s, and crafts! This issue features:

  • Sew a swim suit cover up (free pattern!)
  • Make a doll size photo booth
  • Plan a doll related party and make doll sized goodie boxes
  • Discounts and special offers
  • and much more!

I like to share great doll finds with my readers as I come across them.  Let me tell you, this magazine publication is top notch! Unfortunately, this is the last issue!! It’s full of ideas, patterns, interviews, printables, projects, information, coupons and more!  You can purchase a PDF download, or you can buy a printed version that is a full 8×11 size glossy magazine! Both are worth the money, in my opinion, for all the tips, ideas, and coupons you receive.  Head on over to www.icreatefordolls.com and get your copy today!  You can join the iCreate community for free and take advantage of many of its new features.

Be sure to purchase the back issues as this magazine will no longer be published after June 2018.  I am so sad to see it go, but you can still enjoy the “all about dolls” website as it moves into its second year.

Last winter, I hosted a holiday themed sew-along. There’s alot of fun doll related activities and chat going on at iCreate.  I’ll see you there! (Be sure to invite me to be a friend!)

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How to Sew a 60s Sunshine Dress for Melody

The Sunshine Dress, with its three variations and classic A-line look, can easily be adapted to look like it came from the 60s era with just a few minor tweaks to the pattern.

Melody doll 60s doll dress sewing pattern

I used this photo for inspiration to make my Melody her dress.  Click here to see Melody modeling View A (without any changes, just a retro feeling fabric.)   Based on the photo, I am using View C, the princess seamed option with just a few minor changes.

Melody doll in diy doll dress 1960

This dress is made from the Oh Sew Kat! Sunshine Dress pattern. Click the photo to visit my Etsy Shop to purchase it. This pattern has had a recent update.  Check your file and make sure that it says Copyright 2018 at the bottom of the front cover.  If it doesn’t, you can find the updated version where you purchased the pattern.

Sunshine Dress sewing pattern for 18 inch dolls

  1.  Raise the neckline by a quarter inch or so. Don’t forget the lining piece too!
  2. Raise the hem by an inch or even more. Dresses for girls were short then too! (I usually do this after the dress is sewn together unless I’ve done it before and have a good measurement.  Once the dress is done, it’s easy to (use a ruler) and trim off the right amount for the right look for the era.)
  3. To make the pocket flaps:  Cut a piece of paper 1 1/2 by 1 3/4th inches (This is the 18 inch doll size.)  Fold it in quarters and round the corners.  Open it back up and cut it in half the short way, so you have two pocket pattern pieces.

tutorial photos to make faux pockets on doll dress4. Trace two flaps onto the wrong side of your fabric, leaving at least 1/4th inch all the way around. (I probably cut mine a little close in this photo.)  Pin two layers together right sides together, and stitch exactly along the drawn line, leaving a small opening to flip it right side out.  Carefully cut out the pocket with a 1/8th inch edge border all the way around it.  Press your seam line, clip the curves, and flip it right side out.  Press well.  Do your best to make both pockets look the same.  Slip stitch the opening closed if needed.  Top stitch around the bottom, curved edge if desired.

pockets for 60s variation of the Sunshine Dress5. Put your dress on your doll and pin or tape the pockets in place. (I use transparent tape to hold them on, so they don’t shift as I sew.  The tape tears easily away from the stitching when I’m done.) . Very carefully, top stitch along the top of the flap to attach it to the dress, being careful not to catch the back of the dress under your seam.  If you prefer, you can stitch the flap on by hand.

Melody doll in green dress with fake pockets

One final note.  I do not profess that this dress is 100% historically accurate.  I saw an image on Pinterest and used my own pattern to duplicate it.  However, in the world of child’s play, “close enough” is usually enough to save Mama a few dollars at the American Girl Store if you have a young friend pleading for Melody Ellison or items from her time period and collection.  When my daughter was very young, and a new doll was released, I usually kept her focused on who she already had with just a few new dresses to fit the new era or theme.  The one that comes to my mind is when Elizabeth Cole, Felicity Merriman’s best friend, was released in a beautiful pink, ball gown.  I was able to make and buy a few colonial dresses for my daughter’s Mia doll, and off we went to Williamsburg happy as can be.  Elizabeth never did join our doll family by the way.  😉

See more ways to sew Oh Sew Kat! for the BeForever Character dolls here and visit the Sunshine Dress Inspiration Gallery here.

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Fan Feature: Disney Animators’ Outfits

I love getting emails or seeing posts of the amazing outfits you all make with my patterns. I was blown away by these outfits that Michele Anderson sewed and shared.  I hope you enjoy them too!  I love the entire ensemble!!

Here is Snow White. She is wearing a Sunshine Dress (made into a top- so cute!) and the capris are from the Boardwalk Boutique pattern.

Disney Animators dolls sewing patterns

Ariel is wearing a Sugar n Spice Dress with the reversible corset.

IMG_3026

Anna looks so sweet in her Sugar n Spice dress. And that purse is adorable!!

IMG_3027

Merida is dressed in a sundress made with the Boardwalk Boutique Halter Top.  The contrasting ruffle looks great with her hair!

IMG_3029

And here is Belle, in her Boardwalk Boutique outfit.

IMG_3035

Thank you so much for sharing, Michele!!  It’s so hard to pick a favorite!

IMG_3038

Which one do you like best?  Find these patterns for Disney Animators, along with patterns in other popular doll sizes in my Etsy Shop.

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Boardwalk Boutique Sewing Pattern for Dolls

Spring has arrived, which means that summer is just around the corner! Your dolls will be cute and cool in their Boardwalk Boutique Halter Top and Capris!  Or maybe try something new and stitch it up as a simple sundress!  Enjoy these simple variations of this popular pattern.

3 american girl dolls in halter tops

This pattern is so quick to sew, you can easily make up one or two in a naptime!  The easy elastic back and elastic pull on pants help little hands dress their own dolls. With fabric or ribbon ties, you can make up a set with a fat quarter of fabric.  Here are a few ways to stitch up your Boardwalk Boutique.  (Don’t forget, this pattern is available in 4 sizes!!!)

Nanea is ready for the beach.  I cut this yellow top off the center fold, to have extra fabric to make a little, center pleat. The extra fullness in the top is cute!

Nanea American Girl doll in halter top and blue tennis shoes

Have fun with ruffles!! Cut the longer top version and add a very tiny or very wide ruffle.

two american girl dolls in halter sundresses

Cut the longer top version and leave off the ruffle.  Add some pretty trim for a sporty sundress!

redhead american girl doll in halter top sundress

Use pretty eyelet lace to make the back look special!  Find the full TUTORIAL HERE.

American Girl Doll in Halter Top with lace back

Double your ruffles and make it a maxi dress!! Find the full TUTORIAL HERE.

Julie doll in long, floral maxi halter dress

Or simply try the halter top with something different on the bottom. Here, Maryellen is wearing the standard halter top with the shortie length bloomers from the Bloomer Buddies pattern.

Maryellen American Girl doll in flamingo halter top

How will you make your Boardwalk Boutique for your doll this summer?  See more Boardwalk Boutiques here and here.  Find the pattern for bitty baby, animators’, and wellie wishers in my etsy shop.

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Boardwalk Boutique Sewing Pattern for dolls

3 american girl dolls in halter tops

 

Summer Fun with the Sandbox Shorts Pattern

How about some cute shorts for summer!! The Sandbox Shorts pattern from Oh Sew Kat! has lots of options to keep your dolls cute and casual through the summer months.  Download the file and print the pattern pieces on your home printer.  You’ll be ready to sew today!!  This quick pattern stitches up in 90 min to two hours.  Have fun!!Sandbox Shorts Sewing Pattern for doll clothes

Use THIS TUTORIAL to move the pockets to the inside!

shorts for dolls sewing pattern

Also available here for Wellie Wishers dolls!

easy to sew shorts pattern for dolls

Princess dolls need cool clothing too!  Click HERE for the Animator sized pattern.

Sandbox Shorts for Disney Animators dolls

Don’t forget the Bitty Baby and Bitty Twins! Find their sized pattern HERE.

Sewing Pattern for Bitty Baby dolls

Who will you sew a cute pair of shorts for?  Find these patterns and many more at http://www.etsy.com/shop/ohsewkat.  See more Sandbox Shorts in the Inspiration Gallery.

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Oh Sew Kat sewing patterns wellie wishers american girl animators wellie wishers