• Karole from Kimberling

Sewing for 18" Dolls, How Hard Can It Be?

Finding Homes for My Small World Fashions

Donating to Charities, Gifts, Selling

Today's post: Part 1: Donating to Charity

Several years before deciding to design and sew doll clothes, I had joined a local craft group that made items to be sold in a Christmas boutique; all sales went to local charities (and still do.)

I look at craft items from a Feng Shui perspective (pretty and useful -- something like that.) No glass wind chimes that you can't put outside because a strong wind might cause them to break (you think I'm kidding?); no cigar boxes decorated on top with macaroni or buttons that you can't put something on top of; no baby onesies with ruffles sewn on the bottom that look cute, but have to be very uncomfortable for the baby.

So, I decided to sew aprons for toddlers, children and adults. Not the retro 50's frilly ones with ruffles that women wore for company to serve the meal, but not for cooking it; practical aprons that you wear while you cook, or while you eat to protect your clothes; reversible aprons with a holiday pattern on one side and an everyday print on the other -- most importantly, two layers of fabric, so if something does spatter on it, it doesn't soak through to your clothes. (Unless it's denim of course, and you don't need a second layer of fabric.)

Have I mentioned before that I don't like to cut things out?

Other than choosing the right fabrics for a project, it is the most important part of sewing -- if you don't cut it out correctly, nothing else is going to go right. Why is it that the prep work is always the least fun, but the most important? They call it painting -- but the prep work you have to do is the most time consuming -- take down the old border or wallpaper, prep the wall, put up painter's tape to protect areas you don't want painted, put down drop cloths -- the actual painting is the easy part. The same for sewing; choosing fabrics and patterns, pre-washing, cutting and marking takes a lot of time -- and you aren't sewing yet.

I like the "choosing-fabrics-and-patterns" part, and the actual sewing -- but cutting out is a pain. So, I force myself to cut things out, which is one of the reasons I now have over 100 Ziploc bags containing doll outfits to be sewn.

It is also why I have over 100 aprons cut out in my antique wardrobe ready to sew. About five years ago, I figured that if I donated 10 to 20 aprons a year for charity events, that in five years I would have them all sewn and be tired of this hobby. Well I did that for five years, but because I can't stop buying fabric (and then forcing myself to cut out the aprons, so I can later do the fun part), this is what is in my wardrobe ready to be sewn.

Are you seeing an "approach to life" pattern here?

(The ties on the right are for a Pinterest project I found three years ago to re-purpose ties -- haven't gotten to that project yet.)

In the Spring of last year, I also donated aprons with animal prints to our local Humane Society auction. That way they get a much bigger donation than what I paid for the fabric. I also donated 18" doll clothes for the Humane Society auction, but last Spring, had only made a few outfits, so I decided to:

  • Donate a complete wardrobe of 18" doll clothes that I had purchased on Etsy and eBay. I forgot to mention that while I was researching selling options on Etsy and eBay, I began to buy handmade 18" doll clothes made by other small world clothiers - in the interest of research, you understand. By the summer of 2017, I had another Rubbermaid bin of other crafters' handmade doll clothes. After spending all that time cutting out outfits, and finally realizing the time it was going to take to make one, I'd look at a beautiful doll fashion that someone else had for sale, and think, "I can't believe she is selling this cute dress for only $$; the least I can do is buy it to support her ." So, I'd buy it.

  • Make two more ball gowns from the retro '56 pattern (with which I had become very familiar); give one to the auction, and keep one for my future "store inventory".

As for the two ball gowns I made -- I used that same '56 doll pattern I had used for the Scarlett O'Hara dress (except I didn't modify the neckline as I did for that dress) -- using two beautiful aqua-blue taffeta fabrics that reminded me of the gown my older sister bought for her senior prom. My best motivation to sew is to work on something that has good memories attached, such as the gown my sister bought for her senior prom.

I am the second oldest of seven children, six girls and a boy -- only ten years between the oldest and youngest. My mother and father both worked full time jobs, my mother's was on a night shift. She also made every holiday dress, some coats, and every fancy dress any of us needed -- so that our clothes would be as good as anyone else's. They were actually better.

But when my older sister got invited to her Senior Prom in 1961, she was working, and wanted to buy something special. So, my Mother, my sister and I rode the train into Jamaica/Queens, NY to Buckner's - a formal dress shop that registered the dresses they sold, to be sure no-one else at that school prom would have the same dress. My sister paid $55 for her dress -- a fantastic amount by our family's standards, because when Mom told Dad we needed money for a dress, he would give her $5 to cover the thirty-five cent pattern, fabric, thread, zipper, etc.

My sister's dress was a beautiful aqua-blue duchess satin, floor length, and worn with a hoop half-slip. There was no question that I was going to wear it next year for my Senior Prom; I mean it was $55. The fact that my sister is fair-skinned, has blond hair and blue eyes, and I have brown hair, brown eyes, and (sorry, to this day I can't describe my complexion), did not enter into the decision. In fact, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't wear it -- IT WAS $55!

So, for the Humane Society auction, I made and donated this prom outfit:

I think this is the one I donated -- the other dress I made with these fabrics had the striped pattern on the bodice and upper skirt, and a solid aqua ruffle. It also had a white faux-fur shrug. Both dresses had a net underskirt/slip, and pink satin underwear (I just couldn't figure out how to make garters with stockings.)

Hope to see you next week...