• Karole from Kimberling

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


Last year, when my pre-loved Josefina doll arrived, I was prepared. In my Ziploc Doll Outfit "kits" were several dresses, boleros, and skirts waiting to be sewn. Many months before, I had found a website that provided free American Girl patterns for Josefina, as well as patterns for other original Pleasant Company dolls -- -- so, I had looked for fabrics to make clothes similar to those originally sold for the Josefina doll., and cut out outfits for her.

BUT . . .

When I took this beautiful doll out of the USPS box, I decided that she needed a very special outfit, to celebrate her arrival.

Among my pre-washed inventory of fabrics was a soft, slubbed-satin drapery remnant with wide, two inch, vertical stripes of dusty steel-blue and silvery-beige. When I first saw it, I had no idea what I was going to make with it, but it was really special -- and on sale -- so, I bought it.

Looking through my stash that day in order to find something special for Josefina, I decided that this satin was meant for her. My decision meant that the fabric was going to dictate the style of the outfit, and that an existing pattern was probably not going to work. (As it turned out, I could use a pattern for the blouse.)

The Skirt

First I tried pleating the satin fabric to see how it would work for a skirt -- the bold stripes made pleating easy since the width of the pleats was fixed by the width of the stripe, but I couldn't use a pattern because the width of the stripe dictated the size of the pleats. So I measured the waist of the doll and cut a waistband first, and then kept pleating the fabric until it was almost as wide as the waistband. As you can see, my pleats are not all in the same direction, they meet in the center front. I thought a deep hem would give the skirt a softer look, so I had to hand stitch the hem. The waistband fastens snugly with a snap.

The Vest

When cutting out my other Josefina outfits, I had experimented with making a simple vest pattern, by repeating several iterations of cutting, fitting to the doll, and making modifications. The pattern I ended up with was short, in the Spanish style, lined, had no fasteners, and dipped gently to a "V "in the back. (I made slight pattern modifications for an unlined leather vest.) My biggest challenge was how to place the pattern on the fabric.

The Blouse

This was one time that I went to the store to find a fabric for the blouse, which means, horror of horrors, that I had to pay full price.

I wanted the texture of the fabric to contrast and enhance the slubbed satin. I found what I was looking for at WalMart -- an unbleached waffle muslin. I used Farmcookies' Bodice Basics pattern (a pattern I have mentioned several times in this blog) with no collar and long sleeves, and sewed a rich ivory cotton lace trim with ivory satin ribbon woven through it at the neckline and on the sleeve cuffs. I am not sure where I purchased the trim -- but it was either on eBay or Etsy.

A lightweight polyester fabric was used for the blouse bodice lining. The blouse hem was finished with a zigzag stitch rather than turned under, to keep a smooth line under the skirt. Snaps fasten the blouse at the back.

The Bow/Hair Clip

Since Josefina's hair was braided down her back, I made a bow using a large and small rectangular piece of the fabric (the steel/blue stripe), and sewed a simple hair clip to the underside.

The Result?

An outfit I call Simple Elegance.

Now I'm thinking it's time to get those Ziploc bags out of the bin.

Hope to See You Next Week . . .

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