• Karole from Kimberling

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



OK -- I now have over 140 Ziploc bags containing ready to sew doll outfits (including those Pleasant Company Josefina outfits I mentioned in last week's blog.) Why not pick out one of those to sew?


  • That would be too easy.

  • I wouldn't have to go shopping for anything.

  • A few weeks ago I found this miniature flower cart, and have been thinking of Eliza Doolittle ever since.

  • The picture MY FAIR LADY came out when I was a penniless college student, and Eliza and I had a few things in common. (However, I would have pitied the professor who was arrogant enough to think I needed changing.)

  • Once I get something in my head, ignoring it is next to impossible.

So, I went online and found pictures of Eliza Doolittle -- like this one. I can only get the top half of that picture to show here, so please take my word for it that Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) is wearing a long dark plaid skirt with an apron over it, and an ill fitting 3/4 length coat over all of it.

(These wild hare ideas of mine almost always require ten times the effort it takes to sew one of the outfits in those Ziploc bags, which is why my productivity in terms of number of outfits sewn is very poor. Part-time, this one took almost two weeks.)

The Flower Cart - was a thrift store find. It had large flower decals on the sides that I didn't like, so, I took the cart apart, set up the garage for spray painting, and painted the sides a sage green.

The Hat - I had a flat topped hat, but it was purple. Back to the garage to spray paint it black and add two coats of clear poly finish. I found the small yellow flowers in a thrift store for ten cents, and hand sewed them and the green grosgrain ribbon to the hat band.

My Dilemma -- How close did I want the doll's outfit to resemble Eliza Doolittle's?

Eliza's clothes are ill-fitting, worn, and smudged. I really didn't want to fray the clothes or add dirt, so I altered the fit of the blouse and jacket a little.

The good news was that other than the flower cart, I already had all the fabrics and spray paint needed for Eliza's outfit. I also had a Butterick pattern for the blouse and skirt, but needed to buy for Eliza's coat.

The Blouse and Skirt

Both blouse and skirt were made using Butterick Pattern 5110.

The blouse pattern I used is the one on the center bottom of the pattern jacket. It opens in the front, has no cuffs and straight long sleeves with very little fullness at the shoulder. The jacket Eliza is wearing has long narrow sleeves, so it was important that the blouse had narrow sleeves with very little fullness at the shoulder. Three changes were made to the pattern: I fully lined the bodice instead of using bias tape for raw edges, I did not put the pleat in the back so that the blouse fit more loosely, and I re-cut the collar so it would stand up like the one worn by Eliza. When sewing the collar onto the blouse, I sewed it so that it had a fluttery/wavy look -- to make the blouse look more like a second-hand blouse. The Ultra-thin Velcro sewn down the front looks like a placket when closed (hard to see in the picture.)

The skirt view I used is pictured on the center top of the pattern jacket. It has only a little fullness and closes in back. I lengthened the skirt to floor length, widened the center back 1/2 of an inch, and sewed Ultra-thin Velcro down the entire back. (Because dressing the doll is so much easier if a garment opens entirely down the back.)

The Red Scarf - I had a remnant of red velveteen from which I cut a rectangle for the scarf.

The Apron is a rectangle of muslin hemmed on three sides, gathered at the top, and sewn to a waistband with two long ties. (No pattern)

The Coat

I did not have a close fitting jacket or coat pattern to make Eliza's coat, so I went online in search of one, and found this riding jacket pattern by Read Creations on The smaller figure on the cover shows a

tuxedo jacket that has the lines I needed. The only modifications I made were to lengthen the jacket to 3/4 coat length and to square the front bottom corners -- easy changes. I chose not to add the pocket flaps, because there are none on Eliza's coat.

There are only four pieces for this lined jacket (five including the pocket flaps), and the directions are easy to follow. I will be using this pattern again. The fit is very good. By adding the apron that ties with a thick knot in the back, the scarf, and a net slip under the skirt, the jacket pulls open across the front and resembles Eliza's. Without the apron, the scarf, and the under-slip, the jacket has a very tailored fit.

I balk at putting in buttonholes -- because the lump at the jacket front seam interferes with my buttonhole foot, and there's a 50/50 chance I'll be pulling out stitches and redoing the buttonhole. There was only one buttonhole to make, so I risked it. True to form, it worked the second time.

If I ever make my own patterns, I am going to design them so that buttonholes are made at the outset before sewing the garment together. That way, if there is a problem with putting in the buttonholes, the sewer can redo the piece immediately without the risk of ruining the entire garment -- after spending hours working on it. (I sure hope some pattern designers are reading this!)

Maybe next week, I'll make . . .

Maybe not .

Hope to see you next week . . .

108 views0 comments