• Karole from Kimberling

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


When my daughter was four years old, I made her clothes -- because my mother had made mine, it made me feel special, and I wanted her to feel special too. (And, until she turned nine, she was happy to wear clothes that didn't look like everyone else's.) Unlike the clothes my mother made, girls' fashions in the 1970s were much easier to make -- not prettier, but "less work for Mother." (That was a Horn and Hardart slogan back in the day.)

Now what has this to do with dolls?

When my daughter was four, I found these Disney doll panels at Cloth World (Do you remember Cloth World?) The first eighteen inch cloth panel was the front side of a Disney character -- MIckey Mouse, Donald Duck,etc. -- and the second panel was the back side of the character. To make a doll, you sewed the two panels together and stuffed it.

The panels, sans the legs, fit perfectly on a little girl's size 4 dress. So, I appliqued the front of the doll on the front side of the dress, and the back of the doll on the back, and my four year old looked better than a Disney Park character. (Remember, it's in the eye of the beholder.)

As you can see, I chose the Minnie Mouse doll for my four year old's dress (minus the legs). As she grew, the dress passed on to her sister, and, later, on to her cousin.

What added to the whimsy of this dress, is that my daughter's legs came right below the doll's skirt, so from the front it looked like Minnie Mouse was walking towards you, and from the back it looked like Minnie was walking away.

For my younger daughter, then about a year old, I chose the Donald Duck panels -- but only the head fit on her dress.

Both outfits had bloomers to match underneath -- I didn't want anyone telling my daughters that they shouldn't hang upside down on the monkey bars!

Thirty years later, When my granddaughter was four, I looked all over for those doll panels -- to no avail.

Then one day, about six years years later, I found them at my local thrift shop! Someone had donated the Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Snoopy, and Big Bird panels. It was a bittersweet moment; seeing them brought back wonderful memories, but my granddaughter was ten -- too old to make THE DRESS for her. Of course, I bought the Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck panels, and heck -- the Big Bird panels too.(I didn't get the Snoopy panels because Snoopy wouldn't fit on a size 4 dress.)

In June 2017, while going through my stash to make doll clothes, I came across those doll panels. "Not fair," I opined, " I could be ninety before I had great granddaughters, even older, and even if I was still around -- I might not be sewing."

So, hanging in my closet now are three outfits -- all size 4 -- with a note attached -- "For My Future Granddaughters". I can't tell my grandchildren about them -- that would be interfering with their choices! I can of course, share them with you.

Instead of bloomers, each has a coordinated pair of shorts.

The appliques were ironed on using Pellon's Wonder-Under, and then satin stitched with black thread around the perimeter of the character and on the black lines within.

Each dress is fully lined. The pattern is an old one from the 1970s-- size 4.

The painted hangers -- from a garage sale.

I KNOW -- I was supposed to be sewing doll clothes for my Etsy shop! I'm getting to that.

Bye! -- Hope to See You Next Week . . .