Sewing Doll Clothes with Knit Fabrics – Lesson One

How to sew doll clothes with knit fabrics

Do you suffer from SWKP?  That’s “sewing-with-knits-phobia”, in case you are unfamiliar with this common malady.  Sadly, many new sewists find themselves paralyzed by SWKP and pass over many fantastic patterns because they require knit fabrics.

Knit fabrics are awesome when sewing for dolls because they are readily available (especially if you enjoy recycling human clothes), they make fitting a breeze (one pattern often fits several doll brands, even if the dolls vary slightly in size), and doll clothing made from knits looks modern and trendy (many human fashions are made with knit fabrics).

Don’t fear the knit!  While it’s true that sewing with knits is a little different then sewing with woven fabrics, it doesn’t have to be more difficult.  In fact, sewing with knits can be easier and faster because you rarely have to wrestle with unruly, unraveling fabric and, since the fabric is stretchy and forgiving, you don’t have to worry about being quite so perfect with your sewing or your seam allowances to get great looking finished garments.  Making clothing with knits usually involves fewer pattern pieces and less intricate fussy sewing, so you can go from choosing your materials to finished product in a snap.

It’s my sincere hope that all aspiring doll fashionistas would embrace the knit, so welcome to the Many Small Friends : Sewing Doll Clothes with Knits class!  In the next few posts, I am going to introduce you to sewing with knits, give you all of my best tips and tricks to make working with stretchy fabrics easier, and walk you through a simple knit pattern to get you started.

If you are already an expert at sewing with knits, or have recently discovered a technique that has made sewing knits easier, I would love to add your knowledge to our class!  If you have a tip or technique to share, either send me your ideas via email or post in the comments section below.

Shall we begin?

Sewing with Knits – Lesson 1: Choose the Right Knit Fabric for Your Project

Let’s start by defining “knits”.   Most simply put, a knit fabric stretches when you pull it.  In contrast, a woven fabric has very little or no stretch.  The most common example of a knit fabric is t-shirt material.  An example of a woven, on the other hand, would be the type of material used for a man’s dress shirt.  Knits stretch, wovens don’t.

Even though “t-shirt” is often the first thing that comes to mind when you think of knits, there are lots of different types of knit fabrics.  They vary in stretchiness, thickness and weight, fabric content (cotton versus polyester, for example), and tightness of weave.

You’ve probably heard lots of names for knits including interlock, jersey, polar fleece, double knits, spandex, stretch velour, sweatshirt fleece, rib knits, just to name a few. It’s not super important that you know the difference between each to begin with, although it’s helpful to understand the best uses for each type of fabric as you delve deeper into sewing.

The best way to learn is to experiment with different types of fabrics and study human clothes and commercially produced doll clothes to see what choices professional designers have made. For example, you won’t find a t-shirt made out of polyester polar fleece nor would you see mittens made from cotton t-shirt fabric. You can learn a lot about proper fabric choices just by studying your own (and your doll’s) closet!

If you are choosing a knit to sew a specific pattern, most pattern designers will include suggestions for the best type of fabric for the project.

Sewing Doll Clothes with Polar Fleece

Polar fleece is an excellent knit fabric for beginners! I like micro fleece for doll sized clothing. Practice with micro fleece using the MSF hat and mittens tutorial.

Sewing Doll Clothes with Sweater Knit

Sweater knits vary in thickness. Don’t go too thick or heavy for doll clothes.  I like to upcycle human sweaters to doll sweaters. Try making the MSF Autumn Shrug with a sweater knit.

Sewing Doll Clothes with Sweatshirt Fleece Knit

Sweatshirt fleece is another terrific knit for beginners. It’s usually nice and stable.  It makes great sweatshirts. duh. ;)

Sewing Doll Clothes with Open Weave Knit

Don’t be afraid of sewing with open weave fabrics! You can stitch right over the “open” parts.. your sewing machine won’t know the difference. Check out the MSF Mod Shift Dress pattern.

Sewing Doll Clothes with Spandex Swim Knit

Thicker spandex knits are often a breeze to sew. Beginners may want to avoid thinner spandex and anything shiny or metallic, as sometimes slippery knits “misbehave”. Spandex knits are great for dolly tights, leggings, swimwear, and leotards.

Sewing Doll Clothes with Strecth Velour Knit

Velours are ideal knits for cardigans, flowing winter capes, and sweater tops.

Sewing Doll Clothes with Jersey Knit

The thicker the jersey, the easier to sew. Some very thin jerseys can be a pain and the edges tend to roll. Jerseys are often printed and make fun t-shirts, dresses, and tights.

You can get some hands on experience with different knit fabrics by taking a field trip to the fabric store.  Don’t be intimidated or worried that you’ll look stupid.  It’s perfectly acceptable to walk the aisles, touch the fabrics, and study the labels on the ends of the bolts.  Many fabric stores also sell small bits of leftover fabrics (often labeled with type of fabric and content) for discounted prices.

Example information end of fabric bolt

There’s lots of useful information on the end of fabric bolts. This is a woven flannel, not a knit fabric, but it’s the only full bolt I had on hand.

Buying discounted fabric samples or collecting fabric from outgrown or damaged people-sized clothing is a great way to build a stash of fabrics to experiment with.  Not every sewing session has to end with a finished product!  It’s relaxing and confidence building to simply sit at your machine with different types of fabric and sew swatches together using various stitches and machine settings.  You’ll be less concerned about making mistakes and more likely to try new things if you’re not worried about an end product.

Homework: Spend some time studying commercial clothing and fabrics and identify which are woven and which are knit.  Pay attention to thickness and weight of different fabrics, stretchiness, and what types of knits are used for tops versus leggings or sweaters versus t-shirts.  Imagine how you would fashion the different fabrics that you observe into doll clothes.

I hope you’ve found this overview of knit fabrics useful.  If you have any questions, please ask in the comments below.  Stay tuned for lesson 2!

Our Generation Tea Set Review

Oh, Hello…

It’s so nice to see you!  Do you have time to join us for a cup of tea?
Please, please, sit!
Our Generation 18 inch doll Tea Set Review and doll video

Help yourself to a scone and some jam.
Our Generation 18

We have a selection of teas to choose from.  There is Orange (um.. orange?) or Yellow (lemon, maybe?). Tea Set Review for American Girl Dolls by Our GenerationDon’t forget to add cream and a cube of sugar. Our Generation Tea Set for American Girl DollsPerhaps a macaron? Don’t be silly, of course they’re not stuck together. Doll tea set review macarons macaroons from Our Generation for AG dollsIf you’d like something a little more substantial to nibble, help yourself to a finger sandwich, a chocolate cookie, or a fruit tart.

Our Generation Tea Set Review Doll Food 18" DollsHave you had enough eat?  Yes, we agree, the shade-of-green-not-found-in-nature filling in the finger sandwiches is.. interesting.  And the raisin scones are quite tasty.

Our Generation Tea Set Review Tea for Two

Thank you so much for having tea with us today!  We’re so glad you found a moment to stop by, we so enjoy your company.

If you’d like to have your own tea party, you can find the Our Generation “Tea for Two” set at Target stores or at Amazon.com (as of this writing, the Amazon price is at retail.. save yourself the hunt!).

We made a video review of the OG tea set if you’d like a few more details about what’s included and to hear my impressions of the materials used (hint:plastic) in this set.

Thanks again for stopping by.. we’ll see you soon!

The Mod Shift Dress Pattern is on Etsy

Mod Shift Dress American Girl Doll Dress PatternThe Mod Shift Dress pattern is ready and available on Etsy! I’m really excited about this pattern and I hope you’ll love it too.  I designed it after finding lots of pretty sheer knits, stretchy lace, and open weave knit fabrics that were just begging to be sewn into dolly dresses.

Fabrics to make doll dresses for American Girl 18 Inch Dolls

Of course using see-through fabrics requires a lined dress, so this pattern includes instructions for sewing a full, attached lining.

Sew a lined shift dress for American Girl 18 inch dollBecause the lines are so simple, this is the perfect little dress to accessorize.  For our photo shoot, we switched up jewelry, hats, shoes, glasses.. it was great fun!

How to sew a shift dress for American Girl 18 inch doll-  sewing pattern on etsy

American Girl Doll Dress sewing pattern for knit fabrics

I love how changing only the color of the lining under the lace completely changes the personality of the dress.

Sewing pattern for easy knit shift dress for American Girl 18 inch doll

This is a simple and versatile pattern that comes together very quickly.  You don’t even have to set sleeves!  If you use an opaque knit fabric rather then a sheer or a lace, you can omit the lining altogether and go from cutting table to finished dress in under an hour.

We upcycled one of my daughter’s outgrown t-shirts to make this Kitty dress for our doll Avery.  I cut the pattern aligning the hem of the dress on the pre-finished hem of the tee, so this entire project took about 20 minutes.

Avery would like you to know that, although she is a fan of her new dress,   .. SPARKLY SHOES!

Sew a American Girl Doll Dress from a t shirt

I drafted the pattern using American Girl dolls, but the dress will fit most 18 inch dolls with a similar body type.  As always when sewing a new pattern, it’s best to do a “test run” with scrap fabrics the first time through.  I designed the hemline above the knee (because dolly knees are the cutest thing in the whole wide world. And boots, y’all.), but you can easily lengthen the dress if you prefer a little more coverage or are sewing a more formal style dress.

I’ll leave with one final pic from our photo shoot.  If you’re inspired to sew a Mod Shift Dress for your doll, you can find the pattern in our Etsy store!

Mod Shift Dress pattern from MSF

DIY Lighted Bakery Case for Dolls

American Girl Doll Lighted Bakery Case for 18 Inch Dolls

Still feeling inspired by American Girl’s 2015 bakery theme?  My small friends and I sure are. We made this lighted Bakery Case in just a few hours (not counting the bazillion hours spent trolling every.single.aisle in Hobby Lobby) and for about $30.  If you already have paint and other common craft supplies on hand, you can make your own lighted Bakery Case for even less!

Materials List

  • Pre-made wood cabinet from Hobby Lobby ($11.99 before 40% off coupon)  Please note that the doors in this cabinet are glass paned and probably not appropriate for play by younger children.
  • Wood plaque from Hobby Lobby (or elsewhere – I paid about $2 for the one I chose)
  • Primer [optional] and Paint – I used Krylon Paint+Primer and Imaginisce Milk Paint (but I would suggest using acrylic paint instead. If you use acrylic paint, you probably don’t need to prime before painting).
  • Glue – I used Aileen’s Tacky Glue
  • Glaze – I used Delta Sparkle Glaze
  • Krylon Webbing Spray [optional]
  • Paint Brush
  • Drill and Marquee Lights [optional – Lights $7.99 at Hobby Lobby]

DIY Lighted Bakery Case

Assemble

Glue the wood plaque (the “counter”) to the top of the cabinet.  This is an optional add-on.  You could use the cabinet as-is, but I think it adds a lot to the finished Bakery Case.  I also glued 4 small blocks to the bottom of the cabinet at each corner to give the case a little additional height.  Allow the glue to dry before proceeding.

Prepare and Prime

1) Cover both sides of the cabinet windows with paper and masking tape to avoid getting paint on the the glass.

2) Lightly sand the cabinet and then wipe away the dust with a damp cloth.

3) Spray white primer over the entire exterior and interior of the Bakery Case.  I used two coats.  Allow to dry before proceeding.

DIY Lighted Bakery Case for American Girl Dolls

Paint

1) Lightly sand the primed Bakery Case to remove the “bumps” and rough patches that spray primer often leaves behind.

2) Paint the case in any way you find pleasing.  I was hoping to achieve a marbled look, so I chose a pink and grey color scheme.  I used milk paint because I found it on clearance at Joann and I was intrigued!  If you use milk paint, mix it to a thicker consistency then suggested on the packaging.  If I were to do this project again, I would probably choose to use inexpensive acrylic paint instead.  I painted the interior of the case as well, but I didn’t bother adding much detail.

DIY Lighted Bakery Case

DIY Lighted Bakery Case

Marble

After I painted my case and allowed it to dry, I used Krylon’s Webbing Spray to get a marbled look.  I found the webbing spray at every craft store I visited (Joann, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby) .  It is priced at about $7 and I used a coupon to make it more affordable.

This webbing spray is odd stuff!  It’s paint, but it shoots out of the can like “silly string” or like spider webbing.  Essentially, you shoot it into the air and allow it to fall lightly onto your project.  You don’t have a lot of control with the outcome, which is both exciting and alarming at the same time.

DIY Lighted Bakery Case

I have to tell you, at this point in the project, I wasn’t sure I liked where it was going.  It has a bit of a 1988 vibe, don’t you think? :D  I had a good laugh because once I’d seen the 80’s in this project, I couldn’t un-see the 80’s.  You guys, it’s totally rad.

I did not marble the inside of the Bakery Case, which I think was the salvation of this paint job.  When displayed with the doors open, the marble effect is only visible on the counter top, which I am very pleased with.  With the doors closed, it’s a little… much.

If I had this to do over, I might only marble the counter top and then glue it to the body of the cabinet, which I would leave solid white.   I have toyed with the idea of sanding and re-painting the lower part of the cabinet, but that sounds like a lot of work.

Glaze

Finally, I used Delta Sparkle Glaze to add a shiny finish.  I thought the glitter in the glaze added to the marble look as well.  In addition, I used grey acrylic paint to paint over the hardware on the doors.

DIY Lighted Bakery Case

Here’s how it looks with the doors closed.  What do you think? Do you suddenly feel like breaking out your stonewashed jeans and listening to Bobby Brown? <snicker>

DIY Lighted Bakery Case

Add Lighting

This step is obviously optional, and I think the case is adorable even without the lights.  However, I think the lighting really makes this a WOW piece! I found these lights at Hobby Lobby and they are exactly what I was looking for and perfect for this project.  That said, I cannot find them for sale online anywhere, even HobbyLobby.com. Here is a picture of the packaging:

Marquee Lights

I found this set near the paper mache items at Hobby Lobby.  They are intended to be used as marquee lights in a craft project.

The lights require 2 AAA batteries.  I love that this lightening doesn’t need to be plugged in, since this makes the Bakery Case very portable and without wire clutter.  Currently I’ve got the extra wiring and battery pack sitting behind the Bakery Case, but I will eventually duct tape it to the back.

DIY Lighted Bakery Case

I didn’t take photos of the drilling and lighting process, but it was simple and hopefully self-explanatory.  I drilled holes in the back of the case that were the same size as the bases of the clear marquee bulbs.  Then I pressed the marquee bulbs into the holes, and inserted the lights from behind the case, into the bulbs.

If you can’t find marquee lights, I think this could also be accomplished with a small holiday lights set, which seem to be available year round at most hobby stores. You’d simply drill the holes and press the lights through holes.  You might need some craft putty to hold the lights in place.  If you guys have other ideas how to achieve a similar effect, please add in the comments below!

DIY Lighted Bakery Case

To make the signs, I used a variety of pre-made chalkboard papers and products which are ubiquitous in craft stores at the moment.  I used a Bistro chalk marker to write on the signs.  You could also use a regular white or silver marker, but I was happy with my choice to use something erasable, since each sign took me about twelve tries to get “right”.  I’m still tempted to redo some of them! Repeat after me: Perfection is the enemy of good.

DIY Lighted Bakery Case

DIY Lighted Bakery Case

The mini chalkboard signs are made by the Paper Studio.  The cupcakes on the signs are actually metal brads (also by the Paper Studio) that I clipped to the back of the chalkboard signs.

DIY Lighted Bakery Case

The doll food in our Bakery Case is a mix of American Girl, Our Generation (from the new Tea for Two Set), and The Queen’s Treasures. Ada is wearing her Patisserie Apron, of course!

DIY American Girl Doll Bakery Case Tutorial 18 Inch Dolls

Please let me know if you have any questions about this project.  If you make your own Bakery Case, I hope you will link pictures in the comments below!

American Girl Grace’s Baking Set Review

American Girl Doll Grace Thomas Baking Set Review

I had to have it.  Because, you guys..  the mixer.

American Girl has apparently found open access to my bank account via my obsession with dolly-size replicas of all the stuff I love, in all the colors I love.

In honor of the 2015 Girl of the Year Paris theme:  Le Sigh.

Dear AG, if you want the rest of my money:  Pyrex.

Where was I?  Oh yes, the Girl of the Year 2015 Grace Thomas and her Baking Set.  Grace is sweet doll, but she’s not coming to live with me and the small friends, unless AG loses their everlovin’ minds again next fall and sells her for $68.

(Was that crazy, or what? That was CRAZY!  In case you missed it, AG sold Isabelle with her accessories and her cat Tutu for $68 for a few very short and frenzied hours in December.)

Even though I’m not getting Grace, I’m certainly not above pilfering her collection.  Grace’s storyline revolves around a trip to Paris and a love of baking, so American Girl has pulled out all the stops to load her down with seriously overpriced and yet irresistibly cute clothing and accessories.  Bistros, bon bons, and berets.. oh my!

I succumbed immediately (defined as: 12:01 a.m. CST on January 1) to the Baking Set.  Thanks to early leaks, I was fully prepared to succumb, with debit card in hand, as the clock struck midnight.

And then I waited patiently, as usual, for the mailman to deliver.

An lo, it came to pass, that the items were delivered, and the human people and the small vinyl people were satisfied.  Mostly.

American Girl Doll Girl of the Year GOTY 2015 Grace Thomas Baking Set Review

American Girl Grace's Baking Set

American Girl Grace's Baking Set

American Girl Grace's Baking Set

The set, as a whole, is undeniably adorable.  Because wee, working stand mixer!  But it’s very, very, very.. plastic.  And most of it isn’t the good, heavy weight, substantial feeling plastic.  It’s the cheap, thin, lots of visible mold markings, clinks-instead-of-clunks-when-you-tap-it plastic.  Again…  Le Sigh.

The mixer is good plastic and the spoon is made of wood, but did I mention the retail price of this set is $68?  It bears repeating at this point that in December, American Girl sold the Isabelle doll, her meet accessories, and her pet cat for the very same price: $68. Obviously that was a moment of corporate insanity, but still!  A decent plastic mixer + a wooden spoon + a lot of cheap plastic stuffs and some additional paper stuffs probably isn’t worth $68 unless you REALLY love the mixer.  Which I do, and which is why I succumbed.

I made a review video if you’d like to see the mixer in action and get a few more details about each of the individual pieces included in the Baking Set.


Overall, I’m not sorry I purchased this set.  I received some gift cards for Christmas and I used a $10 off code so I’m telling myself I really only spent $58 on a plastic-yet-adorable stand mixer, tiny wooden spoon, and accompanying cheap plastic and paper accessories.

If I had to guess, the mixer will be one of those classic, highly sought after American Girl pieces after it retires, and a complete Baking Set with easily misplaced, tiny pieces, like the measuring cups and stylus will be nearly impossible to find.  I wouldn’t want to be the poor soul trying to track the set down for a reasonable price on the secondary market in years to come.

Yet, given the recent history of Girl of the Year megasales, I wouldn’t be shocked to see this set marked down next fall or early 2016.  OR, it might just be popular enough to sell out by December and never go on sale.

What do you think?  Are you buying Girl of the Year merch at full price or waiting for sales? Is any of Grace’s collection a “Must Have” for you, or are you willing to take a chance on mark downs?

Patisserie Apron Pattern for 18 inch Dolls

Patisserie Apron free sewing pattern for American Girl Dolls

If you’re an American Girl fan, you’ve no doubt been introduced to the new “Girl of the Year” Grace Thomas and her marvelous 2015 collection.  Collectors that visited an American Girl store on the first few days of new year may have been lucky enough to get Grace’s Apron as a free giveaway.  Alas, the nearest AG store is a seven-plus hour drive from our home, so no free apron for us!

Fortunately, aprons are very easy to make.  So may I present, the MSF version of Grace’s Patisserie Apron!

Patisserie Apron Sewing Pattern and Tutorial American Girl

Want to make your own Patisserie Apron?  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Patisserie Apron Pattern for 18″ Dolls
  • 1/4 yard Woven Fabric – Twill or Denim is ideal.
  • 30 inches of (approximately) 1 inch wide Twill Tape or Bias Tape (packaged -or- make your own)
  • Snaps or Velcro
  • Sewing Machine and Coordinating Thread
  • {Optional} Home Printer to print designs on your apron
  • {Optional} Polka dot ribbon and/or other embellishments

IMPORTANT – Be sure to download and save the pattern to your hard drive and print at “Actual Size” from a PDF reader like Adobe Reader.  If you print directly from your browser, the pattern may not print at the correct scale.

General Instructions

  • All seams have 1/4″ seam allowance unless otherwise noted.
  • If your fabric frays, finish seam allowances with a serger or a short narrow zig zag stich.
  • Read completely through instructions before beginning. Let me know if you have questions. I’d be happy to help!

Cutting the Pattern

1.  Using the pattern pieces as a guide, cut your fabric.  Cut three pieces of twill tape (or bias tape):  Two pieces each 11 inches long, and a third piece is the length of the apron pocket (just a little over 7  1/2 inches long).

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

2. [Optional] Add a printed design to your Patisserie Apron.    Did you know you can print a design using a regular ink jet home printer right onto fabric?  You totally can! I used my 15 year old Hewlett Packard Desk Jet for this project with one of my usual generic eBay ink cartridges.  No special equipment required.

I did this two ways.  The first time, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, so I printed my design onto a small rectangle of fabric. When it came out just how I wanted, I sewed the printed rectangle directly onto my apron like an applique.

The second time, a little more confident that the printing would come out as planned, I printed directly onto my apron fabric.

I like how both look, so you can choose!

**It would be a good idea to test your print settings on some scrap fabric before attempting to print on your apron**  I found that I got best printing results setting my printer for “Best” quality on the Plain Paper setting.

 

Printing on Fabric

To begin, choose the design you’d like to print.  If you are somewhat tech savvy, you can find a million clip art designs online to choose from.  You will need to download the design to your hard drive and resize in a graphics program to fit your apron.  I found that designs approximately 2″ high x 3″ wide work well for the apron.  I chose this design from a wonderful site called The Graphics Fairy.

I made two variations with this graphic.  If you’d like to use one for your Patisserie Apron, click on the image below and save the pdf file to your hard drive.  When you are ready to print, open your pdf viewer (I use Adobe Acrobat), open the file, and proceed with the instructions below.

PatisserieTN

Design #1

 

Patisserie2TN

Design #2

 

When your design is ready or you’ve downloaded one of the above, test print it on a regular piece of printer paper.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

Next, lay your fabric, right side up, on the paper you’ve just printed on, aligning the fabric over the printed design.   My printer, being the old finicky biddy that she is, isn’t a big fan of any “edges”.  Edges = Terrible Paper Jam .  So I carefully taped down all the edges of the fabric, making it as flat as possible.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

Next, run your fabric-on-paper combo through the printer again and.. voila!  You’ve printed on fabric!  [I sincerely doubt this would survive the washing machine, so consider yourself forewarned.]

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

Un-tape your fabric from your printer paper and proceed.

Sewing the Patisserie Apron

3.  Fold the twill tape in half over one long edge of your apron pocket piece, encasing the raw edge.  Pin in place.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

Top stitch near the edge of the tape, taking care to catch the tape on both the front and the back of the apron.

Note: The twill tape I bought had some plasticy polyester content and began to melt when I attempted to press it. So if you are using the same type of twill tape, don’t press it. ;) If you are using cotton twill tape or bias tape, pressing it will obviously not cause meltage.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

4.  Lay your apron piece right side DOWN.  Lay your pocket piece on top of the apron piece, also right side DOWN.  Sew across the bottom.Patisserie Apron Tutorial

Press open the seam and flip your pocket piece around to the right side of the apron and press in place.  Top stitch along the bottom seam.

Stitch a dividing line up the center of your pocket piece, back stitching several times at the pocket opening to strengthen the stitching.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

5.  Serge or zigzag the apron sides and neck to prevent unraveling.
Patisserie Apron Tutorial

6.  Press serged / zigzagged sides and neck to the wrong side to create an approximate 1/4″ hem.  Top stitch the hems.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

7. As you did for the pocket above, encase the arm opening with an 11 inch length of twill tape.  Allow 4 inches of tape above the top of the apron for the neck strap.  Beginning at one end, sew along the entire length of the twill tape to secure it to the apron and to close the neck and waist strap.  Repeat on the other side of the apron with the remaining 11 inch length of tape.

Sew velcro or snaps onto the ends of the neck and waist straps.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

 

8.  {Optional}  Embellish your apron with ribbons and/or other notions.  I really like the pop of turquoise color in American Girl Grace’s apron, so I added a turquoise flower to my second Patisserie Apron.

American Girl Doll Apron Tutorial like Grace Thomas Patisserie

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

 

You’re finished!  I hope you enjoy this pattern and tutorial.  I’d LOVE to see your Patisserie Aprons.  Put a link to pictures of your creations in the comments or, better yet, post to our Facebook page.

A note to artisans who sell:  You are welcome to use the Patisserie Apron pattern to sew handmade aprons to sell in your online or “real world” boutiques.  It is important to know that most graphics that you find online are copyright protected and cannot be used on items for sale.  However, The Graphics Fairy does allow limited use of her published clip art for sale items.  You can read her terms along with a good “plain English” explanation of fair use of images in the public domain on her site.

New year, new toys, new patterns!

Happy New Year from Many Small FriendsHappy 2015, friends! I hope that all who celebrated the holidays had many joyful and memorable moments. We had a terrific Christmas filled with family, fun, and delicious food. As usual, my dolly habit was indulged by my wonderful family and I have lots of fun new stuff to show you in the coming weeks.

My daughter is enchanted by the revamped American Girl Pets Collection and asked for Coconut and “any of the pet beds” for Christmas. I made a top secret video review of both items before gifting and, fortunately for me, she didn’t peruse the MSF YouTube channel before the big day.

American Girl Coconut Puppy

AG Pets and the Princess Pet Bed

You can check out the video here, but the bottom line is that I was more impressed with Coconut then I expected and much less impressed with the Princess Pet Bed.

She loved both, and that’s really all that matters.  :)

One of my favorite new toys is a 5th generation iPod Touch!  I have enjoyed a much older version for years, but it has been sporting a cracked screen for a few months and it didn’t come equipped with a camera.  I’m also the last human on earth to not have a smart phone, so although I’ve been very intrigued by the doll communities on Instagram, I haven’t been able to join the fun with no device compatible with the Instagram app.  My new iPod now allows me to snap quick pics and upload them to Instagram or Facebook for instant sharing. Hello 21st century, it’s so nice to finally meet you!

I’m definitely a “newb” (as I’m oft labeled by my teenage sons), but I have found lots of great doll-centered Instagram accounts to follow.  My account can be found here:  @many_small_friends

(Sons, did I do that right??!!??)

I’m also posting the Instagram pictures on Facebook if you are uncool like me and still hang out on Facebook*.

*Facebook uncoolness insight also provided by aforementioned teenage sons.  Apparently parents ruined it.

Dolly Instagram

One of my favorite things about a fresh new year is all the fresh new ideas that flood my imagination. I can hardly sleep with all the patterns and projects floating around in my head.  Sadly, daylight hours have not expanded to match my renewed energy, so progress is slow.  But bear with me, I have so many fun things to share with you in 2015!

Here is a peek at some of the patterns I’m working on.

Julie and Saige American Girl Dolls

Have you sewn with loose knit sweater fabrics and stretch lace?  They are too sheer to be used alone, but I’m developing a pattern for a fully lined dress that looks fantastic with these knits and lace as an overlay.  It’s almost finished and will be available at Etsy when it’s ready.

Doll bums are difficult to fit.

I’m also expanding the jeggings pattern to fit better with less stretchy fabrics.  I’ve found a bunch of printed sateens (~3% Spandex content) that have a little too much gap in the back without some additional paneling in the rear.  You guys.. doll bums are difficult to fit!  But I’m soooo close.  It’s only taken about 2,403,649 prototypes, give or take.  Julie has been a (relatively) good sport, what with all the leg yanking required to get a million pairs on tight fitting pants on and off.  She did, however, threaten to stick chewing gum in my sewing machine if I didn’t finish up soon.

When this pattern is finished, it will be sent as a freebie to my MSF Newsletter subscribers and then listed for sale in the Etsy store.

Lots of prototypes

I hope you had a nice holiday season as well and I’m so grateful to have found such a wonderful group of fellow doll enthusiasts to share ideas and inspiration. If you have an Instagram account, I’d love to follow you!  Post your account address (?? Is that what it’s called on IG?  Sons, stop at laughing at your mother) in the comment section below. :)

Make Jeggings! Sewing Pattern for American Girl

Make Jeggings for your American Girl Doll

This pattern was developed for a modern Mattel manufactured American Girl doll.  Jeggings may also fit other brands of 18″ dolls that share the American Girl body style.  For best fit, make a test pair of jeggings first and adjust pattern as necessary for your doll before using your best fabric.

Materials

  • Jeggings Pattern Sheets
  • 1/3 yard fabric suitable for jeggings (see fabric note below)
  • Coordinating polyester thread
  • Velcro (or snap or button) for fly closure
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron for pressing hems and setting seams.

IMPORTANT – Be sure to download and save the patterns to your hard drive and print at “Actual Size” from a PDF reader like Adobe Reader.  If you print directly from your browser, the pattern may not print at the correct scale.

A Note about Fabrics – I tested several types of fabric for my jeggings.  The best fabric I found was in the denim section at my local Joann store.  It is a very stretchy, medium weight fabric that acts more like a knit then a tradition “jeans” denim.  I also tested the pattern with a stretch sateen (97% cotton, 3% spandex) that worked well.  However, because the sateen has less stretch and behaves more like a woven then a knit, the jeggings pull down over the doll’s cloth behind when she is in a seated position.  Looks great for standing, a little less great when sitting!  Another great source of fabric for doll jeggings are outgrown or thrift store people jeggings.

General Instructions

  • All seams have 1/4″ seam allowance unless otherwise noted.
  • Press seams as you sew for more polished and better fitting jeggings.
  • If your fabric frays, finish seam allowances with a serger or short zig zag stich.
  • Read completely through instructions before beginning. Let me know if you have questions! I’d be happy to help!

 

Assemble the Pattern

1.  Download the free jeggings pattern, print, and cut pattern pieces.   The pieces were a little too long to fit on one page, so you’ll find the bottom portion of each leg piece printed separately. To assemble your pattern pieces, tape the bottom portion of each leg piece to the corresponding top piece, overlapping as indicated by the dotted lines on the pattern.

Cut Jeggings Pieces

2. Using your paper patterns as a guide, cut your fabric.  You should have four pieces in total.

 

Free AG Jeggings Pants Pattern and Tutorial

Sewing

3.  Right sides together, sew the crotch seams for both the front and back pant pieces.  Be sure NOT to sew the fly closed on the front!  Clip curves as indicated.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

4.  On front piece, fold and press 1/4″ of the “fly” to the wrong side. ** Note ** This is not the front waist band, this is the the fly, which is the area right above the crotch seam you sewed in the previous step.   [You will fold down and sew the waist band in step 8]  Sew across to secure.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

5. Right sides together, pin front piece and back piece together.  Sew outer side seams.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

6. Press up and pin 1/4″ hem on bottom of each pant leg.  Sew across.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

7.  Pin inseam and sew.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

8.  Press down a 1/2″ waist band.  Pin in place then top stitch around waist band, 3/8″ from outer edge.  Top stitch around waist band again near top edge.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

9. On one side of inner fly, sew a rectangle of velcro hook.  On the other side, sew a matching rectangle of velcro loop.  Alternatively, you could sew on snaps or fashion a button / buttonhole closure.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

10. Fold one side of the fly back and secure to the waist band by sewing along top edge.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

 

 

American Girl free jeggings pattern and tutorial

You’re finished!  Put the jeggings on your doll, congratulate yourself for your many skills and talents, and do the happy dolly sewing dance!

American Girl Jeggings Pattern

American Girl Jeggings - Free Sewing Pattern and Tutorial

Make the Cozy Hat and Urban Belted Coat to complete the outfit!

The Urban Belted Coat Pattern for American Girl

American Girl Doll Sewing Pattern Belted Coat PDF

It’s done! It’s done! It’s DONE! La Dee Dee, La Dah Dah.. It’s Finally DOOOOONE!

{that is what I’m singing, as I dance around the house,  flapping my arms wildly}

My children are familiar with this crazy dancy song, as it’s the same one I perform each year when I submit our household income taxes in January late March.

So, turns out this dolly pattern publishing business is time consuming work.  And scary, too!  I discovered that my pool of pattern testers included professional technical writers, pattern designers for real live human beings, and home seamstresses with.. uh.. fifty years of experience.  50 years, People!  And not everyone identified their line of work.  I bet there was at least one rocket scientist. I have a very high quality audience. ;)

To say I was intimidated as I sent out the pattern to my illustrious band of testers is an understatement.   But I soldiered on and faced my fears of inadequacy because I believed my little dolly pattern was worthy enough to bring into the world.  And I’m so glad I did because I got tons of tremendously helpful feedback from the testers. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you again, wonderful testers!

After a little tweak here, and slight clarification there, I’m confident that the Urban Belted Coat Pattern is finally ready to be unleashed upon the dolly world!

The Urban Belted Coat

Now that the Urban Belted Coat pattern is finished, I’m working on the next pattern, which will be free to download.  It’s is a fashionable dolly wardrobe essential that will pair very nicely with the coat.

I’ll give you a hint….

It’s Jeggings. :D

[I’m bad at hints.]

Hopefully I’ll have that ready for you and posted on the blog next week.

Would you like an email notification when each new blog post is published?

Thanks to the wise suggestion of MSF reader Tari, I have set up an RSS feed subscription thingy (why yes, that is a technical term) so that you can get each blog post delivered to you via email.  See, what did I tell you? High quality audience. Thanks again, Tari!

Subscribe here, if you’re interested!

[This notification is different then the MSF Newsletter, which is bonus not-published-on-the-blog content.  You should definitely subscribe to the newsletter, too!]

Now then.  I’m off to dance around a little more, sing my song of contented completion, and maybe even attempt to locate the vacuum or the bottom of my kitchen sink.  It’s been awhile since I’ve seen either!

The Urban Belted Coat

m4s0n501

Easy DIY Doll Fireplace Tutorial

How to Make a Doll Fireplace for American Girl or 18 Inch Doll

Make a Fireplace for your Dolls – $20 or Less!

Last holiday season we built a fireplace for the dolls.  My goals for the project were to keep it inexpensive, easy to store, and simple to make.  I have a propensity for stabbing myself when cutting vegetables, so I stay far, far away from power tools.  The following tutorial requires no woodworking skills, but may require adult supervision as some some cutting is required.  The fireplace is sturdy enough for gentle play, but was designed primarily to be a decorative piece.

The scale is a little small for the 18 inch girls but it wouldn’t be hard to make the fireplace larger if the scale bothers you.

All supplies came from Hobby Lobby (except for the spray paint because it’s less expensive at Walmart) and I spent just a tad under $20.   If you don’t live near a Hobby Lobby, most of these supplies are available in other craft stores or online.  I already had glue, Mod Podge, and Model Magic on hand, so those supplies are not included in total project cost.

The “body” of the fireplace is a black photo storage box.  Cut a rectangle from the bottom of the box.  Mod Podge or glue brick printed scrapbook paper to the back (which is the inside of the lid).  This is an optional step, but it looks really cute when the “fire” lights up the inside of the box at night.

Build a fireplace for your 18 inch doll American Girl

The “hearth” is a thin sheet of birch (I purchased pre-cut in this size) that I Mod Podged with scrapbook paper.  The other side has the brick paper because I couldn’t decide what I liked better. :)  You can also use cardboard for the hearth or omit it altogether.

Make a pretend fireplace for your doll
The fire is made with sticks from our backyard.  To stick them together I used Model Magic (the Crayola modeling clay that dries) and a little squirt of Alene’s tacky glue.  I’m sure you could use any type of clay, I chose Model Magic since it will dry.  I was having a hard time getting the “logs” to stick together with just glue, but the clay/glue mix worked like a charm!  I have the logs resting aluminum foil at the moment but I’d like to find or make a better grate at some point. Or maybe I’ll just spray paint it black.

Behind the logs, I have placed a flickering LED light for fire.  It’s hard to see in the photo, but very cute at night when the room is darker.

The rest of the fire place frame is made from balsa wood with another birch sheet on top. The balsa wood came in one long sheet that I cut into four parts with a hand saw to construct a rectangle.  The two sides are the same size. the top piece is a little wider then the bottom piece.  I used the size of the photo box as a guide when deciding what lengths and widths to cut the balsa wood.  The frame rests over the photo box, so it’s just slightly wider and taller. I glued the frame sides together with Alene’s tacky glue.  I glued the pre-cut birch sheet on top to act as a mantle.

DIY American Girl Doll Fireplace tutorial 18 inch dolls

Balsa frame for the fireplace. Turned around so you can see!

I bought a package of pre-cut wood trims ($6.99 – used a 40% coupon on this as it was the most expensive item) and used bits and pieces to make the molding along the edge of the mantle and to decorate the front around the opening of the fire place.  I used a hand saw to trim the pieces to size and glue to attach the trims to the balsa wood frame.

After letting the glue dry overnight, I took the fireplace frame outside and spray painted it white. I spray painted a second coat after the first dried.  I did not permanently attach the wood frame to the photo box.  You could glue the frame to the box if you wish, but it’s easier for me to store as separate pieces.

Tutorial - How to make a fireplace for your American Girl Doll or other 18 inch doll

 

My Christmas decor is not included in the $20 total, but everything but the nutcracker is also from Hobby Lobby. The Elf on the Shelf was $6.50, the Holly pieces were $2 (for both), the “snow” is just fiberfill, the lights on the mantle light up and flicker. They are actually a necklace but were with the Christmas decor at Hobby Lobby.

You can make a simpler version of this fireplace with just the photo box (more carefully cut out in the front. I did a sloppy job knowing I was going to cover it). The photo box was $2 and the scrapbook paper was $0.59 a sheet, so if you have glue or Mod Podge and few sticks in your backyard, you can make a “quickie” fireplace in under an hour for less then $3!

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and please let me know if you have any questions!

American Girl Christmas Scene Fireplace Tutorial