Friday, February 17, 2012

Sidetracked by American Girl

Santa brought my daughter an American Girl doll this Christmas.  Apparently out here in Chicagoland it is the must have thing for girls of a certain age.  The problem is that Santa didn't shell out for any additional outfits and really I don't blame him when the doll outfits cost as much as real people outfits and he already paid a ridiculous amount of money for the doll itself.

So in an attempt to appease the "all my friends have more outfits than me" and "you're so mean" whining I decided to whip up a few outfits on my own.  I should tell you that I really don't mind the "mean" comments - in fact I relish them.  That's how I know I'm doing my job.  I think all moms have to learn to embrace the mean thing.  I love to look straight at the child who has just declared I am the meanest mom ever for whatever reason and say "I know".  Try it sometime.  It is very liberating.  In any event my sewing machine was out and I had some scrap fabric so I decided to see what I could come up with.

There are a few websites that offer some free patterns and some offer inexpensive downloadable patterns.  Because I am also cheap (in addition to mean) I decided to try out some free ones.  If you're interested you can check out the Liberty Jane Doll Pattern store.  She offers some free patterns and then you can buy most of the others for $3.99 each.  I also found this website which has some of the original old fashioned American Girl doll clothes patterns for free but they are a little more advanced.

Now I am always surprised at how reluctant so many people are to sew.  If you can figure out how to use your kitchen appliances, some power tools and a computer than there is no reason you can't use a simple sewing machine.  Besides these days you can find them for less than $99 at Target.

So here's the first dress I made from the Liberty Jane free pattern.  It's just a simple gathered top spring dress that I made from a remnant that had been in my stash for 10+ years - so really after depreciation and it all consider it free.  Total time was less than an hour.  

Now after that I tried their free t-shirt pattern.  Since I did not have any extra knit fabric I decided to use an old t-shirt of my daughter's that was headed for Goodwill.  This time I took better pictures for you all of the process.

First you download the pdf.  Then I printed the pattern pages out on cardstock.  

Then I placed the pattern pieces on the fabric.  Because the fabric had stripes I made sure that I placed the front and back in the same way on the fabric - otherwise you will end up with one side of the shirt with horizontal stripes and the other side with vertical stripes.  And to make it even more easy on myself I eliminated a sewing step by using the already finished hem of the existing shirt by placing the pattern piece so that the bottom of the doll shirt was aligned with the hem of the real shirt.

Now all you professional follow the rules sewers turn away.  Normally you pin all around the edges of the pattern and then cut out the fabric leaving the pattern pinned to the fabric.  That takes forever.  So I just traced around the pieces with a ball point pen.  Yep.  Not a fancy wash out fabric pencil just a regular old bic pen directly on the fabric.  Remember the fabric is inside out and it is for a doll.  It was easy to trace because of printing the pattern on the cardstock.  Plus the cardstock will hold up for a long time in case I make a few more of these.

Once your pieces are cut out (all 4 of the them) you just follow the easy breezy directions that come with the pdf.  The Liberty Jane instructions are nice because they show a picture at every step so it is much easier if you're a beginner sewer.

Here's the finished shirt.  Not bad.  Especially since it was free.

Now the pattern called for the back to be closed with a piece of velcro but since I didn't have any I just substituted little metal snaps that you sew on with a needle and thread.  My theory on sewing, especially sewing for dolls, is to use what you have and make it work.  Don't get all caught up in what the pattern says just use common sense.

I had a lot of extra t-shirt left so I made a headband out of the scraps.  I cut a rectangle the length of her head, folded it in half wrong-side out, sewed a straight seam at the edge which made it a tube, turned it right-side out and then sewed the short ends together.  Not at all difficult.

Yep.  Just call me Mom of the Year.  My daughter really likes the new things and is now putting in requests.  I told her mean moms don't take requests:)

So anyways this foray into doll clothing sidetracked my curtains for another day.  Oh and the kitchen painting.  Oh well.

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~
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  1. Wow, you are awesome! I say I'm going to take a sewing class ALL.THE.TIME. I need to get on that. Great job!

    1. Thanks! There are so many you tube videos now I don't think you would even need a class these days. Just start with something easy like a pillow and you'll be off and running.


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