18″ dolls clothes (AKA American Girl doll sewing)

It only occurred to me the other day, that I should think about putting all this into a blog post. I don’t normally sew doll’s clothes and I probably won’t be doing it again anytime soon, but I’ve recently sewn a big pile of them.

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American Girl dolls are all the rage in our house right now. We currently have two (Target versions), and a third is on it’s way for a Miss nearly-Five’s birthday next month. However, they’re all a bit lacking in the wardrobe department. At the moment, my fabric scraps are being twisted and tied around the poor dolls in a type of rustic fashion design. So it occurred to me that Santa would be on a winning wicket if he delivered a big supply of 18″doll’s clothes at Christmas.

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All these clothes were made using my itty bitty fabric scraps. The scrapbusting was very satisfying, but I had to overcome a very obvious problem with my plan. My girls would very easily recognise the scraps and think that I had made them instead of Santa. I came up with a strategy. A few weeks ago, I received a call from one of Santa’s assistants, asking me to donate some of my fabric scraps. Of course, I didn’t know why. It was a very exciting mystery. My girls took an enormous amount of pleasure in going through my scrap basket and hand-picking scraps to send to Santa, speculating the whole time what he was planning to do with them. We then wrapped up the parcel together, addressed it to Santa, and I ‘posted’ it the next day.

Dolls clothes are very quick and easy to make, but I did have to get over my need to ‘finish’ the seams and raw edges appropriately. That was the toughest bit. The first few outfits I made had all serged seams, and all raw edges were finished and turned under. However, a quick peek at some shop-bought dolls clothes told me that I was being ridiculous. I was spending way to much time on them.

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The patterns I used worked really well and fit the dolls perfectly. I still have more to make yet, including some swimsuits. I plan to sew a couple of items between each of the bigger projects I finish over the next few months. I’ll continue to work through the sewing patterns pictured below.

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Vintage Kwik Sew 1034 // scrapbust sweaters

I hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas! We had a great day, but not a white Christmas in Kansas. However, I believe we are expecting snow any day now, so it could be a special white birthday for Miss Five tomorrow.

Santa was very generous this year. The big guy bought a joint present for all my girls, in the form of a very basic, but well reviewed, Brother XL-2610 sewing machine. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a learning machine for my kids (and I wasn’t about to share my Pfaff), but I did want them to have a machine that would be simple to use and reasonably sturdy. So far the machine is working well and the girls are finding it easy to develop confidence on. And because it’s not my precious machine, I’m happy to let them play on it alone without too much anxiety.

At the moment, we’re still working on threading the machine and sewing straight lines at a precise distance from the fabric edge, but I’m happy to report that Miss Five has proclaimed it the best present from Santa this year.

And while we’re talking about Christmas, I thought I’d share a few little sweaters I made for my girls using an old Kwik Sew pattern in my stash. I modified it slightly to block in a few different fabrics and lengthen the bodice, but otherwise I left it pretty unchanged.

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Miss Seven’s sweater was made up in a size 8. It’s pretty roomy on her, but my big girls grow like weeds so I always err on the larger size with them. The bodice length is extremely short in the pattern so I also lengthened it by 2 inches before adding the bottom band. The black portion of the sweater is from a new merino jersey sweater of mine (that was too small). The ivory ruffles and tiger fabric were both small remnants in my scrap basket and specifically chosen by the recipients.

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Miss Five’s sweater is mostly tiger fabric, with a little merino trim. I made this one as a tunic to incorporate the ivory trim better. I also made a standard version of this pattern for her in rainbow French terry. It’s a very simple and practical raglan pattern.

 

Getting started early

I’ve been checking a few items off Santa’s list lately. I know, I know, it’s still stinking hot and we are nearly four months away from the big day, but I’ve got a good reason to start so early. The House of Iles has three birthdays plus Christmas to celebrate in the space of two months. It will also be our first Christmas in our new country, so we have absolutely no Christmas gear whatsoever.

Adding to the excitement of a possible white Christmas, is the fact that we have a proper fireplace. It was also brought to my attention that there were already four little hooks above it. Naturally, Mrs Santa had to set about creating some little Christmas stockings. I chose a small selection of Christmas prints at Jo-Ann and let the girls choose the combinations that they liked best. The rest of the construction was done in secret. They will be packed away now until Christmas Eve. 


I appliqued the first letter of their names on the stockings so there would be no mind changing or arguments down the track. Miss Six will no doubt want to know how Santa knows which stocking is whose. I had just enough fabric to make an extra stocking for Daddy too.

I also put on my sensible shoes and made the girls some flannelette PJ pants for Christmas. This was a seriously easy production line whiz bang bam on the serger. I used M6633 and made up a size 3, 5, and 6. I measured my girl’s waists to customise the elastic length. I know the pants will fit, but they still look quite large to me. I’m not too worried though. They will still be soft and warm. I have to admit that it was quite fun choosing a pretty print specifically to suit each girl’s taste. They are all so very different.

Hands up anyone else who is thinking about getting their Christmas skates on. Surely I’m not the only crazy lady out there!

Christmas playsuit for Coco

It’s called the ‘Christmas playsuit’ because I used the last of my lovely reindeer print jersey to make it. I used a pattern from this Japanese pattern book.


Yes, it is written entirely in Japanese, but there are excellent pictures to guide you in the construction of the clothes. I absolutely LOVE these Japanese pattern books. There are so many books to choose from, all with relatively simple designs. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them to beginners, but once you get a bit of practice and knowledge in garment construction, then the pictures are more than adequate to guide you.


 This is Coco in her Christmas playsuit. The main modification I  made was to add a little bit of thin elastic around the leg openings rather than let them hang like shorts. I did this because my fabric is so soft and drapey but had I chosen a linen or cotton, I probably would have left the pattern as normal.


 
I am told the outfit is no good to stand still in, but is fabulous for tree climbing!
 
 
 

Christmas bags for my girls

To cut a long story short, the last house we rented was bereft of curtains when me moved in. But it was only a short term lease and I didn’t want to spend a fortune on something simply to block out the light and heat. So off to Ikea I went with my three year old style advisor in hand, to purchase some cheap and cheerful heavy weight fabric that we could whip into some simple curtains. In the end, we were out of that dodgy old house quicker than anticipated and I was left with several metres of colourful, near new fabric that had been chosen by a pre-schooler. I was not at all in love with this fabric, but I hate waste so I decided to upcycle it into little ‘Bento Bags’ for my girls as part of their Christmas present. 

You can check out the tutorial for making these great little bags here. I omitted the waterproof fabric lining as these will just be play handbags for my girls. But I agree that they would make fabulous little lunchbags with the right fabric.

Ayumi from Pink Penguin guides you through the construction of these little bags so clearly that you really can’t go wrong. I actually discovered this tutorial last year and had a wonderful time making them for all my nieces birthdays in 2012, albeit in slightly prettier quilting fabric. Despite the fabric combinations not being totally to my liking, I am still super happy with how they turned out and I know my girls will absolutely love them. I highly recommend giving this tutorial a shot. It is the perfect project for beginners!