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Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
Hello doll lovers! This blog was created to tell you about dolls I have made and classes I teach on doll making at Attic Window Quilt Shop in Comstock Park, Michigan (a suburb of Grand Rapids). My goal in teaching is to pass on the love of making heirloom quality dolls. Most of the dolls I make (and hold classes for) are designed by Gail Wilson - visit her website at . Page down my blog for some fun doll links including antique doll sites and hard to find doll supplies.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Use Your Feet For Doll Clothes  

Hello Dollmakers!  Today I'll be getting out my special feet.... but not the ones at the end of my legs that always have sock monkey socks on them.  When I make doll clothes, I switch back and forth between 2-3 different feet, and  I like to use my special hemstitching foot for sewing and finishing seams in one pass.  This special foot has a bar across it that makes the zig zag portion of the stitch perfect every time.  I use it also to just zig zag around the edges if I want a flat seam I can open.

But before I begin, I have to clear my sewing table, it's a BIG MESS!  And then find the material I want to use and gather the pattern pieces I will need.  I like to keep my Gail Wilson doll patterns in notebooks and I slide the laminated pattern pieces in a sheet protector and keep those in the notebook too.  If I use ivory colored cardstock for body parts and another color for the clothing patterns, I can zoom right to what I need.  Gail's instructions are wonderfully detailed so you never wonder about what to do.  For more information about Gail's dolls, visit her website at:

Miss Columbian has found a new owner and she needs to have her bonnet and pantaloons finished right away for her journey to Texas.
So let's cover how to apply lace to a bonnet brim and how to make tucks for the pantaloons and how to finish the seams on the pantaloons with the hemstitch foot.  
After I have picked out the linen and lace, I cut two brims and gather my lace.  My rule of thumb for how full to make the gathers is:
1.5 times the length of the item you will gather it to (the brim) for soft gathers,
2 times for average fullness (this is the one I use the most),
3 times for a very full fluffiness of lace.

Set your stitch length to long (4.0 for me) and at the edge of the lace that will be hidden in a seam, sew your gathering stitich leaving 4 inch thread tails at each end to pull up the gathers.

Find the center lenthwise of the lace and the brim piece and pin to one brim piece with outside edge of lace heading in.  Pin two outside edges too. 

After the mid and end points are firmly pinned, pull up on the bobbin thread until the lace fits the size of the piece you are sewing it to. Use a stilletto to evenly distribute the lace gathers.  Pin as you go.  Secure the end threads so they won't let the lace fall off (I wrap around the last pin.)

Reset your machine stitch length back to the regular length (I like 1.6 or 1.8 for little doll clothes, the scale of the stitches seems more suitable) and sew the lace to the brim piece using a stilletto to re-arrange the lace when it gets out of whack. Watch close that you don't let the edge sneak out of getting sewn down.

After sewing, check that it's all sewn good and then following Gail's instructions, apply the other brim piece to the first one sandwiching the lace inbetween and sew using the sewing line from sewing the lace on the first brim piece as a guide.  Clip around the curves and turn outside right and press.  For the remaining instructions of how to attach the brim to the bonnet for the Columbian doll, please see the instructions in Gail's kit available at
The pantaloons require a bit of preparing - you need to make some tucks on the fabric that will then be folded and lined up with the bottom of the pattern piece.  Precut the rectangle sized for the doll you are making (the Columbian doll comes in two sizes) and iron up the two folds where the tucks will be.  I get out my special foot that has the bar so that I can line up the edge of the fold with the bar so I know I will have a 1/8' tuck. 
 Here's the first tuck going in.

And the second Tuck going in; if you look close you can see the fold up against the bar.

Both tucks are in and in need an iron.  I can see I still need practice.  Sewing tucks on linen is hard for me.  I do much better with batiste.

Then fold up the amount listed in the instuctions for the hem portion. Iron, but do not sew yet.  Or you can leave it unfolded, but adjust the placement of the pattern to allow for the hem that should have been folded up. 
Now fold the fabric in half, wrong sides together, then take each side and fold in half again so that you have two folds with the tucks inside.  Be sure the folds line up nice and that the tucks match exactly. I pin at the tucks so they stay lined up while I trace the pattern.

Lay the pattern piece on the fabric, the one side up against the two folds and trace around the pattern. Pin in a few spots,  and watching out for your pins, cut out the pantaloons and zig zag around the raw edges if you wish.  I usually zig zag around the waist edge with my hemstitch foot. Then using that foot and adjusting to a special stitch on my machine that sews a straight seam and a zig zag at the same time, I sew the crotch seams. 

 Then flip the pantaloons around so the leg seams can be sewn, and pin, matching the seams from the crotch.  Sew the leg seam in one swoop. 

Turn up the bottom leg hems and turn down the waist hem, pin and iron.   It's hard to iron little doll clothes with a big iron and board, so I get out my little flat wooden utensil (spurtle?) and my little clover iron and give it a good press.  A wooden spoon handle works too, but the flat one is really nice for little pant legs and sleeves.  Then I hem the legs by hand  and put in a drawstring at the waist.  I make my pantaloons a bit differently than what's in the instructions.  All those years of making baby clothes, I guess....I just make the doll pants the same way as people pants.

I hope you enjoyed watching these doll clothing items going together.  Thanks for stopping by and I had fun today!  - Julie

Gail Wilson dolls I have made

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