Over the summer, I’ve been posting daily free doll clothes patterns, but I’m about to go back to work. Some of you know that in my “day job,” I work as a school librarian. We librarians come back to work a week or two before the teachers and about three weeks before the students return.
It takes me about 5 hours to make a single pattern, and if I need to create a sloper too, it can be as much as 7 and a half hours to create a brand new pattern for this website. That’s possible to do when I’m on summer vacation, but once school starts, I won’t be able to juggle both my job and the daily patterns I’ve been posting on this site.
But I’ll continue to offer a new free pattern once a week (along with the tutorial on how to make it), and I’ve come up with some new sewing-related / doll-craft-related topics to discuss on days when I’m not offering new patterns.
I’m going to try this new theme called #MoneyMaker Monday, where I offer ideas for making money as a crafter. Seems like a lot of my followers are people who sew and sell their doll clothes (and crafts), so hopefully this will give you insight into selling your handmade doll clothes and doll crafts.
Today I’m going to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of saving money by sewing doll clothes made from second-hand clothes.
As far as benefits go, recycling old clothes is better for the environment. And in case you didn’t know, third world countries, where garments and textiles are often made, have the least amount of funding for pollution prevention and clean-up. This leads to air pollution, rain forest depletion, and damage to drinking water and other essential resources. If you’d like to learn more about this issue, please click here for information about the Circular Fibers Initiative.
So using second-hand clothing as a source for craft fabrics actually does help prevent damage to the planet.
Second-hand fabric can also be a money-saver in your overall fabric investment, which is why a lot of doll clothes sewing enthusiasts have tried this approach. You can gather hand-me-down clothing from friends and relatives or purchase them at second-hand clothing stores.
But when you buy second-hand clothes, make sure you’re really saving money. If you buy a pair of jeans for $4.00 at a second-hand clothing store, it might have been less expensive to buy thin, soft denim for $2.99 a yard when your fabric store has a sale.
Thin, soft denim will also be easier to work with, both on your sewing machine, and in terms of the types of dolls you can use the fabric for. If the jeans you buy at a fabric store are made of extra thick denim, it’s going to make a pair of Barbie-sized doll jeans look bulky on the doll. So when buying second-hand clothing for doll clothes, consider the weight of the fabric.
You should also consider the fabric’s print size. In case you didn’t see it, this video that I made on “How to Buy Doll Clothes Fabric” reminds you that small dolls don’t look good in big prints. The print-size of the fabric needs fit the scale of the doll. Human clothes can have some really big prints that just look wonky on a doll, so bear that in mind when shopping second-hand stores for your fabric stash.
And now for the biggest drawback… used clothing can have pulled threads, pilling, unexpected holes in the fabric, stains, and loose weaves. But as long as you carefully study the fabric before cutting and sewing it, this shouldn’t be a problem. But I mean REALLY… CAREFULLY… STUDY the fabric.
Take a look at the image at the top of this blog post. See the details in the fabric? Study your second-hand items that close to make sure you don’t miss something before you begin to cut out your doll clothes pieces. Cut away stains and irregularities in the fabric before you add the used garment to your fabric stash, and that way you won’t accidentally cut doll clothes garment segments in the wrong parts of the fabric.
One more thing, and I’ve actually learned this one the HARD way…
If the threads start to unravel while you’re sewing used-garment-fabric into doll clothes, PLEASE give up on the project and moving on to something else — especially if you’re planning to sell your doll clothes.
Have you ever recycled old clothes or fabric scraps for making doll clothes? What experiences have you found? Feel free to offer your advice and ideas in the comments.
FYI: my recently-posted Barbie owl-fabric outfit was made from used hand-me-down half-sewn fabric scraps: