Do you follow fabric suggestions on patterns? Join the discussion @ ChellyWood.com #SewingChat #Fabric

In this image, the Chelly Wood doll holds up McCall's "teen doll" pattern #3429 which was published in 1972. In the blog post at ChellyWood.com, where this pattern is discussed, Chelly Wood (a doll clothing pattern designer) asks the question, "Do you prefer to come up with your own fabric concepts, or do you like to choose a fabric that matches the illustration on the front of the doll clothes pattern?" The Chelly Wood doll is actually a Spin Master Liv doll that has been made over to look like the actual doll clothes pattern designer, Chelly Wood.

Do you prefer to come up with your own fabric concepts, or do you like to choose a fabric that matches the illustration on the front of a doll clothes pattern?

When I was younger, I used to scour my small town’s tiny fabric store for fabric that sort of matched what was in the illustration on the front of a pattern.

I’d make my first doll dress look as much like the original concept as possible, just as you see here:

The image shows a handmade doll dress with an elastic waist, elastic at the sleeves, and elastic at the neckline. The dress is made of red floral fabric. The bottom of the dress is edged with white eyelet ruffles. The overlay tells where to learn more about the pattern used to make this dress: ChellyWood.com

Then I’d try making the same dress out of various other fabrics, creating new looks for the same pattern. Imagine my doll’s red floral dress made entirely of blue gingham, like the pinafore image you see on the right (below), for example.

Here we see a close-up of the elastic-waist, elastic-sleeve, and elastic neckline dress as it was pictured on the cover art for McCall's Teen Doll Pattern #3429, which was first published in 1972. The doll is shown wearing the dress in a similar red fabric with a tiny floral print. There's also another image of the doll wearing the dress with a blue gingham pinafore over the top of the dress. To join the discussion about choosing fabrics for your doll clothes sewing projects, please go to ChellyWood.com

As a young girl who was first learning to sew, this gave me a little experience with fabrics. Slowly I learned what types of fabrics worked best for what kinds of patterns.

I also learned how to adjust and/or alter a pattern to turn it into a slightly different dress. For example, in the image below, I’ve taken the same dress shown earlier and draped the neckline below the shoulders, for an off-the-shoulder look. Nothing has changed about the pattern or the dress; I’ve just figured out a way to make the same dress look a little different.

The image shows a handmade doll dress with an elastic waist, elastic at the sleeves, and elastic at the neckline which is pulled down to expose the dolls' shoulders. The doll wearing the dress is a Mattel Barbie with African American skin tone and black hair. Her face paint has been removed and her face has been repainted to look like the doll is all-natural without any make-up on. The dress is made of red floral fabric. The bottom of the dress is edged with white eyelet ruffles. The overlay tells where to learn more about the pattern used to make this dress: ChellyWood.com

How do you get creative with your patterns? Do you start with a fabric that matches the illustration on the front of your pattern, before trying the same doll clothes pattern with other fabrics? Do you alter your patterns?

Please leave comments! Let’s see what we can learn from each other!

Note: the images show McCall’s Teen Doll Pattern #3429, published in 1972. It’s a pattern from my personal vintage collection, and the doll dress shown here is one I’ve been sewing to give to my niece, Emily, for Christmas this year. If you’d like to buy used patterns like this one online, I advise you to first read this older blog post which warns of the down side to buying used sewing patterns online.

 

4 thoughts on “Do you follow fabric suggestions on patterns? Join the discussion @ ChellyWood.com #SewingChat #Fabric

  1. I have always preferred to experiment with fabric. My main rule, which I sometimes break, is to make the first outfit of the same “type” of fabric, meaning woven or knit. Then I evaluate how the fabric and design plays on the doll’s, (or human’s), body. If I want to switch to a stretch, fur, corduroy, or other fabric that will behave differently with the base pattern — at that point, I adjust the pattern to accommodate the way the new fabric type will behave with that change. I also experiment with adding trims, decorative stitches, buttons or appliques in the same way. After making the first simple outfit, I also love to begin tweaking the design to create as many varieties of the basic pattern as I can imagine. I even begin swapping parts of the basic pattern with other similar patterns. So, a fun sleeve from a dress pattern might show up on a future blouse pattern that I have or plan to design. I experiment with the length of the garment a lot. Or, I might break the individual elements into parts for mix and match outfits. Like in your example of the peasant dress, I would separate the bodice portion of the dress and make a blouse. The new blouse could end below the bust, or at the waist with elastic, or down at the hips for a tunic effect. It could become a mini skirt length and pair it with boots for that 1970’s style. And the bottom half of the pattern might become a skirt. Then tweak some more and add a set-in waistband for the skirt, or expanding tiers of gathered panels to the skirt. On a top or dress, I might add a wrap tie at the waist of the blouse, change the color after the elastic, or simply lower or raise where the elastic sits in juxtaposition to the recipient’s waist. As you can see, everything about a pattern is simply a suggestion to me. I almost never replicate the pattern with exactly what I see on the pattern envelope. I guess I’m just a designer at heart. I never re-use the pattern in the same way twice.

  2. Agreed. My children seem to think that the finished product has to look just like the picture so I try to get as close to the original fabric as possible. My older daughter once insisted that she wanted me to sew a red Christmas dress for herself, BUT with a velvet skirt attached to a satin bodice. I tried to explain how the heavy fabric on the finer satin would not work well and she wouldn’t give up. I had to line the bodice and find a lightweight stretch burnout velvet for the skirt, use a grosgrain ribbon waistband for reinforcement, and even then it was very difficult to gather the heavy skirt and stitch to the thinner satin top. She was very happy with the result although it was a serious reminder to me of the reasons for choosing the right fabrics to suit the project. P.S. I wore a dress in red calico with tiny flowers in the 70’s just like the one you made!

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