Special thanks to Carolyn V. who inspired today’s topic: how sewing doll clothes is different from sewing clothes for human beings.
The comment she left a couple of weeks ago was: “Chelly, I just wanted to thank you for allowing us to get free doll clothes patterns & tutorials. Doll clothes are sewn completely different from ‘people’ clothes (or, at least the way I was taught to sew).”
Carolyn is very observant. She’s absolutely right.
The ladies in my family encouraged me to sew doll clothes the same way one would sew clothes for people, back when I was learning to sew. It actually took me a long time to master the art of sewing doll clothes because for a really long time, I tried to follow the people-clothes rules.
Today I want to talk about cutting out patterns for people’s clothes vs. cutting out patterns for doll clothes. Here we have an image of Butterick Pattern #3037, which offers some traditional business suits for women:
Let’s imagine we’re making one of the skirts or shirts shown in Butterick Pattern #3037.
When cutting patterns for people, it’s a good idea to lay out your fabric flat on a table and try to cut each pattern piece out with the patterns laying flat.
Cutting patterns for a human being’s clothes is done this way for a couple of reasons: 1.) if you’re cutting two piece of fabric (like when you cut on the fold), you want them to match and 2.) picking up the fabric to cut it will move the fabric around, making the cut less accurate.
Sometimes we even use fabric weights to make sure the fabric lays flat against the table while we cut. That’s especially helpful if you’re using slippery fabric like polyester.
I remember when I was in high school, I would try SO HARD to cut out doll clothes with the patterns laying flat, and it was simply impossible to do. Rounding those tiny sharp corners with even the sharpest sewing scissors was a feat of dexterity even a gymnast couldn’t accomplish!
Today I ignore that advice and lift up the fabric to cut around my doll clothes patterns, a lot like a person would do with construction paper. I hold my scissors upright and move the fabric around as I cut. I’ve found, with small doll clothes, this actually makes cutting more accurate.
It helps to use cotton fabric, of course, because it’s stiff. But with polyesters, I make sure I use lots of pins to hold the pattern in place.
The smaller the doll clothes, the harder it will be to cut them on the flat surface of a table. Take my Chelsea/Strawberry Shortcake patterns for example:
Cutting that bodice out on a flat surface would be just silly. I mean, that pattern is barely an inch and a half wide!
A lot of times I’ll cut slightly around the pattern, then pick it up and begin cutting in greater detail. Granted, this uses more fabric, but when you only need a teeny-tiny bit of fabric, who cares?! LOL!
However, when it comes to nap and grainline, we do need to follow the rules most of the time.
For those of you new to sewing, “nap” and “grainline” are words we use to describe the way velvet will look dark from one direction and light another direction, or the way corduroy has ridges that need to all run a single direction, or the way plaids have lines that run all one direction or the other. If you don’t cut these types of fabric correctly, your garment can come out looking sort of wonky.
Of course you can be creative with fabrics that have a nap too. Just look at the way I cut my ginghams for GI Joe in this image:
The ginghams are all going in the same direction, but I’ve combined tiny ginghams with bigger ones to create a unique fashion statement.
This is a fun solution to the problem of not having enough of one fabric to complete the garment. Why not combine your fabric remnants for a unique look?
I did the same thing here:
I didn’t have enough of the candy corn fabric, so I just cut the sleeves out of solid orange cotton instead. It turned out really neat!
Of course this can be done with people’s clothes too, but I digress.
And I see that this blog post is running a little long, so I think I’ll come back to the topic of sewing doll clothes vs. sewing clothes for people next Monday.
I’ll specifically talk about how we make the doll clothes in Butterick Pattern #6668, as shown below, in next week’s pattern review. This particular pattern has a lot of great examples of how we make doll clothes in ways we would never consider for people’s clothes!
Most of the commercial patterns I display and talk about here on ChellyWood.com are also available for sale on eBay. However, if you’ve never purchased a pattern on eBay before, it’s a good idea to read the article I wrote called, “Tips for Buying Used Doll Clothes Patterns on eBay.” It will save you time, money, and will likely prevent buyer’s remorse.
And by the way, if you use the links I’ve provided to make your eBay purchase, this website will receive a small commission, which helps fund the ChellyWood.com website, so I can continue to provide you with all the free patterns and tutorial videos offered here.
Disclaimer/Credit/Affiliate Marketing Link:
Chelly Wood and the ChellyWood.com website are not affiliated with the pattern company or companies mentioned in this blog post, but Chelly finds inspiration in the doll clothes designed by these pattern companies. To purchase patterns from Simplicity, McCall’s, Butterick, Vogue, or other pattern companies shown and discussed in this blog post, please click on the links provided here. These links below the “Disclaimer” section do not help raise money for this free pattern website; they are only offered to give credit to the company that made these patterns.