Drawstring and Elastic #SewingChat #DollClothes

In this photo, the Chelly Wood doll (a repainted and re-wigged Spin Master Liv doll) holds up Simplicity doll clothes pattern 4702, which offers a variety of skirts, tops, pants or jeans, and even a gown and jackets.
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable PDF sewing patterns and tutorial videos for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

Today I’m showing off my Simplicity 4702 fashion doll clothing pattern because it’s an ideal pattern for chatting about the subtle differences between elastic and drawstrings.

Both can use a casing, which is when you fold the fabric and sew along the edge of the fold, sort of like making a hem, but creating more of a tunnel.

To learn more about casings, I recommend that you watch this video:


Now have a good, close look at Simplicity Pattern 4702, paying special attention to the garments in views E and D: These garments may use a casing with elastic threaded through it. (I’m not sure because I haven’t actually sewn this pattern yet–but it’s possible to make these garments using a casing at the neckline.)

This is a photo of Simplicity 4702 doll clothes sewing pattern. Among the outfits offered are the following: View A is a red gown with an opening to a petticoat in front and a drawstring neckline. View B shows a red plaid or red gingham jacket with matching skirt and a tank top (also with a drawstring at the neckline) to wear under the jacket. View C shows a mini skirt with a drawstring style tank top. View D shows a pretty red floral dress that has an off-the-shoulder short sleeved ruffle neckline. View E shows a ruffled elastic-neckline short sleeved shirt with jeans that appear to be rolled up to just below the knee. View F and View H both show a doll wearing a similar style of long-sleeved sweater with a pair of pants. View H also shows a doll wearing the same pants with a hooded sweatshirt or hooded jacket. View G shows the doll in the same style of Jackie-Kennedy-style sweater with a large collar (just like the ones in Views H and F) but this time paired with capri denim pants.
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable PDF sewing patterns and tutorial videos for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

Have a look at the dress I made my niece’s Barbies two Christmases ago. You’ll see that it has a very similar neckline and sleeve:

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
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

The garments never look quite as snazzy on the doll as they do on the pattern packaging, do they? LOL! 😀 With a casing especially, you can expect a bit of bulk on a doll as small as Barbie.

Now it’s also possible to just stretch out the elastic while sewing it to the garment, to create that elastic-around-the-shoulders effect, but I avoid doing that when I make my doll clothes. My mother always said that doing so can be hard on one’s sewing machine, but also it’s less durable for rough play. The elastic is more likely to separate from the fabric.

A casing lasts longer.

But did you know that elastic is a relatively new invention? According to multiple websites including ThoughtCo.com, Thomas Hancock, an English inventor, was the first to “[patent] elastic fastenings for gloves, suspenders, shoes and stockings” back in 1820.

You may wonder what people did before there was elastic.

In fact, most people used a drawstring for the same general purpose.

Now you might not be as familiar with a drawstring. Have a look at Simplicity doll clothes pattern 4702 again, paying attention to the shirt the doll is wearing in View B:

Here we see a close-up of an 11 and a half inch doll wearing a red plaid or gingham skirt, a pair of high heels, and a sort of triangular-shaped tank top with a drawstring holding it up at the neckline. The doll also carries a little purse.
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable PDF sewing patterns and tutorial videos for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

See how there’s a little string or ribbon running through a casing at the neckline of that tank top? That’s a drawstring! It goes through the casing on both sides, gathering the fabric, and it ties in the back of the doll’s neck.

If you want take a closer look at how drawstrings work, you can watch my video tutorial, in which I make a drawstring purse for a doll that’s wearing a Victorian Era dress:


Even though elastic had been invented, during the Victorian Era, people still used drawstrings for purses, undergarments, and even the ribbon that tied their cloaks at the neck. It took a while for elastic to catch on as the preferred method of gathering fabric at a closure point.

Now that we’ve discussed the doll clothes offered in Simplicity 4702, you may have a healthier appreciation for the differences between drawstrings and elastic casings. But if you have any additional questions, please put them in the comments section. I love to hear them!

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.

In case you haven’t heard, my Creative Spark class, “How to Alter Doll Clothes Patterns” is now live on the Creative Spark platform. You can sign up any time you want!

And don’t panic if it seems like too much to take on right now — sometimes our lives get really busy. I get that. But for any class on Creative Spark, you actually have all the time you need, to complete the course.

To read more about my free sewing patterns and tutorials, please visit the “Helpful Tips” page.

Disclaimer/Credit/Affiliate Marketing Link:

*ChellyWood.com earns money by linking to JoAnn Fabrics, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and other online affiliate programs. Links provided above may be affiliate links. For a full list of my affiliate programs, and to understand how cookies are used to help this website earn money, please see my “Privacy Policy” page.

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.

2 thoughts on “Drawstring and Elastic #SewingChat #DollClothes

  1. There are stories from the first half of the 20th century with women wearing elastic waisted underwear. Partly due to clothing commonly being boiled, and partly due to poor quality elastic, it was not uncommon for your knicker elastic to fail suddenly, and the knickers drop to the ground!

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