This week’s series of blog posts will break the process of pinning and cutting a doll clothes pattern, into several carefully explained steps.
For this series of blog posts, I’ll be using Simplicity 7601, a Barbie pattern that was published in 1991, for all of my examples and visuals.
When you first buy a commercial pattern, your pattern pieces will usually come on a big sheet of tissue paper, offering several different patterns, all on the same sheet. You must separate them into pieces, like the one shown at the top of today’s blog post.
But what kind of scissors should you use to cut the tissue paper? Sewing scissors — the ones you use to cut fabric — must remain sharp, and cutting anything made of paper will dull them. So it’s a good idea to use craft scissors to cut out your pattern.
It can be tricky to keep the people you share your household with, from using (and dulling) your sewing scissors. When my children were little, I used a color-code to help them. Scissors with purple handles were always sewing scissors. Any other color was fair game!
Another thing you need to be aware of, is that with Barbie patterns in particular, some of the pieces are quite small. So before you even begin to cut out the patterns…
…you may need to copy some of the writing that’s written beside the pattern, directly onto the pattern itself.
Some things you should copy, if they’re not already on the pattern’s shape:
- Copy the name of the pattern company (i.e. Simplicity)
- Copy the pattern number (i.e. 7601)
- Copy the view from the front (i.e. View 5)
- Copy any cutting instructions that you’ll need (i.e. Cut 1 or Cut 2 or Cut on Fold)
Once that’s done, take a look at your pattern piece. Will it be easy to cut? Or does it need a little flattening?
When I took my Simplicity 7601 pattern out of the envelope, it had been folded. At each of these folds, there’s a crease, and often the patterns want to curl if they were along the crease or fold, in the tissue paper. So what can you do to help your patterns lay flat?
You can actually use a warm iron to press them. Make sure there’s no liquid in your iron, of course, and you’ll want to keep the iron on a low setting.
Once I’ve trimmed away some of the excess tissue that surrounds my pattern, I often lay it on a swatch of fabric, to see if it will fit. I use a lot of remnants (left-over bits of fabric from other projects), so the measurements for fabric cuts, which we read about in yesterday’s blog post, won’t always apply for me.
By laying the pattern over the remnant, I can see whether or not there’s going to be enough of the fabric to make the garment. If not, I may need to go to the fabric store to purchase more fabric, or I may switch to a different fabric that I simply have more of.
We cut the pattern along the outside edge of the black outline for the pattern, following the outside edges as closely as possible.
When you come to a notch (see the diamond-shaped or triangular extensions poking out of the edges of the pattern, shown above), it’s important to cut around these. Double notches can be cut separately (as two triangles), or you can cut a line between them, turning them into more of a trapezoid. But however you cut them, be consistent; here’s why…
Notches indicate where one garment piece (say, the hat’s top, for example) should align with another garment piece (say, the hat’s crown, for example). So if you cut your double-notches like a trapezoid (shown on the “coat back” piece below), do this for all instances where you run across a double-notch.
As you can see in the image above, I keep my patterns organized by placing all of the pieces for View 5 — the coat, the hat, and the purse — in a single envelope.
The pattern maker may overlap patterns though. In my Simplicity 7601, the dress in View 5 uses the same pattern as the longer version of the same pattern, which is shown in View 4. So one of my envelopes is labeled, “Dress Views 4 and 5.” It contains only one dress pattern, but the dress can be cut short or long, depending upon which dress view you want.
When the pattern maker suggests that we cut the pattern to shorten it, as is the case with this Simplicity 7601 Barbie pattern, I never actually cut mine. Sometimes I’ll use a lightbox to trace the shorter version of the pattern onto graph paper. Then I’ll place the shorter version of the dress (now cut out of the graph paper) into the same envelope with the other dress pattern.
What you want to avoid, is mixing patterns from one doll clothes pattern envelope and another doll clothes pattern envelope.
Often when I buy a used pattern, I’ll find an oddball in with all the patterns that were pictured on the cover of the original pattern envelope. That’s because the sewist who owned the pattern before me laid her shirt pattern for a Butterick baby doll pattern right next to the patterns for the Simplicity 7601 Barbie pattern.
Once again, I’ve barely gotten started typing today’s blog post, and I’m already over 1000 words! So I’ll come back to this topic again tomorrow.
As I said in yesterday’s blog post (the first in this series), I would like to thank a woman who contacted me quite some time ago, asking me “How do you even cut out a Barbie doll dress pattern?”
Her daughter wanted to learn how to sew Barbie clothes, but she (the mom) didn’t know how to sew. I wrote her question in my booklet of doll clothes pattern requests, and about three weeks ago, I started working on this week’s blog posts, to answer that question for not just the woman who reached out to me for help, but also anyone who needs this question answered.
Thank you, dear lady, for your question! It has sparked a series of blog posts that will, hopefully, help other people understand the basics of how-to-cut-out-doll-clothes-patterns before sewing them.
May you have a fruitful 2023!
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.
To read more about my free sewing patterns and tutorials, please visit the “Helpful Tips” page.
For my free doll clothes sewing tutorial videos, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel, ChellyWood1.
Maybe you already own some great commercial patterns, but you really wish you could alter them to look just a little different. If so, my Creative Spark class, “How to Alter Doll Clothes Patterns” may be just what you need to make your commercially designed patterns into the pattern you see in your imagination.
Are you worried that you won’t have time to take a course in doll clothes pattern alteration? You’ll be happy to learn that, for any class on Creative Spark, you don’t have to follow a schedule. Just sign up when you’re ready.
It’s a one-time fee for the course, and there’s no specific time limit to finish your course. You can just take your time and learn at the pace that suits you. So please go have a look at my paid courses on Creative Spark, using this link.
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.