A couple of weeks ago, I asked all of you to leave comments that would inspire me to make some new clothes for the Judy Littlechap doll that I recently discovered at a second hand store. Thank you for your helpful ideas!
After pondering your comments and ordering the catalog you see at the top of this page, I decided to begin my wardrobe exploration with the Tressy Wardrobe pattern from Simplicity.
If you compare the image of Judy on the cover of the catalog, the dress she’s wearing has a lot in common with the Simplicity 5731 dress in View 1, so that’s where my journey begins….
My plan was to first make the dress in View 1 for my vintage Barbie, and once I felt comfortable with how the dress was made, I’d be able to design a similar dress on my own.
But of course I wanted to make the dress my way, using a lining instead of a single layer bodice (even though this was not recommended by the pattern maker). So I started by cutting out two of each bodice:
I also made an alteration to the length of the skirt, as you can see below. I wanted to use a double-fold hem (a rolled hem), even though the directions only called for a single-fold, for the hem.
Those “soft pleats” were what drew me in to the Tressy Wardrobe Pattern 5731 from Simplicity. Look again at the image at the top of this page. You’ll see that Judy Littlechap‘s pink dress has similar “soft pleats,” even though her collar isn’t a V-neck.
Now, many of you know that I’m a school librarian in my day job. Sometimes when the students do silent reading or pair-share reading, I walk around the library hand stitching something, just so I can keep an eye on the kids (to make sure they’re on task) without interfering in their reading practice time.
This past week, as I gathered up my garment pieces to begin sewing this dress’s bodice, I realized that somewhere between the sewing room and the school where I work, I had somehow cut off a shoulder area from one of the doubled-up bodices.
So I had to revert back to the original pattern instructions, making only a single-layer of bodice, exactly as the pattern-maker had intended. Okay. That was fine. I could do that.
But as I started to stitch from the underarm to the waist, I became concerned. Did I cut this bodice out wrong? Because the dart seemed to leave a zig-zag in the side seam area.
Have a look:
Now I’m the first to admit that it’s hard to get your seams to match up sometimes, when sewing small items like doll clothes. In fact, I did a blog post once called, “Why don’t my seams match up?”
So I fiddled around with the other bodice (the one that had an accidental cut), to see if it had a similar problem. Lo and behold, it did! So the pattern, it seemed, was slightly flawed.
Most of my vintage patterns are used ones that I’ve either been given, or purchased on eBay. So the thought occurred to me, “Is this the wrong bodice piece? Did it originally belong to a different pattern?”
I took a closer look. Nope. Each bodice piece had the number 5731 stamped on it, so these were definitely the original bodice pieces that went with the pattern envelope.
I read the directions again. Had I misread them? No. But I gave up on trying to sew the garment during school. Kids had their hands up and needed help anyway, so I put it off until I got home that night.
Once at home, I tried the unfinished bodice on my vintage Barbie.
Now I realize that Tressy is a different doll than Barbie, so her proportions are going to be a little off.
But in 2022, I actually made some Barbie clothes using this Tressy Wardrobe pattern from Simplicity 5731. So I went back to that blog post, which I called, “Can Made-to-Move Barbie Wear Tressy Doll Clothes?”
And what did I discover? The ruffled shirt from View 2 of this pattern fit not only Made-to-Move Barbie, but other dolls as well.
Those darts look about right, don’t they? So why wasn’t my Tressy doll bodice fitting a curvier vintage Barbie?
While re-reading my old blog post on the Simplicity 5731 pattern, I came across a statement I had made, in which I quoted Tressy as being a 12-inch doll, unlike Barbie, who is only 11 inches tall.
And then I thought, hang on! Judy Littlechap is 13 inches tall. Tressy is 12 inches tall…
Is there a chance that… maybe…
Yes, the bosom fit my Judy Littlechap perfectly!
Unfortunately, the arm hole was too small to go all the way up her arm, but the bust fit just right!
I thought about cutting away the too-tight sleeve and re-hemming it, but I decided that would turn it from a classy evening dress into more of a strappy sundress. So I decided to scrap the bodice I was working on, but keep the skirt with its “soft pleats.”
But you’re going to have to wait until later to find out what happened next!
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.
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And I now have a new class on the Creative Spark online learning platform: “Design Your Own Doll Pants from Scratch!” Here’s a video to give you some idea of what’s offered in my new class:
Maybe you already own some great commercial patterns, but you really wish you could just make a few changes to them. 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.
2 thoughts on “Update on my wardrobe for Judy Littlechap #SewingFail #DollClothesPatterns”
I have just recently ordered and received the book, Sewing for Twentieth Century Dolls by Johanna Gas Anderton. There are several iterations of this book. I ordered the older one with the pink gingham patterned cover (copyright 1972) for just a few dollars from Amazon. I was just flipping through it today and found that it has a chapter devoted to 1960s dolls. The first dozen pages of that chapter consist entirely of Littlechap family outfits starting on page 207! 😊
Oh wow! I’m going to have to see if I can order that book through our local library’s inter-library loan. I’d like to see what Johanna Gas Anderton can tell me about sewing for the Littlechap dolls!
Thanks for the tip!