If you’ve only recently started to sew doll clothes, you may feel a little challenged by projects that use a boatneck. According to Webster’s online dictionary, a boatneck top has “a wide neckline that extends toward the tips of the shoulders.”
Don’t be discouraged when you see this type of neckline because I’m going to give you some tips by sharing one such project, from my own sewing adventures! Today’s project comes from View B in the McCall’s Crafts 5462 doll clothes pattern that was published in 1991 (see image below — look for the white top with black pinstripes).
Last week I showed you how to alter this pattern to make it a one-piece sweater or jacket, rather than a top. Today I’m going to alter the McCall’s 5462 View B boatneck shirt pattern to include a lining because frankly, that’s the easiest way to sew a boatneck top in miniature, for a Barbie-sized doll.
I like this pattern because it’s a single piece. In other words, you don’t have to fiddle around, trying to attach sleeves to a bodice. So it’s a great shirt pattern for any novice sewists out there.
You do have to cut your fabric “on the fold,” which again, may be an unfamiliar concept to those of you who are new to sewing. Here’s an image of what my McCall Crafts 5462 boatneck shirt pattern looks like before I cut it out (see below). Can you tell that the fabric has been folded, and the pattern is pinned right along this folded edge?
Take a look at the top of the pattern. See that area that looks like the pattern has been torn at the top of the T-shape? That’s where you cut the neckline. Just slide your scissors in between the flaps of the pattern, and cut directly into the fabric for about one centimeter. That’s how you create a boatneck style of neckline.
Now, as I said, I’ll be making alterations, so I’ve actually cut my shirt out with longer sleeves than what the pattern suggests. Also, I’ll be adding a lining to my shirt, which means I’ll have to cut the pattern on the fold, using two different cotton fabrics; one will be a beige colored lining fabric (shown above) and the other will be a beige/white striped outer fabric.
But for now, let’s take a look at what the lining piece looks like after I’ve cut it on the folded edge of the fabric. Open it up, and you get this (see Figure A below):
The pattern’s written directions do not suggest cutting open a back closure, like I have done. Instead, they suggest using a jersey fabric that stretches a lot, so a person can just shimmy their little doll through the head-hole.
Ugh. I hate that!
So if you look at Figure B above, you can see that I’ve opened up the back with a center cut, going down from the middle of the boatneck, and that way I can create more of a back closure instead of the old pop-on-pop-off method of dressing the doll. (Back in the old days, these pop-on-pop-off shirts usually meant that the doll’s head was going to pop off every time you took her shirt off!)
If you look just below, figure E shows that I’ve actually layered my lining and my outer cotton fabric, with right sides together, before I started stitching the neckline, which you can see above in Figures C and then D. Sorry these are a little out of order.
The yellow thread I was using was meant to make my stitches easier for you to see, but once I got to the Canva stage of making these segmented images, I discovered that the yellow thread was sort of hard to see. So I’ve gone over my stitched area with Canva’s draw-on stitches, to make it easier for you to see in Figure F.
Next, I clipped my seams, inverted my garment, and pressed everything with a hot iron (Figure G above). At this point, I folded the back so it’s touching the front (figure H), so I could start sewing from the sleeve’s cuff to part-way down the side seam (Figure I below):
It’s very important that you stop sewing the side seams about 1 cm from the bottom of the finished edge of the back piece (Figure J) because once we get to Figure K, you have to fold the raw edges of the shirt front inside the shirt front area (zoom in on Figure K, if you can).
Figure L shows me doing a whipstitch to seal the bottom of the front part of the garment, but if you know how to do a ladder stitch, that conceals your stitches even better. I’m not good at the ladder stitch, though, so I always do a whipstitch here.
Once this is done, you need to finish the side seams (see purple brackets for Figure M below).
I typically use snaps to seal the back of my Barbie dresses and shirts, but today I chose to use a narrow strip of sew-on Velcro. I’m doing a lot of re-purposing of previously used fabrics, and the Velcro I used for this was part of the packaging on some bedding I bought recently.
Please note that because this shirt was cut from a single pattern that doesn’t use separate sleeve pieces, the beige stripes on the front and back of the shirt are aligned vertically, while the stripes on the sleeves are aligned horizontally. So although a one-piece doll shirt pattern can be a little easier to sew on the whole, you have less control of what’s called “the nap” of the fabric, from torso to sleeve.
Again, the shirt pattern I used was from McCall’s Crafts pattern number 5462, which was published in 1991. However if you’d like to try sewing this shirt, the pattern is usually available on eBay. It’s not a rare pattern, and I also like the two coats that come with the pattern, which in my opinion are timeless!
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.
The jeans my Barbie is wearing with this shirt were made using my free pattern for elastic-waist stretch denim Jeans, which you can find right here.
To read more about my free sewing patterns and tutorials, please visit the “Helpful Tips” page.
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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 know 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.
I also have a new course on Creative Spark called, Design Your Own Doll Pants from Scratch. In this class, I teach how to make doll leggings, doll pants, doll jeans, fly-front pants, and even overalls.
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.
“Boatneck.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/boatneck. Accessed 5 May. 2023.