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When you make a set of doll clothes, it’s always nice if the child who receives them has the option to mix and match tops with skirts, pants, and jackets.
I’m a member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), and this year our chapter of the DAR will be giving gifts to a service member’s family for Christmas. So as the family has a four-year-old daughter with “Barbies” and “doll clothes” on her wish list, I’ve been making a series of doll clothes that will easily mix and match, to give to this anonymous little girl.
If you compare the photo at the top of today’s blog post to the photo just above this text, you’ll see that these are the same garments, but they’re reversed. Yes, you read that right– I made them reversible.
Both the strappy summer top and the wrap skirt pictured above, are from two different outfit concepts (View 5 and View 3) in the Simplicity 8281 pattern.
Making a garment reversible creates even more mix-and-match options for the doll’s ensemble.
However, most doll clothes patterns do not come with a reversible option. You have to know a little about doll clothes pattern alterations, to make them reversible.
Simplicity 8281 is one of the best patterns for creating mix-and-match wardrobes for a Barbie or similar-sized fashion doll, in my humble opinion. (If you have a favorite mix-and-match doll clothes pattern, please mention it in the comments!)
The skirt in View 2 of Simplicity 8281 is actually a separate piece from the bodice, so the outfits in views 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 are all capable of being swapped for mix-and-match possibilities.
But I digress. Let’s go back to the idea of altering patterns for reversibility.
A pattern alteration is simply a change to the way the original pattern was meant to be sewn.
For example, in the image below, you can see that I’ve shortened the wrap skirt from View 5 in the original Simplicity 8281 doll clothes pattern.
When you can make a single skirt pattern two different ways, you add even more options for your clothing ensemble: a long version of the skirt plus a short version of the skirt.
However shortening a wrap skirt isn’t as simple as it might seem. With a wrap skirt like this one, which is going to be sewn together at the notch (look at the left side of the pattern for the notch), if you don’t understand how seam allowances work and how wrap skirts are uniquely designed, then when you place the wrap skirt on the doll, you’ll find a strange overlap at the front of the garment.
To throw another wrench in the works, I’ve made my wrap skirt reversible, along with the strappy summer top.
And again, making a garment reversible takes a bit of pattern alteration know-how as well.
Not enough challenges? But wait! There’s more!
My mother-in-law gave me this gorgeous vintage fabric, but all she had was this tiny little swatch.
Now, you’re probably thinking, “You can fit that wrap skirt and top on that swatch of fabric easily.”
You’re probably imagining something like this, but with the original, longer skirt where my hand-drawn, traced version of the skirt sits, right?
Not so fast, friends… See the grainline arrow? It’s that back-and-forth arrow on the original skirt pattern from Simplicity 8281. The grainline arrow is supposed to follow the grainline of the fabric. (To learn more about grainlines, please click on this link to read an older blog post about it.)
Not only that, but the skirt pattern says “Cut 2” — so yeah. That original pattern is not gonna fit! But…
Once I re-designed the View 5 Simplicity 8281 skirt pattern with a shorter hemline, I was able to cut 2 pieces of skirt, plus a bodice, out of this beautiful red floral vintage fabric.
And, of course, I used plain red cotton for the lining, so my knowledge of pattern alteration created this amazing and wonderful mix-and-match set for Barbie, even though it was quite different from the original pattern offered in Simplicity 8281.
For anyone who would like to expand their dolls’ wardrobes, you should really check out my “How to Alter Doll Clothes Patterns” course on the Creative Spark online learning platform. It’s designed with beginners in mind, and one of the sections of the course deals with lengthening and shortening skirts, somewhat like the alteration I made to the View 5 skirt with this vintage Simplicity 8281 doll skirt pattern.
Here’s a link to my bio page on the Creative Spark website, where you can learn more.
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 go check out my paid courses on Creative Spark, using this link.
I know I sound like a broken vintage vinyl record, but if your family is asking what you want for Christmas this year… well, for those of us who own WAY too many dolls and more fabric than a warehouse can hold, expanding your sewing knowledge (which takes up a lot less room) is always a good gift idea for the holidays!
To read more about my free sewing patterns and tutorials, please visit the “Helpful Tips” page.
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.