I’m Chelly Wood, and my two greatest passions are sewing for dolls and writing/books. My literary agent is the lovely and professional Liz Kracht of Kimberley Cameron and Associates.
I’ve been sewing since the age of three, and I designed my first doll clothes item–a Barbie sun bonnet–at age eleven. By age sixteen, I was running a small business, designing my own doll clothes, altering commercial patterns to suit special orders, and selling my doll clothes to local families in my hometown area. Selling hand-sewn doll clothes helped me pay for college as well.
When I went to work as a schoolteacher, I continued to design doll clothes, sometimes selling them at local craft fairs and other times just giving them away. Today I work as a school librarian, and the ads on ChellyWood.com bring in a bit of pocket money to help provide funds for fabric, notions, and new (or more frequently, used) dolls.
So if you enjoy my free doll clothes patterns and tutorials, please show your support by sharing the patterns and photos provided on this website through social media. It actually helps a lot!
More visitors to this website allows me to pay for the storage space for all the patterns on this website, plus it helps me pay for my video software for tutorials, so I can keep doing what I do!
This blog was started in 2014, as a means for me to share with the world my passion in doll clothes designs. At that time, it was really just a “personal journey” blog.
My following kept building though, and in 2015, the Lammily doll company approached me and asked me to design some commercial patterns for their doll company. What a surprise!
More surprises have popped up over time. Regarding my patterns and doll-related projects, I’ve been interviewed by The Chicago Tribune as well as Newsweek. Also Felt Magnet featured one of my patterns, giving it top billing. (That was very flattering!)
I’m a regular contributor to Doll Castle Magazine, myself, so if you subscribe to Doll Castle, watch for my articles and printed patterns in that publication.
If your company or website would like to connect with me or use my images in a blog post or news story, feel free to contact me, and I would be happy to send you high resolution images of whichever free patterns or doll photo shoots tickle your fancy.
When I have a little spare time, I create doll play videos like Romeo and Juliet with Dolls. Feel free to see what I’ve created so far on my YouTube Channel.
To see why I offer my patterns and doll clothes for free, please go to my Funding and Charity Work page.
In my “day job,” I’m a school librarian, and I love to work with kids, especially when I help them find the book they really want to read! Ooh! That’s the best!
But I wouldn’t call designing and sewing my doll clothes a “side hobby.” It’s much more than that. In 2022, I applied for LLC status for ChellyWood.com, so I guess it’s more of a small business.
And I do love this kind of work. I LOVE IT! I just hope I can keep up the pace on this website after I retire from my work as a librarian (which really isn’t that far away).
To help me keep the funds rolling in, please consider signing up for my classes on Creative Spark, tell a friend or family member about this website, or just purchase something through one of the links on ChellyWood.com (this site gets a little pocket money each time you do).
If you would like to work with me collaboratively or interview me for a sewing podcast (or other media), you can find out more about how to contact me and my literary agent on the About the Designer page.
Thanks for stopping by to learn more about me!
17 thoughts on “About the Designer”
Connected with you, Chelly! Let’s stay in touch :]
hello i’m called brother and i would like to make my beautiful 50s dress for Barbie size can make a sewing pattern of a nice dress that fits a Barbie doll
Hello Brother… I think my American Flag dress could easily be adapted as a 1950’s Barbie dress (make the whole thing in a polka dot fabric, for example), or possibly the Sunflower Harvest dress (consider it in a tiny pink gingham or even a solid color). Here are the blog posts on each of those:
American Flag dress: https://chellywood.com/2016/11/08/barbie-is-ready-for-electionday-did-you-vote-barbie-did/
Sunflower Harvest dress: https://chellywood.com/2018/10/17/todays-tutorial-shows-you-how-to-sew-an-autumn-dolls-dress-chellywood-com/
Thank you, Sartenanda, for sharing a link to your photos of dancing dolls. Those photos are positively amazing! I love the details in the dolls’ faces and costumes. The expressions on the faces of the dolls doing the “Dip” (the last couple of photos) are wonderful!
Extraordinário o seu trabalho, eu realmente amo, estou fascinada por tudo que você faz, obra de uma verdadeira Fada da costura, sinta-se abraçada.😍😘💖💃
Hello! I’m excited to get started learning to sew Barbie & Ken clothes. What advise do you have for me to keep my sewing machine from tangling thread & bunching the fabric when sewing such small tops with light weight fabric? I can sew fleece and pant weight fabrics fine but want to also make dresses & tops with beautiful prints or shirt weight fabric. Do I forget about backstitching (when snarles happen)? Do I sew off the edge & tie the threads at the ends by hand? Thank you!
I’ll be honest with you: for Barbie and Ken, I rarely use my sewing machine. The smaller the doll clothes, the more likely I am to simply sew by hand.
When I do use my sewing machine, I use a Viking Husqvarna that has a top-loading bobbin. I used to use an older sewing machine with a front-loading bobbin, but I’ve found that the top-loaders have fewer problems with the “tangling thread and bunching fabric” that you mentioned.
However, if a new sewing machine is not in your budget, you may find that a $50 machine service may help a lot! Have a professional clean and service your machine, and set the tension for you. It will be well worth the money.
Also, if you want to try making doll clothes out of jersey or stretchy fabrics, consider buying what’s called a “walking foot.” It’s not impossible to use a backstitch with a walking foot, but backstitching can create bunching if you don’t have the tension adjusted to your walking foot. So when I use a walking foot, I tie off the strings like you mentioned in your comment.
Here’s a trick I use too: in my desk drawer, I keep a notepad of tension adjustments. When I find a tension setting that works well for a certain type of fabric, I record it on the notepad (along with the type of fabric I used it for). Tension is sort of fiddly and your machine’s guide book isn’t always accurate. But it’s usually tension problems that cause snarls to happen. People who are super good with sewing machines (and that would not be me by the way) adjust their tension with every type and weight of fabric, but I usually only adjust my tension when I switch to heavy denims (when sewing for people) or when I switch to stretchy fabrics.
The rest of the time, I try to use 100% cotton — the kind you buy in the quilting area of the fabric store. That way I don’t have to adjust the tension too much.
I have a lot more to say about sewing machines, but this comment is already turning into a long one! So if you don’t mind, I think I’ll re-visit this topic as a blog post on Wednesday or Friday next week. Thanks for the question!
I was excited to find your free patterns for the large Barbie doll. My comment is that to print the pattern I have to waste a lot of ink printing the picture of the doll that is on the pattern. Could you make a simple pattern without all the “extra” printing?
Hi Jay, and welcome to my blog. Some followers have commented that they appreciate having the photo on the pattern, to help them visualize what the finished garment looks like. So I will keep your advice in mind, but I may want to do a survey to see which is preferred by more viewers: with a picture or without one.
It’s actually less time consuming for me to create the patterns without the picture! I’ve only been providing it on the pattern because it seems to be what my followers want. Therefore, I do appreciate your suggestion, and as time allows, I will definitely consider changing the way I make my patterns; if lots of people would prefer to not have the picture of the finished garment, I’m up for making that change.
I would not spend time making an item I have not seen how it looks. A picture is worth 1,000 words is true. Browsing pictures is how I pick what I want to make.
Thanks for sharing your opinion. This does seem to be the predominant preference of many of my followers.
I’ll keep thinking about ways to provide both though. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Hi My name is Sofia I would like to say that I love your work and I really love your story. But I have one question, should I use a sewing machine or hand sewing. Thank you
I do 90% of my sewing by hand (which you may have noticed in my videos). But my advice is this: if you’re sewing for a 15 inch doll or bigger, sewing on a sewing machine is fine, but for dolls that are 12 inches or smaller, you’ll find it easier to sew by hand.
Sewing machines — even the really nice ones — will “eat” your doll clothes if you try to make the seams too tiny, and small dolls use tiny seams. That’s why I recommend sewing by hand for tiny dolls.
I’ve been thinking about doing a blog post on the topic of “Tips for Sewing Tiny Doll Clothes,” and your question has me thinking it’s definitely time for that blog post. So watch for that around the end of April, okay?
Thank you for commenting!
Hi! I would like to thank you for posting all of these free patterns. Sewing really helps my depression/anxiety but I could never seem to find a free pattern that would work for my dolls (I prefer to sew things for dolls as I love barbie and sewing for humans is very time consuming). You sound like a wonderful lady, and I send my encouragement in your sewing endeavors.
What a nice comment, Kat! Thank you for taking time out of your day to leave this friendly message.