American Girl, keep giving us Dolls of Color for Girls of the Year.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Crafting Creatively: Things I've Made: Kit’s Lavender Scallop-Edged Dress

Everyone looks good in lavender. Everyone.
I like to sew. 

I get bored and sew things. I get angry and I sew things. I get excited and I sew things. I get depressed and I sew things to feel better. I get sleepy and I don't sew things because I would rather not sew through my fingers, but I dream about sewing things. It's a cool ass hobby that, when I'm done, has something to show for it. My mom started me sewing when I was four years old at the basics, I started putting together doll clothes when I was five or six with my own scrap bags and children's books on dolls, and I've never stopped. I would sew more outfits for myself but I have yet to obtain either a dressmakers double or the space to set one up. I plan to do some things like casual lounge pants--a t-shirt and lounge pants are my home uniform--but pretty historical simulated outfits are a lot more work. Also sewing for me takes like, five or six yards of fabric and laying things out and lots of lace and lining and invisible zippers and buttonholes and modifying nearly every single top or dress pattern to fit around my huge rack o' tatas1 and oh my gods. I'm going to need more space for that.

But doll clothes sewing? Super easy and satisfying for me. It takes a yard or two--and that's more because I overpurchase; if the pattern calls for 3/4 a yard I buy a yard and a quarter to give me space to layout. The trims are generally on the smaller side, and I need fewer of them. And rather than having to set in zippers or, Athene Save Me, make buttonholes, I can mostly get away with velcro and the occasional snaps. Plus, if I want to do a historical look, I have so many people to model my creations. I have stacks of doll clothes and doll craft books in my house (some of which are older than me in both the technical and actual sense) and a whole comic book storage box of just AG sized patterns alone--and that doesn't count the ones I've purchased digitally.

I've got a lot of AG patterns, is what I'm saying, and I like to and want use them. The most recent use has Kit in a new outfit that's very springtime.

Kit’s Lavender Scallop-Edged Dress

Kit is not a flouncy girl, but dresses were de rigueur in the 1930s. So it helps that this dress suits her tastes just right. The light lavender print is complimented by scalloped short sleeves which are mimicked at the overbodice and the plain white collar has double topstitching and a neat button flower accent. She also has a matching button-flower hairclip to pull her hair aside.

Double the dresses, double the fun!
Also, if you've seen this dress on one of Gwen's girls from A Peek Into the Pantry, that's not because she broke into my place and swiped my dress after I finished it. I made two and sent one to her. Just because I like to sew and I like to sew for others and send them gifts when they're my friends. =3

Under the cut for crafting deets.

So a few weeks ago, I was poking through my fabric stash like ya do, thinking about spring and the idea of making something for one of the gang. There's several historicals that don't have and need Miss Nethie Originals, and several that have sets already. But I kept going back to making something for Kit, because it'd been a while since I fancied her up. That and I had a Keepers Dolly Duds pattern begging to be used, specifically the 1930's Frock set. I didn't want to use anything pink or too girly, because Kit is not a flouncy girl and I will take that statement to my reincarnation.

And then I pulled out the lavender print and knew it was perfect. This was a yard or so of fabric that I had picked up at discount at Goodwill, folded up, and wasn't sure yet what to do with. I have no idea how old it is, though I can date it to roughly about the 80s or so.2 What mattered was that it was cute, it looked like it would fit into the 1930s awesomely, it was springlike, and I had just enough to make two dresses--if I did some layout tricks and changed some things up. I was also going to use one of the collars from the extra collars pattern I also had, because I loved the side scooped one.

I had originally planned to trim the dress and collar with lavender rickrack--but lavender rickrack isn't sold anymore. Well, at least not by packs in Joann's. Fucking A. So I changed things around, because you have to do that sometimes. And perhaps it's actually cuter than the rickrack would have been. Neat!

Pattern tweaks again were minimal: I changed the open all the way down button back to a closed back with velcro (cause fuck buttonholes) and used the extra collar. Also--because I only had a yard of fabric for two dresses and couldn't spare much of it--I cut the linings for the sleeves and overbodice of white broadcloth.

A pic so nice I'm using it twice.
Dress: The dress, as explained, is made of a very fine lavender cotton, knee length with short sleeves and an overcollar. Dresses in the 1930s were not very wide and fluffy like the 50s would later do; they were coming back from the straight, boxy shape of the 1920s. The androgynous look of the 1920s had been set aside mostly, and the Market Crash of 1929 that helped trigger the Great Depression also affected clothing styles--a lot of looks went for the less fancy and the more conservative, with a lot less beads and satin and a lot more cottons. The look was becoming more feminine for girls and women alike, and the waistlines--that had dropped straight down to the hips in the 20s--were back up to the natural waist. Furthermore, a lot of families--needing to accommodate growing children and clothes that needed to be worn out--made or repaired clothes, and while ready made clothing was popular, many people made for themselves. Can't you see Aunt Millie making this for Kit as a nice spring set?3 

Kit's wearing the socks from her first release/movie reporter set and the shoes from her School Skirt Set.

The collar--from the collar supplements--is an asymmetrical curve. I generally have to really feel asymmetry to use it, because I hate off the shoulder or imbalanced design.4 But this one works. Since I didn't have the rickrack, I did two rows of topstitching. Hey look at the part where my sewing wobbled and the collar topstitching went off path. I point out all my mistakes.

The neck lining was odd. It used bias, and it took me a good while to figure out how to pin it in. But it worked. And that's what matters. 

Buttons. If I don't have to put in buttonholes, I like them.
At the dip point in the collar, I attached one of the lavender buttons that I purchased to trim the dress. The buttons came as a set, and in order to make them into flowers. I bought some sheer green ribbon and made little bows that look just like leaves.

The bodice is two pieces; a front curved overbodice over a simple bodice. Here you can get a good look at the print: lavender with a fine check, cream flowers and light pink tulips, little green leaves, and subtle cream butterflies. It's not a large enough check that I had to match plaids, though I did still try to cut out neatly. The overbodice has top stitching as well. I skipped the bows the original pattern uses.

The skirt--A-line cut--is attached to the bodice waist with gathering in two spots, rather than all the way across. Authentic--skirts were on the straight side, but still gathered in spots.

The underlining of the bodice--and the sleeves--is just white. Like I said, I had a tight span of cloth to cut out on. Plus unless it's flipped up no one's going to be seeing much of it. Let that be a lesson, dollcraft sewers: if it's just the lining, you can use other colors. Don't feel obligated to line with the same fabric the dress is of.

The sleeves--lined with white for fabric saving and lined at all because no one wants to hem tiny edges, least of all me--are also top stitched around.

Skirt hem.
The skirt is hemmed simply all around. I took it up about a quarter inch and pinked all around. I could have probably folded it over again and taken it up the full 3/4" the pattern called for but I liked it just below the knees instead of just above.

Tying the perfect bow.
Two bias-cut ties are sewn into the side seams and then tied in the back. I'm actually starting to like a well done tie sash.

That blue spot on the back bodice is me marking the back darts with my wash out pen--I prefer those to tailor's chalk. I haven't fully washed it out yet.

From the back.
And the back closes with velcro, because Neth don't fuck with button holes.

The velcro is lavender to match the dress. Never stop making matching velcro tape, craft suppliers. I crave that closure method.5

Hair clip.
Hairclip: Kit's clothes generally look best with headbands, hair clips, or something to pull her hair to one side. So I took the extra button, made another leaf-flower bow and and glued it with tacky glue to--

a quilt binding clip. Binding clips are most often used to hold quilting tops to the underside rather than having to pin, but they also make--in proper sizes and shapes--excellent hair clips for everyone, dolls included. In fact, all those colored snap hair clips? Binder clips painted over or plastic decorated. Go forth and clip all the hair back.


Best part of making it: Finding a lovely use for some older fabric. Short lengths of older fabric are great for doll clothes. I don't think this is older than the 1970s or so--the selvage edge had color circle markings that are common to the 1970s and 80s--but it's such a subtle print that it works excellently for the 1930s without feeling like it's out of time or place. I also liked making the bows and flower trim.

Worst part of making it: Not exactly the total worst, but the neckline took me a while. It's bias faced with its own piece. and it took me several minutes of staring at the diagram and then at the bias strip and then at the diagram again before I figured out how to pin it in place. I also had to be super careful cutting it out for the two dresses because I had only one shot and no more fabric if I messed up. Hint? Lay the pieces out on the fabric first. Then cut. That whole measure thrice cut once that is used in carpentry also applies in doll clothes. Also never be afraid to line in an alternate fabric. I keep all that spare white around for reasons. The hair clips also took like, a day and a half to dry.

Historical Accuracy: Patterns from KDD are always researched to their best. The print is also fairly accurate. Overall, excellent for accuracy.

Does it look good on the doll?: Not just on Kit--who likes it a lot--but on Caroline. Not Caroline the 1812 girl--Caroline, Gwen's 1930s girl. I've yet to find a doll that looks bad in lavender. Everyone looks good in lavender.  

Would I use the pattern again? Would and will. Into the use again pile!

Final Thoughts: Spring and femme without being flouncy ruffles. Good for Kit!


1 This is not braggadocio. I finally got properly sized and found that I wear a 40J in the English bra sizing, which makes more sense. I can't buy off the rack bras because off the rack assumes that sizing stops around DD and maybe goes into G when you're at Lane Bryant. and patterns still only do about a B-DD cup.
2 I also know that I will likely never find it again. Such is the life of a fabric hunter.
3 Part of my goals in making AG historical clothing is to make things that look like they would fit into their stories in some way.
4 The dress Lucy Ricado wear in the classic Vitameatavegamin episode gives me fits. Why does it only have half a peplum.
5 I picked up several shades this weekend at Hancocks Fabrics. Which by the way is fucking closing. Now where will I purchase fabric and mill about after Costco runs? And don't say Joann Fabrics cause I already do that when I pick up comics, Hancocks was different and now all I have is Joann. Damn economy.


  1. Cute - Love the colours in that fabric!

  2. Your historical posts, be they reviews or Crafting Creatively, might very well be my favorite posts. So chock full of information and just the thing to brighten up a crappy day, to get lost in history!

    I've always yearned to have sewing skills at your level, but my own mother who sewed was convinced (perhaps rightly) I'd break her sewing machine if I learned on it, and "expensive" ruled our house. I'm utterly jealous of the idea of having the talent and skills to create your own doll clothes, as a kid or as an adult. Sigh!

    Beautiful work, as always. Kinda would make sense that a '70s (maybe?) print would fit a '30s aesthetic given how the '70s loved retro (and styles of course repeat themselves).

  3. That's not bragadaccio! To another in your position it is recognized as the curse it can be. Elomi makes great bras in the English size (I'm a 34KK.). If you can find a specialty store to try them on and see if you like them they do pop up on Zulily at half price from time to time. The English site Bravissimo has great stuff, too, including bra sized swimwear. The have clothing as well, under the Pepperberry name.

    Love the dress, especially the button accent and hairclip.

  4. Wow - the dress looks wonderful! Like Neici P, I'm also rather jealous of your sewing skills & wish my mom taught me more. Ah well - I can enjoy your work from afar. :)

  5. Perfect for Kit!
    Think you can look up some local businesses?
    Can't wait for your take on "Happy Birthday Samantha!"

  6. "hey look where my stitching went all wonky!"

    I call that "improvised decorative stitching" ;o)

    also I goddamn LOVE what you've done w/those little flower buttons! holy shit that's cute! <3

  7. Love the little flower button adaptation. So cute! I do love that doll clothes don't take too much fabric. I can buy nice quality stuff and it doesn't break the bank. Do you like Keep Dolly Duds patterns? I haven't tried any of them and I'd like to know how well the instructions are laid out for those of us who are still learning a bit.

    1. I've used several of her patterns--the ones for this set and the ones used for Ceclie's dress set. The patterns are extremely clear, though there are parts that seem confusing. If you take your time and get an easy one, it should be fine.

    2. The KDD patterns are very good. I would also recommend Lee & Pearl because the instructions are illustrated with photographs instead of line drawings. If the pattern does something new to me, I find the photos to be very helpful.

  8. I really liked the button flowers you made for the collar and clip.

  9. Lovely and clever!

    Just a thought, but, story-wise the 'errors' fit in to the hand-me-down, make-do, atmosphere.

    (I guess what I mean is: Maybe Aunt Millie has trouble with sewing curves too!)


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