Camo Doll’s Dress – A Sewing Adventure

Not only did The Mechanic and I have no idea what to get our niece when she turned 9 a few weeks ago, her parents weren’t really sure either. “She’s changing all the time!” they told us, but did say that she had been madly biking around her neighborhood, started rock climbing at a nearby indoor climbing wall, reads obsessively, doesn’t like anything princess anymore but still likes her American Girl Doll, and that her favorite color is Real Tree Camo.

Hm.

I did hunt around for children’s camo bike accessories – I really want to encourage this in her. Ironically, we haven’t been able to interest her in biking for years. I didn’t find anything I loved, and time flew by, so then it was too late. We decided a Barnes & Noble gift card was a bit lame, so started with ordering a full-size Nalgene water bottle for her; her parents said she wanted one. Then, at 11pm, five busy nights before we were due to see her, I had a brainstorm – I would make her an American Girl Doll dress out of Real Tree camo! The Mechanic and I ran to JoAnn Fabrics the next night so I could buy the fabric, and I bought a doll dress pattern that ended up not working. Then I spent all my spare time trying to make up a doll dress pattern.

Teeny tiny pattern pieces!

Teeny tiny pattern pieces!

The McCalls pattern I had used to make a carrying bag for her doll earlier this year, McCalls 6854, also had some clothing pieces, so I used the top pattern, then just added a length for the skirt. Suffice it to say, my idea didn’t translate into reality as it seemed in my head that it would. My excuse is that I was trying to hurry and didn’t think things all the way through….

Using my Samantha doll as a model, I discovered that not only was the bodice too long, it didn’t seem to close properly in the back. So I took it apart and shortened the bodice significantly.

Doll Dress 8

I was very pleased with the centered design in the front, but had to cut out most of it to shorten it.

Doll Dress 1

The too-long bodice apparently was too snug over the doll’s hips and it didn’t close in the back. Even dolls have these problems!

Much better the second time around! I added rick rack on the hem, but opted against the tiny wooden buttons I thought might be cute down the front. Originally, I had stitched the Velcro on the facing so that the stitching wouldn’t show but it didn’t line up right, so as I was getting ready to wrap the dress on our way out the door to give it to her, I redid the Velcro. Not as pretty, but worked better.

The shortened bodice meant less tree branch, sadly

The shortened bodice meant less tree branch, sadly

Don't judge the insides too harshly - check out the fancy facing, though. I had to tack it down because it refused to cooperate

Don’t judge the insides too harshly – check out the fancy facing, though. I had to tack it down because it refused to cooperate

Velcro pulling in the back

Velcro pulling in the back

I love rick rack and think it works well here

I love rick rack and think it works well here

Although our niece carefully folded the dress up and put it away, the look on her face made me think she was really excited. Ever the polite child, she thanked us, but I don’t know what she really thought. I hope that one day I’ll happen to notice the doll wearing the dress – that will be the best thank you. And will indicate whether or not I should try sewing doll clothes again.

Although camo isn't Samantha's thing, the dress looks good on her!

Although camo isn’t Samantha’s thing, the dress looks good on her!

Trend in Reflective: Bucket Bag

All the fashion magazines are singing the praises of bucket bags as *the* purse to have for Spring, and in fact, some editors are predicting it’s popularity through Fall. Even my latest Lucky magazine repeated the news. So I guess it must be true – and something to pay attention to. And by “pay attention to” what I really mean is “interpret with reflective fabric.” So I did. Twice.

Even the Lucky magazine editors say so!

Even the Lucky magazine editors say so!

I didn’t find a pattern for one, so I studied as many pictures as I could, and looked some up online to read measurements. Then I just sort of made it up, using for the bottom the pattern piece from my niece’s American Girl Doll carrying bag (McCalls 6854).

McCalls 6854, with my Samantha modeling the bag. Props to my niece for picking the awesome fabrics herself!

McCalls 6854, with my Samantha modeling the bag. Props to my niece for picking the awesome fabrics herself!

The first one I made I already shared with you, made with the reflective orange on the bottom and for the drawstring, and a camo print for the rest of the bag. I lined it in blue because that was all I had enough scraps for, but I don’t think my friend minded. In fact, she was pretty tickled with it.

But I learned a few things while making hers and tried to improve on mine, although I’m not 100% sure I succeeded. This time I sewed the  loops on before I put the lining in, but I wish I’d added more loops. I might add them later, and just stitch through – at least the lining is a busy print, so the stitching should be as noticeable. Somehow I had less webbing for the strap, which ended up fairly short, but I guess that it’s a big deal.

I picked the color combination because I love this plum reflective fabric (which I am now almost out of) and it goes so well with the Liberty of London for Target duvet cover/fabric I have. My original thought was to get blue microsuede fabric, but JoAnns didn’t have a blue I wanted, so I picked a light denim. It looks fine but is more casual than I’d wanted. I was sort of hoping I could carry this bag with the dress I’m wearing soon to a friend’s wedding. I may end up making (trying to make) a zippered clutch, but we’ll see.

I used fusible woven interfacing on all the fabric, including the lining, to give it a bit of heft; on the bottom I used a really thick, almost felt-like fusible non-woven interfacing that created a pretty firm base. I wish I’d known about that interfacing when I made my niece’s bag. It still doesn’t hold it’s shape the way I imagine the high-end leather bags do, but theirs aren’t reflective, so there you are.

Now I’m in a purse mindset – I want to make all kinds of bags! Especially since I have this cool metallic printed twill, silver and gold. I think the gold would be lovely as a foldover clutch to match my floral dress, but I can’t decide if I should mix in some reflective fabric. But I also can’t imagine sewing something that isn’t reflective anywhere – quelle horreur!  Stay tuned to see if I attempt something this weekend.

Future gold clutch purse?

Future gold clutch purse?