Lace Tape Doll Dress

For Christmas, I will give 5 year old Laurel her first Pleasant Company American Girls doll. This yellow lace tape dress will be in the box with Molly, the doll from my era.

Made of quality domestic cotton batiste, it is replete with interesting, details, techniques and materials. Bright yellow lace tape, pale yellow antique lace, hand look machine embroidery, beading from machine made hemstitching and the use of both pin stitch and entredeux stitch along the hemline all combine to give this dress a multitude of topics for discussion.

Lace tape is an amazingly versatile product that I developed for heirloom sewing many years ago.  For a very long time, in order to promote the product,  I used it on nearly every project that I  taught and nearly every magazine article that I wrote.   After feeling creatively stifled by too much of a good thing, I sold the business to Wendy Schoen who had been one of my best customers.  She now carries lace tape in her on-line store.  However, after a bit of a sewing holiday away from this neat stuff, I find myself once again using it extensively.

Aproximately 3/8″ wide and 100% cotton, lace tape comes in 21 colors, including white and ecru. It can be used as a substitute for lace insertion and has a pull thread on either side. Shaping it is a breeze.

It has so many uses, but one of my favorite applications is for shadow applique’. On this dress, the bright yellow lace tape is stitched to the wrong side of the batiste skirt and bodice. It shadows through as a pale yellow. In the above photo, you can see the strong color of the lace tape on the inside of the back skirt.

It has been pinstitched with 80/2 Madeira Cotona yellow thread, using a #60 needle. The small but distinct holes created by the small needle are more proportional to the size of the garment.

The antique yellow baby lace, just 1/4″ wide, was another treasured find that, alas, I have now used up. In the first quarter of the 1900’s, colored lace was popular and extensively used. But it fell out of favor and has been rarely seen for the past 75 years. It has always appealed to me and I have a nice assortment of colored laces that includes celadon green, pastel blue, pink, mocha, taupe, biscuit (the pinkish brown color of homemade biscuits) and even, believe it or not, Gator orange!

That orange edging was a fun find. I was teaching on Cape Cod and one of the students, Jeanne Gresham, is the owner of  spectacular Horsefeathers Antiques (still in business), in nearby Sandwich there on the Cape. She invited the entire class to explore the shop after business and class hours. Immersed in a building chockablock full of things that could make me swoon, I spotted a 6 yd. card of garish, orange French Val lace nestled in a drawer of short vintage trims.

Jeanne seemed slightly embarrassed that this lonely little onion had sprouted in her lovely petunia patch of  finely embroidered linens and rare antique laces.  Witnessing my obvious delight, she generously gave me the entire 6 yds. In appreciation, I gave her an extra class kit. Each of us thought we had the better end of the exchange.

I don’t know just what I will do with it but I did offer to share it with my Tennessee Vol friend, Judy, who turned her nose up at it.  Tennessee’s orange team color is not nearly so strong–more like soft, sweet orange sherbert.  Some people always look  the gift horse in the mouth.

But back to the doll dress….The machine embroidery designs on the bodice and skirt are from the Fil Tire’ and Fancywork Combinations  collection that I did with Suzanne Sawko. Suzanne’s digitizing is legend and I can honestly say that, in my humble opinion, no other fil tire’ designs stitch out as well or look as good. The skirt design includes French knots that are almost impossible to tell from handwork.

One of my favorite features of this dress is the hemstitching on the sleeves, done on my incredible Brother ULT sewing/combo machine. The sleeve is so small that even my baby beading was too large to look proportional. So the 11″ sleeve was gathered up to 5 1/2″ and placed on Stitch N Ditch stabilizer.

The entredeux stitch was worked with yellow Madeira Cotona thread and a wing needle over those 2 to 1 gathers of domestic cotton batiste. The entredeux was absolutely perfect.

Through those holes, periwinkle blue 1/8″ silk ribbon was threaded. While my Duetta 4500D was busy embroidering, I used my Brother ULT 2001D to sew up this dress. The hemstitching on this machine and subsequent Brother machines is phenomenal.

Well, that’s probably waaaay more than you wanted to know about this doll dress. I’ll end with a final comment that I am looking forward to making more doll clothes for Laurel’s Christmas Molly and then playing dolls with her.



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