The Custom Keepsakes Sweet Dreams sundress that I finished this weekend made my 7 year-old granddaughter very happy. The skirt is made of Liberty of London tana lawn and, like her Nana, Laurel looooooves Liberty. She can’t wait for her matching dress to be finished.
I selected a Liberty print that was small enough to be proportional to the doll. As Laurel browsed pictures of some of the other dresses/nightgowns in the collection, she declared that she would like one of each, please. As quickly as these are to sew, I might just stitch all six.
American Girls doll Marie Grace wore the dress to 6 year-old Robert’s football game and received a lot of attention from the sisters of several players.
This garment was a real pleasure to make. Of course, because the bodice and pockets are made in the hoop with heavy water soluble stabilizer, it was quick and easy. Kathy recommends Vilene WSS but I didn’t have any on hand and used Sulky’s Super Solvy with very good results.
The shoulder and side seams must be sewn, but the marked stitching lines make the scallops match up perfectly.
The side seam matches up just as accurately.
The back is open to the hem. Teeny buttons were sewn down the back of the bodice, through the soft Velcro which closes the back.
I’m glad that I made the doll dress first, because I learned a few things that will make stitching Laurel’s dress a little easier.
- Use Swiss batiste as suggested in the directions, or perhaps another fine, tightly woven fabric for the bodice and pockets. I used a nice quality domestic 100% cotton batiste and regretted it when I trimmed the scallops. The looser weave of the domestic fabric left lots of eyelashes, no matter how carefully it was trimmed. I might stitch the pockets on pima broadcloth to try this out but that might be too dense for better scallop results. We’ll see.
- Follow the directions very carefully. Kathy Harrison (designer of Custom Keepsakes) has fine tuned these projects and the little details matter. For instance, she instructs you to remove the stabilizer only after the garment is constructed. I was on the verge of cutting it away when I double checked the instructions. Waiting so long to take it out is counter intuitive, but with such soft, fine fabric, this little trick makes construction much easier.
- Use 50 wt. DMC 100% cotton thread. The embroidery was digitized for this thread. Because I had no 50 wt. thread on hand that matched the taupe-y tan in the print, but I did have DMC 30 wt. and used that. Big mistake. If you look closely, you will see the heavy, clunky portions of the design that use this color.
I learned a technique on this sundress that I think would be useful on other projects. The pockets are embroidered in the hoop and then trimmed along with the stabilizer to the precisely stitched cutting line. Then each is turned, ever so carefully, with the heavy stabilizer left in place and the points made crisp with a point turner.
Finally, after finger pressing the edges and trimming the scallops with the stabilizer in place, the pockets are sewn to the dress. The stabilizer dissolves after the dress is soaked. This would work well on in-the-hoop collars and other items.
Making things for dolls is such fun. Years ago, for the doll schools that I did with Mildred Turner, I reduced Mimi’s Machine Magic on the copier and made little sewing books for the dolls. I was happy to have one left over for Laurel’s dolls.
Now, to make Laurel’s dress…..It may be January but here in central Florida it is nearly 80 degrees so she will be wearing sundresses very soon.
Have you made any fun doll clothes? I’m really excited about them now.