Monday, July 21, 2014

Eeezy Breezy Doll Clothes

Since I am technically too old to play with dolls, I have to think of other reasons to make them clothes and accessories. Recently, I have started "rescuing" 18 inch dolls from garage sales and thrift stores, restoring them, and dressing them for donation. I often make outfits from scratch, but I also have fun adapting pre-made items; many of these come with fun details that would be difficult or time-consuming to add myself. Laurel suggested that I periodically share a few simple ideas for making inexpensive, high-quality outfits. So. . .

Part of the fun is the hunt. Keep your eyes open for cute pieces that look like they might potentially work for a doll. These could include new or used children's clothing, dog clothes, Build-a-Bear items, and . . . Christmas ornaments (more on that later). Resale stores are ideal places to start, but I have found great, new items on clearance at Walmart and other stores for as low as a dollar. Preemie and newborn sizes need very little adaptation, but larger sizes can work as well. For this outfit, I started with a newborn sweater I found for 99 cents at a thrift store. It is in excellent condition, and I liked the flower detail on the front.

When I tried it on the doll, it was just a little too large across the back. So I carefully clipped out the tag with a seam ripper, put the sweater on the doll inside out, and pinned a tuck in the center back of the sweater to make it fit.

Leaving the pin in place, I carefully removed the sweater and sewed a short seam along the pin line from the neck edge toward the bottom of the sweater--about 3/4 of an inch long, back-stitching at the beginning and end of the seam. (You could easily do it by hand.) This created a small pleat in the back of the sweater which brought it down to size. Voila! Just think of it as added detail. The sleeves were a tiny bit long, so I simply rolled them up.

The bargain hunter in me was so excited to find this "Build-a-Bear" denim skirt at a thrift store for a quarter. I love all the details--belt loops, pockets, decorative stitching and beading, as well as flirty pleats.

Two potential issues: it was too big, and it had a hole in the back for a bear's tail. No problem! Put the skirt on inside out, pin it to fit, slip it off, and stitch a seam down each side along the pin line. I took care of the tail hole simply by stitching it closed by hand.

Take just an extra second to finish the seam edge with a zigzag stitch to keep it from fraying. It will help your doll clothes last so much longer.

You can find fairly inexpensive doll clothes at craft stores like Joann's, Hobby Lobby, and Michael's--especially if you use a coupon. However, the difference between those outfits and the ones you make yourself or buy from pricier sources, such as American Girl stores, is the quality of the fabric and the workmanship. The cheaper manufacturers use poor quality materials and don't take time to do things like finish seams, so the clothes tear and wear out quickly.

Now for the little extras. I love after-Christmas sales at Hobby Lobby. Last year, when all the Christmas items were marked down to either 80 or 90% off, I found a few pair of velour boots and several vinyl pack-style purses. They were Christmas tree ornaments, and although they apparently hadn't been popular options for decorating, they make adorable doll accessories!

I threaded a pink and brown ribbon that I already had through the belt loops on the skirt to create a belt, and the outfit is complete! (Just for comparison purposes, the sweater cost $1, the skirt was 25 cents, and the boots and bag were 50 cents each. The outfit total: $2.25. And the sewing was minimal--a tuck in the sweater and a seam down each side of the skirt. Eeezy Breezy!)

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