Sunday, 22 November 2015

Warning: Pretty Darn Cute Dresses

Stash-busting 2015:  Matching Child and Doll Dresses

I wasn't going to sew for my co-worker's children this year but one of the teachers that I work with asked if I would make a matching dress for her daughter and her American Girl® doll for her upcoming birthday. She said that American Girl® doll clothing cost about eighty dollars [insert jaw drop] and she didn't want to spend that kind of money. Yes, everybody wants you to sew for them so they can save money [insert eye roll and slowly shaking head]. After checking out the website, I see that a matching dress and doll outfit would come to that much. I thought it was for one! After sewing a combination girl and doll outfit I don't think that eighty dollars is unreasonable nor warrants a jaw drop. But I digress... I already had the angel costumes to work on and told her that I can't make any promises. Well, I was able to finish the costumes prior to her daughter's birthday so how can I say no?   


I only agreed to this because the pattern the teacher picked out doesn't have sleeves. I remember what a pain in my finger tips it was to sew these sleeves into these tiny armhole openings and I wasn't willing to go back there. I paid for all the materials so that I had control over the fabric I would be sewing. Heaven knows I would be swearing like a drunken sailor if I have to sew tiny curves with slippery fabric. I told the teacher that this would be her Christmas gift in exchange for some bit of creative control. Yup, go ahead call me a sucker? Okay, moving on... Despite giving up fabric, supplies, my free time and a bit of sanity during the busiest time of the year, I do have to say these matching dresses are pretty darn cute.

The Pattern:

The teacher picked out McCall's 6875 for her daughter. It is a Laura Ashley pattern with a gathered skirt. I do have to say that McCall's does offer a wide selection of children patterns including matching 18" doll outfits. Who knew this was such a big thing?

McCall's 6875
I am not a fan of sewing dolls clothes. I have to admit that I do admire folks who have the patience and skill to maneuver those quarter inch seams. I had more fun sewing the little girls' dress over the doll dress.

I will admit that even though I'm thrilled with how these dresses turned out, I am not a huge fan of this pattern for several reasons.

  • There is no notch marking on the front skirt to match up with the bodice front. There are notches for the back pieces.  
  • I did not find the instruction sheets easy to follow. The instructions were given for version A unless otherwise specified.  
  • I did not like the front band which looks like it is part of the belt but it is not. It is a pattern piece that is folded in half and the raw edges match up with the bottom of the bodice. It is held into place at the waist and side seams. I left this off because it just seemed silly and I thought would only function as a crumb holder since it is not stitched down on the upper folded edge. Plus, it would add unnecessary bulk at the side seam where the back ties were stitched in place.  
  • I didn't also like how the lining and sleeves were handled so I changed how things were pieced together.  
If you head over to Pattern Review I seem to be alone in my complaints. People who have sewn with this pattern love the instructions and highly recommend the pattern. I don't know if I would go that far. Actually, I wouldn't. I think Vogue 1455 is my favourite girls' dress. But again, I digress...

I did cut out lining pieces, but I didn't use all of them. I used the sleeve lining as a sleeve facing instead of lining the bodice. Mostly because I was working with small pattern pieces and with the tendonitis in my hand acting up this weekend, a tight deadline with the little gal's birthday coming up this week, and a drive-way to shovel, I didn't want to deal with turning pieces over and all the hand-stitching. I do have to admit that I do like the finishing and there is less bulk. 

I stitched the sleeve with the facing at the hemline before sewing the sleeve to the bodice pieces. The edge at the underarm was finished on the serger and then rolled hemmed. For the neckline, I used bias tape and top-stitched.

I couldn't find a 14" zipper to match my fabric so I used a 22" zipper and cut it short.

I sewed an invisible zipper, just because I love the way it looks. In order to sew the invisible zipper I sewed the skirt to the back bodice first straying from the pattern instructions.

The little girl's dress was sewn in a size 3.

Sewing the doll dress did not go as smoothly as the little girls' dress. I had a hard time working with the 1/4" seam allowances for one. And turning over the ties on the doll dress was painful. I wish I had a loop turner in my tool kit for that part of the project.

And just when I thought I was finished, I realized that I had goofed.

Out came the seam ripper because I sewed both strips of the Velco® to the inside. Oops! Thankfully, the stickiness didn't damage the fabric and it was reapplied to the proper side.

The Fabric:

I had four fabrics that I was willing to sew the dresses out of and the teacher picked out the blue raw silk. This was much to my delight because it is one of my favourite fabrics to sew. I did warn her that it is silk and will require delicate care instructions but that did not seem to be an issue. I pre-treated the fabric by steaming it in order not to compromise the hand and drape of the fabric.    Although raw silk can be machine washed, I prefer to hand wash with a gentle soap.

The fabric was a very narrow width and the skirt pieces did not fit and could not be cut on the grain line. Instead, they were cut on the cross grain. Same with the ties.   

The Stats:

Fabric:  3.2 metres $$39.78 ($22.00 / metre - 50% off + taxes)

Zipper:  22" invisible zipper $3.53 ($3.90 - 20% off + taxes)

Velco:    25 cm $2.47 ($2.19 + taxes)

Seam binding:  1 package $2.26 ($2.50 - 20% off + taxes)

Basting tape:     30" length $0.00 (Birthday gift)

Pattern:  McCall's 6875 $9.57 ($15.95 - 40% off + taxes)

Thread:  I have budgeted $4.00 for the thread used in the serger and sewing machine. 

Additional Supplies & Tools:  Sewing machine, serger, shears, pins, steam iron, ironing board, cutting table, and seam ripper.

Happy Sewing!  



  1. Very lovely dresses. I'm sure they will be very much enjoyed. I hear you on the fiddliness though. It's hard to explain to people just how much time these things take .'Even though they're only little'

  2. Bless you for taking on this project. The blue is stunning


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