See my process from inception to full doll pattern.
I like to sew fashion clothes for dolls because I get to make fun designs for very little money. Making a doll outfit from a full size pattern is possible with a little time and creativity. Pattern making is one of my favorite things to do in sewing, and here is how I do it.
My addiction to vintage patterns has led me to some dark places. Dark aisles of the thrift store, that is. Not many people sew anymore, therefore, the selection of vintage and funky patterns in the darkly lit corners of the thrift store are a treasure to be uncovered. Even better, they are but pennies on sale days.
Patterns have a beautiful fold out of instructions that contain a to-scale schematic of the garment pieces.
Scan the picture of the pattern pieces.
Using the photo editor, crop the pattern scan so that only the pieces to be used will appear in the screen. It is important to keep all of them on in the same picture for size.
Insert the picture onto a word document and size so that it fill the page without cutting off any of the pieces. Print the document and cut the pieces to be used in the project. The pieces are then glued to an 8×11 sheet of paper and scanned again.
Insert the scanned picture and insert onto a Word document. Now the pieces will be enlarged to the size of a piece of paper. This gives the opportunity to make a sample to be sure the pattern actually works, without using a lot of fabric. It will be the size of a Barbie, more or less.
If the sample works fairly well, then a larger version of the pattern can be made. This takes some time and patience, and begins with tracing the pattern onto paper, again, and scanning it, again.
Enlarge the picture using the Size options. For an 18″ doll, most pieces can fit only one per page. Using the crop feature, the image can be moved around so that if cut, they can be pieced together like a puzzle.
I like to print off a piece or two of the pattern and cut them out. I then hold the pieces up to the doll to see if the size is close enough. When sizing, I err of the side of making it too big. This will accommodate the seam allowance. It is also easier (I think) to make it smaller than to make it bigger, especially if there are multiple pattern pieces that require assembly (taped together).
After sizing the pattern, I print it out and make another sample. This sample does not get closures or finishes, it is just to measure and adjust. Using the sample as a guide, I then edit the paper pattern to accommodate the changes.
Once the size is right, I then create a permanent pattern. Another sample from this pattern must be made to make sure it is right. It is important to print them all out and assemble them, just as a client would if they were to purchase the pattern.
Sometimes, it takes a few times of tweaking before the pattern is a success. In the case of this dress, I made it a total of 12 times! Not all of them get closures and hems, but it does amount to a lot of fabric. This is why my go-to for testing patterns is half price sheets from the thrift store. I take them to the laundromat and wash them on hot, then dry them on high heat before taking them home and pressing them well in preparation for sewing.
To make the pattern commercial ready, it must be traced onto paper and properly labeled with parts, notches and whatever else is necessary to make the pattern accessible to all skill levels. This is where my teaching training comes in handy!
The next step is to film myself constructing the garment and create a cohesive video that I would like to watch. I start by filming just the sewing, and then I have to do a photo shoot to capture images of the garment. This part is really fun! I get out the photog equipment and make a day of it. Yes, it usually takes that long.
I use the photos to enhance the video. My videos are made so that you do not hear me speak, or see anything other than my arms and hands. I find traditional videos kind of boring. Sometimes it can take 2-3 days to completely create and edit a video… but I really like the process!
From the video, I then capture still photos and create a picture tutorial. Once all of this is done, I can publish the pattern on Etsy, the video on YouTube and the tutorial on my website. This particular pattern took over a week to complete. Mostly because there were time and technological complications. Sometimes it takes longer to do, and sometimes not as long. Either way, I want to continue doing this because it is so fun! Hopefully you’ve been inspired, and not exhausted, by my process of turning a full-size garment into doll clothes.