Tuesday, April 19, 2011

No-sew Mini Dolls Tutorial

We are in the midst of a major dollhouse project in our household right now!  And I am probably having more fun than the kids.  :)  Here is our only partially finished dollhouse:

We glued in the flooring and wallpaper today.  It is all scrapbook paper, but isn't it lovely?  Do you like the tile in the bathroom and the parquet flooring in the dining room?

We've been busy making furniture, too!  All the furniture is made out of egg cartons, and it has yet to be painted.

For most of the furniture, we just followed the directions in the last issue of Family Fun magazine.  But the bathroom furniture is all our own designs.  The pedestal sink is my favorite. 

But -- how could one possibly play in a dollhouse without dolls????  Family Fun had no doll instructions, so I made my own.  These are really easy no-sew dolls, and I took pictures along the way.  And because the arms and legs are pipecleaners, you can pose the dolls.

Supplies List:
  • Pair of "Moisturizing Gloves" from the Dollar Tree in the bath section
  • Pipecleaners, also from the Dollar Tree
  • Something to stuff your dolls with -- I used polyfill, but you could use cotton balls
  • Paint and tiny paintbrush or fine tip markers to make the face

1.  Using scissors, cut the glove into separate sections straight down from the fingers (so the finger is left intact with long fabric tails from the palm of the glove).

2.  Choose a long even finger (probably finger 3 or 4) and stuff a little polyfil in the very tip.  Then take a pipecleaner and fold it in half.  These will be the doll's legs.  Push the folded end into the doll's body and add more polyfil until the entire finger is firmly stuffed.  Ideally, the pipecleaner would extend far up into the doll's body to make it poseable.

3.  Tie an overhand knot in the long fabric tails so that the knot is between the doll's legs.

4.  Trim off the excess fabric.  Now this is the only tricky part.  Push the knot into the body so that it is entirely hidden.  I couldn't really get a picture of this -- just shove it in.  See how in the finished dolls there is no knot showing?

5.  Next week need to add arms.  Take a second pipe cleaner and wrap it around the doll where you want the neck to be.  Draw it in tightly and twist it 2 or 3 times at the back of the neck.

6.  Now your doll should look like this:

7.  Use scissors to trim the arms and legs to an appropriate length.  I also bent the tips of the arms and legs backwards, to give the impression of hands and feet.

8.  Add a face with paint or very fine tip markers.  Taaadaaa!  You're done!  If you want, make them different length to make children.  Here's a doll family portrait:

Total cost = $2, since we already had paint and polyfil around our house. 

I hope you will make some and post comments with links to pictures of your dolls!

Dollhouse fun!

Have you seen the dollhouse in the latest Family Fun magazine?

Check out the pictures here!

We are busy working away making dollhouse furniture out of egg cartons and dolls out of a pair of gloves.  Lots of pictures and a no-sew doll making tutorial is coming soon!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Olivia Dress -- 3 looks!

One of my all time favorite go-to patterns is the Farbenmix Olivia.  I only ever sew the underdress, which is basically a flared t-shirt dress.  These make great playdresses, as they are comfy, washable, and don't need ironing!   For a SewingMamas challenge, I made 3 different looks from the same pattern.

The first one is in size 86 cm (24 months).  I added a contrast panel in the front and little twists of fabric to make bows.

For the next, I put ruffles on contrast panels at the sides.This is size 128 cm (about a size 7).

Hannah loves this and was so excited to have a new playdress.

And the last one is made from an adult t-shirt, with tiers, exposed serged seams, and lettuce hems.  This is size 86 cm again.
Isn't this fun?  I will do a tutorial soon on how to make those little ribbon bows.  It is super easy!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sewalong for Farbenmix Anna -- Four ways!

Here is the promised Anna pattern sewalong!  See my previous post about how this dress can be worn with 4 different looks.  I have altered the pattern to have tabs for button or snap closure, instead of ties, and to be reversible with 4 different fabrics.  Here's the finished picture:
1. Trace out your pattern pieces.  You have a choice of longer or shorter length for pattern piece 1.  I did something in between.  Please note that there is no seam allowance included in this pattern, so add your favorite (I usually sew with a 1 cm seam allowance).  You do NOT need to trace pattern piece 2, as we are making it reversible, so you do not need a bodice facing.  You also do NOT need to trace the pattern piece for the ties, as we are using tabs instead.

2.  Now cut 4 of piece 1 out of 4 different fabrics.  (Of course, you could just use two different fabrics if you wanted the piece that wraps around the back to match the piece in the front.  Then it would still be reversible, but just with 2 looks instead of 4.)

[You should iron your fabric before you cut, unlike I did.  "Do as I say, not as I do!"  I am such a bad example!]

3.  At this point, I altered the pattern piece for the straps, because I didn't like the size it was.  Since I am lazy, instead of drafting a whole new piece, I just folded the pattern piece for the straps in half lengthwise.

And then I cut 4 in one fabric and 4 in a second fabric.  Two (in each fabric) will become the straps, and the rest will become the tabs.

4.  To sew the straps, take two contrasting fabrics and place right sides together.  With a straight stitch, sew the long sides.  Do this twice, as we need two straps.
(Sorry for the truly horrible pictures.  I am much better at sewing than photography.)
5.  Now turn the straps right side out and press.

6.  I like to topstitch the straps along both long sides now.  Your straps are finished, so set them aside for now.

7.  For the tabs, you should have 4 small pieces of fabric (from step 3).  Fold each one in half widthwise (to make it look short and fat) with right sides together.  Sew along both long edges.  Then turn rightside out through the only open edge.
(Oh my, I am so apologetic for these poor pictures!  I can't tell how blurry they are when I am taking them.  I only realize it later when I try to put together the tutorial!)

8.  Make sure you really push out the corners of these tabs to make them nice and square.  Then press them.  Now your four tabs are complete, and you can set them  aside for later.

You have completed the slow and tedious part of this dress.  The rest is easy and fun!

9.  Take one dress piece and pin the straps in place right sides together.  You want the straps to be on the upper edge of the dress, 1 cm away from the sides (to allow for your seam).

10.  Now take a second dress piece and place it on top, right sides together.  Pin it in place.

11. Can you see the two red pins on the right side of this picture?  I am going to leave the area between the two pins open, as we will turn the dress through that opening later on.

Sew all along the top edge, starting at the left side sewing the curved underarm seam, across the straight front center, and then the right curved underarm seam, leaving the opening between the two red pins.  Make sure your straps stay nice and straight as you sew over them.  At this point, you might want to peek between the two layers and make sure everything looks good.

12.  Next, we need to place the tabs in place at the corners (at the end of the curved underarm seam).  See how my tab is just peeking out?  I pushed it right up against the line of stitching that I just sewed and pinned it in place.  (If the tab placement is unclear, take a look at the picture in step 17 where I show this on the second half of the dress.)

13.  Now sew down the straight side edges and across the curved bottom, making sure to keep your fabric layers lined up the whole time.  I wanted a ricrac edge on mine, so I lined up some ricrac between the layers at the bottom edge so it would be caught while I sewed that seam.

14.  Now turn it right side out through the opening you left in the curved underarm seam. Press the whole piece.  Then, topstitch all the way around the whole piece, close to the edge, making sure you close the opening in the process.  I started at one corner by a tab, sewed the curved underam, the straight front, the other curved underarm,the straight side, across the curved bottom, and back up the second straight side.

15.  One half of the dress is finished! 

On to the second half!  Place one of the dress pieces (pattern piece 1) on your table, and place your finished half on top, pinning the straps into position like this:

16.  Now you need to fold up your finished half, so that it won't get in the way as you sew around the second half.  So fold it into a nice neat pile like this:

17.  Pin your remaining two tabs in place:

18.  Place the final dress piece (pattern piece 1) right sides together, matching edges all around, and pin in place.  Just like last time, you are going to leave an opening on the curved underarm seam so you can turn it later.

19.  Now sew all the way around.  This time, I started sewing at the white pin, sewed down the straight side edge, across the curved bottom, back up the straight edge, and across the top until I reached the yellow pin.  (Don't forget to include your ricrac on the bottom hem, if desired.)

20.  Turn the whole thing through the opening you have left.  Start by pulling the completed dress half out through this opening.  Then press the whole thing and topstitch, as you did in step 14.  This is how it should look:

21.  The final step is to add snaps or buttons and buttonholes to your tabs.  I used plastic snaps.  (This is the darkest picture of the bunch, but at least it is not blurry!)

All done and ready for playtime!

Friday, April 1, 2011

4-way Anna Pinafore

There is nothing cuter than a little pinafore on a toddler with chubby little legs, right?  Since it is only April 1, and we had snow yesterday, she is wearing the dress over leggings and a long sleeve top, but it will be a stand-alone dress in the summer.  And my husband's favorite part -- there is no "wrong" way to wear this dress.  It doesn't matter if it is inside-out or backwards.  There are four different cute fabrics, and each can be used as the front of the dress.  This means that when we get a stain on one bodice (probably happening as we speak), we can just flip the dress around.  Here are the four different looks:

The pattern I used is the Farbenmix Anna dress.  It is basically an apron in the front and an apron in the back.  The back fastens around the stomach underneath the front, and then the front piece fastens around the back like this:
I made a couple of changes to the pattern.  First, I made it reversible, rather than just having a lined bodice.  Second, instead of using long ties to make a bow to fasten around the stomach and back, I made tabs that fasten with snaps instead.  You could also use buttons instead of snaps if you want.  These changes made a big difference in how the dress was assembled, so I thought I would do a sewalong.  Check back next week for the sewalong!

One last picture -- I love pink rickrack trim on a little girl's dress!
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