A scrapbook of whatever I'm making, collecting, or just obsessing about
at the moment.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sewing Vintage Doll Patterns: McCalls 2123 View E

I'm starting with View E, the yellow mini-dress. It's easy to sew as the sleeves are not set-in and the tent-dress style  is pretty forgiving.

The sleeve pattern has a big corner in it, giving it that deep bell shape. First you press up a 1/4 inch hem, mitering the corner, and topstitch that down. (I may try a lined version of this dress to avoid the topstitching.)

For the closure in back, I don't use snaps, buttons, or zippers, I use Velcro.  No, it's not elegant and it's not historically accurate. But it does have a very important advantage: it allows you to adjust the fit. It can make the dress tighter or looser, you can even tilt it to allow more room in the bust and less in the waist, for example. Plus it's fast to sew in and to use. So for most things I'll be sticking with it.

The dress front has a long dart stretching from the hip to the bust point; all the seams are straight.

This pattern uses a fake facing technique that is very common for Barbie doll clothes. You stay-stitch a quarter-inch away from the raw edge; then clip into the seam allowance; then press the seam allowance under and top-stitch along the edge.  You have to roll the seam allowance under enough so that the stay-stitching doesn't show. Don't be tempted to skip the stay-stitching--it will make the cloth fold right for you.

It's a handy technique to know and not hard to do, and I did use it here, but in general I would rather line the garment with tulle--you get a much nicer finish without adding much bulk. I'll probably be writing about that a lot as I go along.

So here's how they came out:

Misty and Maxie's dresses fit them well--as I mentioned last time, 11 1/2 inch fashion doll patterns are usually great on them because their figures are more natural, not extreme in any way.

Misty's dress is the project that started me on McCalls 2123. I wanted to make a very "mod" dress so went looking in my fabric stash to see what I might find. This cloth is more op art than mod,  but cut up into small pieces, it's manageable. The symmetry was fun to play with, trying to get the dress cut out of it in a way that would flatter.

Maxie's yellow dress fabric was picked to match the illustrated view on the pattern front.

Tammy's figure, being larger all round and with that very high bust, still can wear the dress quite well. Her arms are a little shorter than the other dolls', need a deeper sleeve hem.

For this picture, I pinned the big sleeves in back, in order to see how I liked the dress with straight narrow sleeves. And I do! I might make it that way sometime.

Barbie, though, is having some trouble. You can see the stress lines where her bust is straining at the seams and the fabric is trying to create different darts. Adjusting the Velcro closure didn't help. It's not actually her bust that's the problem, it's the rib cage underneath it.

By the way, did you notice that this is a different Tammy? This is one with a feet-together stance, just to show that they do vary.

Finally, here's a surprise: While the yellow dress is still too tight for a TNT Barbie, the op art dress is a little bit looser and fits her better! Why the difference?  Probably because I sewed the turquoise dress with my usual "scant quarter" inch, but the yellow one with a full quarter inch. A scant quarter inch means the seam allowance is a bit less than a full quarter inch.  It compensates for the little bit of length you lose in the fold of the fabric.

But it could also be a little difference in the fabric; they're both quilting cottons, but there is some variation in how they handle.  Cutting can make a difference too: for the turquoise one, I traced the pattern on the fabric with ink, then carefully cut the inked line away. It was much easier to be accurate that way. For the yellow one, I pinned the pattern to the fabric and cut out around it. So many pins in such a little piece I think can distort it a little. On such small items, little differences can amount to a big difference!


Nonna Sue said...

So pleased to have you writing again. The idea of using tulle as a lining without adding much bulk is terrific and new to me. I'll be implementing that at some point,

Tricks and Manners said...

That brilliant idea came from Marirose, who I think is a genius! She designed Barbie fashions for Mattel, and now she sells her patterns on etsy, plus she has some tutorials online. She has revolutionized the way I sew for dolls!