Makeunder Doll Tutorial Pt 3: Making Shoes

Whoa…when I started this series I clearly forgot how much time tutorials take! Goodness.

But finally (FINALLY), the final installment on making makeunder/rescued dolls. This tutorial covers my very simple shoe-making process.

For the first part, a tutorial on repainting makeunder faces, go HERE!

For the second part, a tutorial on making simple dresses, go HERE!

And for the third part, a tutorial on making shoes, stay here.

Materials:

  • Polymer clay in whatever color you want your shoes to be
    • Preferably use Fimo clay or Sculpey Primo (the good stuff)
  • An exacto knife (or any sharp knife)
  • A marker or pen for rolling clay
  • A pen or pencil or paintbrush
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Q-Tips
  • Hot glue gun (preferably high-temp gun but a low-temp gun should work fine)
  • Cooking oil of some sort, or vaseline.
  • A doll (duh)

FORMING THE SHOES

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Humble beginnings.

Here is the clay I’m working with. The clay on the left is Fimo, and the clay on the right is lower-quality Sculpey III. I wouldn’t recommend the cheaper Sculpey III – use Fimo or Sculpey Primo or something. The higher-quality clay doesn’t pick up fingerprints as well, and it’s stronger so small children won’t break the shoes getting them on and off.

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Not many people know this, but I used to run an Etsy shop making tiny clay cupcakes and cakes. I ended up featured on Anderson Live! I had a shop in Etsy for a little over a year before I grew bored with the venture and stopped. But, working with clay so often gave me a head start on making shoes and other doll props with clay, so now I can pass on a bit of my clay knowledge!

Some Polymer Clay Background

If you don’t know what polymer clay is, it’s a plastic clay that hardens when baked. The higher-quality clay (Fimo and Sculpey Primo…anything that’s not the cheapest kind) is pretty sturdy stuff, but it becomes fragile and brittle if it’s too thin or if it’s baked improperly (not enough baking time or too much). It has to be baked on glassware, nothing else!

A note on choosing a color: this clay LOVES to pick up dust, and unless you want to spend half an hour sanding your shoes down after you bake them, I wouldn’t recommend using white or any other light color of clay for the shoes. It’s for your mental health, really.

Conditioning the Clay

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Pen for size reference.

Before you start working with clay, you should condition it first. ‘Condition’ is just a fancy way of saying you need to warm it up. Work it around with your fingers, smoosh it, roll it out and crumple it up…just get it nice and kneaded. Working with clay that is warm (literally warm, cold clay is rock hard) makes everything so much easier!

Once your clay is conditioned, roll it in a ball between your palms and then form it into a sort of log shape, shown above.

A note on surfaces: clay likes to stick to things, especially rough surfaces. For this project glass or tile is the best surface to work on, but you can make do with wax paper, aluminum foil, or just being really careful on whatever surface you have available.

Cut the log in half with an exacto knife or something sharp, then roll the two halves into balls.

Form the Shape

Now you’re ready to start forming the foot shape!

Here you can sort of tell the shape I was going for. I went with little booties with a rounded toe, although you can see in the left photo that there is a right and a left shoe, which I made by rounding the toe box out more on one side of the shoe.

The right photo shows the ankle. You can make yours shorter or taller depending on how you want your boots to look – but you can’t go too tall without making the boots fragile.

Making the Hole

…That sounds weirdly dirty. No. Just doll shoes! That’s all!

Take a pen, pencil, or the end of a paintbrush and smoosh it into the ankle part on the boot you just formed. This is the hole for the doll’s leg pegs to go into.

Work the pen around, making sure to stabilize the boot with your fingers as you work so the ankle doesn’t get too misshapen. If it does, just mold it back into place.

You want the hole to be a bit larger than the doll’s legs. The legs should fit in there with room to slip around.

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Now take a new ball of clay, get it nice and warmed up, then form it into a ball.

Roll the ball out into a long, thin rope. My clay rope (on the left) is about half the width of an exacto knife or pen.

Making even ropes out of clay is actually harder than you would think. Try to make it as even as possible by using your fingers to roll instead of your palm. Use both hands and roll slowly to prevent the rope from flopping around.

Now take whatever you want to use to roll the clay out and gently roll over the rope, working to make the new width of the rope even. I rolled this out with an exacto knife.

This flat rope is going to be the ankles on the booties! If you want taller booties, make the rope taller or wider, just remember it can’t be too thin – polymer clay (even Fimo and Sculpey Primo) isn’t the sturdiest of stuff when thinned out.

Cut two length of the flat rope, and gently wrap each one around the ankle part of the boot bottom you formed earlier. Then take your pen or something that fits into the hole of the boot and use that to help press the two boot parts together (with the pen on the inside and your finger on the outside of the boot).

Almost there!

Smoothing it Out

If you’re like me, your boots are a mess of fingerprints by now. If this was a crime scene we’d be screwed. CSI would love us. There are a couple ways to smooth everything out.

IMG_6185First, you can just lick your finger and use that to smooth out the clay. I normally don’t do this. You can also dab your finger in baby powder and rub it on the clay, using the baby powder as a film between the clay and your fingers to prevent more prints from showing up as you smooth the old ones away. I don’t do this with boots because it’s a bit messy, and because it doesn’t work very well with dark colors (baby powder is white, after all).

So…get some rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip.

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Dip the Q-Tip in a healthy amount of rubbing alcohol and start rubbing the fingerprints out.

Bake!

Bake according to the directions on your clay package. I bake mine for 15 minutes for every quarter inch of clay there is. So I bake my shoes for 30 minutes. It’s better to err on the side of overbaking, underbaking will only make the shoes brittle.

Make sure you bake on glass, nothing else!

After it’s done baking, let the shoes cool before you pop them off the glass bakeware.

Making the Leg Peg Hole….Things

Get out that glue gun and get it warmed up. While you’re waiting, put a bit of cooking oil or Vaseline onto a paper towel and rub the doll’s leg pegs with it. They should be coated in a thin layer of grease (not so much that it’s just dripping off, though, so don’t just dip the doll’s legs into oil).

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Fill the holes in the boots part way with hot glue. I normally fill the boots up to the line where the flat rope is wrapped around. Be careful not to over-fill, you don’t want the glue to spill out everywhere.

IMPORTANT! Before you stick the doll’s legs into the glue, WAIT for 10 seconds or so for the glue to cool a bit. You may not have to wait at all if you’re using a low-temp glue gun, though.

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Now, after you’ve waited for a few seconds (if you have a high-temp gun), carefully insert the doll’s legs into the center of the glue, pushing down until the pegs are fully covered.

If the doll’s legs aren’t perfectly straight, you may want to insert one leg at a time, instead of doing both at once.

Now let the glue dry. I normally let it dry COMPLETELY before removing the doll, so I let them sit for at least ten minutes or so. To get the doll out, start by twisting the shoe around the leg to loosen it up, then pop the leg out.

DECORATING!

Decorating is always the best part, for everything.

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I painted these shoes with acrylic paint, but you can do lots of different things! You can wrap ribbons around the part that I painted, you can glue bows on, you can cover the whole damn thing with glitter if you want!

You can also use thin foam sheets to cut out a sole for the shoe, if you like.

After painting these shoes I coated them both in super thick varnish to make them super shiny. Then I put them on our makeunder model, Andy!

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Makeunder/Natural Doll Tutorial Pt. II: Dressmaking

Hello hello! Took a bit longer to get this up than I wanted, but that’s because I actually made THREE of these same tutorials. Every time I made the dress I realized a better or faster way to make it, so I re-did the tutorial.

If you want to learn about repainting makeunder/rescued dolls, or making shoes, check out these two tutorials: REPAINT TUTORIAL and SHOE MAKING TUTORIAL

Disclaimer: this isn’t the perfect way to make a dress. I don’t finish  my seams inside the garment as nicely as many people do (if you are one of those saintly people, hats off to you!) and even as I made this tutorial, I realized a better way to make the skirt (which I’ll mention in writing, but I’m not making the tutorial over again or else it’ll never get written up!).

What will you learn in this tutorial?

This tutorial covers how I make a simple dress for Bratz dolls. I’ve modified this pattern and approach for other types of dolls, too, like Monster High and Ever After High. It’s easy to do.

What WON’T you learn in this tutorial?

This isn’t a tutorial that will teach you basic sewing skills. There will be plenty of pictures of what each step looks like after I’ve sewn it, but I assume that you have at least a beginner’s knowledge of sewing to carry you through.

MATERIALS:

  • A small amount of fabric (really, you can do this with a 1/4 of a fat 1/4 if you wanted)
  • A sewing machine (or a needle and thread and a very good, long movie)
  • Pins
  • Fray check liquid
  • A seam ripper for the inevitable screw-up (I don’t even put my seam ripper away anymore. It just stays out on my desk)
  • A fastener of some sort. I use velcro, you can use whatever.
  • Other random sewing notions you probably need…like scissors, marker, etc.

Um….I have a life, here, how long is this going to take?

Not long! I can crank one of these dresses out in 30 minutes.

STEP ONE: GET A PATTERN

Waaaaiiiit…..you don’t have a pattern? No biggie. We can make one.

I did this part over a year ago now, so unfortunately I don’t have great photos of how I did it (okay, I have no photos). But it’s not hard.

I didn’t buy a pattern because I had a tank top made by Bratz that I knew fit the dolls. If you have a Bratz top lying around, pull out those seam rippers and separate all the seams. Lay the pieces out on some thin cardboard or cardstock, and add a seam allowance of about 1/4 inch (or whatever you want).

Or if that sounds like too much work, or you don’t have a Bratz top, buy a pattern from some wonderful patient person who sells them on Etsy.

You don’t really need a skirt pattern. It’s just a rectangle, and even the most craft-challenged can manage that!

CUT OUT FABRIC PIECES

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Lay your top pattern over your fabric, making sure that any stripes/patterns are matching the way you want. Cut out the pieces! Make sure you have two layers of fabric cut for the top pieces, one for the right side, one for the lining. I sometimes use just a cheap white fabric for the lining, but I didn’t with this dress.

Cutting the skirt: The skirt I cut out here was about eight inches long. Notice the right side of the skirt has a little extra length cut out on top. This part will be to put the fastener on later (I use velcro, so I made the extra length the same width as my velco).

Keep in mind that this skirt will end up being rouched (or ruffled), so if you’re using a thinner fabric you can cut a longer strip because the skirt can be rouched more. If your fabric is thicker, like a normal cotton quilting fabric, you won’t be able to rouche the skirt as much because the rouched edge will be too thick for a tiny doll seam.

*Note to make this better* So remember I said I made this tutorial three times and found a better way to make this dress every time? Well, I could have made it a fourth time, but I’ll explain the difference now so I don’t have to do that. So instead of just cutting that extra little piece on the right side cut the little extra length thing on BOTH sides. One of the pieces will just be ironed flush with the skirt side so you can top stitch over it and keep the edge cleaner (this is explained better below). If you don’t cut out both sides of the skirt like that, the side without the extra length ends up being a visible raw edge, which is fine with some fray-check, but isn’t the most professional.

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Cut? Check.

MAKING THE TOP

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Pin together the top so the sides are lined up, right sides together of course. Stitch up the sides so you have the right side and the lining finished. If you’re using a pattern like mine, you’ll have three pieces of fabric stitched together, like in the photo below.

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Trim the seam allowances to about 1/4″. Don’t go much thinner than that or you may rip the stitching out later! (Bad).

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IRON! Get out the iron and press under a hem on the skirt. Be careful that you iron the shorter side of the skirt, not the side that has that little cut-out on it. If you want you can turn the hem over twice, I only do it once to cut down on bulk.

While you’re at it, press the seam allowances flat on the two pieces for the top, too. Helpful tip: press the allowances to the outside on the right side piece, and to the inside on the lining. This will help keep bulk down when you stitch them together.

ADDING STRAPS

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If you don’t want your dress to have straps, you can skip all this. I make a lot of my dresses strapless because it saves a lot of time.

But if you like the idea of straps, take the lining for the top and wrap it around the doll to check strap placement. Make sure the side seams are lined up with the doll’s sides, then mark where you want the straps to be.

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Cut out two strips of ribbon for the straps. I’ll be making halter straps for this tutorial, and the ribbons I cut were each about four inches long. I used the 1/4″ fabric for these straps because I’ll fasten them with velcro, and I’ve found velcro doesn’t really work on thinner ribbon.

In the photo on the left I’ve pinned the ribbon straps to the lining, over the markings. In the photo on the right I’ve pinned the right side of the top to the lining piece, right sides together, with the straps in between the two layers.

Caution: if your ribbons have a front and a back side (right and wrong side, whatever weird sewing terms you want), be sure you’ve pinned them the right way (I messed that up on the first tutorial draft).

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Go ahead and sew the sides and the top of both pieces together. Don’t stitch the bottom side, so you can turn the whole thing right-side-out and press.

Clearly, my stripes-matching was an epic fail.

THE SKIRT!

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Sew the hem on the skirt (the hem you pressed earlier. You did do that, right?). I hemmed and stitched a ribbon on at the same time.

Optional: if you want you can turn over the raw edge of the hem another time so you hide that raw edge completely. I don’t do this unless my fabric is thinner, because otherwise I find it too bulky. And really, this is like a three-inch-tall dress for a doll that probably had a really skanky face on before you got your hands on her, so she can’t really complain about a raw seam. Please, doll.

 

Time to rouche! Which means ruffle, if you don’t speak bourgeoisie sewing language. I’m probably not even spelling it right anyway (‘rouch,’ that is, I looked up ‘bourgeoisie’).

Sew two loooong running stitches along the top of the skirt. Set the stitch length to the longest possible. Then pull one thread from each line of stitching and pull everything together. I use my dress top to measure the dress as I’m rouching. You want the bottom of the bodice (BODICE! That’s the word I’ve been looking for) to be the same length as the top of the rouched skirt.

Bodice. Bodice bodice bodice. Got it.

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Pin the hell out of this bad boy adorable little dress. Remember to put the right side of the bodice and the right side of the skirt together. I sew two lines of stitching, one to reinforce.

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Now we’re going to sew up the back of the skirt. Line up the sides of the skirt as shown, with the little extra cutout thing sticking out.

*Making this better tip* In the beginning of all this I said you should cut the little extra length thing (my vocabulary is utterly failing me today, but I’m charging on without it, apparently) on BOTH sides of the skirt. If you did that (you did, didn’t you? jk I don’t judge if you didn’t), press one of the little extra lengths back so the folded edge lines up with the rest of the side. Press, and just top stitch that little fold so it’s a clean line. This will be the side of the dress that overlaps OVER the little cutout thing that wasn’t folded over.

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Okay stitch up the back of the skirt until you hit the bottom of the little extra cutout thing. Backstitch or otherwise reinforce the hell out of this seam, it will get tugged on when pulling the dress on and off those doll butts that are always weirdly big.

ADD A FASTENER! You’re almost done.

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I used stick-on velcro, which works pretty well if you heat-set it with an iron after (it’s not iron on, which would be awesome, but the iron gets the velcro sticky stuff all up in the fabric weave so it doesn’t come off).

Just make sure that you put the velcro (or other fastener of your choosing) on the correct sides of the fabric. The side of the skirt with that extra flap thing goes UNDER the side where the flap was folded over (or the side lacking a flap entirely). So figure that out before attaching the fastener (that was the mistake in tutorial draft number 2).

FRAY CHECK

Does your fray check smell toxic? Mine does. It’s concerning.

Anyway, take a bottle of that stuff and put it alll over any of the raw edges. Let dry thoroughly.

FINISHING THE STRAPS

Okay sorry for the switcheroo here, but I didn’t take pictures of this on the plaid dress I’ve been working with. So here’s the first dress I made for this tutorial (it’s very funky. Bad.)

Take your ribbon pieces and wrap them around the doll’s neck to measure the length you want for the halter. Trim to the appropriate length and stick some more velcro on there.

AND YOU’RE DONE! You can go enjoy a glass of, well, whatever you want, and a good movie. Or keep going and make some shoe!

Part three of the makeunder series, shoe making, is HERE!

Oh wait…if you want to add accessories like bows or bows or roses or buttons or bows…go for it. I did. 🙂

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Making Ball Gowns for Bratz

So my newest sewing obsession is making tiny super-fancy dresses for my more detailed Bratz repaints. They can be quite a bit of work, but it’s worth it! If you like tiny super-fancy dresses, that is.

This is not a sewing tutorial, so if you’re not familiar with basic clothing construction or sewing principles, you might want to brush up before attempting this!

A few notes before we begin:

  • I don’t use a pattern. Or a ruler. I don’t do math. So if you don’t do any of those things either, you’re in good hands. *Later in the process I realized that I do use a pattern, but for the bodice only. And it’s a very loose pattern.
  • Choice of fabric will either make your life for the next hour or so very easy or very difficult.
    • For the skirt you’ll want something that’s very flowing and drape-y.
    • For the bodice you’ll at least want your lining to be a bit stiffer (like a cotton quilting fabric).
    • If you want an overlay over the skirt you can use anything from tulle to lace to … anything lightweight and fancy.
  • This doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s a doll. Not a night on the red carpet.

You’ll need:

  • Sewing stuff. Thread, fabric (see note above), pins, a sewing machine…
  • Fray check (seriously, you 100% need this)
  • A doll
  • The shoes the doll will be wearing (or an idea of how tall they are).
  • Some patience.
  • Some more patience.
  • And just in case … a seam ripper.

READY, SET, GO!

The Skirt

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Here is the skirt and the skirt overlay cut out. They’re both a bit over 12 inches in diameter. The hole in the center is for the waist.

Lay your fabric out on a flat surface and cut out a skirt. I eyeball this, but I base my measurement off of the doll’s legs, with her shoes attached. Because this skirt will be a circle skirt, I just put the doll’s waist in the ‘center’ of the circle, mark it, mark where her feet end plus a centimeter (seam allowance), then draw a sort-of symmetrical circle.

If you want the dress to have a slight train effect (be longer in the back than the front) add three or so inches to one side of the circle. It makes an egg-like shape.

To make the waist opening, fold the circle or egg-like shape in quarters, and cut a small hole in the top where the folds intersect.

Err on the small side here! You can always cut more away later if you need to make the opening larger, but it’s hard to make it smaller if you cut the opening too big early on.

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Cut a straight line from the edge of the skirt to the center of the waist opening. This will be the back of the skirt. I apologize for my messy carpet. It was a long day of crafting.

Then cut up the back of the skirt from the edge of the fabric to the waist opening. Yay. A skirt.

Overlay

If you want an overlay on top of your skirt, lay the overlay fabric out, put the cut-out skirt over it, and trace the pattern. Repeat all the cuts that you did with the skirt.

I find it easiest to cut the overlay and the skirt fabric out separately, because I tend to use fabrics that are slippery and I don’t like pinning them more than necessary. It is possible, of course, to cut them out at the same time, if you prefer.

Bodice

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This photo really made me realize how my Halloween tablecloth probably needed to go. It went.

Crap, I totally lied about the pattern. I use a pattern for all my bodices, but this one is one I created myself by taking apart a Bratz top and copying the shirt pieces onto a piece of paper, leaving room for a 1/4″ seam allowance (you might give yourself more allowance than that, 1/4″ is not enough, as it turns out).

Cut out your bodice according to whatever bodice pattern you have on hand, or whatever pattern you make yourself. There are plenty of patterns on Etsy for little Blythe dresses that fit Bratz and have simple bodices.

My bodice is going to be strapless.

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The bottom row of pieces are the outside or right side. I don’t use slippery satiny fabric for all three sections because I find it increases the likelihood that seams will split apart and it decreases the overall stability of the bodice. And I hate working with silky satiny fabrics, so the less of it I have to do, the better. The top row of fabric is just a cheap lining (cotton broadcloth).

Cut out one set of whatever fabric you cut your skirt from, and one from a lining fabric that’s cotton or anything easy to work with and sturdy. Mine is a cotton broadcloth.

Fray check

 

This is probably the most important step. If you used a fabric that frays easily (satins, organza, whatever) I would fray check EVERY raw edge of the fray-y fabric at this point. You will thank me later.

When fray-checking, make sure to go with the weave of the fabric. You can tell if you’re going with the weave because if you’re going against it, you’ll actually start pulling the fabric apart. Because the skirt is a circle, the weave will change ever few inches, just to keep you on your toes.

 

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Fray-check is pretty good about drying clear and not darkening the fabric too much, but some fabrics are more susceptible than others. The right side shows dry fray-check, the left is wet.

Sew the skirt

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I’ve pressed the sides in for the slit in the back and the hem-edge of the skirt.

This part is a pain. First you want to ‘hem’ the slit you cut up the back of the skirt. I just press each edge to the side with my iron from Target that cost $10 (and is the worst iron you can imagine).

Then move on to the the circular edge. I have no tricks for this, except to say that it is hard and you might want to reserve time to drink a glass of wine or meditate after you’ve finished this.

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Sewing the hem. If you’ve fray-checked the edge, you won’t have to turn this edge over again and stitch a second time. You can if you like, but this is clothing for a doll and so I refuse.

I press the hem in about 1/4″ with my worst-iron-ever, then sew it and the slit up the back of the dress very carefully. Pintrest probably has better tips for you on this subject than I do.

Once you’re done with all that, drink wine/meditate/cheer, and then press the skirt. I always stretch the fabric a bit too much when hemming circle skirts so pressing it helps remind the skirt it’s supposed to be a circle, not a wavy mess.

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Basting the waist opening of the overlay (shiny silvery lacey stuff) with the skirt fabric.

Next, line up the waist opening of the skirt with the waist opening of the overlay and baste them together. This can sometimes stretch the waist opening too much, so basting by hand here is probably the better option. I won’t be basting this with a sewing machine anymore.

Sew the bodice

Sew all the bodice pieces together, trim the edges, turn right-side out, and press. Bam. Done.

Connect the dots (sew the bodice to the skirt)

This is another tricky part, mostly because I don’t have a pattern and so it’s always trial-and-error to get the size of the waist opening match the lower edge of the bodice.

I just start pinning the bodice to the skirt and adjust, cut, or gather as necessary to make it work. This is the part that is normally not perfect.

If your waist opening is too small: good! Easy fix. Just cut the waist opening a bit lower on the skirt until it fits. Or, you can just pin the bodice a little lower on the skirt. Because it’s a circle skirt, the waist opening will get larger if you cut away more fabric.

If your waist opening is too bigless good! But not horrible. You’ll just need to sew some basting stitches to the top of the waist opening and gather the opening until it’s small enough to fit the bodice.

Then sew all that together. When you trim all the seams and all that, you should have the bodice connected to the overlay and the skirt.

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After sewing the bodice to the skirt. I fray-check this seam too, because why not?

 

I usually sew a couple reinforced stitches just in case this dress is going to get into the hands of a five-year-old. Also make sure to look at the seam you just sewed from the front of the dress to check that you caught all the edges of fabric in the seam. Otherwise you’ll end up with a big hole in the front of the dress (definitely speaking from experience).

Sew up the back of the skirt

 

I always screw this up. You need one side of the bodice and skirt to overlay over the other for your snaps or velcro or whatever you use. I normally play around with the skirt (get the overlay out of the way for a sec) opening by folding the edges right sides together until I figure it out.

I think this is actually a lot simpler in real life than it is in my mind. So that’s good for you, I suppose.

I ended up messing mine up, but it’s hardly noticeable so whatever. Like I said, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

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Stitch up the back of the skirt overlay, too! I don’t like to stitch the skirt and the overlay together at the back, but you’re welcome to.

Stitch up the back of the overlay, too!

Add a fastener

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Add your choice of fastener to the back. I add a strip of velcro to the bodice only. The skirt doesn’t require it.

I use adhesive velcro, and iron it in there to make sure the adhesive is really super stuck. You can use whatever you want.

 

Decorate

Well, the hard part is done. I have a huge box of beads and ribbon and buttons and glitter that gets pulled out at this point. I ended up sewing a strip of ribbon onto the bodice before sewing it onto the skirt, and then I sewed another strip of ribbon to the bottom of the overlay fabric on the skirt.

 

Sky’s the limit.

Here’s the end result! To adopt this little doll and her silver dress, head over to I Am Loved Doll’s Etsy!

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Custom Halloween Dolls

So first, as the admin of this blog I get to see blog stats, which basically shows me how many people click on links to my blog, how many people look at article ‘X’, how many people like or follow me, and the search terms they use right before clicking on a link to my blog.

Don’t freak out, if you use Google I normally can’t see your search terms because of privacy settings.

The point is, of the few search terms I do see, the terms ‘love doll’ and ‘love doll tutorial’ come up a TERRIFYING amount. This is one of those things that just never ever EVER floats across your mind when naming a business.

So to clarify, for all of you who type in ‘love doll tutorials’ and then click on my page: this is not for you! This is not a sex doll blog.

Sorry.

Moving on.

Halloween dolls (that have nothing to do with all ^ that business, for those of you who may be curious)!

Unfortunately, I went on a bit of a sewing binge and didn’t even pull my head out of the pile of fabric to take WIP pictures, so all I have are the finished versions. I made two Halloween dolls (technically three, but the third doesn’t have an outfit that I like, yet). Both of them are witches.

Meet…… GLENDA!

Glenda the Good Witch!
Glenda the Good Witch!

I love her. If you love her too, you can ADOPT HER from my Etsy shop!

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You might recognize her as the model for my blog post on dyeing doll’s hair with acrylic paint. It’s been about a month since I dyed her hair, and it’s still holding up very well, for those of you wondering.

She was one of those Bratz who had little sequins surgically inserted into her temple and no amount of hacking away could remove them. It turned out fine because I love her little temple jewels! She’s also covered in glitter, which is an obvious bonus.

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Her dress took an hour and a half or so to put together. I didn’t really time myself, but it didn’t feel like this dress took very long compared to the other witch’s dress (below).

The pink satiny part of her dress is the exact same simple dress that I wrote about in my post How I Made Thirty Doll Dresses. I just used satin (which is the BIGGEST PAIN IN THE ASS most annoying fabric to work with on a small scale). Her underskirt is just two long panels of tulle cut in different heights, then folded over and gathered with some elastic. I sewed some ribbon on the bottoms because it’s adorable.

Her hat is made from felt with a lot of tulle and pearls tacked on.

Now…

Meet……Catherine the Mischievous Witch!

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I love her also. If YOU love her also, you can ADOPT HER from my Etsy shop!

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Her hair used to be white and black, but I dyed it pastel purple to be more Halloween-y.

And then I made her a ballgown, because this witch does not mess around with her wardrobe.

The top of her dress is the same as almost all my other dresses, but the bottom of the dress….

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…has a circle skirt with a train thing going on. She’s wearing a long tulle petticoat underneath the dress to make it poofy.

Catherine’s body has a couple reddish stains, one on her arm and one on the back of her leg. They’re small stains, but I haven’t found the time to get them out, so she’s a bit cheaper than Glenda.

Friends.
Friends.

How I Made Thirty Doll Dresses

Two years ago, I made a promise to myself.

I will not make doll clothes. I WILL NOT make ANY doll clothes AT ALL. EVER. 

At the time, I think I was trying to save myself hypertension issues, because who in their right mind wants to make super tiny doll clothes?

Me, apparently.

The past two weeks I spent visiting my parents in the house where I grew up. Incidentally, I store my sewing machine in that house so it doesn’t distract me while I’m living my life in Colorado.

Two weeks before I left on vacation I bought a gazillion used Bratz dolls who came naked (of course), and I couldn’t find a cost-effective method of clothing them. Except making clothes myself.

I began collecting fabric that would work for dolls, meaning it had to have small print or no print at all, be in child-friendly colors, and be mix-and-match-able.

I tried to buy a pretty large variety of fabric, mostly so I don’t get bored while sewing. Buying such a huge variety of patterns and colors in amounts like “four inches, please” and “a quarter yard,” gets you some weird looks. But it may be that the ladies who work at my JoAnn’s Fabrics are just really judge-y.

Fabric scraps after I finished thirty dresses. And a chocolate bar....What? Don't judge.
Fabric scraps after I finished thirty dresses. And a chocolate bar….What? Don’t judge.

Pattern-making.

I hate buying patterns, but I recognize that sometimes they are a necessary evil. Picturing how clothing comes apart is a skill I don’t actually have, so I invested in some initial patterns. They were okay. The design was cute but literally everyone makes this dress, because it’s super easy and versatile. I wanted something different, but still easy.

Either way, I bought the pattern, made it, sized it up to fit a Moxie Girlz (why the ‘z’ MGA?!!)  doll, and that was all set.

I settled on a strapless dress with a full gathered skirt (because hemming circle skirts is the worst). To make the pattern I took a Bratz top I had gotten with the naked dolls, used a seam ripper to take it apart, and traced it onto paper with a seam allowance added.

That’s it.

Assemble!

I started my stopwatch.

Okay, my smartphone timer.

It took me twenty-five minutes to make a dress, starting from cutting the fabric. The twenty-five minutes doesn’t include sewing velcro onto the back, though. But some things can be sped up by assembly-lining, and I was tired of getting up and down and up and down and walking from the iron to the sewing machine and back.

So I started cutting out bodices and didn’t stop. I cut out enough bodice pieces to make about sixteen dresses.

I sewed the pieces together. Each side of the bodice (these are lined) requires three individual pieces stitched together. So the completed bodice takes six individual pieces.

The pieces sewn together (partly).
The pieces sewn together (partly).

After the front and lining pieces are stitched together for twelve dresses, I turned them all right-side-out and ironed them flat.

The bodice stitched together and turned right-side-out.
The bodice stitched together and turned right-side-out.
Pressed flat.
Pressed flat.

That’s the hard part!

Then I cut out twelve skirt pieces, which are just rectangles varying from about 11 by 3 inches to 8 by 2.5 inches. A shorter rectangle makes for a less-full skirt (8 inches as opposed to 11). You also have to be conscious of the fabric you’re using: stiffer fabric will make a fuller skirt, and thinner fabric will be less full.

Skirt strips.
Skirt strips.

Apparel fabric is my favorite to work with, for doll purposes. It’s thin but sturdy. A close second favorite of mine is lower-quality quilter’s fabric that has a relatively loose weave. It gathers neatly.

After I have all the skirt pieces I drag them over to the iron, press the sides in and press the hem up.

Hemmed skirts.
Hemmed skirts.

Then I sew around the sides and hem. Sometimes I’ll add some ribbon to the bottom, just to dress it up a bit more. Ribbon on the bottom will stiffen the hem and make the skirt seem fuller, however, so it’s best to not use ribbon with thick or stiff fabric.

Unless you want a tutu.

After everything is hemmed, I sew two basting seams across the top of each skirt so it can be gathered.

Then for the fun part: sewing the bodice to the skirt.

I start by pinning the edges of the bodice to the edges of the skirt. Then I gather the skirt to match the length of the bodice, and pin the hell out of it.

Pinned the bodice to the skirt.
Pinned the bodice to the skirt.

Stitch them together, and ta-da! A dress.

Now I add the velcro. I have a sticky velcro, but the destructive power of five-year-old girls is not to be underestimated, so I tried to stitch it down in a couple places for good measure.

NO NO NO! Do not use adhesive velcro, unless you want a gummy needle, gummy thread, and gummy sewing machine. I made the adhesive really, really sticky by ironing it in place after sticking it down, and I think it’ll hold against normal five-year-old wear and tear. We’ll see.

A few dresses didn't match the others, so they got left out of the picture. But I did make them, I promise.
A few dresses didn’t match the others, so they got left out of the picture. But I did make them, I promise.

There was one batch. I did the whole thing again with a different size of dress. The ones above fit Bratz, and then the ones below (my second batch of dresses) fit Moxie dolls.

IMG_3345IMG_3346…And there was the other batch.

And then I checked in to my flight 24 hours prior to boarding, as is recommended, packed up all my sewing stuff…

After  two weeks of sewing. But it probably looked about the same two hours after I began sewing...
After two weeks of sewing. But it probably looked about the same two hours after I began sewing…

… Swept the floor…

Fabric scraps after I finished thirty dresses. And a chocolate bar....What? Don't judge.
Fabric scraps after I finished thirty dresses. And a chocolate bar….What? Don’t judge.

… And went home.

Favorite my Etsy page for notifications when I have new dolls wearing these dresses!