Monthly Archives: March 2013

Sundress Sewing Pattern

Next up is a sundress, Kwik Sew Pattern 3906. It is called Tulle-da-Lu. Is this a pun on the fact that one of the views uses tulle?

I haven’t gotten very far with it. My helper didn’t sleep, and therefore, wants to help. I cut out the two fabrics, but not the lining, and haven’t begun to sew at all. More to come.

Sun Dress Sewing Pattern


American Girl Doll Nightgown

For some reason, my eight year old believes that the piece-de-resistance in an American Girl Doll’s wardrobe, is a pajama.  And her doll Kanani, didn’t have one.  Enter sewing pattern Kwik Sew K3771, and my model doll, Jess.

American Girl Doll Nightgown Front

I made two nightgowns from remnant fabric, which for me is the easiest way to sew for a doll.  I typically have children’s clothing around that can be recycled.  But that requires me to carefully cut apart the original clothing and examine the fabric condition and the grain.  So, sometimes the dolls get a print that is entirely their own.  But times two, to reduce the incidence of screaming, no, it’s mine.

First Step, layer the fabric in four so that I can cut out both nightgowns at once.

Four layers of knit fabric

Stitch the nightgown together at the shoulders. Press the seams open, and trim.

American Girl Doll Nightgown Pressed Seam

Press the shoulder edges in. And begin the lengthy process of pressing, adding stitch witchery (or steam a seam, or fusible web, or whatever heat activated adhesive is available), to each and every edge.

Placing pins in the turned edge will help to keep your fingers away from the hot iron.  Once you have pressed between the pins, the fabric will be somewhat flat.  And you can remove the pins and press again.

American Girl Doll Nightgown Press Seam

American Girl Doll Nightgown Stitch Witchery

Add the stitch witchery, and press again.

American Girl Doll Nightgown Fusible Interfacing

And finally, sew the turned, pressed, fused edge. Repeat all the way around the nightgown.

Then, add velcro. And you are done, finally, with what appeared to be a quick project, with only three pieces.

American Girl Doll Nightgown K3771 Back

Kanani and Jess are ready for a sleepover.

Bitty Baby Dress

My thrifty endeavor for the day is a dress for Bitty Baby, sewn from an outgrown girls dress.  Unlike the 18 inch American Girl Doll, the more petite, 16 inch doll doesn’t have many sewing patterns. I have used 18 doll patterns in the past.  And the main difference is that the Bitty Baby is a little larger around the torso.  And her limbs are shorter.

This time, I used Kwik Sew Pattern, K3834 as a guide.  The skirt pattern piece I used only for the length, since the gathers are already part of the original dress. I thought that the stripe at the waist would be really cute.  But I’m not crazy about it, now that I’m finished.

Bitty Baby Knit Dress

It seemed wrong, but the best way to cut the front of the Bitty Baby dress, was to lay it out on top of what had been the back of the girls dress.  On this side, the waist stripe was the only detail.

Bitty Baby Dress Pattern Front

There is a small bodice detail that I cut through.  It shows on the back side of the new dress.  But I’m okay with it.

Bitty Baby Dress Pattern Back

I sewed the front to back pieces together at the sides.  I find it easier to maneuver the sewing machine around the pieces that way.

Kwik Sew Pattern Side Seams Sewn

For the lining, I cut the front lining from the remaining skirt.  And the back pieces came from the sleeves of the original dress.

Kwik Sew Pattern K3834 Lining

I sewed the dress together at the skirt in the back, and didn’t bother with velcro, since the dress is put on and taken off several times a day by an exuberant two year old.  I may hem it at some point. But the fabric is thin from incessant washing.  And I kept getting distracted.  So I was done messing around with it for the day.

You can see the faux wrap detail that was on the original dress.

Bitty Baby in K3834 Back

Sweater to Skirts Refashion

Yet another sweater of mine that ended up in the dryer, and needed a refashion.  I love the aqua color, so I couldn’t let it go to the donation pile.

Refashion one, body of the sweater becomes a skirt.

Sweater Refashion Sewing Ideas-001

Even though Jen, at Diary of a MadMama warned me off about pinning on the right side of the skirt… I forgot and had to move the pins anyway.

Sweater becomes a skirt

My smaller helper insisted on being in the picture, and wearing the collar of the sweater, which has not yet been assigned to a refashion.

Refashion two, sleeves become skirts for an American Girl doll.  (Only one shown.)

American Girl Doll with Sweater Sleeves

The shirt Jess (American Girl Doll) is wearing, is from a Scientific Seamstress pattern.

American Girl Doll in Sweater Skirt

My helper wanted to pose with the doll. This one is actually my doll. I bought it for me, even though I am all grown up, because I have never before seen a doll who resembles me in the slightest. So I just had to have it!

child with American Girl Doll wearing sweater skirt

Sew in Bra – Seeking Ideas

Well, the Kwik Sew patterns have finally arrived.  And I would like to begin sewing for Spring and Summer. My sewing mission is to make sleeveless tops that fit well, and do not show my bra.

Because it gets so humid here in Georgia in the summertime, I ordered one pattern that includes a shelf bra.  However, I rarely purchase ready to wear tank tops with a shelf bra, even though I like idea of having one less layer of clothing.  Typically, the shelf bra doesn’t fit properly, is not particularly flattering, and tends to dig under the bust – probably because it doesn’t fit properly! I don’t want to continue that trend with a top I make myself.

sew in bra sewing ideas

I would like to add sew in bra cups.  (That should be more supportive and flattering.)  I’m thinking… that I can lengthen the shelf section and then add the cups and proceed with the rest of the tank top sewing.

While I was looking for simple, sew-in instructions, writer Emma Barnett has given me more to think about.  Or obsess about, as I will now be concerning myself about the DD boob myth.  Ha!

Advice is welcome. How do I do this?

Cardigan Refashion

Unfortunately, many of my sweaters have fallen victim to the dryer.  I try to keep them from getting put in the dryer.  But it happens.  And then I end up with a short, fat sweater.  I don’t understand why knits shrink this way.  But they do.

Cardigan Shrunk in Dryer

I love the color of the cardigan. And my fast growing children always need sweaters.  So… I’ll take the sewing pattern that I made last week and put it to use.

How to Refashion an Adult Sweater for a Child

First, carefully cut apart the sweater, removing sleeves from the bodice.  Leave the ribbing and zipper intact for now.

Take the back bodice piece and fold it in half lengthwise.  Lay your pattern piece on top of it, lining up the pattern neckline and the ribbed neck edge. Cut.  Make sure you keep the bottom ribbed edge – you’ll need it later.

Cardigan Sewing Back Bodice

Next take the front of the sweater and smooth it flat.  Line up the neckline and the ribbing again. Cut out one side.

Cardigan Refashion Front Bodice

Then flip the pattern piece and repeat.  If you have a zipper, as shown, set it aside for another project.

Cardigan Sewing Front Left

Cut out the sleeve, lining up the wrist edge of the pattern with the ribbing.

Cut off the bottom ribbed edge of the sweater.  You should now have two sleeve pieces, with cuff edge.  Two front bodice pieces, and a back bodice piece with neck edge, without bottom ribbed edge.  And pieces of ribbing.

Cardigan Sewing Pattern Pieces

Next, attach front and back bodice pieces at the shoulder.

Attach sleeve to the armscye.

With right sides together, sew from the sleeve cuff edge to the shoulder and down to the bodice hemline.

If needed for length, sew your ribbed pieces together.  Attach the ribbed edging to the bottom of the bodice.

OPTIONAL:  Sew a zigzag line across the seam where the bodice and ribbing are attached.  This will keep your ribbed edge from rolling up when wearing the cardigan.

Supporting Seam Cardigan Sweater

Serge a piece of ribbon or other edging onto your raw sweater edge.  (I had intended to sew mine so that both ribbons were on the outside – but that isn’t what happened.  So it’s a bit quirky looking.)  Then fold over and stitch in place.  If you have time, it will look better if you do it by hand.

Cotton Cardigan

Sewing Tips

  • Serge the raw seams in this project if using a true sweater knit.  
  • Use a walking foot if you sweater fabric is thick or has an uneven texture.

How to Make a Pattern

I haven’t had much luck finding basic patterns for my children.  There seems to be a large selection of “boutique” style patterns.  But for simple things like t-shirts, jumpers or plain cardigans, I haven’t found much. So, it’s another DIY moment: How to make a pattern from a ready to wear garment.  This example is a cardigan.

cardigan sweater size 2T


  • A garment that fits
  • Paper scissors
  • Craft paper
  • Water soluble marker
  • Ruler
  • French curve
  • Fabric weights

How to:

Roll out a piece of craft paper large enough to accommodate the first piece you will trace. You’ll flip the piece, so make sure the craft paper is wide enough for front and back.

Flatten the sleeve on top of the craft paper.  And trace around the sides and hem with the water soluble pen.  Use a ruler to keep the lines straight.  Mark the end points of the armscye (curve where the sleeve meets the shoulder).

tracing sleeve

Flip your sleeve to make the other side. Repeat tracing.

Cut out your partially finished sleeve shape with paper scissors, leaving room for your incomplete armscye.

Fold the sleeve pattern piece in half lengthwise.  Lay the sleeve on top and line up the french curve with armscye and the marks on your sleeve pattern piece.

french curve at armscye

Slide the sleeve out from under the french curve.  And draw your line.

sleeve pattern piece folded lengthwise

Draw a seam allowance around your sleeve.  One quarter inch shown here. And add a label.

Cut out the armscye curve along the line you drew, with the piece folded in half so that the curve is a mirror image on each half.

sleeve pattern piece with label and seam allowance

For the front cardigan pieces, trace again, marking the end points where the bodice will meet the sleeve.

front bodice without armscye

This time, place your sleeve piece, folded lengthwise on top the pattern piece, as if it were a completed cardigan. Draw around the curve so that your pieces will match perfectly.

adding the armscye curve to front bodice

Label the bodice piece.  And draw your seam allowance. You can place your completed piece on top of the original to check for accuracy.  The pattern piece should be slightly larger.

completed pattern piece bodice front

The back of the bodice has the least accessible seam lines.  So you will need to fold it in half carefully lengthwise.

Trace as before.

tracing the back bodice

Label the center back of your pattern piece to Cut One on Fold.  Add seam allowances.

back bodice pattern piece

And you’re done!


  • Use a french curve and ruler.  Hold the pen against them, so that you don’t mark your original garment.
  • Use a water soluble pen, in case you do mark on your garment.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust your pattern the first few times you use it.  Anything that has been worn can stretch.
  • Use fabric weights, not pins.  Pins tear craft paper.