My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Slippery Slope

This whole doll clothes creation thing is a slippery slope. I’ve gone from having not sewn anything in 20 years to possessing a decent size fabric, lace, and trim stash in a remarkably short period of time.

Several of you asked where I am finding these patterns. The answer is — a number of different places. For the most part, I’ve been buying old patterns from the “big” pattern companies (McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick, and Vogue) on Etsy. You can get sewing patterns for a just a few dollars there and all the ones I have bought have been new and unused.

Another option for doll clothes patterns is buying them via pdf download. There are lots of pattern-makers selling doll clothing patterns via Etsy. There is also a website that has patterns from a number of different “indie” designers: PixieFaire. A nice thing about PixieFaire is their “Freebie Friday” — if you sign up for their email list, you’ll be notified each Friday of a free pattern. It changes every week and is only free for a short period of time.

So a couple of weeks ago I found a very sweet doll dress pattern on Etsy, this one:

I purchased and downloaded the pattern. And I noted the following about the pattern:

  • No list of materials or any indication of how much fabric is required.
  • The pattern pieces do not include any seam allowance!
  • Some of the pieces are unmarked as to what they are.
  • The skirt pieces are only partial and have length notations on them for cutting the pieces — some of the notations are correct and some are obviously incorrect.The written instructions are very sparse and were written in another language and translated into English using translation software (the seller is apparently Ukrainian). For “fold” she uses “bend” and for “elastic” she uses “rubber band.” Totally incomprehensible.

The only saving grace is that there are lots of pictures so I could figure the pattern out. So just to prove that I could, I made a version of the dress. I estimated the skirt pieces. After all, if my skirt has a few more or fewer gathers, it is not going to matter — it’s a doll’s dress! I had purchased off eBay a set of fat quarters in coordinating fabrics so I used those.

Please excuse that I have not yet thoroughly ironed the dress, but here it is:

There are a few obvious differences between mine and the original. We’ll call those “artistic differences. ”

Loki is not sure what to make of all this sewing but he is happy as long as I don’t attempt to dress him up!


  1. Barbara A. says:

    Wendy! Amazing! I have NO idea how you were able to figure that out, but you did!

  2. Charlotte says:

    Love the dress, sounds as though the etsy pattern must have been a real challenge to follow, but the result is beautiful. Loki is adorable, as usual!

  3. An excellent blog about dolls is here with downloadable, good patterns and some to purchase.
    She is wonderfully creative with clothes, shoes, furniture and fun posts.

  4. Suzanne A says:

    The crazy pattern you describe sounds like Japanese patterns. No seam allowances and truncated patterns for things that just continue. Also the translations. There are some great books and magazines out there with Japanese patterns in them once you get used to no English, centimeters and no seam allowances, though I haven’t seen any books and magazines for doll clothes. Keep at it, your lovely doll dresses are very entertaining!

  5. Christiane says:

    What a beautiful dress. Looks like Ukranian is going to be another language under your belt. Just don’t write a sock pattern in that language, please. LOL. Lock looks exhausted. Does he help too?

  6. When my daughters were little we had our collections of Barbie dolls and Rainbow Brite, etc so I must have had made them doll clothes. I don’t have them anymore-we gave the Barbies to a girl down the block But now I have granddaughters and I am retired so there is lots of time. I also got patterns-some new, some used and some downloaded. I knitted some outfits (which takes much slower to finish) I made a coat out of fleece that I had to alter from the pattern make the front off center. It had matching hat and boots. She loves it and I am very happy to make her happy. I think it’s wonderful and very fulfilling what you are doing.

  7. You are so versatile!! I always look forward to your posts. They’re so inspirational. I admire your willingness to just dig in and go!

  8. Giving in to the slippery slope can be a fantastic ride! Kudos on figuring out the dress pattern, with a lovely result.

  9. Dorothy Bunch says:

    I love this project you have embarked on. I see quilts and clothes but not for a bit as knitting is still more portable. You are making me have this urge to make doll clothes for these girls. Can you post again these organizations that you are sending your girls too. I always feel like when I make clothes for a doll or a teddy bear they become my ‘kids’

  10. Would love to see you sew a little outfit for Loki – LOL!

  11. Vicki Stammer says:

    I used to purchase a Spanish-language sewing magazine that had all of the patterns’ pieces laid out on a single, large, fold-out page in one size and overlaid on one another such that you would follow the specific line style (solid black, dotted, etc.) to draw your pattern off on a tissue and adjust for sizing. Quite the challenge! In a sewing seminar I attended a few years back, we were told that commercial-use patterns do not usually have seam allowances. That may relate to your experience in some way. As I began to discard some preconceptions, I realized that I could change the allowances to reflect the seam finishing I planned. Like a lot of sewing, the expanded options were very liberating. Nice work, Wendy!

  12. Your dress is absolutely adorable!

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