DIY · guest post · sewing

Easy-Peasy Dolly Shift Dress

Here’s the repost of my guest post from Naptime Crafters Dressing Up Dolly series.

My middle child – a bit of an international superstar for being absolutely crazytown – loves dolls. She will drag them around, give them the baby’s things, and maybe share them with the baby (or the baby with them, more likely.) Since I haven’t made anything for the dolls since my oldest was into them, it was high time I got back into it, so Dressing Up Dolly was the perfect push. I came up with this Easy Peasy Dolly Dress, which works as a nightie on small dolls and a shift dress (with or without the elastic belt) on bigger ones.


I wanted too keep a few things in mind. I wanted to be able to use up scraps, as my scraps are getting a bit out of control and doll clothes are the perfect opportunity. I wanted something that could be made fairly quickly, so I could pound a few out to cover up some of the shameful doll nakeness that’s going on around here lately. I wanted something that could work for a wide size range of dolls. And most importantly, I wanted something easy enough for Olivia – my crazy middle child, a tiny little two year old – to get on and off the dolls herself. She’s not quite up to closures yet, so I wanted to use elastic.


So, if you’ve got some shameful dolls or small hands, lets get to work! Start with the printable pattern for the dress. Cut it out, then cut out your pieces. Don’t forget to mark your notches on the sleeve so you’ll know which side goes on the body, the curve is slightly different on the sleeve side. I cut my dress body on the selvedge so I wouldn’t have to hem it, but you can add some length to it for a hem. Another suggestion I have is using cast off shirts, and lining up the bottom of the pattern with the hem of the shirt.


The cut out pieces (I notched my sleeves but not the body of the dress.)


Press down the top of the dress piece to form a casing. (finish the edge as desired) Cut out two 3.5” pieces of 1/8” elastic.


Stitch the casing, making sure it’s wide enough for whatever you use to thread the elastic. I like to use diaper pins, a tip I picked up somewhere that’s made threading things through casings much less painful. If you look above you can see that to save time, I threaded the elastic partway through and then tacked down the one end of the elastic to make sure it stayed put.


Pull the elastic the rest of the way through, then tack it down on that side as well. Do this with both front and back of the dress.


Okay, I’ll try and explain this properly. Take the body pieces and one sleeve piece. Right sides together, pin front and back to the sleeve, overlapping slightly at the neckline that will meet at the middle/top of the sleeve where the fold was. Here are two more photos to try and illustrate what I mean:


Above shows half of the dress lifted to reveal the sleeve underneath. Below is where the front and back are intersecting with each other a whee bit, like a lapped shoulder.


It sounds batty, possibly, but bear with me. Sew the seam, and when you flip it right side out, you will have the following:


So, sew and finish your seam.


I have a serger, but it’s being finicky, so I sewed and then zig zagged it to prevent unravelling. This seam in particular may receive some rough handling.


Repeat on the other side, making sure that your front and back overlap in the same way. After you pin, flip and double check before you sew, if you’re not totally sure. Then press your seams.


Press and finish your sleeves before you go on to finish your sides.


Pin and finish your sleeves and side seams.


If you used a selvedge or existing hem, you’re done! Otherwise, finish the bottom of your dress, press and press and press to make any little errors melt away.
(like what happened to that seam above left? Ugh.)

Now, if you’d like to create a belt, cut a piece of coordinating fabric 2.5” w by 12” long. Fold it right sides together lengthwise, then sew and turn to create a casing. Thread a 3/4” elastic through it (using the same method as for the neckline) and then sew the raw edges together securely.


Create a flower either by stacking up a pile of wacky circles and tacking them together in the middle and then scrumpling them up, or whatever wonderful flower tutorial you’d like. (There are so many fabulous ones out there!) Stitch it onto your little elastic belt over the spot where your ends met to cover it up and add some finesse.

And that’s a wrap! Thanks for having me, Amy, and bless you for putting up with my comedy of errors in trying to get this blog post live.  Feels like whatever could go wrong, did!

Be sure to check out the rest of the series!

Dressing Up Dolly

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