Sewing With Nancy – Doll Costume Dress Up, Part 1

Sewing With Nancy – Doll Costume Dress Up, Part 1

What little girl hasn’t
envisioned being a princess, a superhero
or even a mermaid? Make-believe play with
18″ dolls dressed in costumes is a great way to foster
a child’s imagination. Here to share
her latest patterns and ideas for costumes
is Joan Hines. Welcome back to
Sewing With Nancy.
Hi, Nancy, thank you
for having me back. I’ve noticed
lately that more and more people
are sewing for dolls. Fanciful costumes
are easily made The lilac fairy is our first
doll dress-up idea. A combination of netting,
stretchy net and a little time will result in a costume
made to spark imagination. Doll Costume Dress-up that’s coming up next
onSewing with Nancy.Sewing with NancyTV’s longest-airing
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and Klassé needles. Most of the sewing
that we’re doing in this
two-part series has to do with
a straight stitch and a zigzag. Even with
the specialty fabrics that you’ve used
on this costume, Joan. Show our viewers that it’s
pretty simple to put together. Yes, yes. The first one
we have is the
lilac fairy. This costume is
in three parts. There’s a leotard. You can see this here,
it just has elastic for straps. Then she has a skirt which is
many sections of netting. That is gathered together
onto a fabric band. Then
I’ll show you in the back here
that she has wings. Those are made from netting
and there’s wire stitched around the edge
so it gives them some shape. We’re going to start
with the leotard. It’s made from
stretch Lycra Spandex fabric two-way stretch
knit fabric. You don’t need
a lot of knit fabric. No, you sure
don’t. The first thing
you would do then is to cut out
the pattern pieces. You need
one front and then you would need
two of these backs. The back
is sewn first. We’ve used contrasting thread
obviously. You’ve just used
a narrow zigzag stitch because
it stretches. Yes, it’s a lot
easier to do it that way. Then that back seam
is stitched to the dot on the pattern,
and then you just turned under
the edges. Right, right,
that is the back. Then the front
is where you start pinning this
fold-over elastic. Here’s a piece of this elastic. It has a little groove
in the middle that makes it
very easy to fold. You would simply
cut a piece to put at the top. I like to go over the edge
just a little bit. That way I’ll make sure
I catch it in the edge. Then I put my pin in here
to hold it down. Then I would
keep going. It looks like
I have to adjust that. You would keep pinning it
all the way across. Here’s
a close-up of how easy that is
to stitch to the top. Just keep that zigzag stitch
and you have the top finished. Right. Here’s the top,
and then the back would also
need that stitched. Now another length of
that fold-over elastic is cut. It serves as the finish for the
arm hole, as well as the straps. Right, right. That’s the next step. You sew the two together and
it just is connected. Uh-huh. Then
the finishing part. Right, the legs then,
need to be finished. They need to have some elastic
to hold it on the doll. We’ve got a piece here
where it’s been started. There is just a small
little section of about 2-1/2″ that goes across
the leg area. And you
zigzag it down. Let’s see, here
we have it zigzagged down. There we go. You don’t have to
have perfect sewing. No,
not at all. These are
doll clothes. Then you’d turn the elastic
to the inside and zigzag again. Right, and that edge
is covered up. The lower edge is stitched,
and you’re done. You’re done. Yep, the leotard’s
finished. And you can decorate it
any way you want. We’ve done
a lot of closures with hook and loop tape
or big snaps so it makes it easy
for the little girl to undo. The skirt is in many parts,
many parts of netting. You did
a great job of sourcing out a fabric
for the skirt. This netting is 6″ rolls that
you can find in the party section of craft stores. So the width is
already cut for you and I just simply
cut 18″ lengths and I folded them
into three pieces. Here,
I’ll do this. It’s kind of light-weight,
but one, two, three. Get them
pretty even. Right, and it
doesn’t matter. They’re flower petals, so they
don’t have to be perfect. Sure, and you get
12 of these. 12 of those. Then
you’re going to take each section
and you’re going to zigzag
along the top to gather
over a cord. Let me show you
the result. Here’s the result,
and here’s the process. At the
sewing machine I’ve taken
one stitch into the fabric and then pulled up
the needle thread. You can see that
that bobbin thread loops up. Grasp the bobbin thread
and pull it oh, about
a yard long. Set your machine
at a zigzag. And when you lower
the presser foot and you zigzag
over that bobbin thread you have stitched them together,
as well as provided the bobbin thread
gathering. Here is our sample
that we started. This is the bobbin thread
right here. Just pull that. We’re going to be doing this
a lot during this series. You have
lots of gathers. Lots of gathers. Doll clothes
usually does. So you gather this
and it’s to fit the length of the waistband. Right, and this
is just fabric I chose an iridescent
to put on top. You wouldn’t
have to do that. You would cut
those two sections. It’s folded
in half. I just serged the edge
to hold them together. I just stitched
along a casing line so that you could
put your elastic in. We are going to
expedite this a little bit. But you’d measure
the center of the waistband the center
of the skirt. You’d pin the center marks
so that you would get it right. You would just stitch
these two together. Right, right. Then the last thing
that you would do before you’d do the seam
is to insert elastic. You have
a bodkin there. We’re just going to
reference that because we have
these little pieces. Right, and you would just
insert it in here. I’ve got it marked
before cutting so that it wouldn’t
pull all the way through. So you insert it, yeah, we like
to cut after we insert it. Yes, yes. Now you’ve
taken off the skirt so you can show our viewers how
it’s finished at the end because
it will be flat. Right, and here is
the skirt. That is
the back seam. All you would do is stitch
through the whole thing. So you’re stitching
through the waistband as well as
the netting. The elastic was put in flat,
the gather is flat. Oh, fun,
fun. The wings,
the wings are next. I’ll let
you have those. All right,
I’ll take that back. We’re going to use
a heavier netting. Joan chose two layers of netting
and the pattern and traced it
on to the fabric. Right. You have to
do one side and then you
flip the pattern piece over and you do
the second side. My wings
are flying away. There we go. Then to make them stiff
we have wire. Now you’re
gauge of wire is– It’s a 30 gauge wire,
it’s a fabric-covered wire. It doesn’t matter the size
necessarily, but– Here’s a close-up of how you would
zigzag over that wire. Do it
pretty tightly. Even though our samples
have been done in dark thread you would do it in white thread
or matching. Then just cut without cutting
the stitches around the edge. That netting is
not going to ravel. No, no. You can tack it
to the leotard and you have
a fairy outfit. You could
also make the same pattern pieces
with pink and it could be
a ballerina or lavender
or green. So there are many options
for dressing up dolls. Well, Joan,
this is fancy. I just
love this. Yes, this is
Cinderella’s ball gown. It is a very satiny,
shiny dress. Very poofy. But it follows just
basic doll dress construction. You have the top part,
the bodice with the sleeves that’s
constructed first. Then you would make the skirt
and gather it up. It’s stitched
and then it’s open in the back, which
I’ll show you. Then the dress covers up
a hoop skirt. Why, every princess
needs a hoop skirt, yes. Yes, indeed. So we’re going to show you
the pattern pieces that have been cut out,
the front and the back. The first step is to sew
the shoulder seams. You’ve got the front
and two backs. I’ve got
shoulder seams stitched here also,
with the lining. The next step is
to stitch around the neckline here
which you can see. Then we have
wrapped corners. This is turned down, and then
the back seam is stitched. After you stitch that
neckline then you wrap the corner along the stitching line
and stitch down. That will give
on these little pieces. You’ll be able to turn that
corner sharp, on a dime. I don’t know
if that’s– A dime isn’t sharp,
but I think you’ll get the idea. And when you just poke it
a little bit you have
a nice, tight corner there. Sure,
and this next sample shows that
the whole neckline and center back
has been turned right side out. You’ll find that
a lot of the techniques that we show
during this two-part series are used
over and over again. One of them being
casings for the elastic. Right, right. We have that on the bottom
of these sleeves. You need to press
the edge to the inside. Twice. Then you’d press again,
right. And then
stitch a casing. The elastic was
inserted through this area and you have
that tacked down. Then the cap. Right, the cap is stitched
with the gathering technique that we showed
in the first segment. So zigzagging
over that bobbin thread. There are
many gathering techniques but this one
can be stitched within that narrow
seam allowance. They’re small pieces,
but then we’d go down to this bodice,
meet right sides together and sew the sleeve
to the arm hole. Now, I’m just going to
place this here. Make-believe that’s sewn
because the next sample is sewn. We have lots of samples
of doll clothes. On this one you can see that
that little sleeve has been put
onto the shoulder seam right-sides
together. This sample
has many steps in it. Let’s look then
at the underarm seam. That’s next. You stitch
the underarm seam of the bodice and the sleeve
in one fell swoop. Right, right. And you just use
narrow seam allowances. Yes, usually 1/4″
for everything. Then when we turn this
right side out you have
a puffy sleeve. You’d put in
your other one and then your bodice
would be the top. The old term, I guess,
is bodice. But the top
would be done. It’s complete,
and then you can decorate it in any way
that you would like to do. Let’s take a look
at the skirt. If you show our audience
the skirt and how it meets
in the center. Right, I cut these pieces
a little bit off so that it will meet
just to her right side here. When you gather it up
you would place it on the bodice
just a little bit off-center. The skirts are
curved in the front. You’ll find a pattern piece
curved in the front. And Joan,
you’ve serged the edge. Right, I’ve serged
the edge and turned it all to the inside
and pressed it. Then I
put on the trim. Then you did that
gathering again. Right,
more gathers. So the gathers
are then– We’re not sewing
that back seam at all
at this point. On this sample I’ve already
started to pin one skirt. I would then pin,
with right-sides together another skirt. You’ll
follow the pattern and overlap it
as much as you need to. You’re working flat,
which is great. You’re not having to
work in narrow, little– Except for
the sleeve maybe. Now the skirt
is pinned and I’m going to roughly
pin this on. And you’d
stitch it down. It takes a little time
to do some manipulation of your fabric,
but you’d sew it all flat. We’ll do
virtual sewing. Make-believe
that’s been stitched. And then
you kind of can see how this is
coming together. Now there’s
an underlay. I’m just going to
place this under here. It’s a cute little
under-skirt. It would be
gathered. Then did you just
place this under here? Right, right. It would go underneath it
and you would center it. You can kind of
see how– We have another sample
to show. That might be
a little clearer. Right. This is
the bride outfit. It’s made out of
an eyelet fabric instead of
a shiny satin. So here’s this underlay
that’s been placed in here. Let’s
take a look. You can see
the beauty shot of that bridal dress,
and here it is on the doll,
all dressed up. You can see how it’s
the same component pieces as the one we have
on our Cinderella dress. Right, just change
the fabric and little trims and you’re
all set. What I like
about your ideas is that you’re learning
many sewing techniques. This boning skirt,
this is just a big circle
with elastic at the top but
to keep that– Look at this. To keep the skirt bowing out
you’ve used boning. Right, it’s actual boning
you can buy in the notions section
of a fabric store. You have it marked
on the skirt after it’s been
in a circle. You will line
the boning to the mark. When you put
the skirt underneath the princess
or the bridal dress you have a perfect
silhouette. You’re little girl’s doll
will look swimmingly in Joan’s
mermaid costume. Sequined fabric,
glittery and pom-pom trims plus clever patterns
make short work of this
imaginative costume. I have to mention that
this is my favorite. Yes, indeed. This is
really adorable. Why don’t you
show our viewers a close-up? It was a lot of fun
to make. It comes in
two parts. You can see that her tail,
or her body here is simply a skirt
with the tail attached. And inside the tail
I put in a little polyester stuffing
to make it stand out. The top is an iridescent fabric
over a cotton which I like to use
since it’s so shiny and it matches
the skirt. It’s just a strapless top
with a lot of decorative trims. Now the design, as you mentioned,
has the sequined fabric. I haven’t worked with that
much sequined fabric in my life so this is a good time to learn
some of those techniques. Right, you can try it out on
a small, little project. So the first thing
you need to do is to get
your pattern out and to cut out two skirts
and two lining fabrics. Okay. I can show you here
the lining. We’ve stitched
around the edge. There’s an opening,
there’s dots marked on the pattern piece,
so you have a place that you
need to stop. Sure, so that’s where
legs go through. Right, right,
and on this one it’s the outside
of the skirt. You can see that it’s been
turned to the right side and the tail has been
poked out a little bit. Now you need to
insert the lining. This takes
a little bit because you’ll have to
start in this manner. You have to
pull the tail and get it so that
it fits inside here. Sure, so that probably
takes the most time. Yes,
it does. And you can see here
we have it all finished. Magic. Yes, it is. For the bottom opening here,
just turn the edge under and then
top stitch it. So about a generous 1/4″
has been stitched at the top. And I just
zigzagged those together. Then you’re going to
make a casing by turning the edge
to the inside. Then you will
stitch it leaving an opening
to put in elastic. These are
small patterns so you’re going to using
the small seam allowances. This is just a generous 1/4″
has been turned under. Then you would– We like to cut
the elastic longer than you need so it doesn’t
spring away. Right,
you won’t lose it. Then cut it
after you have got everything gathered at the top
to the right side. There you go,
that’s about it. That’s it,
the skirt is finished. The top is,
as Joan mentioned iridescent fabric,
just little patterned pieces placed on the fold,
and stitched to a cotton fabric. Just baste it along,
hence the black line and then to another
piece of cotton fabric for the lining. Then use short stitches
to stitch around the curves
of this top. You’d sew
the side seams. We used the little
wrap corner technique of folding under
that edge and stitching
so you can get a nice turn. But before
you do the turning I’d like you
to do some trimming. You can see I’ve already
started to do this. That would be
using a pinking shears or a rotary cutter
that has a pinking blade. On these narrow seams allowances
it makes fast work of grading the seams
so that when you invert the fabric over itself
it doesn’t have a lot of bulk. You’d do
some pressing. Then you’d get that
nicely smoothed out. As Joan mentioned,
it takes a little time to get some of these
edges smoothed out. The peplum portion
is right here. Joan, you’ve added
that same iridescent fabric. Um-hmm,
serged the edge turned it under
and top stitched it. Added some piping. No, not piping,
pom-poms excuse me,
and gather. There’s two of these
that are– I’ll show you
our quick sample. They have been sewn
to the lower edge of this top and hook and loop tape
would be sewn to fit over
the great skirt. When family of friends
suffer from Alzheimer’s disease our instinct is to help,
but often we don’t know how. Today’s “Nancy’s Corner” guest
found a solution that not only helps the patient,
but also the caregiver. Please welcome
Marcia Enquist the designer of
Alzheimer’s Fidget Mats who joins us via Skype
from Austin, Texas. Oh, thanks for
inviting me, Nancy. I appreciate the opportunity
to share our aids with others. This is
a great project for anyone who had some scraps
of fabric or bit and pieces
of trim. Tell our viewers why you began sewing
the Fidget Mats. Well, like you said,
I was visiting my mother-in-law at the rest home
and I would see persons with dementia
that were very agitated. It seemed so sad, but I really
didn’t know how to help. So I did a little research
and came up with some ideas. I love to sew I love sew for a purpose
with others. So that’s
how I began. Let’s show our viewers,
you sent me three Fidget Mats. They’re a little bigger
than a placemat. They have
all sorts of ins and outs,
zippers and buttons. I love the textural things
that you’ve added. Right. The texturally
soft things like the little toy
in the soft pocket by stroking these,
by fidgeting with these it tends to
calm agitation and it decreases
wandering. It just makes
for happier people. Sure. We’re gonna have
a little noise here. You even have
some squeaky toys in here. What fun. You must have quite
a collection of things
in your sewing area. I do. And a lot of people
are very happy to share bits of lace
and soft fabrics and buttons
and all these things with us. So anybody can
join in this project. One interesting thing when we had
our conversation earlier you said it also
helps the caregiver. It does. Essentially the purpose
is to improve the quality of life,
L-I-F-E. When I bring these
to the rest home it just ‘lifts’
everybody’s spirits. You see the smiles all ’round,
and the staff get involved. They ‘involve’
the patients. Boredom
is the big problem. Yes. And if they’re not
using their minds if they’re not
using they’re senses these will atrophy,
they will stiffen. This gives them
lots of opportunity to use their hands,
use their senses. F is for
‘focus.’ in some classrooms
here in Austin. They can focus
on a zipper. Since it’s bright
and colorful they enjoy doing this
kind of fine-motor therapy. Or buttoning and unbuttoning
the buttons. E is for
the ‘exercises’ exercising their minds,
their hands, their fingers. From the —
we’ve had wonderful help from a number
of facilities here in Austin that are using these
and testing them out. when they have it,
or for focus during therapy. Visitors, when you
walk into the room in a rest home
it’s often I want to talk to somebody
but I don’t know how. Okay,
here’s a focus. It’s so
wonderful. You’re goal is
for people to make them
in their community you have a pattern available,
some guidelines and then give them away
to a local unit a school,
where ever they would need something
where they need activity or LIFE,
your L-I-F-E to involve them,
to prevent them from fidgeting from young
and old alike. Right. We have
instructions. They’re on the blog spot That will be
on your site. Yes, it will. We appreciate that. The patterns are flexible and
can be made at a very low cost. Well, I thank you
for sharing this. This is a great project,
great to sew and to give away. Come back again
sometimes. Thank you very much,
Nancy. I appreciate it. You’re welcome. And thank you
to our viewers for watching during
this series on doll clothes. Joan Hines will be back
next time with the second part
of the series. As Marcia mentioned,
you can go to and find out more
information on “Nancy’s Corner.” Join us by watching more
TV shows by social media. Thanks
for joining us. Bye for now. Joan Hines has written
a book entitled
“Doll Costume Dress-Up”. That is the reference
for this two-part series. The book
includes a CD with 20 printable patterns
for doll costumes. It’s $18.99,
plus shipping and handling. To order the book,
call 1-800-336-8373 or visit our website
at Order Item Number U7871,
“Doll Costume Dress-Up.” To pay by check
or money order call the number on the screen
for details. Visit Nancy’s website
at to see additional episodes,
Nancy’s blog, and more.Sewing with NancyTV’s longest airing
sewing and quilting program
with Nancy Zieman has been
brought to you by Baby Lock; Madeira Threads; Koala Studios; Clover; Amazing Designs
and Klassé Needles. Closed captioning funding
provided by Pellon.Sewing with Nancy
is a co-production
of Nancy Zieman Productions
and Wisconsin Public Television.

One Comments

  • Lela Thompson

    March 3, 2017

    Pillow case dresses


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