One of the blogs I follow is Wren*Feathers by Jennie Bagrowski, a very talented maker and designer of doll clothes. This year she announced her Summer Sew-Along during June, featuring patterns for 13″-14″ dolls. As I’d just acquired little Liu, one of Las Amigas by Paola Reina, I decided to take part. Everyone who entered would get the first pattern free, and then if they uploaded a photograph of their interpretation of that pattern to the Sew-along Flickr page, Jennie would send them the next week’s pattern free. It would be quite pressurised, as I only have time and energy for sewing at the weekends, and later in June I was busy doing other things, but I thought I could at least do some of it. So I sent in my name and received the first pattern in time for week 1. This was for pants (or trousers, to us Brits!)
Week 1: Trousers for Liu
Liu is a Winter girl, so I chose a fabric in hot pink and cool blue and white on black, and made frills and little bows in a matching hot pink. Liu is 13″ tall so is at the smaller end of the scale for this pattern, so I had to tweak the waist slightly to fit her. I followed Jennie’s instructions on how to make a little bows, and stitched these on the outside leg seams. I’m not sure that these aren’t a bit much on such a tiny garment, but I left them for the purposes of the photoshoot.
Then I needed to make Liu a little top to fit, and as this wasn’t included in the Sew-along at this stage, I had to look elsewhere. I’d noticed that Pixie Faire had just started to provide patterns for 13″-14″ dolls, like Les Cheries or Hearts for Hearts, so I checked these and found a free Liberty Jane pattern for a t-shirt. I had some plain white knit fabric in my stash, which was ideal, so went ahead with that – and entered a hell of skipped stitches. My machine does not like fine knits. I stitched slowly, and tried stabilising the fabric with fine interfacing and tissue paper, but it was only marginally better. In the end I did the best I could and then went over the stitching with hand-sewing to add in the missing stitches.
Still, I ended up with quite a nice little t-shirt for Liu, decorated with a little bow made from the trouser fabrics. Again, I’m not sure about leaving the bow on this in the long term, but it does draw the two garments together very effectively.
Week 2: a dress for Ava
The Hearts for Hearts 14″ dolls are not readily available in the UK, except at rather inflated prices on Ebay and the like. But in the run-up to the Sew-along these attractive dolls had caught my eye and I felt it would be useful to have one as a model. So at some expense (to my horror the shipping, import and handling charges cost as much as the doll herself) I imported Shola, the Afghani girl, from the USA. To avoid confusion with my 18″ girl Shona, she was swiftly renamed Ava, and temporarily joined the Kit’s Couture regulars in a guest capacity. With her glorious hazel-green eyes, warm complexion and dark hair, Ava proved to be an Autumn girl, and I had just the right material to make her a stunning dress using the week 2 pattern.
This wonderful material in warm greens and browns is a Liberty Tana lawn, the first of several I’ve been working with over the summer, courtesy of my friend Christine. It’s a joy to sew, fine but stable – no skipped stitches here! Jennie’s pattern was easy enough to put together, in fact I enhanced it by lining the bodice for neatness and added stability. The little gathered sleeves were a bit fiddly, but nothing I couldn’t manage. The only problem I had with the finished dress was that it seemed too roomy at the waist for slender Ava. Fortunately I had some narrow old-gold ribbon in my stash, and this tied in a bow at the waist did double service: it gave shape to the dress and set it off perfectly at the same time. No need of any other trim. Less is so often more. I love this little dress.
Week 3: a pinafore dress for Liu
And so to week 3, which featured a ‘jumper’ pattern, what we in the UK would call a pinafore dress. This seemed perfect for little Liu who I thought would look incredibly cute in it. And so she does, posing here against my sewing box…
I chose a hot pink stripe fabric, cutting the pieces so that the stripes would run vertically on the dress, but horizontally on the straps. I crossed the straps at the back, and instead of a pocket, which I thought would be a bit busy on such a small garment, I added two flower buttons at the points where the straps met the front. I fastened it with velcro at the back. With the little white t-shirt underneath it looks the perfect play-dress for a little girl on a hot summer’s day.
And here my participation in the summer sew-along had to end. I received the pattern for week 4 but was too busy at the weekend to complete it. So I had to let everyone else carry on without me. But you can see all the many and various interpretations of all five Wren*Feathers sew-along patterns at the Summer Sew-along Flickr page. Bravo to all those who took part – it was great fun!