Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weekend Project: Dressing a Doll

He dares to be a fool, and that is the first step in the direction of wisdom.  
~ James Gibbons Huneker

Well, guess who showed up this week?  

Yup - it's Mattie.  My 1912 project model.  :)

I would have preferred darker hair and eyes, but other than that, she is beautiful.  And I was happy to discover that she came with a bathrobe - so I didn't have to wrap a hand towel around her to preserve her modesty until I could make her some clothes.  ;)

Now, before she arrived, I scoured the internet looking for pictures to help me get a sense of her size, relative to every day objects.  And couldn't find any!  It's almost like there is a conspiracy to maintain the illusion that these dolls are full-size people.  

So, I'm probably breaking some major taboo - but here is a shot of Mattie next to my Grandmother's sewing machine:  

I don't have a pattern from 1912 yet - but I decided to use the pattern making software to try to make her a dress - mostly to get used to the software.  It came with some basic patterns, and I decided to make her a basic shift dress.  

This was a special type of file called a macro - you can enter a table of body measurements and the software automatically adjusts the pattern to fit those measurements.  I started by putting in Mattie's measurements, but the software kept giving me a "math error" every time I tried to use it.  I figured that maybe the software couldn't deal with measurements that small...  

I saw that, in the print screen, I could scale down by different factors, so I multiplied Mattie's measurements by 4 and created a new table.  At this point, I realized that I had entered Mattie's actual measurements incorrectly - a couple of measurements were supposed to be cut in half before entering them into the table - that probably accounted for the math error.  

But I went forward with the (4x) larger measurements and had the pattern printed, reduced by 25%.  In my very first version, the seam allowances were too small.  (Turns out that 25% of 0.3 inches is, for all intents and purposes, 0 inches.)  So I tried again - setting the SA to 2 inches before the 25% reduction to 0.5 inches.  

Finally, pattern pieces that I could work with!  :)

Mattie oversaw the process of pinning and cutting.  (Okay, I know it's hokey to pose her like this - don't worry, once the novelty wears off I'll quit, I promise!)  

Oh, one interesting thing - the program put seam allowances around all sides of the pattern pieces - even the edge that was supposed to be lined up along the fold.  I cut that one off.  

Of course, there were no assembly instructions, but I've made enough dresses that it wasn't hard to put it together.  And here is my first attempt at sewing for Mattie:  

The fit was okay - but not great.  The fit was actually pretty good in the length and around the hips.  But the top half - not so much.  

The shoulders were too long and the top was baggy around the bust and waist - although the princess seams lined up pretty nicely where they were supposed to.  

If you look carefully you can see the 2 pins (with red heads) below:  

I'm wondering how much of this was mis-adjustments on the part of the software and how much was because of my seam allowances.  Making 1/2 seam allowances on such a small pattern didn't work very well - look at how the front and back neckline facing patterns fit together with such a large SA:  

So, I went back to the software and changed the SA to 1 inch (with 25% reduction that became 0.25 inches).  Take a look at the SAs around the 2 sleeve patterns - my first and the new one:  

We'll see if this produces a dress that fits better or not.  I also may go back to using her measurements directly, now that I realize that I made that mistake the first time.  

Of course, the 1912 patterns are not going to come as these nice macros that automatically adjust to a table of body measurements - so I have a lot more to learn about the software!  

But, so far, I'm pretty happy with my plan to sew for a doll this size.  Too small (i.e., Barbie) would bring its own challenges!  But at this size, Mattie's clothes don't use much fabric and go together quickly, but are big enough that I can handle them on my machine.  

That's about it for me this weekend.  I doubt I'll get any more sewing in, as I have to get ready for my Tuesday night ESL class today.  I know that I owe you all a "Talk Back Thursday" post - sorry about that.  I was on a work trip all last week and wasn't able to get it done.  I'll get it up sometime this week.  

I hope everyone had a wonderful sewing weekend and feels ready for the start of a new week!  :)


Linda T said...

I use patternmaking software and even if you put in the right measurements, there always seems to be some tweaking. Muslins are a requirement. This should be a very interesting project. I look forward to your pasts about it.

Unknown said...

Yeah Mattie has arrived!
I love the picture of her looking on. It reminds me of my teenage daughter watching me sew for her...looking all cool and collected while I with hairpins flying whipped up some party dress for her- lol

Let me know if you need any tips for sewing for dolls Gwen. I have a long history with them.

Anonymous said...

i think that mattie going to learn to saw very soon, she has at best teacher of the world.

Christine said...

She'd beautiful! It's going to be so fun making clothes for her and dressing her up! Like having a Barbie for grown-ups. :)