Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Altering American Girl patterns

So my daughters love their dolls, but don't seem to pick out the outfits from the American Girl magazine. They want something like: Belles peasant dress.  So that is what we're working on today.
(Disclosure: this is not for beginners. You should have experience making these outfits or costumes in general before attempting this!) Also it helps if you can kinda sketch.

You will need:

*The original pattern (Kirstens apron dress is very favored by me) You can get here: American Girl Pattern/Free!
*Old newspaper/flyer
*idea of the shape(s) you're looking for.
*29" of white ribbon
*Thin white ribbon

Start by tracing the original pattern (front and back!) onto the newspaper in pencil- this way the pattern is visible, but not too dark and you can star the alteration.  I also folded mine in half to make sure both sides of my new patter would be even. Using a different color (marker) think about what the neckline will look like. Is it squared off (like Belles peasant dress?) is it a lower swoop neck? Belles is squared & also has thin blue straps. so that is what I did.

(REMINDER: This is Kirstens Apron dress- it is a little small when you print it! be sure to add a little extra on the sides) Check out what I mean here: Getting started on A.G pattern

Make sure you trim some of the back too so that when you cut out the fabric, they line up at the top and bottom:

BEFORE: notice the back pattern has thicker straps)

AFTER: even!

When you think you have it right, cut it out & open it up. You should be able to have an idea of what your dress will look like, just based on this:

Remember You don't want to cut it too low- you'll be hemming it later.

Pin the new pattern onto your fabric (you may want to make a test top on fabric you don't care about if you're new at this) and cut it out. I usually don't leave big gaps in my fabric, but I knew I would need a longer skirt (see later directions)

I also know that Belles skirt piece is much longer (and not as gathered as Kirsten's Apron dress.)
So I have folded 1 1/2 inced of the patter (see picture below) placed it on a fold- This way it has less fabric.

I have also cut an extra couple of inches in length so that it will go down to the dolls ankles, instead of her knees.

I sewed the skirt together  & then took the time to "hem" the bottom (fold the raw end of the fabric up to the inside and sew it down so that it looked nice and clean at the bottom (picture not included)

Next you're going to need to gather your skirt. Gathering is to pull the fabric together by taking a long piece of thread (knotted at the end!) and weave it in and out of the fabric the same length apart.

WEAVING: (notice how the needle looks like it is gong in and out of the fabric...aside from the fact that it is ;) )


When you have finished gathering the fabric you can gently pull the thread to make the fabric a closer fit (should look more like the photo above now).

Next you need to add the waistline into the dress. I like to make sure mine is even so I line the ends of the waistline up with the back center seam of the skirt and pin it down (make sure you pin "right sides" together!)

Then you're going to need to pin the rest of the skirt to the waistline so that you can sew it together (make sure you pin every so often or you'll miss a gather!)

Now we need to get working on the white under shit of Belles dress that will be sewn to the blue top (which hopefully you're already cut out) remembering to add extra fabric on the sides!

Alerting the sleeves. I made them longer and  less curved.

Pin right sides of fabric together and sew up (both blue top and white top) You can take the time now to try it on your doll to make sure it fits well (It would really suck to finish the whole project just to have it not fit. Believe me, I know).

When you're ready hem all the raw edges of the dress ( I like to do this last because, well then everything is smooth).

sew sleeves together. make a hem big enough to slip the tin white ribbon through to make ties for her sleeves (it's something I noticed about her dress while watching the movie).

turn sleeves right side out. place blue fabric over white and line it up  properly before pinning the sleeves on.
Pin Sleeves to shirt top and sew together. cut 29" of thick white ribbon for Belles apron, gather apron piece and stitch together:

Check out my other creations here:

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