When I was 9 or 10, I wanted to earn my sewing badge for Girl Scouts. One of the tasks was to sew something using a sewing pattern. My mom grew up in a very crafty household. Both her parents were into knitting and crocheting and my grandma and mom both sewed clothes. My mom also made various things for me and my brothers growing up so she was a great teacher in showing me how to read a pattern, how to cut one, and how to sew one. For my project, I made myself a dress (complete with buttons!) and can still remember the lessons my mom taught me nearly 20 years ago (geez!).
I have heard from my friends though that they don’t know how to read a pattern. They see the envelope with clothes on the cover and have no idea how to use them so I thought I would show you how to read a simple pattern and make a fun felt doll. I picked up this felt doll pattern from Simplicity. It’s pattern number 1678 so if you’re in a fabric store that sells Simplicity, go to their file cabinet of patterns and find that number and you’ll be able to buy the same pattern.
Since I’m sewing a felt doll, it was all hand sewn. First, gather your supplies. The back of the pattern will tell you what you need and how much you need of each fabric. Most of this project was made using felt sheets that I already had. I also needed some notions (aka embellishments) – rickrack ribbon and small beads. I decided since my 3 year old would be playing with this doll to leave off the small beads since they were just embellishment and I could see 1 or more of my kids chewing on the various accessories and then choking on the bead. Once you have your supplies, cut your pattern apart. You don’t need to cut each piece out perfectly since pattern paper is very thin, you can pin the pattern to the fabric and then cut the pattern out in detail. If you cut it all out in detail now, you’ll end up cutting everything twice and that just makes more work.
Once you’ve cut apart the pattern, take your straight pins and pin the pattern pieces to your felt. You can overlap parts of the paper, as long as you’re not overlapping the pattern pieces. Once you’ve pinned all the pattern pieces, cut everything out. I used a plastic baggie to keep all my small pieces together so they wouldn’t get lost. This patter has a lot of small pieces!
The first step in making the doll was to sew the face. I used a fabric pen, which is washable, to mark where I wanted to sew a nose and a smile. The pattern called for eyelashes but when I sewed one, I didn’t like the way they looked so I cut them off. I used my straight pins to keep the eyes in place until I was able to sew them down. Once you sew the eyes down, use a white thread to add a “sparkle” to they eyes so they don’t look like dull, lifeless black holes. 😉
Next, you have to sew the hair to the doll’s face and then attach the back of the doll’s head to the front. I then had to sew each limb together and the torso. Each piece of the body was individually stuffed and then sewn to the torso.
Now it’s time to sew the clothes. I used matching thread to sew the yellow collar to the dress and then switched over to green thread to make the dress, I switched back to yellow to sew the rickrack ribbon on the bottom of the dress. The pattern called for sewing all the way around the felt and then sewing the pieces together. This was done to prevent the felt from stretching and pulling, it essentially made a hem for each clothing item. I sewed the jacket pocket on and then sewed the jacket together. When I made the shoes, I used a straight pin to hold the pieces in place as I sewed them. The pattern called for a snap on the shoes but again, since I was sewing for small children, I just sewed the shoe closed and it works just fine.
And now it’s time to sew the bunny, the purse, and the pillow. Every doll needs accessories! The bunny was a little tricky because the ears, arms, and legs were too small to stuff even though the pattern called for it. I ended up skipping the stuffing and just attaching it to the bunny’s torso. The bunny is wearing a little hat with a bow, which I decided to make yellow to coordinate with the doll’s purse and dress. The purse was made by adding rickrack ribbon as the purse strap and a pretty flower. The purse didn’t have a snap and it at first wouldn’t stay closed to I sewed across the top of the purse to create a crease and allow for the purse to stay closed. The pillow was a simple square, sewn together and then stuffed.
And there you have it! It took 3 days of hand sewing for an hour each night and it was ready. Blueberry immediately took off all of her clothes and stuck her in a Barbie car. Why is she naked? Because she’s going to the beach of course. All my hard work, straight into the passenger seat. Oh well, I have since convinced her that her dolly NEEDS clothes and so the only thing that comes off on a regular basis are the shoes and coat because “she can’t sleep in shoes MOM!” Gosh, I’m so lame. 😛
I hope I helped demystify sewing patterns a little bit for you. If you have any questions or want some help decoding a pattern, let me know! And if you liked this sew along, would you like to see another? I could totally do a piece of clothing if anyone was interested.