1810 Regency Dress

1810 Regency dress modelled by Felicity
1810 Regency dress modelled by Felicity

Carpatina D12 - 1810 Regency Dress and Spencer
For this outfit I used Carpatina PATD12 1810 Regency Dress which I bought through Pixie Faire. This was actually the very first dress I made for an American Girl doll. I started it back in 2019 and it was modelled by Julie in this post, along with a very poorly constructed slip. Recently I took it up again and decided to make a lining for the skirt instead of the abandoned slip and also to add closures and embellishments, so it’s finally getting its own post.

The main fabric is a tiny floral on a cream background that I’ve had for many years. For the bodice lining I used a yellowish cream cotton that wasn’t too thick, but I must have used scraps because I can’t find any more of it. Instead I used a lighter cream solid for the skirt lining.

All the seams in 2019 were sewn by machine, and although it turned out reasonably well I found it incredibly fiddly and very difficult to keep the seams at the correct quarter-inch distance from the edge, especially around the sleeves. Almost all subsequent dresses have been made by hand — yes it takes longer, but it’s something I can do in front of the television and it’s much more relaxing.

Construction was easy for the most part. I wanted all the skirt flare to be below the waistline so instead of turning the bodice lining up and covering the skirt seam I sewed the bodice and lining onto the skirt as one piece, leaving the edges raw. While this required more overcasting, I liked that it made the bodice sit flat and puffed the skirt out a little more.

For the skirt lining I cut a rectangle that is as wide as the skirt tops (not a great idea, as it turned out). Because the back of the skirt is heavily gathered, I ended up with about two inches on either side of the centre back that needed to be reduced to fit the bodice. A sensible person would have simply cut some fabric away at an angle but I decided to make pleats (at least I had the sense not to do gathers).

I first finished the top edge with blanket stitch which was one of the few good ideas I had. Then I sewed the centre back seam up to the bottom of the placket, and double-turned the seam allowances. The hem was a double-turned 1/8″ because the skirt was a little shorter than I had anticipated. I made quarter-inch knife pleats from the side seam to centre back and basted them in place. I pinned the lining to the bodice seam, starting at centre front, and only had to make a small adjustment on one side to make the pleated section fit the back bodice.
1810 Regency dress - inside view
The waist seam had already been sewn and finished but because the seam allowance was hanging down I was able to attach the skirt top to the inside bodice just below the seam line. I pressed it fairly heavily to get the pleats to lie flat but the waist seam is still pretty bulky. When I tried it on Julie (who is one of the chubbier AG dolls I have) I wasn’t able to get the back pieces to meet, let alone overlap. Felicity, however, has a slightly narrower chest and a significantly slimmer waist, and it fits her reasonably well considering it wasn’t actually fitted to her.

After failing to find an olive or yellow ribbon that worked, I sewed a 1 cm cream satin ribbon above the waist seam. I crafted a bow from the remaining ribbon (the bows and the wrap/tails were two separate pieces) and sewed it down at centre back. I found some small yellow ribbon flowers at Hobbysew and used one of them at centre front.

Bodice closures — my Julie is an older doll (2007-2009) and I think she’s a bit chubbier than the doll Carpatina used. I can’t quite remember at what point I realised that the bodice wasn’t going to close properly, but I ended up with a raw edge on the proper right that I secured with blanket stitch. I left the actual closures (clear snap fasteners) until last, which was advantageous as I ended up changing the doll I used.

1810 Regency Dress side view
1810 Regency Dress back view
I’m fairly happy with the fit (as I noted, it wasn’t fitted to her, and I think it would be a little better on a doll with the same chest measurement but a thicker waist). The skirt sticks out a lot at the sides, though, and I think it would look better with a slightly slimmer cut of the front panel.

Here is the front view with bonus Vanima:
Felicity in 1810 Regency Dress with bonus Vanima

Lessons Learned:
1. Sewing machines and doll sleeves don’t play well together.
2. A raw edge at the bottom of the bodice is not necessarily a bad thing.
3. Linings don’t have to be the same size or shape as the outer pieces.
4. Olive green is an exceedingly hard colour to match.

Notes for future versions:
1. Check the bodice fit and enlarge the pattern if required (preferably before cutting fabric)
2. Add a half-inch to the skirt if you want it a little longer (noting that shorter hems were increasingly the fashion from 1810 to about 1830).
3. Take off an inch at the sides of the skirt so it’s not quite as wide at the bottom.
4. If adding a lining to the skirt, integrate it with the skirt fabric or make it flat at the waist.

So happy!

I just logged in to upload some photos and found that my last post had a whopping 14 views! That may not be much to some people but it’s my highest total ever and I’m really happy about it. I also noted that I’m up to 20 followers which is even more amazing. Welcome to all and I hope I can keep you interested with my little projects.

Welcome Suneeta!

Suneeta in her meet outfit
Suneeta in her meet outfit

My cousin posted my Truly Me #80 doll down to me and I picked her up today. She is absolutely gorgeous — I was a little anxious in case she wasn’t as good in person as she looked on the website (because lighting can do very odd things in photography) but I needn’t have worried. Unfortunately my photography skills don’t do her justice, so you’ll have to take my word for it that she’s beautiful.

I don’t give names to my numbered dolls as a general rule, but ever since I saw her I knew that she would be a sister to Sonali and therefore she needed a Hindu name. I chose Suneeta because I like the sound of it. It means either “good principles” or “young sun” depending on which baby name website you visit. (Sonali means “golden”, by the way.)

I was quite surprised to see that her body label is from 2017 — I don’t know how big a standard production run is for a numbered model but if she hasn’t sold out the first run in four years I guess she won’t be getting a repeat. If that’s the case then I’m very glad I bought her now. On the other hand, she did get the “Sparkle and Shine” outfit update so maybe I’m wrong — I hope I’m wrong.

Here she is with sister Sonali so that you can see the differences between them (apart from the mould — Suneeta is the Josefina mould and Sonali is the Sonali mould, of course!).
Suneeta and Sonali
Suneeta and Sonali close-up
You can see that Suneeta’s skin is darker and also much redder than Sonali’s very golden tone. Suneeta’s hair is two shades of dark brown, while Sonali’s is black and dark brown and about two inches longer and wavy. Their eyes appear to be the same, though. Body cloths are slightly different as well. It does annoy me that the dark-skinned dolls have cloths that are so light in comparison — it can’t be that difficult to dye cloth dark brown, can it?
Suneeta and Addy
Suneeta and Addy close-up
I also took a photograph of Suneeta and Addy for comparison. Addy’s skin is slightly lighter in value and a little cooler in hue. She’s also taller, but that is a function of pre-Mattel v current Mattel parameters. I’m fairly sure that the eyes are the same, or almost the same — Addy’s are a little less glossy due to normal wear and tear.
Suneeta, Sonali and Addy
Here are the three of them so you can see the range of skintones.

As an aside, I had the greatest difficulty taking clean shots of the dolls as Vanima was determined to get involved — she was actually in the foreground of almost all these photos, but I managed to crop her out. I’ll spare you the picture of her backside.
Vanima supervising the photoshoot

I recently bought some new and second-hand saris so I’ll definitely be making brightly coloured outfits for both Sonali and Suneeta:
three silk saris
ten second-hand saris

Fabric haul April 2021

I only went in for a thimble …
Fabric haul
… and I came out with about 50 metres of fabric.

Actually that’s not quite true — I went in for a thimble and some cotton flannelette. I haven’t been to The Calico Patch (the Australian one, in Canberra) for ages because they’ve been closed on Fridays since the first lockdown and Friday is generally my shopping day, but I was running low on milk so decided to shop a day early. Also it was an absolutely beautiful day and we have an Antarctic blast coming our way over the weekend so I wanted to take advantage of the warm weather.

I got the thimble and the flannelette (though they didn’t have any navy or black, unfortunately) and then … well. I turned around and there was a shelf of pretty small-scale florals, including a couple of pillar prints, so I got those, and then I found some more stripes, and then I found some absolutely gorgeous fabrics that just screamed “robe à la Française” at me so I had to get those.

Here is the flannelette, anyway —
Calico Patch Flannelette
I want flannelette because it looks like wool in photos (once it’s been washed, anyway) and yet is much softer and easier to handle than wool at doll scale. If I need it to be stiffer I can add interfacing, but it’s nice to know that I can make a cloak that will drape rather than stand out stiffly like a windsock.

Here are the quilting cottons:
Calico Patch Fabrics 2
Calico Patch Fabrics 3
Calico Patch Fabrics 4
That one at left in the last picture is one of the prettiest fabrics I’ve ever seen (I love roses on fabric and I’m not ashamed to say it, though I accept that not everyone likes them). I took all that was left on the bolt — a little over 4 m — but I think I’ll have to force myself to cut into it or it will become “sacred fabric”and sit on the shelf for 15 years.

So … that was my fabric budget for the rest of the year.
I regret nothing!

1824 Christmas Dress

1824 Dress modelled by Addy
1824 Dress modelled by Addy (Pre-Mattel)

Josefina's Pretty Clothes pattern collection

After the disappointing size issue of the last dress, and being determined to make Addy a dress that would fit her, I decided that for this outfit I was going to use an original Pleasant Company pattern. This is the Christmas Dress from “Josefina’s Pretty Clothes”, which I downloaded from AG playthings (along with the other five collections). With a date of 1824 it’s a little late for Regency, but it has the raised waistline and puffed sleeves that I wanted. In fact, my main concern was distortion, given that I was using a PDF scan of a photocopy of a pattern, but as far as I can tell the distortion (if any) is minimal). I left out the long sleeves and the neck ruffle, and added a lining to the bodice.

The fabric I used was a pretty white-on-lilac cotton that I got from Hobbysew a few weeks ago. Although the print resembles the white-on-yellow print I used for the Bib-Front Dress, the base fabric is much thicker and has a lot of sizing in it.

For the lining I chose a purple cotton voile which is a bit dark — pink would have been better but I didn’t have any pink at the time. Of course I found some a couple of days after the bodice lining was finished. Typical. I’m glad that the purple doesn’t show too much through the lilac, but I’ll definitely use pink for this fabric in future.

As usual, all seams were sewn with 100-wt silk thread and overcasting was with single strand cotton floss.

Bodice fitting
I tried the bodice and the bodice lining on Addy to check the fit before going any further. I was very pleased to see that the shoulders were flat at the neckline and the bodice circumference was good with a 3/8″ overlap for closures. The darts didn’t add much, to be honest, but leaving them out would add a half-inch to the bodice circumference at the bottom so I’ll have to work out how to modify the pattern.

I wasn’t happy with the side back attachment. The seam is curved (which makes sense for human backs but not for dolls) and try as I might I was not able to get the pieces lined up so that the armscye was smooth. (Yes, I did pin through the seam lines and intersections but it still didn’t work.). Given that the overall fit was good I simply trimmed off the excess. Bias edges are very forgiving of that kind of fudging, luckily. I also resewed the bottom of the seam to eliminate the fold you can see.

The sleeves were supposed to be long but I didn’t want long sleeves so I cut a 5½” x 1¼” strip and bound the bottom of the puffs instead. The thick fabric made stitching the gathers down a little difficult — there were some small gaps when I checked the seams so I ended up stitching each set of gathers twice, once from each side.
Inside bodice
No lining was included in the instructions but I wanted one to cover all the raw edges. I added 2 mm to the armscye but ended up cutting most of it off, which amused me.

Finally, I added a white ribbon above the waist seam to echo the skirt edge (see below) and to raise the apparent waistline a little higher (it’s on the low end the Regency range). I managed to add a bodice closure this time, using some small clear plastic snap fasteners — they aren’t very strong but this dress isn’t going to be subjected to a lot of handling and there won’t be much stress on the stitches.

Hem treatment
Skirt construction went very well for the most part, but when I checked the pattern instructions (long after cutting out the material) I found that they had only allowed a quarter-inch for the hem — presumably the intention was for the maker to overlock/serge the edge and then turn it up. If the fabric had been thinner I would have tried a 1/8″double-turned hem (I’ve done it before, on the cuffs of the English Gown V2) but this fabric is too thick. I really didn’t want an overcast + single turned hem as it would have been too visible, and turning twice would have made the hemline too high. Instead I used another technique I’ve used before (mainly with lace) and covered the raw edge with trim. Because this trim was going to be all on the outside, rather than peeping out from underneath, there was an additional step — when I got to the final 1/2″ of the side and centre back seams I cut the seam allowance (very carefully!) down to the stitching line and sewed the final part of the seam with wrong sides together, so that the raw edges were on the outside. I turned up the 1/4″ hem to the outside, basted it and then stitched white satin ribbon over the raw edge. I wasn’t able to enclose the ribbon ends in the seams, of course, so they had to be doubled over and stitched down, making it a little thick at the centre back. The hem is slightly curved so I made sure that the ribbon was pinned down frequently enough that I could ease in the excess without any visible puckers.

Because of the thickness of the fabric I opted for a separate petticoat, which I made from the same purple voile as the bodice lining. I made the skirt front flat, added knife pleats at the sides and gathers at the back. The ties are 6mm cotton twill. It ended up a little short, but then the hem is relatively high so it fits well.

1824 Dress front view
1824 Dress side view
1824 Dress back view
I am really happy with the way the bodice turned out, especially the shoulders. The sleeves don’t puff as much as some of the other dresses but I think that’s a combination of the thicker, stiffer fabric and my mediocre gathering skills. The hem is a little high but that was the fashion in 1824 so I can’t complain. I love the way the white ribbon looks — I may add a bow over the centre back and maybe also centre front, but that’s a decision for another day (and after I practise making bows over a two-tine fork). The colour is fantastic on Addy and I can see more purple clothes in her future (also crimson and bottle green).

Lessons Learned:
1. Read the instructions before cutting the fabric!
2. Curved side back seams are not good for doll clothes.
3. Thick fabric + gathers is not a good combination.

Notes for future versions:
1. Change the curved back/side back seam to a straight seam.
2. Add another half-inch to the hemline to allow a 1/2″ or 3/8″ hem, and an additional half-inch if I want the dress to be longer.
3. Add half an inch or so to the puffed sleeve length.
4. Extend the area over which the gathers are sewn on both the upper and lower edges of the sleeve — you only need an inch on the upper and a half-inch on the lower edge to be flat.