Usually I only sew a couple of items from a sewing pattern, randomly depending on what I’m looking for, but a couple of weeks ago I set myself the challenge of completing a whole pattern. Yes, that’s right, I sewed everything from Simplicity pattern 1484 so I thought it would be fun to write a review of the pattern and my sewing progress!
I found this dress super helpful for learning a new sewing technique; sewing a dress with a lined bodice! Even though this was my first time using this technique I think it went very well, the instructions were easy to understand and as this dress is sleeveless, I think it’s a great starting point if you want to learn this technique. I much prefer this method compared to rolling the hem around the neckline and armholes, and I can’t wait to try it on tiny dresses for my smaller dolls as I feel it would be perfect to make tiny sewing that little bit neater and easier.
I chose a light blue fabric with a snowman print for this dress for a winter theme as I sewed it only a couple of weeks after Christmas. The print is a good size for the dress, I recommend looking out for fabrics with small patterns as they are perfect for dolls clothes. As an outfit I would probably pair it with a cardigan or jacket as I find sleeveless in winter a little odd.
For the lining I used some excess fabric from a light pink pillowcase that I had bought for a textiles project. It worked well for this dress and it doesn’t affect the colour on the bodice, so I would recommend looking out for bedding and sheets in the sales as it can be a great source of good quality fabric for a cheaper price.
The dress is fastened at the back with Velcro on the bodice, and the skirt is stitched together down the centre back, which is repeated through all the dresses in the pattern and I like how this looks. I have a special kind of Velcro which I didn’t realise when I ordered it, it is one big reel of Velcro which combines the fuzzy and hook sides into one piece which is supposed to be snag free! I will insert the link here if you’d like to try it. I find it works well so I would recommend it, but if you’re using normal Velcro make sure the hook side of the Velcro is sewn to the side that is going underneath so that it faces away from the doll to avoid snagging the body.
I found the pattern pieces ran a little small for my dolls however, so for this dress and the rest of the dresses, I added an extra centimetre to the bodice back on each side, it’s important to remember that dolls, even from the same brand or line can be slightly different sizes depending on how they’re stuffed, for example; both of my dolls are deluxe Our Generation dolls bought within a month of each other but even though Dress A fits Katelyn perfectly the Velcro doesn’t meet at the back on Noelle. So always check the size of the pattern pieces against the doll you are sewing for before you sew!
For this dress I went for a spring theme and paired two pastels together, a lilac polka dot for the bodice and a pink daisy print for the skirt. This dress also has a square neck which is something I hadn’t tried before; I think personally I prefer the look of round necklines, but I did enjoy sewing it and it adds a little variety to the dolls’ wardrobe.
One of the best parts of this dress is that it includes pockets! Who doesn’t love a dress with pockets? I have sewn pockets before, but these ones were a little different as it has a contrasting band at the top of each pocket which almost gives the effect that it is lined in the stitching. As they are pretty tiny, they can be a little tricky, but I think that’s helpful for practicing detailed and accurate stitching. Mine didn’t end up quite perfectly positioned even though I placed them where they appear on the pattern piece, they are level with each other but not quite equidistant from the centre front as each other. To avoid this I would recommend making sure to pin directly above each pocket in the same way you do with the centre front when you are gathering in the waist to the bodice, and use a measuring tape to double check the distance before you sew.
This outfit includes a dress and a long-sleeved jacket. The skirt has two layers so to mix it up a little I used two fabrics of the same shade with different patterns. I really like the combination of the mint green with the lilac jacket.
For the dress I chose not to hem the bottom edge as I was able to cut the pattern piece along the selvage edge of the fabric which had a nice finish already that wasn’t going to fray. So I would recommend saving the selvage edge where possible for elements such as the bottom edge of a skirt or top as it’s one less thing to sew and I actually really prefer how the unhemmed edge looks on this dress as it gives it a lighter floaty look.
Now for the jacket. I was a little nervous to sew the jacket as it was my first time sewing in sleeves and I’m happy to say it got me over that sewing hurdle and I feel much more confident sewing sleeves now. It is also lined which creates a smooth seamless front edge. It is a short jacket but it wouldn’t be too hard to make a longer version by adding a few more centimetres to the bottom edge of each pattern piece, or you could add a few more centimetres to the front edge so that the two sides flap over each other and add a couple of buttons for a different look.
Dress D is a wrap front dress which means that it fastens in the front rather than the back. For this dress I used a navy strawberry print fabric to pick up the red in the bow, I feel the darker colour has given this dress a more mature look.
The bow is used in the pattern to cover up the stitching lines from the Velcro, but if you want a flat finish you could stitch the Velcro onto the lining layer before it is sewn to the outer fabric, or you could hand stitch on a snap fastener through only the lining layer.
As this was my first time sewing a wrap front dress, I found it a little confusing to look at as my brain associates the two flaps to be the back rather than the front, but the pattern is super easy to understand and follow. This dress also has short sleeves, which is handy to get in more sleeve-sewing practice and gives you more sleeve length options which you could mix and match between the patterns to create the dress you want.
Wrap front dresses have been in fashion recently (and still are!). To make it a little more fashionable you could adapt the skirt to have the popular wrap skirt with ruffle edge style too which I think would look super cute! Hmmm maybe I’ll try that soon . . . writing this post is already giving me so many more sewing ideas!
For this outfit I chose to match the skirt fabric to the jacket from View C and paired together they give this outfit a business style look. For the blouse I chose a thin fabric with a tiny white polka dot print to make it on scale for the dolls, which is actually the same as the fabric on the skirt of Dress B.
This blouse includes a ruffle detail along the neckline which is great for getting that ruffle-practice in. I decided to hem all the edges before gathering so they wouldn’t fray, this wasn’t included in the pattern piece or instructions so I think if I made this blouse again I would add a seam allowance around the strip of fabric or use a ribbon of a similar width instead.
The top is sized for non-stretch fabrics but you could probably sew it with stretch if you wanted to make a t-shirt, it would be a little loose but I think it would still fit the doll and look pretty cute, especially paired with Skirt E or Leggings F.
The skirt is a basic straight style which is simple to sew and perfect for a beginner sewer. Even though it seems simple it has a lot of scope for imagination (sorry I’ve been reading Anne of Green Gables and that phrase is kind of stuck in my head), you could add embroidery, ribbons or trimmings to the bottom edge, you could add pockets (you could even reuse the pocket pattern from View B or create your own), or you could spin around the side seam to the front and add a button placket for a button-down skirt. I’m currently thinking of a denim button down with a lace trim under the bottom edge hmmm . . .
View F contains a drop waist dress and leggings. This dress came up a little tight again on the dolls, I have to admit I didn’t add any extra in the back as the blouse from View E was a little loose, so I decided to stick to the pattern. Because of this I chose to omit the lace and ribbon rosette from the pattern and save them for when I make this dress again (or another) with a better fit.
I used a pale pink fabric with a small white floral design which I think gives the dress a sweet springtime look, which would be perfect for an Easter egg hunt! I again chose to cut the skirt fabric along the selvage edge so I could leave the edge unhemmed for a soft floaty look.
The leggings in this pattern are 3/4 length, personally I prefer full length leggings, but you could lengthen them by adding a few more centimetres to the pattern (or shorten them to create cycle shorts if you would like). I think these leggings work well as pyjama bottoms and you could then pair it with Top E in a knit/stretch fabric. Thinking about it, really you could create a full wardrobe of clothes just using this one pattern!
Fabric-wise for the leggings I upcycled a pair of leggings I found in Primark for just £2, the fabric was nice and thick and easy to sew with and you could get about four or five doll sized leggings out of just one pair! I’ve found it really difficult to find anywhere that sells knit and stretch fabric by the metre for less than £15 so I would definitely recommend looking out for cheap t-shirts or leggings, and get the largest size available so you get more fabric for your money. I have tried reusing old clothes before but that doesn’t always work well as the fabric is thinning and the weave is looser than when it was new which can cause the sewing machine to struggle. Note: when using knit fabrics remember to change the needle to a stretch or ballpoint needle, there are handy guides available on the internet but it is always best to test on a scrap piece of the fabric before you sew to check it is sewing well before you commit to the garment
Lastly, we have View G, another wrap dress. This wrap dress is longer than View D and features a ribbon tie at the front which I really like. This means that this pattern gives you two different wrap dress fastening styles to try.
Top tip: to finish the edges of the ribbon I applied a little clear nail varnish along the edge and put it in the airing cupboard for about 20 minutes to dry. This is a simple and great way to avoid fraying. I would recommend doing this step before you start sewing so it will be dry before you need to stitch it in to the side and front seams.
I found the ribbon in Flying Tiger for £1 for 2 metres, and I think it coordinates well with the mint green fabric. Under the mint fabric I used an old white bedsheet for the lining (I also did this on Dress C) as I didn’t like how the pink looked under the mint. As the mint is quite a light thin fabric you can see light through it when you hold it up, the colour and shade of the lining can change how it appears, so it is always good to lay the fabric over the lining before you commit and begin cutting out the pattern so that you can check that you are happy with how it looks.
I think this style of dress is perfect for spring/summer and would work well as a beach coverup, you could even make it out of a terry/towelling fabric or a chiffon or silky fabric for a different look.
If you’re looking to learn new sewing techniques or get some more practice, I really recommend trying dolls clothes. As you are using less fabric it works out cheaper and more economical as well as being faster and taking up less storage space. I’m really interested in costume design for theatre and dance, so when I am creating a design, I will often make a miniature version first to figure out what shapes work and what I could change before I commit to it in full size.
I found this pattern really helpful as it taught me three new techniques which I will use again and again; how to sew a lined bodice, how to sew in sleeves and a new way to sew pockets. I found the instructions pretty easy to understand, so I think I’m getting better at the sewing lingo now too.
So overall, I think this pattern is perfect if you want to learn new techniques or just get some practice in, it is also great for a beginner sewer as it includes some simple garments (e.g. Skirt E) that would be a great starting point. With this pattern there is also the opportunity to adapt the patterns to create more dresses, mixing and matching the skirts and bodices. I recommend this pattern to anyone interested in dressmaking as it gives you the basis to adapt and create your own designs from a range of simple shapes.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post! Comment below; what do you like to sew? Have you made dolls clothes before and have you used this pattern? Woah I wasn’t expecting this post to be quite this long, but it turns out I had a lot more to say than I thought, this might even be my longest post on my blog so far! Would you like to see more sewing pattern reviews in the future?
I’m currently aiming to post weekly, on Saturdays at 4pm GMT, with a mixture of craft, sewing and knitting tutorials, book reviews, baking recipes and more!
For more pictures of the dolls’ clothes head over to my sewing & crafting Instagram @lilacdaisiesdiy and for more updates on my blogposts check out my main Instagram @princessemily_m 😊
Emily M x