Meet the newest member of the MBJM family – Finn.
Getting a doll seemed like a great idea. Perfect for roll play and for helping develop Charlie’s nurturing side. Plus, one more cute boy to sew for!
Next time I have a ‘great idea’ feel free to whack me round the head with a bolt of fabric.
Charlie does enjoy playing with him but his attention span is, well, that of a 2 year old. He also enjoys using Finn to show off quite how good he is at throwing. He does however insist on taking Finn with us whenever we leave the house. He then cries if I suggest leaving him in the car, but refuses to carry him for more than 30 seconds. So guess which mug now carries a doll wherever she goes?! (Maybe I need to introduce Charlie to the idea of baby wearing.)
And as for sewing for him… Dolls are teeny tiny, and so are their clothes! Somehow this didn’t occur to me before.
However, I am a sucker for ‘matching-not-matching outfits so I have drafted a Finn sized version of the most recent MBJM pattern, the Over It Alls. You can download it for free here (EU customers can find it in the files section of the MBJM Sewing Group).
I also have a few tips for adjusting regular patterns to suit dolls.
My first tip is this: if you are beginner, don’t start with doll clothing. You may think it’s a brilliant idea as you don’t need much fabric. However, the tininess of your project will make it 10 times more difficult than an Age 5 version of the same pattern. Always start with full size clothing.
The only upside to sewing for dolls is that they are less wriggly when trying things on!
I have sewn a t-shirt for Finn to wear under his Over It Alls. I haven’t drafted a new pattern, I simply adapted the Eclipse.
I started by taking Finn’s measurements and comparing them to the prem. size.
Finn: Height 31cm (12 1/4″) and Waist 22cm (8 3/4″)
Prem.: Height 42cm (16 1/2″) and Waist 33cm (13″)
Finn’s measurements are roughly 75% of the prem. size, so I printed the pattern at 75%. Now if that’s all that pattern grading involved my life would be a whole lot easier! But it’s a good place to start.
The next thing to look at is the proportions of your doll. Finn has the proportions of a child which means that his arms and legs are relatively long. If you are sewing for a baby doll then they may have shorter arms and legs in proportion to their body, and their head will likely be much larger. Finn’s arms and legs are also pretty chunky for his size, but since the pattern isn’t tight fitting and is for stretch fabrics this isn’t a problem. If you try and adapt a pattern for woven (non-stretch fabrics) then you would need to take their relative chunkiness into account, along with the fact his legs are exactly the same at the top and the bottom.
Even when working on full size patterns my design process involves a lot of trial and error. I sew, study and adapt. So I cut the pieces for a 75% t-shirt and sewed the front and back together and the shoulders. I then tried it on. I found that the shoulders were about right (Finn doesn’t really have shoulders, he has seams, so it’s hard to be exact!!) and whilst the head hole was ok, it was a little tight, particularly when I want Charlie to be able to take it on and off himself. I therefore trimmed about 6mm (1/4″) off the whole neckline.
I added the sleeves, hemmed and added a neckband (using 85% of the neckline measurement) and voila, one perfectly good doll t-shirt.
I personally find using a sewing machine much easier when sewing such tiny clothes as curves and corners can be tight.
And if it all goes a bit pear shaped – remember, dolls don’t complain!
They’re just grateful not to be naked.