Rags to Riches

This past weekend my daughter came home from a play date all excited about her friend's mom making a dress for their American Girl doll. 

Yes, we also have this (overpriced) doll - how could we pass it up after all the catalogs got sent to our house and my daughter kept them on her nightstand for almost a year?  Of course, when we finally went to New York with her we had to visit THE STORE…  I gave my then-6-year-old a generous budget - $300 (a birthday present from us and two grandmas) - and told her to buy a doll and whatever else she wanted.  She did a great job, even though a buck does not go far at that store, our doll has clothes for many occasions.   

Later my daughter made a few pieces of clothing for her doll using some of her own old baby clothes and my fabric leftovers, and I gave her a hand when she asked me to.  However, it has never came to a point of her asking me to make doll clothes, not until last weekend.  So, her friend's doll now had a ball gown, and they were supposed to have a ball at their next play date with dolls dancing and swirling…  Our doll did not have a gown, and my daughter had a pretty clear vision of what she wanted: she did not want the puffy skirt and she wanted the dress to be silver… 

So, I was puzzled for about 10 minutes and then I remembered my old sweater top that has no longer fit me but had nice fabric, so I did not throw it out but placed it into my "use for something someday" fabric box.  That sweater was perfect - it could magically be transformed into a three piece ensemble.

First, I measured the length from the doll's wrist, going up her arm and to the middle of the back and cut off the bottoms of both sweater sleeves .5 inches longer than that.  I finished both pieces along the cut line using the zigzag setting on my sewing machine (you have to pardon me here for my vocabulary - I am a glass artist, not a seamstress…).  Then I attached them to each other sewing through 1/3 of top part and they became a short long-sleeved jacket.

Second, I measured the doll from her armpit down and cut off a piece of one of the remaining sweater sleeves to use as a bottom of a tube dress. The dress needed the top part which I made from a strip cut off from the other sleeve. I zigzagged along all the cuts. Then I centered the strip on the tube dress front and attached it with a seam that was just long enough to go across doll's chest. On the back I attached strip ends crossing them just enough to cover doll's back. That strip was elastic so the dress could be taken off the doll by just pulling down and freeing the arms.

Finally, I measured the doll from the waist down, added 1 inch and cut this length off the bottom of my sweater. This piece was to become a full skirt that could be worn on top of the tube dress or with the jacket and one of existing doll tops. I zigzagged along the cut and then folded the edge in about 2/3 inch and sewn though it leaving only .5 inch opening. Then I put the elastic in through that opening.

I was very much pleased with the result and so was my daughter. I am pretty confident that our doll will look great for the upcoming ball.

Actually I was happy not only with the aesthetics but with engineering and being able to upcycle something. I not only recycled my old top, but also reused the finished sleeve edges and the bottom edge of it. So, not counting zigzags along all cuts, I only had to make 4 seams and it only took me 1.5 hours to make all three pieces.