Saturday, 18 April 2015

Drafting a princess line dress.

Being self taught and slightly dyslexic, I have a hard time with measuring out and figuring out how to make my own patterns for dolly couture.   I've never attempted a princess line dress before - although I have drafted corsets - so this is kind of scary as well as being fun.

What I do is drape tissue and masking tape on the doll, mark out where the seams go, then carefully cut the stuff off the doll and use it as the pattern.  I add the seam allowances, and make a toile to see how it fits.

Professional couturiers make toile in muslin or calico, usually in white or unbleached fabric.  I prefer to use up the scraps in my stash that are not much good for anything else, and with this princess line thingummie, it's quite useful to have the side panels a different colour to the centre panels.

It's all a mess at first.  I don't use fray check for the initial toile - which reinforces how awesome fray check is when I do use it.  Not only does it seal the edges for sewing tiny shapings and pointed bits of fabric, but it stabilises any pieces cut on the bias too, saving the need for any stay-stitching.

Another bonus, is that the brand I use - 'Fray Stoppa' dries slightly tacky, and I can use the warmth of my fingers to get two pieces of fabric to stay in place while I pin them.

Here's my toile. It was loose in the front panel, so I've pinned it here, and since writing this have shaved off some of the pattern to get it to fit.  Trying it on the doll inside out means you can mark the seams you need to alter with vanishing ink or pins.

And another view:

The pattern is basically a good one, and now I've made tweaks to the card pieces, I'm ready to attempt making the dress in a nicer fabric.  

I'm not quite sure where the design is going yet.  I have one or two ideas, and for this one, I'll be sitting around looking at it and thinking a lot about where to take it.

Fingers crossed and I'll post my results.



  1. Lovely to see the design process! I like the slight tackiness of fray stoppa too very useful! Most of the party frocks I've done for Ell were princess line - not sure if I'm a fan of sewing all those curved seams or not lol!!

    1. It's really useful. You can iron two pieces together to glue them too. And yes, the curved seams are a pain! I don't think I'll be making lots of these.

  2. Looking at your work, I would never know that you have trouble figuring out dolly patterns. You do so well! That said, I'm even more impressed now. I have trouble following directions and making patterns, so I just... avoid it. Not very productive!

    Do you follow the Fashion Doll Stylist on Blogspot? She's amazing and fun, and when I finally stop being a scaredy cat about patterns, she has some great tutorials on slopers. Awhile back she did a great post on making a princess dress. I think you two would get along well. :)

    1. Hello! :) Yes, I have a kind of dyslexia with directions and shapes, so it's pretty awkward, but Keep on plugging away at it.

      I have seen that blog! And now I've added it to my links list on the right hand side of my blog page. It's really interesting to read. I couldn't remember what it was called and couldn't find it - but now you've told me I'm really pleased, thank you for that!


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