Friday, June 25, 2010

Tube dress for BJDs (or other dolls) for beginners (and I mean BEGINNERS)

I was so inspired by JennyGrey's first post on sewing that I was tempted to uncover and clean my sewing machine (usually used for quilting) and attempt a new project. This dress is a no-pattern, easy-to-do beginner's level. Give it a try, and let me know your results!

My model is Peak's Woods (about SD-sized, 58 cm or about 23") BJD Yeru, but you could use any size simply by changing the length and width of the fabric tube. Read through the instructions first. Yeru is close to the size of a Tonner American Model, by the way.

  • Cotton fat quarter (or any piece of fabric cut to about 18"x22")
  • Matching thread
  • Wide ribbon, twill or bias for casing(s)--at least 3/4" wide
  • Narrow ribbon, twill, rope for the tie
  • Trimming for hem, if desired
It will be helpful and faster if you have access to an iron and sewing machine for this project, but you may also sew by hand and finger press. If you have a sewing machine, you will want an edge stitch foot for this project for extra help.

  1. Finish the edges of the fat quarter on all four sides using a narrow zigzag stitch. This keeps the cotton from raveling, and is an optional step. I like to add this step, since it keeps my work looking neat.
  2. Attach the bottom hem trim if desired. Lace, sequins, ribbon can be used here. If you don't use trim, make sure you fold up the hem and press, and sew a narrow hem. 
  3. Press the hem down. I also top stitched the trim, since mine is so wide, to help it stay in place. I used an edge stitch foot, and moved my needle over to into the lace trim to get a perfect straight line, but not all machines have this option.
  4. Measure the dress length for your doll, trim from the top if necessary, and prepare the top. If your casing is heavy, like twill, you may want to make a wider seam, to give it extra support, but I found my top to be a bit bulky. I'd change it if I did it over, to make it a regular narrow hem.
  5. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise to make a tube, pin and sew. Trim off any excess trim hem, and press seam open.
  6. Turn the tube right side out. Attach the casing to the outside of the dress, at the top. Pin first, leaving the front center open on both sides. Turn the ribbon or twill casing under to create an opening for the tie, and sew around the top edge first in a single long seam. Finish by sewing around the bottom edge.
  7. Thread the tie through the tube, using a safety pin or a pipe cleaner, and try the dress on your doll. I tied mine like a halter top.

Further options and tips:
  • You may add another casing around the waist or below the bust (for an empire waist). 
  • Simply tie a sash around the waist like my sample for more shape. 
  • Try threading elastic through the casing for a strapless look.
  • Apply the casing inside the dress as another option. 
  • You can also add other trims or straps if you like to make the dress your own.
Quick tip on choosing prints: Keep in mind that your print should be to scale of the doll. Bring the doll with you when finding to-scale fabrics. I use the doll's hand to decide whether a print is in the right scale.

See more photos and larger sizes on my Flickr photostream.

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