Pretty basic, right? You want to make a dress for Patsy and you look and find a pattern that is for Patsy, Shirley Temple and others— Oops! How can a pattern fit Patsy, who has a watermelon belly and bent arm, and a Shirley Temple doll, who has an entirely different shaped body? Truth is, the pattern doesn’t really fit well on either doll, unless you know how to make the adjustments to get a perfect fit on either one. As long as you realize this, you can buy these patterns, and carefully fit them to whichever doll you are making a dress for, before you cut the fabric.
To fit a pattern, you cut out the bodice pattern pieces, front and back, and lay the bodice front piece on the front of the doll. Check to see if the neck opening is too large or too small, and if the width of the shoulder is correct. Check to see if the side seam will fall where it should in the center of the side under the arm. Check to see if the waist line on the pattern falls on the natural waist line of whichever doll you are sewing for. Make adjustments where needed.
Now pin the seam lines together at the side seam and shoulder seam– slip on the doll.See if the pattern will be too loose or too small anyplace, and adjust accordingly.
It is best to trace off the original pattern, and use your traced copy for adjustments, that way the original can be saved for perhaps another doll.
On generic patterns, look for pattern that fit ONE SIZE DOLL, if you want a well fitting dress. If you buy a pattern that fits a 12 to 14″ doll, it will generally not really fit either one! Two inches in a doll dress of that size is like TWO SIZES of person clothes. For example, if you go to the store you would never buy a dress that fits a size 12 or size 14″— if you are a size 12 you would certainly not look good in a dress that would fit a size 14! So find patterns made for specific size dolls, for example a 14″ Toni doll. A 14″ Toni dress is baggy on a 14″ Sweet Sue from the same era! And a 14″ Shirley Temple pattern or Patsy pattern would fit neither Sweet Sue or Toni of the same height.
Hope this makes your pattern buying easier and your dresses better fitting!
Feel free to leave questions or comments below, you will NOT be spammed with emails!