If you’re anything like me, you have a box full of baby clothes for each of your kids tucked away in the basement or the attic or on a top shelf in a closet somewhere in your house. These are the clothes that we know will never fit them again and will be completely out of style by the time they have their own children, but that we just can’t bear to give away.
I’ve seen the memory bears, and I’ve debated making a few for each of my kids using some of their baby outfits. The problem with these are twofold around here- my kids have TONS of stuffed animals already (the baby is being crowded out of her crib with them!), and I already see my oldest daughter being just about too old to want more stuffed animals.
I sat down and tried to come up with another solution. Something that would be lasting, but cuter than a big plastic storage box. Then it finally hit me…
The dolls don’t grow, so they’ll never outgrow the clothes. Plus, the AG dolls are something that can be saved and passed on to my kids’ kids someday, so their clothes will live on!
I started with a favorite outfit of my older daughter’s. It was adorable on her, a cute little turtleneck sweater and some appliquéd jeans. So trendy (you know, back in 2005!).
I pulled out my patterns, found one for jeans (I used the Liberty Jane Bootcut Jeans pattern for these), and got right to work.
I saved all of the ‘fun’ parts, and the only thing I added was a little bit of embroidery on the back pockets. They turned out so cute, don’t you think??
Next I dug through my patterns for something to use for the sweater, but just couldn’t find anything that was the right ‘style’.
So I drafted my own!
This pattern is perfect for turning a sweater or sweatshirt into one for dolly, and can reuse existing hemlines or create new ones. While this pattern was designed for bulkier sweaters, keep in mind the scale of the pattern and yarn! Dolls are much smaller, and a super-chunky knit will look silly!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- the pattern (page 1, page 2)
- rotary cutter, ruler, and mat (sharp scissors will work well also)
- sewing machine and serger (serger not necessary, but it does make it easier!)
- an outgrown sweater or sweatshirt
Start by printing out the pattern (there are two pages!). Make sure you select no scaling in your printer options, and measure the test square on the first page. If it’s 1”, you’re good to go! If not, go back and check your printer settings and then try it again. I recommend saving the pieces to your computer and printing them from Adobe Reader instead of directly from your browser.
On each pattern piece, there is a dotted line and a solid line. If you are going to reuse the existing hem on the sweater, place the hem on the dotted line on the pattern piece. If you are going to create your own new hem, then cut your fabric using the solid line.
Once your pattern pieces are cut out, you can get to work taking the old sweater apart. Since I was using a small one (it was a size 18m, and I was able to get one sweater along with a hat and pair of mittens out of it), I chose to carefully take apart the seams so it wouldn’t unravel. If you’re using a larger sweater, you don’t need to be so careful about it, since a little bit of unraveling won’t affect your final product.
After the old sweater is taken apart, go ahead and cut your sweater pieces! You should wind up with one front, two backs that are mirror images to each other, two sleeves, and a neckband.
Now we’re ready to sew! There is a ¼” seam allowance built in to each pattern piece.
***TIP: Try not to handle the pieces any more than absolutely necessary, or they will begin to unravel.***
Start by pinning your back pieces to your front piece at the shoulders. Make sure that the right sides are together.
Then sew or serge the shoulder seams.
Open it up, and this is what you’ve got now…
*If you used a preexisting finished edge for your sleeves, continue from here. If you did not, jump down to the finishing of the bottom edge of the sweater and follow those directions for the sleeve wrists!*
Using your pins, mark the center of each sleeve at the shoulder. Line up that pin with the shoulder seam you just sewed (right sides together again!), and pin the sleeve to the shoulder.
Repeat with the other sleeve.
Take your piece over to the machine, and sew each sleeve to the main body of the sweater. Take your time! These are curves, and can be tricky to sew. Use more pins if you feel it will help you.
When you’re done, it should look like this from the inside.
Grab your neckband piece. ***If you are using unfinished edges, fold your piece in half lengthwise so you have a long skinny piece.***
Find the center of your neckband and mark it with a pin. Find the center of the neckline on the sweater and mark that with another pin. Line the two pins up, and pin the neckband to the sweater at that center mark. Make sure that the raw edges of the sweater and the neckband are matched up (right sides together!).
Use a few more pins to secure the neckband to the sweater at both ends.
Now you’re going to sew the neckband to the sweater. This can be a bit tricky, as you will have to stretch the neckband a bit to get it to fit. Go slowly, and remember to take out the pins before you sew over them!
This is what you’ve got now!
Now fold your sweater so that the underarm seams line up with each other (right sides together). Place a pin at the underarm so it will stay put.
Matching up the edges and starting at the wrist, sew the sleeve and side seam of the sweater.
Then repeat for the other side.
*If you used a preexisting hem, skip down to the Velcro steps. If not, follow these directions to create your own new hem.*
Finish the bottom edge of the sweater using your serger or a zigzag stitch on your regular sewing machine.
Then gently press the bottom edge up about ½” (don’t use a high heat, you may melt the sweater!).
Sew about 3/8” from the bottom, and then again about ¼” from the bottom.
This will create a nice finished look.
Keep going, you’re almost done!
Cut your Velcro to 5 ¾” long.
I use ¾” or 1” wide Velcro, so I like to cut it in half so I get a skinnier piece (it makes it easier for small hands to fasten and unfasten on their own!).
Take your ‘loop’ (soft) side and place it so that the ‘loops’ are NOT touching the right back edge of your sweater. You can pin this here if you’d like.
Bring it to the machine, and sew right along the edge (I used a serger, but if you’re using a regular sewing machine, zigzag the raw edge first, and then sew about 1/8” in from the edge of the Velcro).
Now sew along other three edges of the Velcro to hold it in place (you can see that line in the pink thread in this photo).
Grab your ‘hook’ (sticky) piece of the Velcro and place it along the left edge of the back of the sweater. Again, if using a regular sewing machine, zigzag this raw edge first!
This time, sew the ‘hooks’ just along the outer edge.
Take your Velcro edge, and fold it toward the inside of the sweater (WRONG sides together) about ½”. Pin in place.
Sew a line of stitching about 3/8” in from the folded edge, making sure you’re catching the Velcro in that stitching.
Now the ‘hook’ side of the Velcro is on the INSIDE of the sweater, and the ‘loop’ side is on the OUTSIDE!
Go put the outfit on a dolly and pat yourself on the back. Great job!
Here’s what our outfit looked like completed- Marie Grace seems to love it as much as Miss A does!
I couldn’t stop there, so I grabbed an outfit that was Miss G’s from her bin…
and made a little leggings and dress set for her Bitty Baby too.
Both outfits are a hit here in our house!
Since I know that not everyone sews, I will be offering these Memory Doll Clothes to be custom-made using an outfit that you send me to fit either your 15” or 18” doll. Head over to my Facebook page to find out more details! Or join the Facebook group for special sales and promotions!
I’d love to see what you make using this tutorial! Post pictures on my Facebook page, or follow and tag me on Instagram (@pbj_boutique)!
What tutorials would you like to see next? Leave me some comments and suggestions!