Monday, April 20, 2015

Sewing: Easter Angel Sleeve Dresses for Girls and Dolls (Free Doll Dress Pattern)

Easter dresses are some of my favorite projects. I love the idea of a new pretty dress for Spring, and the tradition of something special to mark the holiday. I usually lean toward the dressier dress, or at least something sort of ambitious, but this year I kept it simple. I made Angel Sleeve Dresses and Blouses with skirt for my girls and their dolls. I've updated my Angel Sleeve Dress pattern (one of my first) with digitally drafted pattern pieces, and I have the Doll Angel Sleeve Dress and Blouse Pattern for you free, along with a sewing tutorial below. 

Simple doesn't have to be boring, so I picked bold floral fabrics for the dresses (all purchased from Jo-Ann in their premium quilting fabric section) and adding pom-pom and bias trim. It's simple to embellish these dresses with trim at the sleeve and skirt hem and adds a bit more fun.

The Doll Angel Sleeve Dress Pattern is sized for 14", 16" and 18" dolls and it's such a basic shape it would work for dolls of all shapes. 

I used the 16" for the Waldorf dolls I sewed and it also works well for the Disney Animator's Collection dolls. The 18" pattern is designed for American Girl Dolls, Our Generation Dolls and the like.

I used a mini pom-pom trim on the sleeves and hems of the Waldorf Doll dresses, but opted for packaged 1/2" bias tape for the American Girl Doll dress. I think the bias trim is a great look for dolls and girls! I just hemmed the dresses as the pattern directed and then sandwiched the sleeve and skirt hems in the folded bias tape and stitched close to the fold.

You may be wondering about the three girls in this photo.... I knew all three of my girls wouldn't enjoy these dresses but I did want to sew a third matching set for an 18" doll and her girl. Luckily my beautiful friend indulged me by letting me borrow her American Girl Doll for a fitting and was amiable to participating in a photo shoot. She was my best model! She thought it was fun! I've been reminding my girls of her enthusiasm ever since--they don't always see a photoshoot for the good time that it is! 

It's too bad I didn't just talk Audrey into this shoot, because I miss her in it. And I owe her an Easter dress. Easter is the happiest of the holidays my family celebrates (you can read a bit about my thoughts in Easter in this post). I hope you too are enjoying the renewal of Spring.

If part of your Spring celebration includes sewing, you can find the pattern for my Angel Sleeve Dress and Blouse here in my Etsy Shop. And the free pattern for the Doll's Angel Sleeve Dress and Blouse here.

Keep reading for the sewing tutorial for making a doll-sized Angel Sleeve Dress or Blouse.

If you want to see more clothes I've sewn for these dolls you can view my Waldorf Dolls Wardrobe Post I and Waldorf Dolls Wardobe Post II.


You'll Need:
  • My 4 page PDF Doll Angel Sleeve Dress Pattern
  • Fabric: light to medium fabrics such as quilting cotton, cotton shirting, rayon, cotton lawn, voile, jersey knit, seersucker
    • 14" doll: 1/4 yard
    • 16" doll: 1/3 yard
    • 18" doll: 1/3 yard
  • 1/4" elastic for neck (see pattern for length)
  • 1 snap for back neck closure (and optional tiny button)
  • Coordinating thread
  • Optional: trims such as rickrack, pom-poms, ribbon, or bias tape.
To Make:

Download the PDF pattern file. Open it using Adobe Reader. Print the four pages at 100%, or "Actual Size". DO NOT SCALE. I've included a 1" square as a guide to ensure it has printed at actual size.

Trim the margins off the pattern pieces and tape them together using the lettered triangles as a guide--match "A" with "A" and "B" with "B" and so on. Your assembled pattern should look like this:

Cut out the pattern pieces for your size doll.

Use the pattern pieces to cut:
  • 1 of the Dress or Blouse pattern (ON THE FOLD)--this is for the FRONT
  • 2 of the Dress or Blouse pattern--this is for the BACK
  • 2 of the sleeve pattern (on the fold)
The following tutorial is for sewing the Dress or Blouse; the photos show the Blouse.

Take the two Dress/Blouse BACK pieces and create a narrow hem on the raw edge of the center back seam by turning it to the wrong side by a scant 1/4" and zig-zag stitching.

Turn this edge 1/4" once again and stitch close to the folded edge. (Photo above shows wrong side and right side of these pieces.)

You should have two Dress/Blouse BACK pieces with a finished center edge.

Create a narrow hem on the bottom edge of the SLEEVE pieces in a similar fashion: turn once to the wrong side and zig-zag stitch; turn a second time and stitch close to the folded edge.

Take one of the SLEEVE pieces and lay it right sides together on the Dress/Blouse FRONT piece matching the armscyes. Pin as shown in the photo above.

Lay the other SLEEVE right sides together with the FRONT on the opposite armscye and pin as shown above.

Stitch with a 3/8" seam allowance.

Trim the seam allowances and zigzag stitch the armscye to finish.

Lay the two Dress/Blouse BACK pieces right sides together with the opposite sides of the SLEEVE pieces. Pin along the armscyes. Stitch, trim and zig-zag finish these seams as you did with the other armscye seams.

Now you'll form the neck casing. First zig-zag stitch the neck edge from one BACK piece, across the top of one SLEEVE, along the top of the FRONT piece, across the second SLEEVE, and the final BACK piece. 

Turn under this neck edge by a generous 3/8", wrong sides together, ensuring that you have enough space to insert 1/4" elastic. Stitch this neck casing close to the zig-zag finished edge.

You will have openings in the casing at both ends, at the center BACK.

Lay the BACK pieces right sides together with the FRONT piece, aligning side seams. Pin along the side seams and bottom of the SLEEVES.

Stitch with a 3/8" seams allowance from the bottom of the Dress/Blouse to the SLEEVE hem. Trim and zig-zag finish this seam.

Hem the bottom edge of the Dress/Blouse by turning under once, zig-zag stitching and turning a second time and stitching close to the fold.

To form the back seam, lay the two BACK pieces right sides together, aligning the finished back edges. Pin from the hem towards the neck, stopping 1.5" to 2" from the neck. If you have a hard-bodied doll you may want a 2" opening at the neck for getting the dress on and off; soft bodied dolls are obviously more forgiving.

Cut your 1/4" elastic to the length indicated for your size doll: 

14" doll -- 6.5" elastic
16" doll -- 7.5" elastic
18" doll -- 8.25" elastic

Using a small safety pin, thread the elastic through the neck casing.

Stitch the casing closed at the ends, catching the ends of the elastic so they are secured inside it. 

Then fold back the ends of the casing to match the seam allowance at the back center and stitch down. Now this elastic is extra secure!


The final step is to sew on a snap closure at the back neck opening. If you'd like, you can sew a button on the outside too. I love the touch of a tiny button without the hassle of a tiny button hole!

If you'd like to add trim, this is the time to do it. You can "sandwich" your sleeve and Dress/Blouse hems in some 1/2" bias tape and stitch them in place close to the edge. Or you can sew rick-rack or pom-pom trim either peeking out beneath the hem, or a little bit above the hem as shown in the examples below.

If you are making an Angel Sleeve Blouse and would like to make a matching skirt. Here are some quick instructions for a basic gathered doll skirt.

First, cut a rectangle of fabric the size for your doll:

Width= 2 or 3 times your doll's waist measurement
Height= 5" (14" doll) 6" (16" doll) 7" (18" doll)

Zig-zag stitch the top edge to finish. Turn under the hem edge 1/4" and zig-zag stitch.

Form a casing for the waist elastic by turning under (wrong sides together) the top edge 3/8" and stitch close to the zig-zag finished edge. (Just be sure the casing is tall enough to accommodate your 1/4" elastic.

Cut a piece of 1/4" elastic the same measurement as your doll's waist and use a safety pin to thread it through the casing. Stitch the casing closed at both ends, catching the elastic in your stitching to secure it.

Fold the skirt in half bringing the short edges right sides together. Stitch using a 3/8" seam allowance. Trim and zigzag finish this back seam.

Hem the skirt by turning the bottom edge up again and stitching. If you want to add trim you can encase the skirt hem in bias tape or stitch rickrack or pom-pom trim along the bottom hem.

Enjoy your Angel Sleeve Dress or Blouse for dolls!


Anonymous said...

Gracias por tus explicaciones tan perfectas y detalladas. Como siempre muy originales y cómodos los vestidos. Un besito desde Sevilla. Ani.

Anonymous said...

Perfect as usual!
I always love the way you fashion your girls (I did missed Audrey as well and i can't wait to see her belated Easter dress)!
Thank you for the pattern update - The Angel Sleeve dress is a favorite around here (because of the sleeve, obviously)! said...

!!I was wanting to make Monkey a nightie for her and her babies and this will be PERFECT. ") So excited!

I do have a question.

I bought the summer set and the angel sleeve dresses off etsy FOREVER ago... I see that the doll dress has a whit4e background instead of the red that used up all my ink in my printer. :( It's the ONLY thing that I don't love about your patterns.

Any chance that the angel dress or summer set have been updated to this computerized version or at least a NON red background version?

I would make a bazillion of BOTH...

Anneliese said... Thanks for your comment. I am in the process of updating my older patterns to the digital format, similar to this doll pattern here. I finished the Angel Sleeve Dress patter a couple months ago and emailed it to all the previous buyers. If you didn't receive it please let me know! Thanks.

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