Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Knit Body Shirt for Layla--A Cautionary Tale

Brooke (my Kaye Wiggs Layla) has been standing around looking forlorn lately.  The other dolls have been getting all my attention.  She wants some too, but is too shy to ask.  How can I resist that face?  It's time to make her a new dress.

Going through the patterns I have in her size, I settled on Simplicite, by MHD Designs.  I've made outfits from this pattern before, but they were sized for the 11-inch Kaye Wiggs girls, Millie and Lillie.  The 18-inch version shows the dress without a collar, worn with a turtleneck.  Just the ticket!  I looked at the pattern:  Instructions and pattern pieces for dress -- petal dress -- rompers -- knickers -- cardigan -- knit hat -- socks.  No turtleneck.  Not to worry.  Her Petits Riens pattern, which I also have in both sizes, covers a variety of underthings including three body shirts.  One of them has a turtleneck.

My stash turned up a pretty floral print in blues and white with dark green, which I have been saving for a different project.  There is plenty of it, so I am going to use some for the skirt.  A coordinating dot print will serve for the bodice.  And for the body shirt a thin, lacy white knit that should work well with the floral.

I have used the lacy white knit before, also for a body shirt but for a smaller doll.  As I remember, it was a bear to work with then.  Why did I think it would behave any differently this time?  One of the problems in working with this fabric is that some of the time you end up sewing in a hole.  After a while the thread knots itself up, forcing you to stop and pick the mess apart.  Some of the holes in the lace end up on the outside edge of the pattern piece, where they defy all attempts to sew a clean seam.  I don't know if a serger would have a better time of it.  I don't have one, and must either zigzag my way around or else sew the edges closed by hand.

I wasted an inordinate amount of time picking apart a beautiful seam that ended up sewn on the wrong side of the garment.  In my defense, it's hard sometimes to tell which is the right side of the lace and which is the wrong.  Five minutes to sew a seam, 45 minutes to undo it, all because I couldn't distinguish my thread from the threads in the lace. 


I added a ruffled elastic band to the leg openings.  The pattern didn't call for them -- I just thought it would be a cute touch.  Maybe that's what interfered with the fit of the crotch, maybe not.  Somehow the back of the garment sagged like a baby's full diaper.  I attempted a quick fix that helped a bit, even if it didn't completely solve the problem.  I didn't bother sewing snaps, but just pinned the body shirt on Brooke for the photos.  I expect I'll start over again next weekend with a solid knit.

Another caveat for anyone thinking of using a similar fabric for bjds:  little resin fingers get caught in the openings in the lace, making it dangerous as well as difficult to dress the doll.

The shirt doesn't look so bad in photos.  Up close it's a hot mess.
And I didn't even start on the dress!

I bought the fabric online.  If I had seen it in a store first, I wouldn't have bought it.  Just running my hand over it, my winter-chapped fingers catch on the threads.  This isn't what I had in mind when I went looking for stretch lace.  Next time I'll know better.

P.S.  The socks didn't work, either.


  1. It does look great in the photos!! What a royal pain in the arse to sew up though. Okay, I think I'll stay away from knit lace. I generally don't even bother ripping the stitches out, I just start over, lol, because it's less effort that way. I love reading about your sewing escapades. It's nice to share in the trials and tribulations of sewing for our bjds. xoxo

  2. I thought of starting over instead of ripping out. In the end I decided it would take as long to cut new fabric pieces as to pick apart the seam. What I SHOULD have done was throw it out and look for a different fabric. Next time I'm starting with the dress. That way she has something to wear while I fuss with the body shirt.

  3. A shame that such nice fabric turned sewing into waste. That lace looks beautiful on the photos.
    I always enjoy reading your posts and seeing photos of all your dolls, they're beautiful! Thanks to you I learned how to sew and how to try again after making any mistakes.

  4. The way I look at it, it's not really wasted if I learn something from it. And I just realized that I can cut off the saggy bottom, hem it, and call it a shirt.

    I'm happy that people are inspired to sew after reading my blog! Thank you.