doll clothes

So this is Harriet. We didn’t play with her when we were little, but I don’t think it’s because Mom wouldn’t let us; I think that, knowing she was the only doll my Grandma saved for Mom, we respected her too much and didn’t want to risk injury. Isn’t she pretty?

I took these photos in a hurry on the morning we left Madison (where my parents life), so I didn’t have time to let the collar dry after wetting it a bit to finger-press it flat. Sorry. This is the dress the Harriet was wearing when Mom got her:

I’ve been thinking a lot about gathering and ruffles lately, which is surprising because I’m not a ruffle-y sort of designer. But I was remembering from school that, in the garment industry these days, you rarely see a ruffle with a ratio of more than 1.5 to 1 anymore. This dress clearly has at least a 2.5 to 1 ratio, I’d say. I like it. It’s not saccharine despite the fullness of the gathers. Maybe it’s the gray of the dress. Or maybe the extreme fullness keeps it from being too flirty and takes it to a more sophisticated level like Christian Dior’s New Look.

And here is the pinafore that goes over her dress, front and back:

I love grey for kids’ clothes, and this feels so subtle and contemporary to me. I’d love to do a pinafore for the Oliver + S line, but it would need to be updated a bit. Much as I love this one (especially those mitred corners!), we’re not a vintage pattern company, so I’d like to give it a contemporary spin.

My Mom’s aunt sewed this dress for Harriet.

The collar needs to be repaired. But it matches the pinafore nicely:

She also sewed this corduroy coat with velvet collar and jet buttons:

I like the raglan sleeves and the tucks at the neckline to give the coat some fullness.

And this seersucker nightgown, which is missing the gathering ribbon at the neckline:

I love the lace, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen solid-colored seersucker anywhere else. It’s subtle and would also be great for dresses, I think.

Several years ago (ok, more than several), I sewed American Girl clothes for my sisters’ dolls and really enjoyed making them. And even as a child I really appreciated the clothes my Mom made for our dolls; it’s such a thoughtful, intimate gesture, and I think children understand that doll clothes are made for no other reason than their own playing pleasure. That’s a pretty great expression of love, in my book.

We’ve had more than a few requests for doll-sized Oliver + S clothes, and I’m sure that eventually we’ll do something along those lines. But for now, I’m just appreciating all the care and time that went into these. And the details that make them so special.


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  1. I still have the doll that my mom sewed doll clothes for. She often sewed matching outfits for me and the doll. Pure love.

    Here’s a link to the photo of the Christmas Day that I was given Elizabeth. Mom had made me a new nightgown and when Elizabeth was unwrapped, she was matching me.

  2. Oh, this was wonderful! I’m so excited at the thought of matching O + S doll dresses. Vintage doll dresses intrigue me . . . the time and effort that was put into the sweet details.

    As far as ruffles go – I JUST TODAY posted a link on my website with Ruffler Attachment instructions. I like the plaiting!

  3. TRS

    I sewed clothes for my Barbies (and for my cousin’s Barbies) myself when I was small.

    I used scraps from my sister’s sewing projects. Barbie ended up with a number of tube dresses made from blue and/or violet velour! (no patterns – but mastered elastic casing at an early age!)

  4. Please, oh please design a pattern based on this up to at least a size 5T. Please oh please! There are so few adorable, quality patterns (if any!) out there, and iimagine the possibilities for this dress in winter with a wool, in summer with a muslin, . . . oh oh oh!

  5. I think that the nightgown is plisse. My mom used to make us nightgowns out of it and it is still available.

  6. LOVE the courderoy coat. I liked to dress my dolls, even though they were all bald because I gave them haircuts..

  7. I know this post is old, but I just found your blog. Pleasepleaseplease, make a pattern based on that coat! I’ve been scouring antique and thrift stores looking for a vintage children’s coat pattern and I just can’t find one. That doll’s coat is exactly what I’ve been looking for (maybe with an optional long sleeve?)

  8. Very beautiful if we have a doll clothes as I recall on my daughter. thanks

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