Well, not secrets, but things I wish I had done like this right from the start. But I learned how to do it and it has made the life of a doll seamstress a bit easier. That’s why I decided to share these little tricks. I am sure there are different ways to do this, but this is how it works best for me.
I am going to show you an easy way to 1. ruffle a skirt, 2. set a zipper and .. 3. set sleeves.
Sounds boring, but I have seen a lot of very complicated, fiddly ways to do this, so this might help some of you after all.
I highly recommend getting three things for this: nylon coil zippers, a lighter and some transparent sewing thread for basting. This will require some hand sewing as well as a sewing machine (basic presser foot).
I use to buy close end zippers-lots in just white or mixed colors in lengths between 14-16 cm (something around 6- 7 inches). The length works best for MSD sized dresses. You can get them on ebay in all sizes and colors. Same for transparent sewing thread. I couldn’t do without. It’s great for basting. It doesn’t split, so there’s no danger of sewing into the thread. You can easily pull it out again and re-use it, It makes sewing in that scale just so much more accurate than just using pins.
Let’s get started.
Ruffling or gathering a skirt
Setting the zipper
Once the left side is attached, I close the zipper and pin the waist at the same position (5). That’s the part where the leftover long thread comes in handy, I usually sew just the waist seam to the zipper with a few stitches to get them positioned exactly even (6).
Now I pin and baste the right dress part, sew it to the zipper and turn the insides out. (7).
I close the gap by hand and sew about an inch down to continue with the sewing machine without getting the zipper ends in the way. That way the zipper end coil is hidden (8).
Guessing from the questions I’ve been asked I figured I needed to rephrase this part, so this is the second attempt to explain it since I published the post. I also added a new picture.
Working in this scale is different from human clothes, so the method of sewing the armhole first on the flattened garment and finishing the sides after is sometimes quite fiddly.
Doing it by hand and using this method might be an easier way to go about it, especially if you use stretchy fabric that doesn’t need a hem.
It’s just a very simple method for inset sleeves, and for doll clothes I don’t mind the hand sewing or adding a hem by hand. Sleeve and bodice are sewn separately first and the sleeve is attached to the armhole after.