We have a lot of Japanese Fashion Doll Books and enjoy looking at their pretty pictures.
There’s a lot of great information inside but we never attempted a project from the books.
Because it’s intimidating :
- text written in Japanese
- attaching tiny sleeves to shirts
- tiny pants with curves & pockets
- tiny dresses with gathers & lace
But our desire to try a project increased the more books we added to our stash.
So we knew we had to face our fears and tackle a project.
We remembered the message from the show on Netflix: The Creative Brain
So with that message in mind, we decided to start our dolly Sewing Adventure with a pattern from The Dolly Dolly Books: First Doll Coordinate Recipe Book. According to the publisher, it has projects for beginners (yay!)
We selected the first sewing project in the book, a one piece dress for 22cm dolls. It had a skill Level of 1 (means, it’s beginner friendly), 54 steps written in Japanese with images.
The Adventure Begins
We used the Google Translate app to translate the instructions. It did a surprisingly good job. But there were several steps that the app couldn’t translate well.
So we looked to the photos for a visual explanation but it was a struggle to make out what the author was doing in the 1 ⅞ “ x 1 ⅞ “ images.
Our frustration was growing and we hadn’t started sewing yet.
To help reduce our growing frustrations, we hired someone to translate the instructions.
The translation was slightly better then the app. It filled in a few of the missing gaps we had (but not all).
With the app translation and the paid translation in hand, it was time to sew the dress.
The first time we made the dress, we placed the interfacing for the collar on the wrong-side of the fabric. That was incorrect. The interfacing needed to be place on the right-side of the fabric.
It was hard to tell the difference between the right-side & wrong-side of the fabric in the book. Neither the images or instructions were clear.
But as we stumbled through the 54 steps, we took notes and made adjustments to the translations.
The 2nd time we made the dress, we placed the interfacing the correct way but still had trouble with the collar. But despite that, the entire process went smoother then the 1st time.
Blythe enjoys both versions of the dress. She’s not bothered by the imperfections (she’s such a supportive girl).
Is It Beginner Friendly?
We like the style of the one piece dress and look forward to making it again and mastering the 54 steps!
But overall, the pattern was not as beginner friendly as we had hoped.
If you’re a beginner sewist, we wouldn’t recommend the one piece dress pattern. Because you have to be familiar with certain sewing terms and techniques like flipping the interfacing & gathering the skirt to the correct length to attach it to the bodice.
The pattern is more for the intermediate and advanced sewist who has experience sewing dolls clothes & can figure out the steps by looking at the images.
You can complete the dress as a beginner (we did). But the process isn’t easy and could be a bit too frustrating for someone new to sewing.
Dolly Insider’s Skill Level Rating: intermediate to advanced
Over to You:
Do you have dolly patterns that you purchased but haven’t started sewing yet? If so, what do you think is preventing you from starting: is it the language, you’re new to sewing, not enough time, etc?
Have you sewn the First Doll Coordinate Recipe Book, one piece dress before? Do you have any tips or techniques to make the sewing process smoother?
Let us know in the comment section below.
We look forward to chatting with you.
The Dolly Insider’s Sewing Adventure will continue with 3 more patterns from The Dolly Dolly: First Doll Coordinate Recipe Book.
We hope you’ll join us & share your sewing experience.
It’s so much fun! It’s quick and you only need teeny tiny bits of fabric, but the size makes it tricky as well.
For beginners, sewing in felt is a great way to get started. Felt doesn’t fray, and doesn’t move around as much when sewing as fabric with smoother surface. But because it is slightly stiffer and thicker than ordinary fabric, you can’t make the pieces as detailed, which makes it great for beginners. It’s easier to sew by hand than on machine, and that makes it more suitable for beginners too, because the teeny tininess of doll clothes can be challenging on a machine when you’re still practising.
There is a nice book by the same author with felt clothes, that I’ve used to introduce my 9 year-old to doll clothes sewing, and enjoyed it myself. It’s not exactly Hanon-style, but great starting pieces and they are really fun to decorate with ribbons, pearls, fabric paint etc.
Just remember to use as thin felt as possible, or it will be unmanageable.
If your not keen on felt, fabric glue/fray stop is really helpful when sewing in ordinary fabric for dolls.
Thank you for sharing your sewing!
Thank you for the book recommendation. I’ve added to my wishlist. I can’t wait to try it out.
We had our first experience with felt last month. It’s a fun material to work with. We had no idea there’s so many things you can make with felt.
And thanks for the suggestion about using felt to make these patterns. I can see how it can help build confidence in sewing tiny pieces.
We appreciate you sharing your sewing experience and knowledge with us. We learned a lot 🙂
Barb the Evil Genius says
I think that probably with better instructions, this dress could have been easier to make for beginners. I can see why they call this a beginners pattern, and I don’t quite see how they got 54 steps out of this, to be honest.
To be fair, I am a pretty experienced seamstress, sewing adult, children, baby and doll clothes. I have sooo many doll patterns; for me, it’s just getting the mental energy to sew one up. If you had any questions about a sewing project, I’d be glad to help, to the best of my ability.
Hi Barb the Evil Genius,
You’re so right. Having clear instructions would make the entire process a lot smoother (clearer images would also be nice too).
Thank you for offering to help 🙂
There are a couple of steps in this pattern that we were not able to figure out.
Hopefully, sometime this month I’ll be able to email those steps to you. Maybe they’ll make sense to an experience sewist as yourself and you’ll be able shed some little on what the author wants us to do 🙂
Thank you Barb the Evil Genius for taking the time to leave a comment and for your help
I found that the instructions in the kantan doll coordinate recipe to be clearer and easier to follow than the hajimete doll coordinate recipe, even though the constructions are more complex. The Hanon sewing book is also quite clear and informative. I’m teaching my husband to sew at the moment using pdfs of vintage simple Tammy and Skipper patterns. These are a good and easy way to begin. It’s important to understand as a beginner that one is sure to make loads of mistakes as one learns and one is bound to end up with a lot of wonky garments in the process. But it’s a good way to see how much you progress along the way! The dresses you’ve made are quite good. Keep at it! ???
Oh, we have that one too 🙂
I haven’t looked at it yet. We’ll certainly give it a go through, thanks to your recommendation.
And we also have the Hanon book. We tried making the pants but got confused by the pockets. We took a break and unfortunately, got so busy we didn’t return to the pattern.
Hopefully, we’ll return to it on our sewing adventure.
Oh, that’s so sweet about you & your husband <3
How’s his progress? Is he enjoying it? I’m sure he is with you as his teacher 😉
Thanks for the sewing suggestions and advice about mistakes. We’re trying to embrace the mistakes instead of resisting them.