A Seven and a Half Year Old's Guide to Sewing Doll Clothes

Anika's Doll Dresses

My Scrappy Phoebe kits are a learn-to-sew kit, that includes a mini Phoebe doll, a simple dress pattern, instructions, 8 fabrics and 8 trims.  

I was blown away when I received photos from two parents showing me what their daughters have made from the kit. The kit has already launched two budding clothing designers. One only six and the other is seven going on eight. 

They will each get their own blog post.

 Scrappy Phoebe Sewing Kit available on etsy

Scrappy Phoebe Sewing Kit available on etsy

Meet today’s young  seamstress and designer: Annika, who goes by Anni outside of the fashion and design world.

Anni is in second grade, but started real sewing waaaay back in first grade. But she really started designing dresses years before she was actually able to sew. When Anni was three or four she used to make “pin clothes” for her groovy girls.

Her mother Anne explained, “She would sit next to me while I was sewing, and pin fabric scraps onto her dolls to make outfits.  They were actually pretty cool, if a little prickly, and maybe not so safe for a pre-schooler.”

 Annika's sewing machine is a Featherweight Singer and has been treasured for three generations of seamstresses in her family.

Annika's sewing machine is a Featherweight Singer and has been treasured for three generations of seamstresses in her family.

Annika’s first time on the sewing machine was this past fall when she joined her older sister sewing pillows at Joann’s for a local breast cancer fund raiser. 

 “Anni was desperate to sew, and was trying to do it herself, but with things always getting cut too small, or the wrong shapes.” This past Christmas, Annika received the Scrappy Phoebe kit.

Since she received the kit, she has not only made several of the dresses in the kit for her little Scrappy Phoebe, but she has also designed a coat and pajamas for her doll.

Annika’s older sister Kate helped her design the patterns for the pajamas and coat, by placing Scrappy Phoebe on a piece of paper and tracing her arms and neck . They then lay the dress pattern on top of the tracing to make the coat. The coat is a shorter version and the nightgown is a longer and wider version.

I was so impressed, this is often how patterns are designed, overlaying, tracing and tweaking, lengthening and shortening, widening and narrowing.

Mini American Girl Doll

She then took what she learned and made a dress for mini-American Girl doll.

She decided to go big. She made a dress for her American Girl doll—a dress with puff sleeves, which can be tricky even for a more experienced adult doll dress maker.

American Girl Dress

Annika described how she made the puffy sleeve, “We had to make the sleeve curved and bigger at the top.  Then we sewed along the edge with long stitches, and sewed next to that the same way.  We backstitched only at the beginning and not at the end.  Then we took the long threads and pulled them to make it puffy.  We did the same thing for the other sleeve.  My mom lined up the sleeve and the dress with the Wonderclips.  It is really hard to sew the puffed part, because it is not flat.”

She now has sewn on a machine enough to have a few opinions about the experience.

  •  She likes the pedal.
  •  She likes flicking the presser foot up and down.
  •  She does not like that the bobbin some times runs out (same).
  • She’s okay with the machine coming unthreaded, because she knows how to thread the machine.
  • And last but not least, “ I like that you also don’t poke yourself with the needle like you do in hand sewing.”   

What’s next for Annika and her dolls? According to Annika, a shawl out of see-through material with polka dots and pom-poms, a dress for every season, jeans, a felt skirt, a t-shirt and a sweater.

 Annika is off to a great start, not only as a seamstress, AND a dress, outwear and sleepwear designer.