Tag Archives: dresses

Turning a girl sized pattern to American Girl sized

If you remember, back in July I made my niece a dress.

Well, when I found out she was getting an American Girl doll for Christmas (Shhh… it’s a surprise), I decided that I would try to make a matching dress for her doll. Her mom agreed that she would probably love it. I had a bunch of fabric leftover from my niece’s dress, so no need to buy anything new. However, I did not have a pattern. I tried to see if I could find one online, but did not encounter much luck.

So. I did math.

I was never really all that great at math. I do think part of it stems from some pretty terrible teachers in junior high and high school. Because some of the equations that I did figure out have definitely stuck with me. Like the proportional equation. And some geometry stuff that helped us out when we put in our own hardwood floors.

Give me a few minutes and I may be able to explain some math to you AND help you figure out some pattern making skills.

I still had the pattern pieces from the dress I made from “Project Runway Inspired” Simplicity Pattern 3510. I also still had my niece’s measurements and I found a few different websites that listed the dressmaker’s measurements for the American Girl doll.

So, I took all my measurements and the pattern pieces and started doing math and some drawing.

In order to do this I would measure a portion of the pattern piece, say the width of the armhole, and then plug it into my proportional equation (I am really not sure if that is the correct name for this equation, just go with it) along with some of the other measurements. This is the kind of math where there are knowns and unknowns and you have to do a little figuring to find out what the unknowns are (X).

So let’s go with the armhole example (FS = Full size, AG = American Girl):

FS armhole width               X (AG armhole width)
—————–            =       ———————
FS chest width                     AG chest width

So to find X you have to break down the equation until X is left by itself on one side of the equal sign.

2 1/8″           X
—–       =    —–
25″              11.25″

Now I’m not really sure the whole theory behind this, but you multiply in an X across the equal sign.

(2 1/8″) * (11.25″) = (25″) * X

Then to get the X by itself you have to divide both sides by 25 which eliminates the 25 on the X side.

(2 1/8″) * (11.25″)
——————       =        X
            25″

In this case X = 0.956″

So, then you know that when you are drawing the armhole, that it needs to be about an inch wide for the American Girl dress.

So, like I said when I was doing the equation I was also taking into consideration where on the body the measurements occured and using corresponding measurements. You wouldn’t for example, use the dolls height in the above equation over the chest measurement. And you want to use the width measurements with other width measurements and height measurements with other heigh measurements.

Or, if you were making a dress with sleeves, you would want to use the wrist and arm measurements when figuring out how wide and long to make the sleeves.

Does that make sense? I hope it does.

Here were my final pattern pieces:

I actually cut out the matching mini pockets for the American Doll dress too, but when it came down to actually sewing them, it was much too hard, even hand sewing them. They were soooo tiny. The dress isn’t an exact match, but I think it turned out pretty good.

I was also concerned about whether the doll version would fit over the doll’s head, so I decided to put a snap in at the back to give more room for pulling it over the doll’s head.

A few of the sites I found that talked about making doll clothes to match big kid clothes said to make it more accurate you should find coordinating fabrics with scaled down versions of the pattern (quilting cottons are a good place to look for this). I just wanted to use up some of the extra fabric I had on hand, so I didn’t do this. I think it looks alright. I did, however, scale down the size of the binding around the armhole to 1/4″ binding. I think on my niece’s dress I used 3/4″.

Anyway, it really is just a matter of knowing a little math, maybe having a calculator on hand if you can’t do math in your head like me, some blank paper, a ruler, measuring tape and a bit of drawing skills. Or if you are not super impressed with your drawing skills, you could make a rough drawn version by hand, scan it and clean it up in a program like Adobe Illustrator.

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Sew, sew, sew…

I’ve been sewing it up lately. I am really loving sewing because of the instant gratification factor. I can cut out a pattern and have it pretty much done in 1-2 days, sometimes even 1-2 hours.

So here are all my projects:


This was the first one. I love the maxi dresses that are everywhere right now, but I am super short so they all drag. Come summertime most fabric stores have this fabric that is already gathered with elastic at the top as you see here so you just have to do a single seam, hem and you are pretty much done. I decided to put in a couple darts on the side so the dress would fit me a little better and I didn’t hem it. I figure this was probably meant to come just under the knee on most adults, but it hits right at the ankle for me which is perfect.

That project really got me on a sewing clothes kick.

I had bought a bunch of fat quarters from a local quilt shop with a gift card I got last year for my birthday. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them, but I loved them all and loved that all the fabrics went so well together. After a bit of pondering and experimenting I decided that I wanted to make a patchwork skirt. I found the book, Free-Style Handmade Bags & Skirts, which has a bunch of basic skirt and bag patterns. After making a panel of patchwork I used the pattern pieces to cut out the skirt shape for the Basic Yoke Skirt. Then I cut a second set out in a solid fabric to line the back of the patchwork top and create a border at the bottom as well as the yoke in the solid color.

Here’s a blurry picture of me with it on:

I was so excited when I finished it that I put it on right away even though it was 11pm and I had no where to go. Also, note the fact that I was wearing a sweater in JULY! It has been so drizzly and cold here lately. I love it though so I am not complaining.

Here is a non-blurry picture of the skirt:

I have been slightly afraid that it borders on being a crazy craft lady project, but I think as long as I stick with good fabrics and don’t go overboard with the patchwork projects I will be okay.

Next up my nieces are having a combined birthday party this weekend and I decided to make them a couple dresses.


My original plan was to make two of these dresses, one for each girl, just because they are so simple, but then I fell in love with some other fabric and found the perfect pattern for it to make my other neice.


This is “Inspired by Project Runway” Simplicity Pattern 3510. I kind of thought the whole Project Runway materials inside the pattern were pretty dumb. They marketed it like, “you get to be the designer just like on the show.” Um, well, the whole point of making your own dress from any pattern or not is that you get to be the designer to a certain extent and make your own little customizations or not. I also felt like the pattern instructions flowed in a very disjointed way. Most patterns also have numbering information that help you figure things out like how much fabric you will need depending on which version you are going to make and this one didn’t. I wound up buying an entire yard of each of the fabrics just because I was having a really hard time figuring out how much fabric I would need. I’ve done patterns before, I learned how to read this information in 4-H. So, in other words, I am not dumb and I am slightly experienced and even I had trouble with this. I can’t imagine being some random person watching the show and deciding to sew for the first time using one of these patterns. I think I would give up pretty quickly.

Alright, enough ranting. Hope you enjoy my projects. I’ve been sketching out about a million new design ideas and can’t wait to try them out! I may never buy clothes again.

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