Here is a birthday present from me to all of you! Directions for making a classic mid- 19th century dress for your Izannah Walker doll. I based the directions on several antique children’s dresses in my collection. I hope you enjoy making this dress for your dolls ❤ Or even better, make a larger version for a special child in your life ❤ ❤ ❤
These instructions are for your own personal use, they are copy righted by Paula Walton A Sweet Remembrance 2012 and are not to be reproduced or sold in any form.
First a bit of historical background. Izannah Walker lived and worked in a time when paper patterns, as we know them, were just coming into being. In 1863 Ebenezer Butterick a tailor from Massachusetts began making graduated and marked patterns out of paper. Folded by his wife and family and packed in boxes of 10 each, he sold these patterns to tailors and seamstresses throughout New England. These patterns proved to be very popular, possibly due to the fact that Butterick hired a staff of door-to-door traveling salesmen. Prior to this time, garments were cut without a pattern as such. There were books of diagrams available for professional seamstresses that illustrated how to cut the latest fashions. Periodicals, such as Godey’s Lady’s Book also provided color plates of the latest fashions, along with diagrams and brief instructions.
Simple basic garments, such as this dress and other children’s clothing, along with shirts, under wear, etc. were routinely sewn at home without the use of any pattern, as it was common knowledge how to make these basic necessities.
The following instructions are written following this tradition and are meant to be custom fitted to your doll. You can also use these same instructions to make full size children’s dresses by simply enlarging the widths and lengths.
*** Sewing should be done by machine, unless specifically noted.
Step 1. Cutting out the skirt. Measure from the waist of your doll down to the point where you want the bottom of the hem (This can be to the tops of her feet, or higher. If dressing your doll as an adult or young woman the skirts should be longer than if you are dressing the doll as a young child.).
Add 1/4 -1/2 inch (your choice – just remember how much you have allowed) seam allowance for the top edge, if you plan to make a gathered skirt. If you will be cartridge pleating, also known as gauging, your skirt you need to allow at least an inch to fold down at the top edge (or up to 1 – 1/2 inches).
Next determine how deep a hem you wish to make. If you are using antique fabric you may be very limited by the amount of fabric you have on hand to make your dress. Ideally I like to have at least a 2 inch hem for doll’s dresses, 3 inches is even better. When making a child’s dress you should have a hem depth that measures from 3-4 inches. Add 1/4 inch allowance to turn under on the top edge of the hem.
If you want to have growth tucks in your skirt, as shown in the sample dress above, add 1 inch per tuck for 1/2 inch tucks, or 1 – 1/2 inches per tuck for 3/4 inch tucks. For a child’s dress add 2 inches per tuck for 1 inch tucks.
Total all of your measurements. Your figures should look something like this:
skirt length – 7 inches
top seam allowance (gathered skirt) – 1/2 inch
hem – 2 – 1/2 inches
hem edge turn under allowance – 1/4 inch
two 1/2 inch growth tucks @ 1 inch each – 2 inches
total = 12 – 1/4 inches
To figure out the width of your skirt consider the width of your fabric and availability of yardage. Antique fabrics are narrow in width usually 24 – 36 inches. I generally cut my doll skirts the width of the fabric. If I am piecing together fabric to make up the width, then I try to come up with at least 20 inches. If I am gathering the skirt I don’t make it any wider than 36 inches. When cartridge pleating it’s a good idea to have a width of at least 26 inches and no wider than 38. Children’s skirts obviously will require at least two fabric widths and should measure from 38-50 inches. Now it’s finally time to carefully measure and cut out the rectangle that you will be using to make your skirt. Yeah! We’ve made it through Step 1 !!!