Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer tank dresses

jocole shoreline tank to dress

Summer finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest this weekend.  It is currently 79 degrees and sunny!  It was equally nice yesterday, which marks the first two really warm days we have had all year.  So, it was fortuitous that I decided this was the weekend to make tank dresses for my oldest daughter and her doll, Amy.  You see, the American Girl doll opened near us, in Lynnwood, WA (they call it Seattle but it is not).   We want to visit soon so it is important that our non-American Girl doll, Amy, have a dress matching to her owner.  Don't ask me why this is important, but it is.  Here they are, doll and girl, in their matching dresses.

I spent a good week looking for a tank top dress pattern, one for a size 8 girl and one for a doll, and could not find what I wanted.  Finally, I discovered Jocole Patterns on Etsy, and her Shoreline Knit Tank Top pattern fit the bill as much as was possible. I knew it would be very simple to lengthen the pattern to turn a top into a dress.

First of all, this pattern is excellent! I cannot rave enough about how well written it is and how nice the owner of the store is!  She sent me a few messages to make sure I ordered the correct size and I knew she was available by email for help.  What a sweetie!  The pattern itself is full of details on how to work with knits and how to do the bindings in different ways.  Very nicely done!!

Here is what her tank top pattern looks like upon completion (from Jocole on Etsy)

As you can see, it is a cute tank top with two ruffles across the front.  Very feminine and sweet.  The pattern size I ordered is for girls size 8 thru 14 as well as dolls.  It is challenging to find pdf patterns for tweens so this was a great find. 

Secondly, since I did not want to make a top, I needed to find a dress to use as a sample for the length and width I wanted.  I used this Hanna Andersson dress that still fits my daughter, one she wears often.  It is a size 130 and falls just to above her knees.  We like the way the skirt is A-line.  So, I printed out the three pieces for the Jocole pattern and decided I only needed the top two parts because I intended to flair the skirt out.  Here you see the top two parts of the Jocole pattern, attached together (parts A & B).

 The next step was to use the Hanna dress to create a longer pattern.  I used a piece of printer paper for the middle section and then realized I need more width.  So, I taped together a piece of Swedish Tracing paper and attached it all with clear 3M packing tape, for strength.  Here, you see the whole dress pattern, taped to the Jocole pattern.  Because the Jocole pattern has straps and the Hanna dress does not, I had to modify the bodice placement accordingly. 

Then, it was a matter of following the Jocole directions.  As I said, it is a very well-written pattern.  She gives you options for binding.  You can use cotton knit and use regular thread with it or Wooly or Bulky nylon.  You can use a straight stitch or a zig zag.  You can also use fold ever elastic.  For the ruffles, you can use elastic to ruffle or you can ruffle in other manners.  I chose to use the same cotton knit as the dress for the bindings and elastic to ruffle.  The fabric I used is a cotton interlock knit from Chez Ami.

I decided to give Bulky Nylon, from Gutterman a try, and boy do I regret that!  My old, fussy Singer did not like that thread at all.  I tried it on the bobbin only and it caused me annoying tension issues until I finally gave up, put the regular Gutterman thread on the bobbin, and switched to a zigzag stitch!  Aaah, relief!  No more issues! 

I am not the best at sewing bindings so these came out a tad messy but they look ok.  Ok is better than ugly, right?  LOL!  I sewed a dress for the doll, Amy, first, and then one for my 8 year old.  I think they turned out pretty cute! I needed to custom-tailor them to fit well, but that is the point of home sewing, right?  So, here are the finished products.  We are ready to have lunch at the American Girl doll store/restaurant!

 Here is Amy and her tank dress.  Amy is a Madame Alexander 18" doll

 Here is my 8 year old and Amy.  The sun was in her eyes.
And here they are in the shade, very happy with their new dresses!  

jocole shoreline

This is a great pattern! I highly recommend it!

1 comment:

  1. I love how these turned out, and in knit! Amy looks so happy with her matching doll, I hope she has a great time at the store - it sounds like every girl's dream. if you have a look at the comments on this blog post, there's lots of suggestions for matching girl and doll dresses.
    in case Amy wants more ;-)