*You will need accurate doll measurements to do this - if you are uncertain as to how
take these measurements, check out the measuring/fitting page

NOTE: Book recommended for beginning sewers. It contains a lot of basic sewing/fitting techniques, terms, basic fabric/thread information, hints on buying a sewing machine/serger, etc.
"Mother Pletsch's Painless Sewing - Fourth Edition" and can be ordered on the Palmer/Pletsch website (click here).

Simplicity 9891

1. Start with the pattern instruction sheet and find the picture of the pattern pieces
(it will look like the picture left above).

For this tutorial I am using a pattern with princess seams. If your pattern has darts, the darts won't be
marked on the pattern instruction pictures. You will have to put them in after enlarging the pieces.
A basic sloper that fits the doll correctly is useful for this.

2. Make a copy of the pattern pieces shown on the instruction sheet using a copier - enlarging the page
a little (I used 125% for this particular example) so that the pieces aren't quite so small. Picture can also
be scanned onto your hard drive and enlarged using a photo editing program.

3. Cut out each of the pieces (from the copy sheet) that you want to use, leaving a small margin of white around
the black lines of the pattern piece - the black lines will be the seamline. (After enlarging the pieces to the size
required and doing any necessary alterations, seam allowances will be added.)

These pattern pieces shown above are on the instruction sheet and will be enlarged to
create a pattern to fit a Tyler Wentworth doll using a woven fabric.

NOTE: The percentages I use in this example are for this particular exercise only. They will differ depending on what
you are starting with and what doll you are creating a pattern for. For example, if you are using a costume book
you will need to measure the pattern pieces in the book (following the example below on measuring the pattern
picture pieces) and then follow the steps outlined to figure out the percentage of enlargement (or shrinkage).
Likewise, if you are using a doll pattern and want to enlarge or shrink it for a doll that the pattern
is not designed for, follow these steps once again to determine your percentage amounts.

 4. Line up the pieces so that you can measure them along the bustline to
determine how much you will need to enlarge the pattern.

I use the bust measurement to determine the percentage of enlargement for a bodice - I can more easily change the shoulder, body length, armhole size and waist. But I want the bustline to fit properly. So I mark the bust point on the
pattern by taking the side front and placing a mark at the point of the greatest amount of bust curve and drawing a line across the piece (see more detail below). (To determine where the bust point is, as well as any other measurements I mention in this tutorial, see my tutorial on measuring). I then match up the other pieces to mark the bustline. I have
drawn a red line showing where I will take the bust measurement of these pieces. I measure each piece across the red
line (from black line to black line), add up the measurement of the 4 pieces and double that measurement (remember,
you are only measuring 1/2 of the garment here). The total bust measurement of my tiny pieces at this point is 2-7/8".

This shows where
I have marked the
bust point at the
greatest part of the bust
curve on the side
front piece (small
piece on the right,
then as the enlarged
pattern piece that
retains the bustline
mark on the left).
Small pieces
so I can take
a bust
total measurement.

 5. Once I determine the bust measurement of the pattern pieces thus far, I determine what I want the final
measurement to be for a proper fit on the doll (allowing for a tiny bit of ease and room for a lining- e.g. 1/4-3/8 inch).
One "easy" way to figure out the % of enlargement required is to divide the end number you want by the measurement
total of the smaller pieces. (e.g. - in this case, Tyler's bust measurement is 7-1/2" and I will add 1/4" ease. So I want
the total bust measurement of the pattern I am "creating" to end up being 7-3/4". The copy of the pattern pieces I
am using measures 2-7/8". I take 7.75 (7-3/4") and divide it by 2.875 (2-7/8") and come up with 2.69 -
I move the decimal point to equal 269% as my enlargement percentage.

Formula example for enlargement:
Larger number (7.75) is divided by smaller number (2.875) = 2.69
Move decimal point two places to the right to
get 269% as enlargement percentage.

If you are shrinking a pattern, just do the opposite - in other words, divide the smaller number
by the larger number. Formula example for shrinkage: 2.875 divided by 7.75 = .37.
In this case your shrinkage percentage would be 37%.

 6. I scan the copies of the pattern pieces individually into my computer so that I can work with them in my photo editing program to enlarge, brighten, clarify, etc. At this point I have just scanned in the 4 dress body pieces - I will work with the other pieces I want to use (the yoke/collar piece and sleeves) once I do the major fitting alterations to the body of the dress.

 7. I enlarge each piece using the 269% - and print out the pieces so that I can start to measure the
enlarged version to see how the "new" pattern will fit the doll. AND, to determine what kind of
alterations are needed before making a mock-up for further fitting.

I do a LOT of measuring of the pattern before I ever get to a mock-up stage. I do this for both human garments
as well as dolls. It is just my philosophy that you can eliminate a lot of grief and get a closer fit the first time
around on your mock-up by doing this. It will also get you comfortable with working with 3-D body
measurements and how they translate to the flat, 2-D patterns pieces to determine fit. Additionally,
whenever I am enlarging or shrinking a doll pattern to fit another size doll, I DO NOT use the doll's
height to determine the percentage - this is just my personal philosophy and work approach.
I always take a few key measurements of each doll and use these for determining the percentage to
enlarge or shrink the pattern - e.g. on a bodice it would be the bust measurement and on a skirt it would
be the hip measurement. All dolls have different porportions - just like people. So to me, using the doll's
height is like saying because I'm 5'4" and you are 5'8" tall, you would use a pattern that is 106% bigger!

This is a comparison of the pieces I started with and enlarged pieces.

8. My next step is to start measuring these enlarged pieces to see what alterations I want to make before
cutting out my mock-up (also called a "muslin") garment. I check the bust point measurement first to see
if it is in the correct position(comparing it to what I have measured on the doll).

The bust point measurement I have measured on Tyler is 1-7/8" from mid shoulder to bustpoint. Hmmm, I've lucked out
here as the bust point on the pattern looks to be just right! (It is approximately 1/16" longer - but that is close enough and allows for a tiny bit of ease). The bustline measurement on these enlarged patterns is 7-3/4" - exactly what I wanted.

9. The next measurement I look at is the 'bust point-to-bust point' to see of the princess lines will fall across the
bust point as I want them too. I take the center front piece and measure it from center to bust point - I have the dolls measurement marked with a pin on the tape measure. *Remember, this front piece is only 1/2 of the total front - so
the measurement must be doubled to get the total "bust point-to-bust point" measurement of the front piece.

 As you can see, the shoulder line of the dress does extend slightly compared to the doll's -
it is so slight that I will double check this during the mock-up stage and change it if I desire.

Measurement from center to shoulder line

HOWEVER, from doing a body assessment of Tyler I note that she has very square shoulders - and the pattern has a strong slope. So I change the shoulder line slightly to give me room to check this during the mock-up (this adjustment is done on both the front and back shoulder pieces).

Front Shoulder Slope Extension

Back Shoulder Slope Extension

10. At this point when I visually compare the pattern against the doll and I can see that there are a few areas that will need some adjustment. I take the side front piece and tape it on the doll to get a better visual - placing the bust point mark on the pattern on the doll's bust point. Tyler is VERY long waisted - as you can see from the picture below.

 I mark the pattern pieces at what appears to be the smallest waistline curve, and once again draw lines across all of the pattern pieces (the dashed red line is where I have figured the waistline to be on the pattern). After taking the pattern 'shoulder to waist' measurements on both the back and fronts of the pattern piece, I compare them to Tyler's measurements. I determine that this pattern will have to be lengthened 3/4" above the waistline to drop the waistline into proper position. You can also see that this pattern skirt part is going to be way too short and will need lengthening. This is very typical of what you will find in either enlarging the instruction pieces or shrinking actual pattern pieces to create a pattern for a fashion doll. (Fashion dolls are built on a fashion drawing scale - which is approximately one head height taller than the average human. A human pattern is geared for approximately a 5'6" person.) The actual waist circumference measurement of the pattern is 6-1/2" and Tyler measures 4-1/2" - so I will leave that measurement as is for now. If I desire a tighter fit once I do the mock-up, this is an easy alteration to make during the first fitting. Also, the hip measurement is fuller than Tyler's - so once again I will make note of those adjustments in the mock-up. Both of these are easy to do in the mock-up stage - and I can see how the entire garment is going to drape before making the fitting decisions on these areas.

11. To adjust the waist length, slash the pattern pieces approximately 1/4" above the waistline marking and tape in a piece of paper to extend each pattern piece by 3/4" to drop the waistline. To help line up the pieces after they are slashed, I extend the grainline to go into the upper part of the pattern piece before I cut it apart. After taping in the extension piece I redraw the curved lines connecting the top of the piece to the bottom (see picture below right).

Green line shows where pattern will be slashed to insert waist length extension piece

Shows grainline extension upward into top of piece so top piece can be
aligned with bottom piece after slashing and inserting extension.

All pieces with waist length extension inserted and lines redrawn.

12. I now want to determine the total length of the dress and add the necessary extra to the bottom of each pattern piece. (The skirt can be slashed and a piece inserted just like was done for the waist length, however I prefer to add the length to the bottom of each piece so it will give the skirt a wider flare at the hemline. This is purely a personal preference.) I take a measurement of the doll from waist to the bottom of the stand (because I want the stand to be covered with this particular design) and extend the skirt to that length plus 1" for a hem.

13. Smooth out the jagged lines by drawing over them with a straight or smooth line. Add a 1/4" seam allowance
to all pattern pieces. On the center back I determine what my opening length is (for a zipper or snaps) and
add an extra 1/8" to that part for a nice "facing" for the snaps or zipper insertion (orange lines show
cutting lines). Cut pieces out of your mock-up fabric and sew together.

Shows center back extension

14. Before I will fit the mock-up of this particular pattern, I need to enlarge and fit the yoke pieces. The dress must fit
to the yoke. I enlarge the yoke pieces by 269% (same as the dress pieces, since this percentage worked out well)
and then check to see if they will work properly. After a quick measure of these enlarged additional pattern pieces, I
note that the shoulder line isn't the same length on the front and back pieces (this isn't unusual when using the
instruction pictures - they aren't always actual shrunken pattern pieces so there can be some discrepancies). After
doing a quick mock-up of just the yoke, I make a few other changes; at the top of the picture are the orignal
enlarged pieces and the bottom ones show the changes I made (including adding a seam allowance to the center back).

One alteration that I've found to be quite consistent when using a human pattern to create a doll clothes pattern
is having to add a bit to the center back neck seam (see green wedge shape on center back of bottom yoke back
piece). For whatever reason a doll's neck is straighter and/or larger in the back than a human's. I have had to
make this alteration everytime I have used a human pattern to get a doll pattern. Otherwise the garment
tends to pull toward the back and the shoulder seams don't align properly.

I make another mock up of the yoke and try it on the doll to see how it works - and I'm pleased so zig-zag the
center front together, stitch down the seam allowance along the center front and top of the collar, and pin it together
in the back. I tape it in place for ease in fitting the dress over it. (One advantage of working with a doll - you can tape
pieces to her/him!) I am now ready for the first pin-fit of the dress - with seam allowances facing out (right side
of the fabric on the "inside" of the dress) to make pin-fitting easier.

15. After pin-fitting I mark (with a chalk pencil or fabric marker) the changes
and make a smooth line to follow when stitching the changes.

After stitching on the new lines I remove the old stitching line, mark a new 1/4" seam allowance and trim away excess fabric. Clip curves and press seams open. In the first pin-fit I made note of the neckline shape/seam allowance I want and mark it at this point. I stay-stitch on my marked line and clip curve - turned seam allowance under, press and baste in place. The dress part is now ready for a second fit with the right side of the fabric out.

16. During the second fitting of the dress I note that there still seems to be enough room for a lining,
but I do some fine-tuning under the bust and decide to trim off approximately 1/8" on the shoulder line
(it extends beyond the doll's shoulder).

 I also use a fabric marker to place dots along where the seamline should be on the yoke (to stitch to the neckline of the dress). I will add a 1/4" seam allowance to the yoke pieces beyond the dot markings.

 17. Sleeves - I want to make a full, "drapy" sleeve (however, fitted at the sleeve cap). I look at the pieces from
the pattern instructions and compare them to a pattern I already have that fits Tyler. I don't like the look of the cap,
so I enlarge the straight sleeve pattern piece (from the pattern instructions) - and it looks a bit better. I compare it
to the sleeve pattern I have that I know fits - the red lines show (below) where my pattern piece cutting lines are.
Remember that the black lines on the enlarged piece are the seam lines, not the cutting lines. It isn't far off, so I
decide to just use the sleeve pattern I have because I know it works! *Note: On a straight sleeve pattern
make sure it is wide enough to go over the doll's hand spread.

18. The last step is to take all of the dress (and yoke) pieces apart and make a final pattern from the pieces. The final pattern can be made from paper or a pattern fabric (this is longer lasting if you want to use the pattern many times). You are now ready to make a REAL outfit for your doll using the pattern you created.

Below are some other doll outfits I made using people patterns to get a doll pattern
It is a fun way to incorporate vintage details into a doll costume.

Bridal dress - vintage Simplicity pattern - 1957 I made the doll pattern pieces on this pattern by shrinking each individual pattern piece using a grid. Since Kitty Collier is exactly 25" of a 32" bust measurement I used 1/4" graph paper - I placed each pattern piece on a cutting mat that has 1" square.

Vintage 1940's McCalls Pattern - for Madra doll
Last Revised: May 12, 2014
Copyright 2000 - Dale Rae Designs