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This lesson is an example of the process (or steps) to create a pattern using this particular
method - for each individual pattern and each specific doll shape or size
(or if you are using metric measurements) the percentages of enlargement will differ!

**This pattern is now out of print. However, this lesson will work with any basic sheath dress pattern.

The pattern instruction
sheet pictures.

Pictures enlarged by 150%
and markings for bustline,
waistline & hipline added
for reference points.
(see Lesson 5)

Pictures enlarged an additional
223% (beyond the 150% shown
left). The 223% is determined
as shown in Step 3 below).

NOTE: Pictures are not accurate in size proportions - but show an example of the process.


Step 1:
Make a copy of the instruction sheet pictures enlarging by 150%. This will make them a bit easier to measure and work with - the 150% is purely an arbitrary percentage that I chose at this point. Cut out only the front and back dress pattern pieces - the other pieces can be enlarged later after the correct percentage has been determined. The black outer lines will become the seam line - seam allowances will be added after the pieces have been enlarged, first alterations completed, and a mock-up garment is ready to be cut out and put together.

Step 2:
Measure the bust line across the front and back to get the bust measurement of the 150% enlarged pieces (Marked with the red dashed line - this is a temporary bustline that was marked following the shape of the pattern-see Lesson 5. Once the pieces are enlarged a more accurate bustlne will be determined and noted on the front pattern piece). My measurement comes to 1-5/8 "- which is half the total bust measurement (because at this point only half the front and one of the backs has been measured), so I double this measurement to get a total bust measurement of 3-1/4".
NOTE: I have chosen to use the bust measurement as my criteria to determine the enlargement percentage. This is partly a guess - but also due to past experience I know that using the bust measurement for a small-busted (and immature shape) doll will most likely work. It is easier to alter the shoulder area or take in or let out the waist and hip area if the bust area fits well. Of course, after completing the final enlargement, pattern alterations and mock-up I will know for sure if this works!

Step 3:
Narae's bust measurement is 6-7/8" and I add 3/8" to that measurement for ease - which gives me a total of
7-1/4". (I determine the ease number of 3/8" based on the structure of this pattern - it is not tight fitting so I want enough ease to achieve the proper design look of the dress). I want the final pattern to measure 7-1/4" across the bustline - so I take 7-1/4" and divide it by 3-1/4" (see formula in Lesson 5) - which gives me an enlargement percentage of 223%. I enlarge the front and back pattern pieces by 223% and use these enlarged pieces to start measuring the pattern to see if it will fit Narae - and/or what adjustments/alterations will be needed to get it to fit.
NOTE: Do not try to just add the two percentages (e.g., 150 + 223) together to get a total percentage to enlarge the pattern pictures as it simply won't work.
If you have any questions on why this won't work, please email me!

Step 4:
After enlargement by 223% I first measure the bustline (where the red dashed line is) - the total comes to 7-3/8" (instead of the 7-1/4 I was aiming for) and I decide to go with this as I can always alter out a tiny bit in the bustline if needed once I do the mock-up.
NOTE: This is a common occurrence and can be attributed to a variance in copy machines or if the picture is scanned in, a variance in how the software enlarges the picture and/or how the printer prints out the picture.
OR, when enlarging by such a large amount the sizing of the enlarged picture can be thrown off by a tiny bit - 1/8" over the span of two pattern pieces isn't a lot. You can either just decide to make alterations at the mock-up stage or use a slightly smaller enlargement percentage and see if comes closer to the number you want.

NOTE: When measuring these enlarged pieces, the outer black line is the seam line. Seam allowances will be added once all of the alterations have been completed.

Step 5:

Determine where the bust point (Apex) is by taking the shoulder-to-bust-point measurement and the bust-point-to-bust-point measurement (divided in half) from your measurement chart on the doll you are creating a pattern for. Measure the pattern in the same places as the measurements were taken on the doll and mark the pattern to show where the Apex is. (These are shown on picture left with a pink dashed line). Once the Apex is marked on the pattern, you will know the angle of the side dart as it will point to the Apex - but will end approximately 1/4" from the +. Draw a line from the tip of the side dart to the side seam extension on the pattern piece that denotes the center of the dart (pink solid line). Draw a vertical line parallel to the center front from the apex down as this will mark the center of the vertical dart (the top of the vertical dart will end 1/4" from the Apex).

Step 6:

To establish the size of the side dart, measure the side seam of the front and back pieces - the difference between these two seam measurements determines the size of the dart. On this example the back measures 5" and the front measures 5-1/4" - therefore the side dart will be 1/4" wide (at the side seam). I measure and place a mark 1/8" to the top and bottom of the pink line at the side seam and draw lines from the tip of the dart to the side seam to create the dart.

Step 7:
This is an optional step - I usually check to see if the center back to shoulder (using 1/2 of the shoulder to shoulder measurement) seems OK before I go further (see purple line - "CB to shoulder" - on upper back piece picture above). If it is only slightly off I don't do any alterations until the mock-up stage as it can easily be done at that time. I do check it out on this pattern and it looks fine. If it seemed far off I would also check the cross back measurement of the pattern and compare it to the doll's measurement to give me an indication of how much alteration would be required.
NOTE: The shoulder-to-shoulder measurement on Narae is 2-5/8 - which I round up to 2-3/4 to include some ease and divide in half which comes to 1-3/8".

Step 8:
Measure the neck to waist (back) - for this example I have placed a mark slightly above the neckline (see green mark/line noting neck to waist back measurement in picture above). The neckline of this pattern/design most likely will fall slightly below the "nape" of the neck - which is where this measurement is taken on a human (it is many times referred to as the "nape to waist" measurement). You basically have to guess as to where the neckline actually will be, but you can get to within a very small tolerance of the true neck-to-waist measurement. Then you can evaluate the pattern and decide if an alteration is needed. Just as in a human pattern, if the pattern measures too short or long, both the front and back will be altered to correct the total length. (In the next Lesson I will demonstrate how to further alter the front for a full bust alteration because if the doll has a full bust, the front of the pattern will be too short even after the length is altered to accommodate the neck-to-waist correction.) Narae measures 3-1/2" - the pattern measures 2-5/8" - so both the front and back will need to be lengthened by 7/8" (above the waistline-see purple XX cutting line in picture below). The pattern will be slashed completely across and a piece of paper is inserted and taped to the pattern to create the extra length. Be sure to correctly align the back grain line marking and center front when making this addition.

Step 9:
This is another optional step. I measure around the armhole of the pattern - then measure around the doll (loosely) to see if it seems far off. Every once in a while it is and the pattern needs to be lengthened between the shoulder and the bottom of the armhole. In this case it seems fine, so I leave it as is.

Step 10:

Measure the pattern from waist to hipline (brown line in picture above with Steps 5 & 6) and compare it to the doll measurement. In this case, the pattern measures 7/8" and Narae measures 1-3/8" - so 1/2" needs to be added to both the front and back pattern pieces above the hipline to create the length needed. You would cut across line YY and insert a piece of paper to add the 1/2".
Be sure to correctly align the back grain line marking and center front when making this addition.

Step 11:
At this time a placement line for the back vertical darts can be added to the pattern. I measure Narae shoulder blade-to-shoulder blade to determine where the initial darts should be placed. This is another extra measurement I take because this dress has back vertical darts. (The location of these darts may change once I do the mock-up and see for certain if everything lines up.) Narae measures 1" - thus I locate the vertical dart placement line 1/2" from the center back (see picture above right).

Picture left shows the following length alterations:

Yellow - the addition of 7/8" to both the front and back dress pieces above the waistline based on the neck-to-waist (back) measurement.

Green - the addition of 1/2" between the waistline and hipline based on the waist-to-hip measurement.

Orange - the addition of 1" to the length based on a shoulder-to-hem measurement (This is not on the measurement chart, but I took this measurement to help me determine if the dress would be long enough. The pattern is measured after the neck-to-waist and waist-to-hip length alterations have been completed.)

**I find these length alterations are common when enlarging the pattern instruction sheet pictures to make a doll pattern - especially for any doll 16" and taller.

Step 12:
There are 2 ways to determine the dart size for both the front and back vertical darts.
1) Is to simply guess and draw a dart in then fit it more accurately once the mock-up is made.
2) Pull out the front and back pattern pieces and trace off the darts. These will be shrunk to the proper
size to fit on the pattern just created for Narae. Narae's bust measures 6-7/8" - which ends up being
22% of the size 8 pattern bust of 31-1/2" (6-7/8 divided by 31-1/2" = 0.218 -- round up to get 22%). Shrink the traced darts to 22% and copy so you have darts to simply cut out and place onto the dress front and back pieces. (Black dart to the left is the traced, 22% reduced dart. Orange darts are the traced ones to cut out and place on the dress pieces - I colored in the darts (orange) so they would show up for the picture above once I placed them on the pattern. Front darts are placed with the top tip 1/4" down from the Apex and centered over the vertical dart placement line drawn on pattern in Step 5. Back vertical dart will be placed with the top tip in the same horizontal position as front dart, and centered over the dart placement line drawn on back pattern piece in Step 11.

Step 13:
The waist and hips should now be measured to see if any alterations need to be made in these two places. Remember when measuring the waistline to skip over the darts (see Lesson 5). The pattern I created measures 6" in the waist - Narae measures 5-1/8" which leaves 7/8" of ease - since this design doesn't fit tightly in the waist area, this amount of ease should be fine. If I want it snugger I can always fit some out in the mock-up stage. The pattern measures 7-13/16" along the hipline - Narae measures 7-1/2", which gives me 5/16" of ease. I feel this will work fine so no alterations need to be made at the hipline either.

Step 14:
Now that all the measurements have been taken, alterations completed and darts placed, seam allowances can be added (shown in hot pink). I add 1/4" around major seams, 3/8" down center back (since there will be a snap closure) and a 3/8" hem. I am now ready to proceed with making a mock-up - I use a medium weight fabric** as this is most likely what I would use when creating the final dress.

**When constructing a mock-up, I usually use a fabric that will be similar to what I intend for my completed garment - rather than a muslin or muslin-type fabric. I find that I get better results. Also note that if you use a thin fabric for the mock up and then cut the garment out of a thick fabric you will find that the garments will fit differently. Thick fabrics cut "bigger" than thin fabrics - so you will need to double check the fit when changing fabric types.


Step 1:
Cut out the front and back pattern pieces and mark (tracing paper works well) the darts. Stitch up the darts - press vertical darts toward center, side darts toward hem. Stitch shoulder seams - press open.

Step 2:
Mark 1/4" seam allowance (using marking pen or pencil) around armholes and neckline. Clip curves, turn under seam allowance and stitch close to the fold. **I do this so that I can get an accurate look at the fit of the armholes and neckline of the mock-up garment. With the seam allowance it makes the neckline and armhole a tight fit and it's hard to tell if it fits correctly.

Step 3:
Stitch side seams - clip waist curve and press open.

Step 4:
Try on doll - pin together down the entire back at the 3/8" seam allowance mark (I use a marking pen or pencil to mark the 3/8" seam allowance so I know I am pinning it accurately).

I am actually quite pleased with the fit - but do decide on a few alterations. The neckline and armholes look good - so they will be left as is. The length will be shortened by approximately 3/8" (I think the length looks a little frumpy for Narae!) See notes with pictures for additional alterations.

The side dart doesn't quite line
up with the bust-point. I place a pink dot on the mock up so I can transfer the location to the pattern and re-draw the side darts. The vertical darts are OK and line up correctly.

The 3/8" seam allowance works well from the hem to about 1/2 way between the waist and neckline - it appears that Narae is small across the upper back. Note where the back is pinned in from the 3/8" seam allowance markings (dark pink dashed lines) to make the back fit better.

Before unpinning and removing
the garment I use a green pencil
to mark the center back where I have pinned out the excess. I also place a mark where the opening should end - this has been determined by unpinning the back until I can get it off the doll (to make sure the opening is long enough).

Because of the alteration to the center back I will need to move the vertical darts over a bit to realign them with the shoulder blades (see final pattern picture below).

The alterations are made on the pattern I created so that I have a final pattern for Narae. (Note: I do not show the seam allowances on this final pattern - but they are included and so the outer edge is the cutting line).

1-Bust side dart is moved and redrawn.
2-Overall length of dress is shortened.
3-Center back is taken in and seam line is re-drawn (and excess is cut off the upper back).
4-Back vertical dart is repositioned.

I am now ready to make a real dress out of this pattern (see results below).

While I have this mock-up ready I decide to try it on 3 other dolls I have that are similar in size -
Ellowyne Wilde, Elfdoll Yumi and a Luts Minifee.


This dress isn't a bad fit on Ellowyne, however I would make a few adjustments to the pattern:

1-The same back adjustment needs to be made as I did for Narae - I've marked it with purple pencil (and the back vertical darts would need to be moved as well). (Picture 4 & 5)
2-Her bust point is higher (see purple dot shown in Picture 3 below) and so front side darts would need to be a moved/ re-marked. The front vertical dart could be extended at the top by about 1/8".
3-Shorten dress length.

**Note: look at armhole in picture below and see the slight gap - this is caused by Ellowyne's little bit fuller bust. This is the tell tail sign of the pattern not fitting well in the front bust area. To get a better fit a full bust alteration would be required - it wouldn't need a lot but would relieve the gap and make the armhole fit better.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5


Again, this isn't a bad fit. There are a few adjustments I would make to the pattern in creating a final version for this doll.

1-The same upper back adjustment (including moving the vertical dart) as I did on Narae's pattern - I've marked the adjustment line in blue. Picture 8.
2-She is smaller in the bustline - but most of the difference is in the back. (Picture 2 shows how the side seam pulls forward so it doesn't align centered under the arm). So I take a tuck in the back-see pins marking this (Picture 5). Picture 7 shows the blue marks where I would adjust the back pattern piece.
3-Her bust point is lower - see blue dot marking it in Picture 3. This would require a movement of the side dart and a lowering of the vertical dart.
4-Her hips are smaller than Narae's so I pin out some of the excess and mark the mock-up in blue to make the adjustments on the pattern (both front and back). Pictures 4 & 6.
5-Shorten dress length.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5

Picture 6

Picture 7

Picture 8


This fits well - but because she has a fuller bust than the other 3 dolls, you can see the gap around the front armhole (Picture 2). For this doll a full-bust alteration would make it fit a lot better in the bust area - but it would depend on how picky you are about fit. The other adjustments I would make are:

1-Again, the upper back needs to be taken in and the back dart adjusted (Picture 5).
2-Shorten dress length.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5


Step 1:
Cut front (on fold) and backs out of dress fabric and lining (dress will be fully lined).

Step 2:
Stitch darts in dress and lining - press side dart down and vertical darts toward centers.

Step 3:
Stitch backs to front at shoulder seams for both the dress as well as lining - stitching from neckline seam to armholes. This is called directional stitching. If the seam is stitched from the armhole to the neckline stretching can occur. Press seams open.






Step 4:
On wrong side of dress, mark 1/4" seam allowance around armholes and neckline. This is a step I do on small doll garments when I have a tight curve to sew around - it can be hard to sew the 1/4" seam allowance around these small curves as the presser foot sometimes obscures being able to see the edge clearly.
Place lining and dress right sides together, pin and sew around armhole and neckline seams.

Step 5:
Trim seam allowance to 1/8" and clip curve (approximately every 1/4"). You know you have the curve clipped properly when you can straighten it out.

Step 6:
To turn the garment right sides out each back needs to be pulled thru the shoulder seam. To do
this I put a hemostat thru the shoulder seam (between the dress and lining), roll up the bottom
of the back at the hem (so it will slip thru the shoulder seam easier), lock the hemostat to the hem
of the back and pull it thru the shoulder seam. Do the same with the lining back pieces.
NOTE: This only works on garments where the shoulder seam is wide enough to accommodate the thickness of the
back pieces. If the fabric is too thick and/or the shoulder seam is too small this method does not work.

Step 7:
Once turned right sides out, press around armhole and neckline seams.

Step 8:
I decide to put a vent in the center back at the hem - this is shown on the pattern. I put lining and dress fabric right sides together at the bottom of center backs and place a mark 1-1/2" from the hem. I stitch from the hem to this mark taking up a 1/8" seam. Clip from the edge to the seam stitching at the mark. Turn right sides out and press seam

Step 9:
Finish off the upper center back seam edges with a serger, zig-zag or some other method.

Step 10:
Stitch the backs to the front at side seams of both the dress and lining in one seam - start at the hem of the dress, sew up to the armhole of the dress and lining and on down the lining to the hem. Clip seam allowance along the waist curve, press seams open and turn so wrong sides of dress and lining are together.

Step 11:
The dress is ready to try on before completing the center back seam and hem. There is still the ability to get into the dress to adjust it at the side seams or slightly along the center back. The dress is put onto Narae and pinned along the center back at the 3/8" seam allowance.
I am pleased with how it looks so continue on with the finishing steps.

Step 12:
Stitch center back seam from the top of the vent to the place/mark where back upper opening ends (on this pattern it is 4-1/2" from the neckline). Press seam toward left back.

Step 13:
Press left back vent 1/4" towards lining and left back upper back opening at 3/8" towards lining - hand catch or fuse in place.

Step 14:
Finish hem edge with a serger, zig-zag or other finishing stitch. Press up 3/8" and hand catch or fuse in place. Sew snaps down the back.

Here is Narae in her dress!

May 12, 2014
Copyright 2000 - Dale Rae Designs