I love sweaters and cardigans. It was one of my favorite pieces of clothing to put on my babies. It is the one clothing essential I am always on the lookout for myself when I am at the thrift shops. So it only seems logical that I would want my dollies dressed in them also! Well, I can knit and crochet, and while I enjoy it, I love sewing more. There are only so many hours in a day, after all! So I recently figured out how to "make" cardigans for my 18" crowd, without actually having to dig out my knitting needles or crochet hooks:
Voila! Isn't this adorable?
A closer view
And the back...
So, how did I make this? BABY sweaters, people! I went to Value Village a couple of days ago and picked up this little size 0-3 month cardigan for $1.00. It was regularly priced at $1.99, but it had the color tag that was 1/2 price that week. Score! I made a simple pattern of a front, back, and sleeves, loosely based on the measurements of Kit's Meet sweater. I placed these pattern pieces on the baby sweater, utilizing the cuffs so that I wouldn't have to hem anything. I also used the placket and buttonholes. I didn't take any pictures. But today, I made another one, and I took photos throughout the process. So here you go, just in case you, too, want to outfit one of your dollies in a thrifted sweater cut down to just her size:
I started with this cute, striped cardigan from Baby Gap. It cost me all of $2.00 at a local children's clothing resale shop.
I folded it in half, so that the front edges were perfectly lined up, and then I pinned on the pattern for the cardigan front. Notice how I am incorporating both the bottom and front edges.
The front pieces, cut out.
Cutting out the back pattern piece on the fold of the back of the cardigan. Notice again that I am using the bottom edge of the cardigan.
Next, I cut off the sleeves, folded them in half, and pinned on my pattern piece, again using the scalloped edge of the sleeves along the bottom of my pattern piece.
The cut up remnants of the baby cardigan.
All cut out and ready to be sewn...
First step: Sew the fronts to the back at the shoulders.
Sew sleeves to the armholes, and then stitch the sides and underarm seams. I finish all my seams with a zig zag stitch. Be careful not to stretch out the neckline.
Next, I decided where I would need to add more buttonholes. Sometimes, if you're lucky, the buttons might be spaced just right and you won't need to add extras. But this hasn't been the case for me yet. I also discovered (after making the first cardigan) that it's easier to stitch the buttonholes BEFORE you attach the neck binding because of the extra bulk there will be at the neckline after you attach the binding. In the above photo, you can see that I added two more buttonholes: one at the top and another between the last two buttons.
The only edge which is raw and will need to be finished somehow is the neckline. I cut a bias strip from some pretty fabric that matched the cardigan, 1 1/2" wide by 8" long. I folded in each short edge 1/4", and then folded the entire strip in half, lengthwise. Press well.
Here is the binding, pinned to the neckline.
And here it is again, after I stitched it to the neckline. I also zig-zagged the edges, though I probably didn't need to because it won't be seen. However, I wanted to make sure this seam was nice and sturdy with no chance of unraveling in the future.
I folded the binding to the inside and hand stitched it into place.
And here is Kit, modeling her new cardigan!
I sewed the remaining two buttons from the baby cardigan into place where I had made the new buttonholes.
This was really such a quick, simple project. I am really pleased with how well it turned out! I am already envisioning many more cardigans--I'd like to try some with zippered fronts and maybe make a hooded version if there is enough leftover fabric. Some other details that might be of importance: I used a regular needle and a regular straight stitch on my machine. I did lengthen the stitch from 2.5 to 3.0. As stated previously, I finished all my edges with a zig zag stitch.
Wow, I almost forgot to mention...I got a NEW SEWING MACHINE! The super-nice sewing machine repair man called last week to say that my machine had died a sad death, and there was no saving her. Her circuit board had fried. I almost cried. On the plus side, it was nothing I had done to cause her untimely demise. He stated that these new machines are only built to last about 10-15 years, (I had mine for 11) and that with as much as I sew, I had really received my money's worth. After the initial shock that I wasn't getting her back, I asked the repair man what brand machine he recommended, and he said Pfaff. My old machine many years ago was a Pfaff, and the machine I was currently using as a back up is also a Pfaff. He said they are the "workhorses" of the sewing machine world. So my wonderful husband took me in the next day to check them out, and I ended up walking out with a brand new Pfaff Ambition, 1.0. I love it, though I still have lots to learn. I suppose I should haul out the manual and get familiar with it!
Oh, and one more thing: I don't think you need to limit yourself to just baby cardigans. Adult sweaters would work just as well, as long as the cuffs aren't too wide to be out of scale for a doll, and the knit isn't too chunky. So, there you go. Easy cardigans for your dolls. Now, run out to the thrift stores and try your hand at making one (or two or three!) Besides being adorable, they're quick and easy to make, I promise!