An attic find turned into a beautiful American Girl doll dress…

One of my subscribers (Paula) shared a story and a few pictures of a doll dress that I wanted to show you.

I’m not sure why, but Paula’s doll pictures are sideways when viewed on my iPad but the right way on my desktop computer…

She said there was an old blue dress, possibly a dress for church, that looked very much like it belonged to a young teen. It was about a size 8 or 10, and was found all crumpled up in this attic. Her sister was intrigued by the style so she offered to take the good parts of the dress that weren’t ruined and try to make it look like the original dress. Paula and her sister guessed it was possibly from the 50’s.

The bodice on the doll dress was left sheer, but Paula couldn’t remember if the original one was or not. There may have been a lining or the girl who wore the dress may have had a slip underneath. Anyway, just look at that design on the bodice… I think it might be some kind of smocking but I’m not sure… Can anyone help out with that? Paula’s sister did line the skirt of the dress for the doll.



Didn’t Paula’s sister do a nice job recreating this sweet dress? I think it is just darling!

I hope Paula doesn’t mind, but I wanted to add this extra special part of her email to me too… It’s just part of her creative side…

” Barbara McCall is the model for this dress. She belongs to the 50’s group and I’ve had her for awhile. Her blue eyes look pretty when she wears blue. Barbie lives in a small town not to far from Lake Michigan and yet her home is in the beautiful country side. She’s a Pastor’s Kid (PK).
I have more fun making up the background stories for all my dolls.”

Thank you Paula for that lovely tribute to some little girls dress from long ago! Tell your sister we all LOVED the way she made the dress!


Now another update on the Sari I’m making for a friend… I’m almost done…maybe tomorrow will be the last day…

Today I had another fitting with Amma and YAY…it fit pretty well… I finished stitching in the sleeve caps and then began the task of making the facings… I’m not a big fan of facings, but I decided to do it this way in case it needed to be adjusted. If you have a full lining in it, you have to take the whole entire piece apart to make any changes. The under blouses are pretty snug to the body, so I wanted to make it easily accessible if any changes have to be made.


My front facing picture didn’t turn out very clearly, but it’s the only one I’ve got…


…getting there…




I have to have one more fitting to get the hooks in just the right spot… and then hem it…


Here’s the inside…




So that’s what my day has been spent doing… I’m ready for some dolly clothes, are you????

See you tomorrow,
Blessings, Jeanne

Please spread the word!Pin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPrint this pageEmail this to someone


  1. Linda Doyle says:

    What a sweet doll dress, Jeanne! Such a pretty, soft blue, and it has an ethereal look to it! It seems that I have seen material like the bodice, but can’t quite place it. It certainly gives the dress a “special” look! Paula is so lucky to have a sister who can sew like that, and her doll is adorable! Maybe one of your slips would help it to stand out more!! (Hint, hint, Paula!)

    So glad that you are finishing up the sari! You are doing an exceptional job on it and it looks so professionally done—because it is! I can’t believe you have been doing all that with your tooth/jaw problem, but it is one way to keep your mind preoccupied about other things!

    • HI Linda,
      I think Paula’s doll dress is so innocent and little girl looking. I think I’ve seen an old pattern for a pillow done this same tuck and fold way, but not positive.

      I’ll be so glad when this sari makes its way out of my sewing room. It’s taking up too much of my time that I need to be sewing dolly things…

      My jaw is much better now, thank you very much… just a little sore when I bite down on something a little too hard… it’s going to take more than a little jaw ache to keep me from sewing!
      Thanks Linda,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  2. I think it looks beautiful. 🙂

    • HI Christine,
      I’m not sure if you mean “beautiful” for Paula’s doll dress or my Sari, but I’ll take the compliment for both of us!
      Thanks so much,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  3. Love the blue dress remade into a doll dress. The bodice is amazing.
    The sari is so awesome Jeanne! Your workmanship is perfection as always. I am sure she is thrilled you are making it for her. Thanks so much for sharing your creative process with us.
    God Bless

    • HI Marsha,
      Isn’t that doll dress just adorable? I bet it’s even prettier in person…

      Thanks so much for your kind words Marsha… I’ll be glad when this is done and out of here though. I can’t believe I miss sewing for the dolls so much.
      I did stay up till almost 2 a.m. working on Janie’s cowgirl set…..soon it will be done…

      Thanks Marsha,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  4. The dress looks beautiful made over for Barbara. I love the vintage flower pin at the waist. I’m with you Paula, about making my dolls have background stories. I left Samantha and Felicity canon but, my next one has her background story all created for her, I’m just waiting for her to “show” up on eBay as the “ONE”. I think doll lovers have wonderful imaginations anyway.
    The Sari is turning out wonderfully. My one friend and roommate in college was half Indian and she had some beautiful saris she showed to us.

    • HI Laura,
      Yes, isn’t that pin just the sweetest thing on that soft and delicate blue dress?

      I’m just like you ladies… as I was working on Janie’s cowgirl set last night, I found myself wondering how I was going to “showcase” it in my Ebay auction… I wish I had a little barn background… that would be perfect. I don’t necessarily think of ongoing storylines for my dolls, but I do think about props and background things a LOT!

      I think Sari’s are some of the most beautiful outfits made! I hope this one looks good with the red fabric draped around it…
      Thanks Laura,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  5. Thank you Jeanne for showing the blue dress.

    That sari top is amazing- all those pieces put together. Wonderful job.

    Yes…on to dolly clothes!!!
    Hope you’re feeling better.

    • HI Paula,
      Thanks again for letting me share your doll dress… see… I told you everyone would love it!

      I appreciate your kind words about the Sari and YES…I am so ready to get to my dolls again…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  6. The blue dress is so pretty even though the bodice is pretty sheer….perhaps she could make a blue slip to go under it.
    The green blouse to go under the sari looks so nice….inside as nice as outside like you’ve said you strive for. It’s nice that you have a dress form/mannequin for fitting. It must make fitting a lot easier. Is it somehow adjustable for different sizes?

    • HI Jevne,
      Do you know what that fabric is, Jevne? I thought you might….

      Thanks for the compliments on Amma’s Sari. My mannequin is about a size 6 and Amma is a size 8, so it’s just a little bit loose fitting on my mannequin. It’s only one size and not adjustable. I bought just a table top mannequin to show the skinny scarves and Rebecca’s necklaces on it. I’m thinking of covering it with a soft stretchy fabric, so I don’t have to use a T-shirt every time I show something. I’ve seen them done in a pretty off white fabric and it’s less “booby” like when it’s covered…
      Thanks Jevne,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  7. I always thought it would be wonderful to live or be part of a culture that almost has a uniform. The difference would be in color combonations and in used in the garment. The only thing I have seen that comes close to the bodice fabric was a silk that had a pattern set in by heat, or rows of pin tucks that were later sewn turning to the rifht or left forming a pattern.
    A wonderful feeling isn’t it to complete a tricky project with many obstacles to make a decision on and no room for errors. This is project accomplished!

    • HI Jan,
      Isn’t that pattern just the neatest thing? I’d love to see it in person and examine how it was possibly done…
      Yes, it is wonderful to know I’m very close to being finished with this Sari… lots of stress is gone… already!
      Thanks Jan,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  8. Jeanne…you are simply amazing…and I know that there isn’t a single person who reads your blog or knows you in any way that would disagree with me. I feel so blessed that I have this small part…this little glimpse into your life and world…I’m always just blown away. Love the little blue dress…don’t have a clue what that top part would be called or how it would be done..but I remember things (I think pillows) having that same type of tucking. The sari top is just exquisite!!! Hope we get to see it on. From bounce houses to sari tops to itty bitty shoes for Ten Ping…there’s no job Jeanne won’t attempt and probably master. Hope your tooth is better!!!

    Sending love

    • Thank you Bobi,
      Well, you certainly put a smile on my face with all your compliments today! Thank you very much but really it’s just my normal everyday life… I just love to sew and apparently several of you out there like to read what I do… That blesses me so much!

      My jaw is better… still a little sore when I bite down on it, but much better…
      Thanks so much,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  9. Kathie Welsh says:

    That Blue dress is just as cute as it can be! A perfect Mary Ellen style too! Love the way they permanently pleated the fabric she used for the top.
    The green silk top is coming along so well! Will we get to see how it looks with the rest of the Sari?
    Glad your tooth isn’t causing you pain!

    • HI Kathie,
      Paula’s blue dress would most certainly make a lovely Maryellen dress!

      I told Amma yesterday at the fitting, that everyone wants to see her in it, so hopefully she’ll let me take a picture of her… She is such a cutie, and this will really look sweet on her…

      Blessings, Jeanne

  10. Charlotte Trayer says:

    It’s possible that the bodice of the blue dress is a variation of lattice smocking. Back in the 1950s, lattice smocking was very popular–I remember my mom making several pillow covers for Christmas presents one year, and I have one that either she or my Grandma Larson (Dad’s mother) started, plus her hand-written diagram!

    If you google “lattice smocking” or “Canadian smocking” (and there may be other names for it), you will see why it reminds me of that. Lattice smocking does not use pleated fabric; rather, a pattern of dots is drawn on the back, and the dots are picked up in a certain order, to create an interesting lattice-like pattern on the right side.

    The sari underblouse is coming along beautifully!! I hope you’ll be able to post a picture of Amma wearing her sari.

    • HI Charlotte,
      I thought the same thing as you did about the design being seen in a pillow before. I may even have a pattern for it in my stash. I’ll have to look.
      Whatever it’s called and however it’s done, it sure is neat looking…

      Thanks for the compliments on the Sari top… I’m almost done and I hope too, that I can get Amma to let me take a picture of her in it…
      Blessings, Jeanne

Speak Your Mind