My 13″ Effner Little Darling, Isabelle, shows you her “Back to School” Dress…

The other day when I asked you all who you wanted to see get the first Back to School dress, my 13″ Little Darlings, by Dianna Effner, got the most total votes. Isabelle got the most single votes so she wanted to go first at modeling the dress we came up with. I will show the dress to you on Lian and Janie too, but for now, Isabelle has the spotlight all to herself.

I used a red and very dark navy homespun plaid fabric. It’s an “uneven” plaid, meaning it’s not symmetrical in design. The design “repeats” itself but only to one side. I mean you can’t pick one strip and go to the left and then to the right and it be the same design. An uneven plaid does present a few problems when you are trying to center something…like the center of the bodice. There is no real center, so you just have to pick a dominate stripe and go with it.

[If you click on any picture it will enlarge.]


If you think we seamstresses just fly through our sewing with “the greatest of ease” never having any troubles, let me put that theory to rest! This one was quite challenging… between the uneven plaid, the way the edges frayed, the way the fabric stretched, believe me, it was quite the challenge. Once it’s all put together, you’d never know there were any headaches involved, but there were.


I cut it out but when I added my lining, the homespun had already stretched out of shape…so I started over…

Then, the left hand of the doll has her fingers spread just slightly wider than the right hand and I had to struggle to get it over her hand. I knew that cuff was going to have to come off but I sure didn’t want to. I had to take the cuff completely off and redo it making it just a tiny bit longer than the other one. This was very tedious and was like sewing around something the size of your finger. I was so glad when I got the problem solved.


I think it looks pretty cute considering how many seams I sewed and ripped out and sewed and ripped out.


I decided to not make it just a plaid dress with a white collar and a bow at the collar…so I used my favorite Batiste eyelet lace and made a pretty design across the front area and then used embroidery floss to highlight it. Six little red buttons were sewn in double breasted fashion down the front too.


I gave Isabelle a little tam…I think it makes her look a straight A student! (pretty good for first grade, huh?)

Of course we had to come up with a slip and then when I thought we were all done, Isabelle said, “Oh… a book bag… I need a book bag!” So I used some red wool felt and created one just the right size to hold those papers from school.




THEN… I got this brainy idea that Isabelle needed a pair of glasses. I had found these little glasses fronts and just need to figure out a way to hold them on her face…instead of using “toothpicks” like I have in them now! They look like they are too big in my pictures, but in person, they look completely adorable on her. I just have to get them mastered…



So that’s my first Back to School dress… I think she’ll be the Teacher’s Pet…especially when she gives her that big juicy red apple in her hand.

Well, what do you think? I won’t list it on Ebay until I get some pictures of Janie and Lian wearing it too…

See you tomorrow,
Blessings, Jeanne

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  1. Linda Doyle says:

    What a adorable little dress, Jeanne! I absolutely love it! I certainly wish little girls dressed like that nowadays, but sadly, they don’t seem to do that anymore. It makes me feel better that you, the accomplished seamstress that you are, still have sewing problems!

    Isabelle certainly will be the teacher’s pet with that big, juicy apple, and how can you put a little girls dressed like that in the back row?

    • HI Linda,
      I wish little girls dressed like this too… I think they look sweeter when they look old fashioned… but it could be that “I’m” just old fashioned!
      Yes, I, the “accomplished” seamstress, do have those days of sewing hiccups! :o)
      I’m working on her glasses now… trying to get them to work…
      Thanks so much Linda,

  2. I think she’s adorable in her new outfit too, Jeanne! I love the plaid, and that it is such a good scale for this size doll! It can be difficult to find plaids in a scale this small. :o)

    • HI Connie,
      Thanks so much for your sweet comments! I’ve had that plaid for the longest time and finally decided it was time to use it. I had made a dress out of it for Bitty Bethany a long time ago.
      Sometimes I look at men’s shirts…they can have great little plaids to use…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  3. I think it’s adorable. 🙂

    • Thanks Christine,
      I’m glad you like it! Isabelle does too… now if I can just get these glasses finished…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  4. The “Back To School” dress is Adorable and all the little girls will look so sweet in it. I love the plaids and they remind me so much of the beginning of school. And the book bag, apple and tam are perfect. Your little touches with the trim are just right…that crisp white look.
    The dress makes me smile.
    Have a great day, Blessings!

    • HI Paula,
      I think schools definitely needs plaids before it’s really considered School Time again. I love little plaid dresses…especially with white trim, like you say!
      I can’t wait to see what it looks like on the other girls…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  5. I thought it was only me that had difficulty with homespun! The dress is perfect! I never thought of using lace trim as a cuff. I always seem to make a regular cuff and fold it back like things for big girls, and it ends up way thick. Still learning tricks for the little ones.
    The glasses definitely make Isabelle look studious. I’m sure she will get all A’s!

    • HI Joy,
      Oh good, then I’m not alone in my “homespun” troubles… I thought maybe it was just me!
      I know what you mean about the cuffs being bulky… anything to reduce the bulk helps!
      I’m trying to get her glasses finished.. I think I have it…
      blessings, Jeanne

  6. Kathleen Ivy says:

    When I think “back to school” I always think of red plaid for some reason. I love this dress. I am sorry to hear that it gave you so many difficulties. But you tamed it. The lace at the collar and cuffs is an especially nice touch.

    Love the tam too. that is my favorite type of hat. And, since Isabelle is also my favorite of your dolls this gets top marks from me!!!

    Best of luck with the glasses.

    • HI Kathleen,
      I’m like you with the plaid for back to school. It just wouldn’t be right without it!
      I”m glad Isabelle is your favorite… mine too!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  7. What do I think? I think it’s perfect! One of your very best!

    • HI Jevne,
      Awww… how sweet of you! I’m so glad you like it!
      I like your swimsuit set for Ten Ping too.. She is adorable and your pictures this time are spot on! I love it!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  8. The back to school dress is so cute, love the tam and book bag too. I received the AG doll necklace is even prettier than the photo showed..thank you so much!! Ryleigh will love it!!

    • HI Regina,
      Thank you so much for your compliments on Isabelle’s school dress. She can model it like nobody else!
      I’m glad your necklace arrived and especially that you liked it. You’ll have to let me know how Ryleigh likes it when you give it to her.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  9. Marilyn Grotzky says:

    You have so many “bests,” but I think this is one that will show up on some of your future lists of favorites. The book bag is wonderful. I want to see the back of the dress too, but one of the other girls can show us that.
    I just thought, if you substituted a sprig of holly for the bag and apple, would this make a good early start for a Christmas dress too?

    • Jeanne W says:

      Thanks Marilyn,
      You are so kind with your compliments on Isabelle’s dress. I do have a picture of the back of the dress, and will show it when Janie and Lian model it.
      You’re right. I think it could be a Christmas dress fairly easily.
      Thanks again,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  10. Memories of sewing the daughter’s dresses before school started..How I wish I could do some things over. When taking a doll out of the mold at the factory, I think there may be differences in each side of the body parts.

    Ihave one lD that measures differently from the waist down on the body. 1/4″. It took me awhile to understand why the garment was pulling to one side. This was the bottom piece of a bathing suit. I think one side of the waist in LD’s curves in more than the other side. This does make a difference in how the bodice looks and fits.

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Jan,
      I think you are right about the molds being slighly different on the sides. I think there is a difference in the way the curve of the neck down to the shoulder is. It’s noticeable to me when I do a square necked dress or a strappy sundress.
      Isn’t it fun to remember things you made for your little ones when they were in school…so long ago? I have lots of memories…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  11. Kathie Welsh says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice to see little girls wearing something like that dress on the First Day of School instead of something skin tight and sequined? I guess I am old fashioned too!
    Can’t wait to see what you do with the glasses….would those little knobby plastic picks used for appetizers make an arm for the glasses? The skinny ones…sometimes have fruit on them like in a Pina Colada? You could put a bead in the hole that shows on the front.
    Good luck!

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Kathie,
      It WOULD be nice to see little girls dressed like this… I am with you 100%!
      I got the glasses legs added with some wire my hubby had, but then I decided to paint them black and it must be too humid, because they are taking FOREVER to dry! I may have goofed. I have others I can do if they don’t work out…
      Thanks Kathie,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  12. I’m late, I’m late…for a very important date. Who was it that said that?? I started out to just say I’m late once again, commenting on your blog. Love this little back to school dress so much and I’d be so proud and happy to dress my new little “smiley darling”, Stacy Michelle, in it. She arrived yesterday and oh my gosh, has completely stolen my heart. She brings joy just glancing at her and to think I didn’t really care that much for the #3’s when I first saw one. I can so clearly picture her in this little dress! Best of luck selling it, Jeanne…oh, and I saw your new/old AG, Felicity too…she cleans up REALLY nice. I was amazed at the difference…her skin and hair look just gorgeous..can’t wait to see her finished.


    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Bobi,
      Oh, congrats on the newest in YOUR family…little Stacie Michelle! I want to see pictures!!!
      Did you post any on the Little Darlings forum? I’ll have to look…
      Yes, you got Stacie and I got Felicity… it’s been a good week for both of us, hasn’t it?
      Thanks Bobi,
      Blessings, Jeanne

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