Tutorial on how I made Growth Tucks on Addy’s Civil War dress….

Someone asked a LONG time ago if I would show how I made growth tucks in the dresses for dolls like Addy and Kirsten. A growth tuck is just a tuck in the hem of a dress that can be “let down” and allows them to wear the dress for several years in some cases.
I decided to make Addy’s dress in the shorter, more youthful length by adding growth tucks and decided I’d let you come along for the ride…

Here are the steps I use when I make them…

~ Make sure your doll dress is finished with the snaps up the back so you can make sure it fits right and hangs the way it should from her shoulders. Be sure your doll is standing up straight and that her dress is pulled down in the front and not hiked back on her shoulders. It should be the same distance on the floor all the way around. If you cut your skirt piece straight, it should be pretty even all the way around. If for some reason you have a LOT of excess fabric dragging in the back, you may need to trim it off very carefully. Just be sure your doll isn’t slouching…because once it’s cut off, it can’t be added back on…

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



~ Next you need to serge the bottom edge or finish it some way that’s neat and turn it up about 1/2″ or so. Press it and hem it… I’ll be back in a minute while I hem mine by hand. (you could hem it by machine, but I prefer if I have enough fabric, to hem it by hand.)


~ I’m back…
When that is done, you’ll want to press your hem well and try it on your doll to make sure it’s level from the floor to the hem…and make any adjustments if you need to. Then you’ll want to find something to use as your first guide… I used a card with buttons on it. Lay your dress on the ironing board and using your “guide,” turn up that much, keeping it straight and go all the way around the hem, pressing it up toward the waist…


~ Then take it to your sewing machine and using a mark on your presser foot, sew all the way around the skirt…keeping it very even from the edge…I used an inside mark on my presser foot, not the outside edge, but if you wanted to, you could easily follow the edge of the foot for your tuck’s width.


~ Then press that tuck down… YAY… one tuck done!


See how pretty?

~ Now for the second tuck… find something else to use that is wider than the first tuck and bottom of the dress… I used one of the chipboard cards I wrap my trims on… Keeping the card lined up with the bottom edge of the hemmed dress, press all the way around the hem.


~ Take the dress back to the machine and using the same mark on your presser foot, stitch around the hem again.


~ Then press that tuck down…


Now you have 2 tucks completed…doesn’t it look nice? If you like just the 2 tucks you can quit… but if you want to do 3 tucks, like I’m doing, you’ll have to do just a little bit of figuring… It’s the same thing as when you sew on 2 buttons… they can be however close or far apart as you want them to be. But if you decide to add a third button, you have to make sure they are the same distance apart or it will be very obvious that 2 are evenly spaced and one is not.

When you do the third tuck you have to think of it the same way… you don’t want 2 evenly spaced tucks and then one that different, so here’s how to make sure you get them all 3 evenly spaced…

~ I’ll show you this picture first and then explain what I mean…


~ Open up the 2 tucks you have already stitched and get a piece of paper and cut it the exact width of the tuck…from one side to the other… just like I’m showing in my picture. Then pull up some of the dresses skirt fabric and take that piece of paper and line it up with the bottom edge and the other edge of line up with the tuck above…


~ Using that little piece of paper, press all the way around the skirt, keeping it lined up with the bottom of the 2nd tuck and the edge of the fabric…

~ Then take it to the machine again and stitch around the hem one last time… (I forgot to take a picture, but it’s just like we did for tuck 1 and 2…

~ Next you’ll press that tuck flat… actually you’ll be pressing over all 3 tucks for a nice flat finish…


~ Viola! 3 tucks completed!



Oh and just in case you were wondering like Linda was…yes I’m adding the green ribbon sash to this dress. I just forgot to show it yesterday…


The angle I took of Addy’s dress makes it still looks long, but her crinoline will hold it out and her pantalettes should show just a little bit under her dress…

Well, I hope that was explained well enough for you to give it a try. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me…

See you tomorrow,
Blessings, Jeanne

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  1. Linda Doyle says:

    That is so pretty, Jeanne! I love the tucks and you made it look so easy! I’m glad the green ribbon is again in the picture! Does it tie into a bow in back?

    I like the tucks because it gives extra interest without being too flashy. While my dresses as a little girl didn’t have growth tucks, they always had a nice big hem when new. By the time my sister next in line to get that dress got it, the hem was down as far as it could go! My mother was always busy sewing hems up and down! It seems now that people just get a new dress instead of redoing the hem—just like darning socks! Who darns socks anymore?

    • snicker…. *I* still darn Freeman’s socks. He’s SO hard on his socks! I’d have to take out stock in his sock company if I didn’t darn ’em! LOL!!

      • Linda Doyle says:

        Well, Mary, you are the only person I know who darns socks, I guess! I do have a couple of darning eggs in my sewing basket from my grandmother. They sure do provide a “mysterious” sewing tool for my granddaughters to wonder about!!

        • Believe it or not, I collect darning eggs. I keep them in large glass jars. I too have my grandmother’s. I don’t think I have any eggs that are the same, so they must have been made for a very long time. Guess I should Google the history. 🙂

          • Jeanne W says:

            HI Joy,
            What a fun collection… darning eggs. I bet they look very neat in your glass jars!
            Thanks for chiming in…
            Blessings, Jeanne

      • Jeanne W says:

        HI Mary,
        I’m a “darner” too… my hubby has a stack of socks next to my sewing machine that need to be done… or “darned” I should say!
        Thanks so much,
        ~ Jeanne

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Linda,
      Thanks for the compliments on the tucks… and yes, the ribbon will be tied in a bow on the back…
      Count me in as someone who darns socks too… yep…I do!
      Thanks Linda,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  2. I’ve not tried growth tucks in a long time….I will remember your tutorial when I do, tho! 🙂 thanks! I’m lovin’ this dress!

    • Jeanne W says:

      Thank you Mary,
      I just finished the pantalettes so now it’s onto the crinoline… then decorate the lace collar, do some handwork and make a head piece… busy, busy, busy!
      Thanks so much,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  3. Karen D says:

    Great way to keep all the tucks uniform in distance! Thanks for such a great tutorial!

    • Jeanne W says:

      Thank you Karen,
      It works every time if you keep your stitching straight! Hope you try it some time…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  4. Thank you so much! You make it look so easy. For the growth pleats I’ve made in the past, I’ve used the lines on the pattern. Trying to fold to my pin marks. Pins everywhere! Sewing over them. (Bad.) This way makes so much more sense and looks so perfect. I really like how the pleats add interest to the dress skirt.
    You’re a great teacher!

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Joy,
      I know most patterns have the markings, but I think it’s easier and quicker to just follow the hem of the dress. You don’t have to use any pins and it comes out perfect each time…
      Thanks so much Joy,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  5. Ingrid B says:

    Hi Jeanne

    What a fun addition to Addys dress. You are so clever, I would never have thought to add a few growth tucks. My mother sewed all my dress as a young girl. There is a picture of me wearing a dress with at at least 5 tucks. Back in the day, as a student I had to show my teacher that I could make them. My tucks were done on a practice piece, I never used them on a garment. Thank for the refresher course. You are so sweet to share your knowledge.
    Have a great weekend

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Ingrid,
      I remember having tiny pintucks in my dresses when I was little. I love to see rows and rows of tucks on dress skirts… It is pretty simple to do once you get that first row made…
      Thanks for the compliments and I hope you’ll give this way a try…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  6. The dress is beautiful, Jeanne. You’re so right, press, press, press…makes a big difference, doesn’t it?

    Take care.

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Becky,
      Yes, my iron is my best friend… it does make a difference when you press everything as you go along…
      Thank you very much,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  7. Susette says:

    Thanks for another great tutorial. Based on the one for tightening up the limbs on the dolls, I ordered a kit from eBay for $20.45 with free shipping. Seemed reasonable to me and I’ll try it on my Addy doll. Have fun sewing.

  8. Loved the tutorial….especially the part about using the button card for the width…you have so much common sense….sometimes teachers want you to use a 10.00 ruler …and the button card does the same thing?
    The pleats look so sweet on that fabric too. Can’t wait for the finishing touches!
    I was at a doll show yesterday and 3 little girls were there with their AG dolls in a back back. They were shopping with their Grandma and having the best time!

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