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PatriciaPf

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Reply with quote  #1 
I am kicking around the idea of sewing doll clothes for my 17" Madam Alexander "Polly Pigtails".  She's been in my life for 67 years.  Maybe I'm in my second childhood.  Anyway, having many sewing machines, I am wondering which of them would be best for doing the job.  If you sew doll clothes, what is your ideal setup?  Any caveats?
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Patty
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Mickey

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...second childhood, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but I would imagine a Featherweight 222 being brilliant for the job. It has the tiniest freearm ever, I have not yet spent that much money on a vintage machine though. They tend to be a bit on the expensive side. Of  my regular machines a Bernina 730 has the narrowest freearm if that's an advantage. I like the old cast iron straight stitchers for their narrow straight stitch foot, I guess any 201 or 99 would be as good as any other flatbed. I don't sew dolls clothes, but I imagine shirt arms, sleeves, corners, tricky angles and joints can be similar.
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PatriciaPf

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A narrow free arm being a requisite, I admit to not having a 222, which is financially out of my league, though I saw it recommended on Pattern Review.  I have an Elna 1, aka a Grasshopper, which has a small free arm and a top loading bobbin.  It also has a slow speed/power adjustment which might prove handy.  It's a blast to use and is very smooth and quiet.  The larger free arm machines are the Pfaff 1473 with IDT, and a Bernina 1130; they have quilting feet and slow speeds.  I wonder if the control of a hand crank would outweigh the value of the free arm.  While I haven't experimented enough to make a decision, I certainly don't lack for choices.  The thing to do is to make one garment on each machine, and see which one wins!  That done, Polly will have a new wardrobe--high time after 67 years, as her original priceless wardrobe was hand-sewn and knitted by my mother and her night nurse friends--and I will break out the champagne.
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Patty
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Mickey

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Reply with quote  #4 
I would mostly focus on a freearm were that can be helpful, and the narrow straight stitch foot is nice? I  know there are a straight stitch throat plate and foot for my Bernina 730 but I have not tracked them down yet. The grasshopper, Elna 1 should be ideal though. My Supermatic has knee lever controller, a bit wider freearm than my Bernina 730, but the speed is gradual and easy to control. I'm guessing it compares to your grasshopper. My 201 has the basic button bakelite controller, it stitches as slow as I want to. I love the flat bed in a cabinet, but I usually handle larger pieces of fabric. A 222 is one of those machines that turn up every other leap year, might get lucky one day ;- )
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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #5 
If you want a small freearm, try a Bell Micro, clamp it to a table:
0.jpg 


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Jim/Steelsewing

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Reply with quote  #6 
Smarmy7.jpg 
Very reliable I'm told, but a real bear to thread...


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PatriciaPf

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Reply with quote  #7 
How cute!  [biggrin]  I think I'll try this first:   elna 1 stitch 004.jpg    

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Patty
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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #8 
Bell's a LOT smaller!
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PatriciaPf

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Reply with quote  #9 
It is smaller, but another machine is not in my budget.
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Patty
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Mickey

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Reply with quote  #10 
The small Bell machine doesn't get as good review as either of the Featerweight or the Elna Grasshopper, at least not as a machine you actually use. Do you use yours Zorba?
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Jpwest

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Reply with quote  #11 
For Barbie and American Girl, I use either my featherweight or my handcrank Singer 128. I really like the precision of the handcrank. You can go very slowly and turn precisely. I didn’t feel the need for a freearm but I did buy a Sewmore similar to the Grasshopper just in case. Haven’t used it yet since the little girls all grew up.

BTW, I taught them to sew starting on the handcrank. The speed of the electric intimidated them and they were much more comfortable with either the handcrank or the treadle. It was amazing how quickly they picked up how to treadle.

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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey
The small Bell machine doesn't get as good review as either of the Featerweight or the Elna Grasshopper, at least not as a machine you actually use. Do you use yours Zorba?


The Bell is about 1/4th the size of a Featherweight, as usual, Consumer Reports was out to lunch. They're not even in the same class. The Bell is very tiny and has the smallest freearm setup I know of. No, it isn't a power house, and it isn't particularly fast. But again, its very small. Consumer Reports comparing it to a Featherweight is like comparing a bicycle to a Peterbilt - they're completely different animals. Crap like that is why I've quit CR not once, but twice. Their priorities are always screwy.

I use my Bell on the occasions I need to sew something on the small side. It does fine for that. I wouldn't want to make a 25 yard skirt on one, although I'm sure it would do it - eventually. Sometimes I have it clamped on the side of the table with my main machine so I can switch between them on the same project.

Now with all that said, I have two of them. One of them has some kind of problem with the feed dogs - and the dogs are very weird. I think the problem child is just worn out, I haven't messed with it for a long time. You should be able to get a good one for $60 or less.

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ThayerRags

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Reply with quote  #13 
Thanks for the interesting discussion about the Bell Micro use on small projects Zorba.  I need to get mine out and see if I can get it into service.  It could come in handy for some things for my wife and I that I just hadn’t thought about.  Mine is a Model M.  What’s yours?

Of course, I'll have to figure out a way to hand crank or treadle it if I were to use it.....[biggrin]  

CD in Oklahoma

Machine522_07.jpg 
Machine522_01.jpg 


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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #14 
Mine's the same thing, but a tan color. They changed the model name around at least twice. Good luck hand cranking it though... [biggrin]
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ThayerRags

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Reply with quote  #15 
Yea, it might be hard to hand crank or treadle a Bell Micro.  But, keeping with my desire to remain off-grid with it, I’m kind of toying with the idea of a couple of goats on a treadmill that’s hooked to a generator to make electricity for it.  I haven’t worked out any of the details yet, but since it’s a Micro, I’m wondering if Pigmy Goats would even suffice?

I suppose that should be a separate topic though, huh?

CD in Oklahoma


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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #16 
Snort! They say a human can output about 400 watts, that should be PLENTY to run a micro-Bell I'd think...
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OurWorkbench

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Reply with quote  #17 
When I made doll clothes for my daughter, I used a ZZ machine and don't remember any problems. I have a Pfaff 1471 for my main machine. When I went to sew for my grandkids with the Pfaff I had problems even when I moved the needle position on the Pfaff. Fortunately, I also had a 15-90 to use.

Most doll clothes that I've made and seen patterns for use the flat method of construction.

I saw a recommendation to use small stitch length for doll clothes. I just checked a doll dress my mother made in the 1950s and looked like it may have been 10 stitches to the inch. It looked like she may have stay-stitched the neck edge before putting on the lined collar. Maybe that might have been 12 stitches to the inch.

Kind of a fun read regarding doll clothes (of course trying you to use their products),
http://www.prym-consumer-usa.com/brands/dritzdolls/tips_dollclothes.php

Have fun.

Janey
ETA found another link http://www.bunkhousesewing.com/files/934188/uploaded/Sewing%20Tips%20-%20Doll%20Clothes.pdf

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Jim/Steelsewing

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jpwest
For Barbie and American Girl, I use either my featherweight or my handcrank Singer 128.


That sort of pushed me to look up doll sizes.
There are no Barbies or American Girl dolls in the house, but there are a couple of Pullips (body 1).
rida5.jpg 
The Barbie size fits, but they're a touch loose (the clothes dammit!) as does the clothing for Brats. I didn't know this before. It may be dangerous information in that the dolls have always been outfitted in a mix of Japanese street style/punk/grunge, and winter is coming...


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Mickey

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Reply with quote  #19 
Hand stitching is a must some times.
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OurWorkbench

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Reply with quote  #20 
From my understanding/experience, the doll patterns have changed to match the dolls at the time patterns were made. Consequently, you really should take measurements to be able to fit clothes to the doll you are making, much like full size. It seems like the Barbie and American Girl dolls have changed over the years. So a 1960s Barbie pattern doesn't quite fit right on a 1980s Barbie.

I don't remember any hand sewing on doll clothes unless it was snaps, but haven't done that in a long while. I think if I were to put snaps on now, I would do it by machine like sewing on a button with a ZZ machine.

I was thinking I had seen another comparison for dolls, but I have a couple from
https://www.pixiefaire.com/blogs/doll-tips-and-tutorials/7733479-doll-measurements
that I saved about six years ago.

Janey

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Cari-in-Oly

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Reply with quote  #21 
Never was crazy enough to make Barbie clothes. When My oldest got a life size newborn doll I went to Goodwill and bought baby clothes for it. But the Cabbage Patch dolls had to have hand made clothes. I spent a month sewing a wardrobe for those dolls. I think both the dolls are still here somewhere.

Cari

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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #22 
Oh yes, the Cabbage Patch dolls. Our daughter just *HAD* to have one, she actually ended up with two!

Kinda fugly looking little things...

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hilltophomesteader

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Reply with quote  #23 
NEVER liked dolls.  Rather play in the dirt, in the creek, build a tree house, catch bugs & snakes.  A lot of the reason I like my sewing machines is the fixing part.
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PatriciaPf

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Reply with quote  #24 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hilltophomesteader
NEVER liked dolls.  Rather play in the dirt, in the creek, build a tree house, catch bugs & snakes.  A lot of the reason I like my sewing machines is the fixing part.


I was the same, and included hunting frogs and polliwogs at every opportunity, only I held on to my Madam Alexander.  She wasn't played with very much and is in remarkable condition for an old lady.  Now she is rare or at least hard to find. 

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Patty
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Cari-in-Oly

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Reply with quote  #25 
NEVER liked dolls.  Rather play in the dirt, in the creek, build a tree house, catch bugs & snakes. /QUOTE]
I did all of that and played with dolls too if we were stuck inside. And "helped" work on the cars, rode the horses and motorcycles, etc...outside.

Cari

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Jim/Steelsewing

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Reply with quote  #26 
*waves [wave] to Cari's inner 13yr old*
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Cari-in-Oly

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Reply with quote  #27 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim/Steelsewing
*waves [wave] to Cari's inner 13yr old*


At thirteen, I was playing baseball and softball, sneaking smokes from my mom and weed from my dad.

Cari

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Miriam

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Reply with quote  #28 
My Elna made great doll clothes.
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Jpwest

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Reply with quote  #29 
I found that making doll clothes for my daughter and 4 nieces greatly increased my sewing precision. I came to understand which and what type of machines works best in certain situations. My quilting is pretty much straight line sewing on a Singer treadle, but the doll clothes brought out the joy of using a hand crank. After sewing with them I also appreciate the delicacy of the stitching made with them when they were brand new machines.

Starting children on doll clothes and doll quilts gives them an introduction to sewing. It’s a small project that they can finish and gives them a feeling of accomplishment. Hopefully, the introduction leads to a lifetime of sewing and a love of antique sewing machines. Doing what I can to pass it on.

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J3t

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Reply with quote  #30 
Interesting comments, Jpwest. PatriciaPf, I too have sewn doll clothes for my five dgd's (an Elsa ball gown for an American Girl doll plus lots of pajamas, jeans and tee shirts). I really enjoyed the precision of my 128 handcrank, the fine stitch quality of my 201, and the utility of zz stitches (satin stitching) from a Kenmore 90. For really tight areas, I did do some handstitching.


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