Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A dress for Miss Madeline

"In an old house in Paris all covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls
In two straight lines....
They left the house at half past nine
The smallest one was Madeline"
                              Ludwig Bemelmans

So starts every book of the Madeline series of books that we really love at our house. I really like Madeline. She's smart and resourceful and adventurous and lacks the snippity feminism of so many of today's heroines. She's compassionate and friendly and she's from Paris so you know she's got class. 

I used to love the episodes of her cartoon that came on CBC when I was a child and when I happened upon her in cloth doll form at a children's sale a few years ago I snapped her up along with all her accessories.
she had all kinds of hats and socks, dresses, a sleeping bag, carpet bag and even little lace gloves.
The only thing she was missing was her trademark yellow dress and capelet, ah well. 

Only now Ava Grace has become a keen observer of such details and began to ask for her mama to make such a dress for her beloved dolly. 

So I rose to the challenge.

I started by laying out the dear dolly and tracing a pattern for the front of the dress and then folding it in half to trace a pattern for the back pieces. I had decided to do a simple A line dress without sleeves and a half open back for easy dressing. In the end I added to triangular panels to the sides as my pattern didn't fit on the fabric I ended up using and my improvisations left her dress a little ill fitting and without any charm...

At first, I couldn't find the jaunty yellow felt I was so sure I had packed and brought from the old house, so I was going to substitute with this thin yellow cotton, not at all nice to sew with and entirely the wrong shade. Then I did a dance when I found the right material below:

See? My fabric ended up narrower than my pattern.

The cut pieces for the dress.

I sewed all the pieces together and left this opening for the back for dressing the doll. The felt has a nice weight to it, and didn't need any closure even as it just sits nice on her and the little girl who plays with her can dress her that much more easily.

 Doesn't she look happy?

For the cape I measured a strip of fabric about 8 inches long and  trimmed the neck in a slight curve. I made one pleat across the middle of the back of the cape and stitched on these white collar pieces. There is one snap enclosure to hold the cape together and I hemmed all the edges with a simple blanket stitch.
Lastly, I went back and added those side panels to the dress and blanket stitched all the edges on the dress as well with matching embroidery thread.

Like I said, such class.



  1. Really now! Doesn't that delightfully,contented smile on your little girl's face, make you feel like the the most creative, Best seamstress EVER??? Actually this Auntie is pretty impressed too. I am also "understanding," because, while visiting here, I have created some Barbie clothes, as well as some garments for my little grand-daughter's "Build-a Bear" puppy ("Sparkle"). Most of it was done by hand as the borrowed machine was rather ancient & very non-compliant. Did that matter to my girl?? Not at all! In fact,she informed me, when she got off the bus tonight, that she had told her friend, (who is having a b'day next week,) that her G'ma could make Barbie clothes & G'ma would make some for same friend's b'day gift!!! I could be in business & I don't even want a job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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