Tutorial: Ruffle Skirt for American Girl or other 18″ dolls


Here’s a tutorial for you today! I had a little bit of ruffle fabric leftover from Zoe’s skirt. I’ve been trying to slowly build up some doll clothes for her birthday this fall. Shhhhhhhh! Don’t tell!
Julie - An American Girl doll modeling our long ruffle skirt
Now that the kids are back in school, it’s much easier to borrow one of Zoe’s dolls. Julie was nice enough to get up from nap to help me out.

This is an easy skirt! You will need:
one piece of cotton/lycra knit 10″ x 1.5″ for the waistband – it should stretch the long way!
waistband - flat
one piece of ruffle fabric, about 16″ x 7″ for a below the knee skirt (shown at the top of this post) or 16″ x 4.5″ for knee length, as shown at the bottom of this post
(this might depend on your fabric, but in my case, it meant either 6 or 4 rows of ruffles)
ruffle fabric
Wonder Tape and your preferred notions for cutting and sewing
Wonder Tape and other sewing tools
Cut your waistband to 10″ x 1.5″
waistband - flat

Fold waistband right sides together so it is 5″x1.5″ when folded. Stitch ends together.
waistband - folded

Fold waistband wrong sides together the short way and mark the quarter points. I just pin them, you could also use your marking pen.
waistband - quartered

Once you have cut your ruffle fabric, use your Wonder Tape to help line up the rows of ruffles. Carefully place it on one side.
skirt with wondertape
Make sure the ruffles on the opposite side are lined up with the edge.
line up opposite side

Then carefully pull the paper off the Wonder Tape. Pick up the side of the fabric with the Wonder Tape on it. Holding it taut, match it to the other side, right sides together. After it is nice and stuck together, flip it over to check that everything is smooth on both sides. Peek inside the fabric tube to make sure all the ruffles stayed the way they were supposed to.
skirt with wondertape folded

Now that it’s nice and stuck together, sew the seam.
skirt seamed

Leave the ruffle fabric right sides together for now. Find the quarter points on the top of the ruffle fabric tube you’ve just created.
skirt quarterpoints

Match up the quarter points on the waistband to the quarter points on the skirt and pin.
skirt and waistband quarters

Sew the skirt and waistband together, stretching the waistband to fit the skirt.
skirt and waistband sewing

short ruffle skirt

Julie - An American Girl doll modeling our short ruffle skirt
That’s it! Julie looks excited about it, doesn’t she? Hopefully Julie can keep a secret. We have to put this away until Zoe’s birthday.

Happy Sewing!

Ruffle Fabric Skirt Tutorial

Today’s tutorial was created by Mel, aka SewingMel, who can also be found blogging at Sewingmel. Thanks, Mel!

This skirt is made based on your measurements, and it can be made for kids or adults. Ruffle fabric can be a bit bothersome, but Mel has documented some tips that made it easier to sew.


  • wondertape
  • 1-2 yards of ruffle fabric
  • 2-3″ wide elastic, 1-2 yards-you will need enough to go around your waist where you wear your skirts
  • lots of pins
  • rotary cutter
  • rotary mat
  • acrylic ruler

*This tutorial is for a skirt width that is 47″ or less (the width of the fabric). If you need a wider skirt, just cut two panels (1/2 of needed width) as instructed below, and you will make two side seams. Make sure to add your seam allowance.*

Step 1.

Cut your fabric length. My fabric was 24″ long. You will cut the bottom layer under the ruffle so that you can’t see the raw edge. There is no need to finish this edge.
Step 1

Step 2.

Measure the width of your fabric. My width was my hip measurement +5 inches. It really helps to do this on a rotary mat so that you can make sure that all of your lines are straight. Place an acrylic ruler (or yardstick) where you want to cut your width.
Step 2

Step 3.

Place a line of Wondertape against the edge of the ruler. Your line should be perpendicular to your ruffle lines. This is why it helps to do this on a lined mat. Do NOT remove the paper backing!
Step 3

Step 4.

Place your acrylic ruler 1/4″ away from the Wondertape line, and cut using your rotary cutter. I now had my hip measurement +5 inches + 1/4 inch.
Step 4

Step 5.

Carefully removed the paper backing of the Wondertape. If the tape starts to come up with the paper, carefully put the paper back and press the tape onto the fabric before continuing to remove the paper backing.
Step 5

Step 6.

Match your raw edge ruffles. Make sure that the fabric is smooth when you place it on the Wondertape. Picture is turned.
Step 6

Step 7.

Turn fabric over to check that ruffles are smooth. The Wondertape will hold the fabric in place. If fabric is not lined up, carefully adjust fabric.
Step 7

Step 8.

Serge or sew raw edge. (Don’t worry if you don’t catch all the Wondertape in the seam – it’s going to wash out in the laundry anyway.)
Step 8

Step 9.

Make waistband by measuring your waist where you like to wear your waistband using your unstretched elastic. Now, pull it tight by 2-3 inches, and cut elastic.
Serge or zig-zag elastic ends before sewing ends together using a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Step 9

Finger press ends of elastic open (as shown above), and stitch through both layers of elastic 1/4-3/8″ from edge of seam on both ends of elastic. You can kind of see it. **This picture shows this step on the finished skirt.**
Step 9b

Step 10.

Find, match and pin the quarter points on the skirt and waistband, starting with the center back seam of elastic and center seam on skirt (right sides together).

Place the waistband and fabric around your legs, right sides together (non-seamed side of elastic is touching the pretty ruffled side). Stretching just the elastic waistband (it is best to wear jeans for this), match skirt fabric to waistband. Pin every 1.5-2 inches.
Step 10
Step 10b
Step 10c

Step 11.

Stretching just the elastic waistband to meet the fabric, slowly serge or zig-zag waistband. Do NOT sew over pins. Take your time!

Turn out, and you are finished!


Thanks, Mel! Happy Sewing Everyone!

June Challenges!

It’s June!
How are you doing with these monthly challenges?

The Monthly Challenge for June 2013:

June – Make it Sew Organized!
Use your sewing skills to organize your space or yourself! There’s plenty of room for creativity in the interpretation of this one. Perhaps you could use a fabric bowl (check the tute!) to hold the keys in your kitchen? Or the assortment of hair ties in your bathroom? Maybe a place to toss the collection of remotes in the family room?
fabric bowl

Or maybe you need a bag to collect all your library books?
Perhaps you need a travel bag (check the tute!) to collect all your cosmetics and toiletries before your next trip or just to contain them in your cupboard?
boxy bag
Maybe you need a needle roll to organize your knitting needles? Or a crayon roll to contain the crayons so you don’t find them melting under (or on!) the car seats this summer?
Maybe your sewing space would be a bit more organized with a new pin cushion made to match your room, or made in a favorite color or print that you’ve been hoarding the last scraps of? Whatever your organizational need is, use your sewing skills to get it done!

And, the June Christmas Challenge!

June’s Christmas Challenge:
Seasonal placemats or napkins ~ Make these as simple or complex as you like. Remember those huge holiday prints you thought were so fun at the fabric store and then realized they didn’t really go with anything? They are great for the kids’ placemats or napkins! Perhaps you want the simple elegance of a solid with a tidy rolled hem? If it works for you, it works! Just have fun creating something you will use next winter!

Happy Sewing!


Tutorial: Easy Play Dress

This tutorial was created for Sewing Mamas by sewingmel, who can be found blogging here.

Items needed:
-your favorite girl’s t-shirt pattern
-knit fabric for bodice
-woven or knit fabric for skirt
-foe or binding for neckline

Step 1:
Adjust your favorite t-shirt pattern. Mine is Ottobre 4/04 #36. If you don’t have this issue, please buy it today! It is so worth it!

A: Draw a line from the underarm seam to the center of your shirt. I drew it slightly sloping down, but you can go straight across if you like. This is the dotted line in the picture below step B.

B: Draw a solid cutting/folding line as far away from the dotted line as you like. I just did a 1" line this time, but I do 2-3" for bigger sizes.

Step 2:
Cut out front, back, and sleeves. This can be done with long sleeves, short sleeves, or no sleeves (you would need foe for the armholes).

Step 3:
Sew up shoulders, and attach sleeves. Pretend that you are sewing up a regular t-shirt for now.

Step 4:
Finish sleeve hems any way you like. I just folded under and used a zig-zag stitch. You could also coverstitch, use a rolled hem, use trim, or use foe. The choice is yours! Be creative!

Step 5:
Pin each arm and underarm together. Sew last seam in shirt.

Step 6:
Decide how long you want to make your skirt. I made mine 16 inches for a 2T/86.

Cut a long rectangle the width of your fabric (if woven) or about double the width of your waist by your desired length.

If you are making a much larger dress, you may need 2 lengths of fabric for the skirt.

Step 7:
Finish your hem any way you like. See step 4. I turned mine under 1/4" and again at 1".

Step 8: Please remember this step! I always forget it!
Mark your four equal parts (front, sides, and back). Your back seam is not finished at this point. I kept in mind that I would use 1/2" seam to take care of the selvage I did not cut off.

Step 9:
Sew 2 gathering lines about 1/4" apart along top edge of fabric. (Pay no attention to the presser foot. The stitches are on the far right.) Gather up skirt.

Step 10:
Match up midpoints of skirt and shirt and pin fabric right sides together. Sew back seam shut.

Step 11:
Sew bodice to skirt.

Step 12:
Finish neckline with foe, binding, or ribbing. I chose foe.

You are finished!

Looks great, thanks Mel!

Happy Sewing!

Tutorial: How to Sew Patchy Side Panel Pants

Today we are digging wayyyyy back into the Sewing Mamas forums for this fantastic tutorial to make patchy side panel pants. This tutorial was created by Tara for Sewing Mamas back in 2005.



  • lots of scraps
  • a two-piece basic pants pattern
  • fabric for the pants pattern and elastic for the waist
  • coordinating fabric to line the insides of the side panels

Step 1.

Start with your scrap basket and find scraps that are at least 5″ wide and 3″ tall. All of them should be cut to 5″ wide, but the height can vary if you want the side panels to have different sized patchwork. I cut mine 3″-5″ tall. Then, line them up in the order you’d like them to be, from top to bottom, and serge them together. I do pin mine before serging–I’m a pin freak. You need to make two strips of patchwork; one for each side of the pants.

Here is a photo of some of the scraps before serging:
Patchy Pants Tutorial

After serging, from the backside:
Patchy Pants Tutorial

Step 2.

Once you have serged all of the scraps together for the side panels, measure them and make sure each side panel is at least as long as the outseam measurement of your pants pattern.

Here is one entire patchy strip, after serging, from the backside:
Patchy Pants Tutorial

Step 3.

Take the coordinating fabric and cut two long rectangular pieces to fit each strip of patchwork. Pin and serge around all 4 edges for each side panel.

Here are the strips pinned to the coordinating fabric before serging:
Patchy Pants Tutorial
Patchy Pants Tutorial

And after serging:
Patchy Pants Tutorial

Step 4.

Set aside the patchwork panels, and cut out the pants. I used medium-wale hemp/cotton cord which I coffee-dyed last night. It’s a little darker than the original natural color. Some people take in the width of each of the pieces when they are cutting them, but I like the pants nice and full, so I cut out the pattern without any changes.

Here are my pants pieces, right sides of fabric together:
Patchy Pants Tutorial

Step 5.

Take one patchy side panel, one front pants piece, and one back pants piece. Pin one side of the side panel to the outseam of the front pants piece. Pin the other side of the side panel to the outseam of the back pants piece.
Patchy Pants Tutorial
Patchy Pants Tutorial

Step 6.

Serge along where you have pinned, attaching the side panel to the outseams of the front and back pants pieces.
Patchy Pants Tutorial

Repeat with the other side panel piece and the two remaining front and back pants pieces. You will end up with two mirror image pieces of the above photo, and here is what they will look like on the right side:
Patchy Pants Tutorial

Step 7.

Right sides together, pin the front and back rises of the pants.
Patchy Pants Tutorial

Serge the rise from back to front.
Patchy Pants Tutorial

Step 8.

Open up the pants so that you can pin the inseam from ankle to ankle, making sure you match the crotch points exactly.
Patchy Pants Tutorial

Serge the inseam from ankle to ankle. Turn right side out, and your pants will look like this:
Patchy Pants Tutorial

At this point, I have also serged around the waist and around each ankle hem to finish the fabric and keep it from fraying.

Step 9.

Turn inside out. Turn waist over about 1″ (or enough to accommodate the width of your elastic), pin, and stitch, leaving enough of an opening to feed the elastic (which is shown here with a big safety pin). I’ve also added a size tag and a decorative sun tag.
Patchy Pants Tutorial
After you feed the elastic all the way through, overlap the edges of the elastic slightly and stitch to attach them. Then, stitch closed the opening in the waist.
It will look like this:
Patchy Pants Tutorial

I’ve also added a decorative leaf tag on the outside of the back of the waist–the colors really matched the side panels:
Patchy Pants Tutorial

Step 10.

Now you’re ready to hem the ankles.
Patchy Pants Tutorial

All done!
Patchy Pants Tutorial

When you’re all done, come share them in our Runway!

Happy Sewing!

Tutorial: Satin Stitch Applique

Today’s tutorial was created by Krista, a member of Sewing Mamas!
Here is how I do the satin stitch applique.

What you will need:
-Fabrics of your choice
-Heat N Bond lite
-and sewing machine, of course

First take the piece of fabric you’d like to make the applique out of and iron the Heat n Bond Lite onto the back. I usually lay my piece out and cut around it, then turn it over and iron it on.

Cut out the shapes you want to applique. In this case I am doing 3 pieces (2 for the front of a shirt and one for the back) Here the pencil comes in handy to draw an exact shape on the paper backing, and you can also trace something on the paper part before ironing it to the fabric too…just remember the shape will be reversed when you put it on your item.

Tip: don’t cut out the exact shapes until after you iron on the Heat N Bond Lite, it makes it so much easier to cut it out afterwards and not have to line up exact shapes.

Peel off the paper backing and position it to where you like it. Then iron them on.

Tip: When you have one overlapping the other, sometimes it’s good to cut away the excess so that only the edge overlaps. This is great for when you use lighter fabrics and can see through them and also keeps it so it’s not so bulky.

Next I cut a piece of stabilizer and place it under all of the fabrics (I use a tearaway kind) Pin around the edges to hold it in place.

Now it’s time to sew!
The satin stitch is just the zigzag stitch. You can make it as wide and as long a stitch as you like. (for these I used a stitch width of 2.5 and length of almost 0, I like mine tight together) I know all machines are not the same so play on a scrap and see what you like. I start on the outside edge and put my needle right next to the edge of the applique.

When I stitch on a curve, I go a couple of stitches and, with my needle in the fabric, I lift my presser foot and slightly turn the fabric, then repeat. Tip:for an outside cuve (like I’m doing) stop your needle on the outside when turning…for an inside curve, stop your needle on the inside.

Tip: for straight square type stitches-when you get to a corner you want to go a couple of stitches past the edge and then turn. (sorry the pic is kinda hard to see)

Tip:when working with more than one piece, I always start stitching the one that is underneath if possible. That makes it so the edges get covered by the last one you stitch.

And last I take the pins out and tear away the paper stabilizer.

All done!

Looks simple enough, right? Thanks to Krista for her hard work!

Happy Sewing!

Tutorial: Reverse Applique


This sewing tutorial was created for Sewing Mamas by Katie, aka that*darn*kat. Check out her etsy shop, that*darn*kat, for great patterns, including a fabulous pattern for children’s undies!

First, choose your design. For a first try, I recommend a simple shape (the toes on my froggie were a bit tricky, so try something with fewer turns at first, then you can progress to more difficult images). I use google image search when I’m looking for ideas, I search, for example, "frog silhouette" and see what comes up. If you find the perfect image, use that, or you can draw an image inspired by what you find.

Here is my shirt front, contrast fabric, and the froggie I drew (I drew one half, folded the paper and cut it out, so it’s symmetrical). I cut out my image so I can sew around it, but you could put it on tissue paper or the like and sew through it, you’d just have to pick the paper out of the stitches later.

I place the contrast fabric behind my shirt front, making sure there’s plenty of room around the edges, then place the image on top of the shirt front, pinning everything in place. I like to center the image from side to side, but place it more to the top of the shirt.

Here you can see the contrast fabric pinned on behind:

Now, you’ll use a fairly short stitch length to sew around your image. I started at the froggie’s "armpit", stopping with needle down to pivot at any turns:

Here’s another shot, a bit further around the frog. Stop to take out/reposition any pins that are in your way, but be careful not to skew your template from where it started.

Whew! I made it all the way around!

And, after I take out the pins/template:

Here’s what it looks like from the back, you can see the stitching better here:

Now, I use a small, sharp pair of scissors to cut out the image from my shirt front, just inside the stitching line. Since knits do not ravel, I leave the edges unfinished. I like the vintage look the edges get when they roll a bit after being washed.

Start by pulling the layers apart and snipping a little in the middle. You do not want to cut through your contrast fabric, so be careful!

I put my hand behind the contrast fabric while I’m cutting, so I know I’m only cutting the shirt panel (black fabric here):

Now, I’m done trimming out my applique! Stop and admire your work:

On the back, you’ll want to trim away the extra contrast fabric:

Now, sew up your shirt, and wait for the compliments to start rolling in!

Thanks, Katie! Looks great, doesn’t it? I especially love that this is something that can be used for sewing for boys and girls. So often we focus on the cute girly things with the frills and the ruffles, it’s nice to have fun things for boys, too!

Do you have some spring sewing that this would add interest to? Tell me! And I’d love to see it in the Runway!

Happy Sewing!

Tutorial: Cargo Pants Pockets – 4 different ways! (Last in the 4 part series)

This tutorial is the final one in a series of four that shows how to make 4 different kinds of cargo pockets to add to pants. This handy how-to was contributed to Sewing Mamas by Monica (Mnemonics on the forum).

To add these pockets to pants, sew the outer leg seam of the pants pocket and then sew the pocket in place on the side. Sew the inner leg seam after the pocket is attached. For each pocket, the starting fabric size is given, but feel free to adjust the size to your liking for the pants you are making.

Four Different Cargo Pockets – Pocket Four: Pouch Style Pocket

I cut the fabric for this pocket at 9″ x 9″
Pouch Pocket Step 1

Turn the top end under and sew.
Pouch Pocket Step 2

Fold up the fabric at the corner matching raw edges. Mark the depth you want the pocket to be plus seam allowance – I used 1 1/2″. Mark a straight horizontal line on the fabric. Repeat this for the other end of the pocket too.
Pouch Pocket Step 3

Sew both ends where you markings are. Turn the pocket right side out – this is what your pocket looks like right now.
Pouch Pocket Step 4

Turn under seam allowances on the three edges of the pocket. Press with iron.
Pouch Pocket Step 5

Place pocket on the desired place on pant piece. Pin in place and sew (easier said than done :-)). This shows the top view of the finished pocket.
Pouch Pocket Step 6

Bottom view of the finished pocket. You can stitch the top side edges down if you want the top of the pocket to lie flat.
Pouch Pocket Finished

Cargo pocket 4 is ready….. and now you know how to make four different kinds of cargo pockets for pants!

Happy Sewing!


<--- Back to Part 3 in this series ** OR – grab a pdf of the whole series from our Downloads!

Tutorial: Cargo Pants Pockets – 4 Different Ways! (Part 3 of 4)

This tutorial is part three in a series of four that shows how to make 4 different kinds of cargo pockets to add to pants. This handy how-to was contributed to Sewing Mamas by Monica (Mnemonics on the forum).

To add these pockets to pants, sew the outer leg seam of the pants pocket and then sew the pocket in place on the side. Sew the inner leg seam after the pocket is attached. For each pocket, the starting fabric size is given, but feel free to adjust the size to your liking for the pants you are making.

Four Different Cargo Pockets – Pocket Three: Fold to the Left, Fold to the Right

I cut the fabric for this pocket at 7 1/2″ x 9″
Deep Cargo Pocket

Turn the top edge under and sew
Deep Cargo Pocket

Fold under seam allowance on the other 3 edges and press with iron.
Deep Cargo Pocket

Fold the the left and right sides of the pocket over to the size you want the finished pocket to be. I turned it under 1 1/2″. Press with iron.
Deep Cargo Pocket

Topstitch the left and right edges.
Deep Cargo Pocket

Open out the edges of the pocket at left and right.
Deep Cargo Pocket

Deep Cargo Pocket

You will sew the edges of the pocket to your pant piece by placing it underneath the topstitched fold of the pocket on either side. Hopefully that will make sense as you look at the rest of these pictures. Sew where it’s pinned down.
Deep Cargo Pocket

Repeat on the left side of the pocket.
Deep Cargo Pocket

When the left and right sides of the pocket are sewn to the pant, sew the bottom edge of the pocket. The part of the pocket that’s attached to the pants is hiding behind the original topstitching.
Deep Cargo Pocket

The finished pocket. If you want you can sew the top side ends of the pocket down to keep the top of the pocket flat.
Deep Cargo Pocket

That’s it! Now you have three different kinds of pockets to add to your cargo pants. We’ve got one more coming!

Happy sewing!

<– Go back to Pleated Pocket (part two in the series) ** Go on to Pouch Pocket (Last in the series!)

Tutorial: Cargo Pants Pockets – 4 Different Ways! (Part 2 of 4)

This tutorial is part two in a series of four that shows how to make 4 different kinds of cargo pockets to add to pants. This handy how-to was contributed to Sewing Mamas by Monica (Mnemonics on the forum).

To add these pockets to pants, sew the outer leg seam of the pants pocket and then sew the pocket in place on the side. Sew the inner leg seam after the pocket is attached. For each pocket, the starting fabric size is given, but feel free to adjust the size to your liking for the pants you are making.

Four Different Cargo Pockets – Pocket Two: A Pleat Is Sweet and Neat

I cut the fabric for this pocket at 7 1/2 ” x 10″
Pleated Cargo Pocket

Turn the fabric wrong side up
Pleated Cargo Pocket

Fold it in half
Pleated Cargo Pocket

Measure how deep you want your pleat to be & mark – I measured 2 inches from the folded end of the fabric.
Pleated Cargo Pocket

Stitch about 3/4- 1″ at the top and bottom where you marked. (Stitched in white here.)
Pleated Cargo Pocket

Open out the fabric ends…
Pleated Cargo Pocket

Form the pleat at the center
Pleated Cargo Pocket

Top view of the pleat:
Pleated Cargo Pocket

You can stitch the edges of the pleat if you desire – I have stitched it to make it more visible for the sew-along
Pleated Cargo Pocket

The rest of the steps are similar to Cargo pocket 1 – Fold the top end under & sew. Fold under the other 3 edges. Iron. Place the pocket in the desired place on the pants and sew it in place.
Pleated Cargo Pocket

Your Pleated Cargo Pocket is now done!

Happy Sewing!

<– Go back to Easy Pocket (part one in the series) *** Go on to Pocket Three – Fold left, fold right (part three in the series) –>

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