Easy alterations to repurpose old doll clothing

Every time I clean an area in my house, I try to get rid of some things to prevent it from becoming cluttered again. It helps keep us comfortable in our little house, and being able to walk into the closets is always a plus.

Last time I cleaned and organized the closet in my workshop, I ran across my old porcelain doll from when I was a little girl. She was pretty, but since my taste in dolls has evolved, I didn’t see a reason to keep her. But I’d often read about people using clothes from porcelain dolls to dress their ball-jointed dolls, and since Laele didn’t have any clothing of her own yet, I decided to try the dress on her.

Laele's new dress before alterationSince the nYID body is so curvy and I got her with a larger bust option, I wasn’t sure it would work. To my surprise, the bodice fit as if the dress were made for her. The problem area was much lower–the porcelain doll was a standard 18″ size, while Laele is a good bit taller than that.

Still, I was pleased. I could dispose of the old doll and still get a dress for one of my newer dolls. And with a really easy alteration, I’d have a pretty dress with little cost and little work. It’s fitting for her station, too, if not her personality, something I think suits her story fairly well; she’s a bit more adventurous, but her family a bit more traditional, so it makes sense that her father–a spice merchant–would provide her with over-the-top frilly dresses, fit for afternoon tea rather than gallivanting across the country.  It also came with the bonus of being pink, a complementary color for her unnaturally green hair. Don’t worry–the hair is part of her story, and it’ll be explained once I get her book written.

Adding lengthFinding materials was actually the hard part. I looked at Hancock Fabrics, hoping to score something I could use for cheap, since they’re closing. But on top of not having much to choose from to begin with, there was a 30 minute wait to check out and only two people working, both of whom were very rude, so I decided to look elsewhere.

I visited several other stores and eventually found something I could work with at Hobby Lobby, which is fortunate, since it was my last option for buying something locally. I couldn’t find any pink satin that matched well, so I settled for a lighter shade and figured I’d cover the whole thing with lace. The lace I got was a pretty pattern in ivory, gathered onto elastic. That it was pre-gathered saved me a lot of effort, and that it was on elastic made it easy to attach to the satin.

I cut a piece of satin that was 8 inches wide and 44 inches long, adding a rolled hem to one edge and only finishing the other with a zig-zag stitch to keep down bulkiness. Then came the time consuming process of pinning yards and yards of lace onto the new addition. I put on three rows and then added the new ruffle to the bottom edge of the dress. The stitching ran along the existing hem stitching, and the crown of one ruffle hid the seam, creating an attractive blend.

Then came time for photos.

Laele's new dress

The end result was quite pleasing, and I’m glad I decided to keep the dress and send the doll on to a new home. From now on I’ll have to keep an eye out for porcelain dolls at thrift shops and the like–you never know when I might find one that’ll have a dress just right to add to Laele’s wardrobe.

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