Kirsten’s School Dress Sew-a-long

By September 26, 2012 , , ,

Sew along with me as we make a traditional prairie girl calico dress for Kirsten.Kirsten's-School-Dress-Sew-a-long-tutorial-american-girl
This is made from one of the original patterns released by Pleasant Company, they have since been discontinued, but you can download a printable version at AG Play Things, they print out well, I chose to just print the pattern pages, and read the directions on my ipad.
This dress is called Kirsten’s school dress, and requires a 1/2 yard of fabric, and 6” inches of Velcro.
All of my step numbers correspond with the patterns, many pattern steps have components so I have added, A,B,C etc. to make it easy to follow both set of directions. (My directions are complete, but I want to make them match).
All seam allowances at 1/4” unless stated otherwise.
1. First get your pattern pieces cut out and we can get started!
2 A. Stitch the front bodice to the two back bodice pieces right sides together. (For many of these seams I’ve just drawn a chalk line at 1/4” and serged the seam. If you don’t have a serger just sew with a 1/4” seam allowance.Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl
2 B. Transfer the dots from the front bodice pattern piece to the front bodice. Sew a basting stitch (Low tension, long stitch) a little past those two dots. Lightly gather. (You’ll adjust the gather to the neckline in the next step)
2 C. Clip neckline curve.
3. Attaching the neckband.
3 A. Press the neckband like you would double fold bias tape. Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-001
3 B. Using clips (easier than pinning) clip the ‘neckband bias tape’ around the clipped edge. Adjust the gather to make the neckband match the neckline.Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-002
3 C. Carefully stitch along the bottom edge of the neckband with a 1/8” seam allowance and a 1 mm stitch length. (Whenever top stitching I use a very small stitch to keep everything in scale).
4. Preparing Sleeves for attaching to the bodice.
4 A. Transfer the gathering dots to the top curves of the sleeves.Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-003
4 B. Sew a gathering stitch (Low tension, long length) a little past the two dots and a long the entire bottom edge of the dress.
4 C. Press the two sleeve bands like double fold bias tape just like you did the neckband.
4 D. Adjust the bottom edge gathers to match the length of the sleeve band and ‘clip’ around the gathered edge encasing the edge.
4 E. Sew the sleeve bands with a 1/8” seam allowance and a 1mm stitch length (Don’t forget to reset your tension from gathering as well!)
5. Attaching the sleeves to the bodice.Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-004
5 A. Adjust gathers to match the pattern ‘dots’ on the sleeve to the ‘dots’ on the bodice. Clip or pin together.Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-007
5 B. Sew very carefully with a 1/4” seam allowance. Making sure you catch both pieces of fabric. (With this step I always sew it first, then serge within the seam allowance).Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-005
5 C. If you have a serger, serge within the seam allowance carefully to prevent fraying.
6. Sewing the bodice together & adding sleeve Velcro. (This is my first major departure from the pattern directions).Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-006
6 A. Serge the entire length of the sleeve and bodice edges on all 4 lengths.
6 B. Cut a 1” piece of 3/4” Velcro in half down the middle, giving you two pieces of 3/8” Velcro 1” long. The ‘hook’ is going to be on the bodice back side of the sleeve, and the ‘loop’ is going to be on the bodice front side.
Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-0086 C. Using a ‘zig zag’ stitch the ‘hook’ to the ‘right side’ of the ‘bodice back’ side of the sleeve. Align it so that the bottom of the Velcro matches the start of the ‘sleeve band’.
6 D. Press the ‘hook’ folded under with a 1/8” seam. Stitch a 1/8” seam to the ‘dot’ on the sleeve. You are effectively making the ‘loop’ of the Velcro be on the inside of the sleeve.
6 E. Stitch the ‘loop’ side of the Velcro on to the ‘right side’ of the fabric on the ‘front bodice’ side of the sleeve. Align the bottom of the Velcro with the sleeve band. Zig-zag stitch on the left side of the Velcro allowing the right side to hang off the edge of the fabric.
Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-010Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-0116 F. Line up seams and sew fronts and backs together with a 1/4” Seam, only sew to the ‘dot’ on the sleeve, not to the wrist.
7 & 8.  Pattern Steps 7 & 8 were incorporated into my steps 6 B-E so skip.
9. Adding the waistband.
9 A. Gather the bottom of the bodice. with a gathering stitch.
Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-0129 B. Match length of the waistband with length of the gathered bodice. Sew right sides together with 1/4” seam allowance.
10. Attaching the Skirt
Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-01310 A. Make the ‘grow stripes’ which are really just deep pin tucks in the skirt following the pattern, press
Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-01410 B. Sew your tucks, by folding, and then sewing along the edge to create tucks of fabric.
Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-01510 C. Serge the side seams of the skirt
10 D. Sew to the skirt into a tube, up to the dot.
10 E. Sew a gathering stitch on the top of the skirt.
Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-01610 F. Gather skirt to match the waistband, Sew skirt to waist band right sides together.
Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-01710 G. Serge waistband seam allowance carefully for a cleaner look.Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-019
11. Pattern step 11 corresponds to step 10 D.
12. Finishing back Edges.
12 A. I like to just serge each edge, and do the rest with the Velcro.
13. Attaching the Velcro. I use a 5” piece of 3/4” Velcro cut in half lengthwise.
Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-02013 A. Sew with a zig-zag stitch the ‘hook side of the Velcro to the back left side of the bodice to the right side of the fabric as shown, with some hanging over the edge. Line up the top of the Velcro with the neckband. (I use clips since pinning Velcro is tough).
Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-02113 B. Fold the Velcro over to to the inside of the dress. Clip. Stitch with a 1/8” Seam
Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-02213 C. Sew the ‘loop’ of the Velcro to the back right side of the bodice using a zig-zag stitch on the right side of the fabric. Have it hang over the edge some. 
14. Finishing the bottom hem.
Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-01814 A. Serge bottom hem. (If you don’t have a serger make a double fold hem).
Kirsten's-School-Dress-American-Girl-02314 B. Press under serged edge and sew with a 1/8” seam.
Inside and out completed photos to help you see ‘the big picture’

This post is partying here.

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  1. great sew-along! Thank you for the link to the patterns! These will be invaluable when my daughter gets a little older.

    1. There are soo many great doll pattern resources out there you'll be set! I try and collect what I find in this pinboard.

  2. so cool! My niece has an Addy doll and I have thought about making her some clothes. You have inspired me! I came over from tt & J where you were linked up by me :o) I also host a Tuesday link party (Tastefule Tuesdays) and I would love for you to join sometime. It opens at 8:30 om central time.

    1. You’ll be super Aunt for sure! I know it looks like a million steps, but they are easy to make in an afternoon.

  3. Absolutely love your little doll beautifully created and it was so nice of you to go through all that work to produce the tutorial. It was so kind of you. I am now a follower of your blog and look forward to return visits. I invite you to join me as well on my blog at
    Hugs, Gayle.

    1. Thank you Gayle! I really hope seeing it quite literally step by step encourages people to give it a try, I know it has for me! That's beauty of learning to sew in the digital age, there's a tute and video out there somewhere to help you "get it".

  4. Oh, it's so cute! Thank you for sharing this at my Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Hope to see your prettiness again on Monday. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  5. My daughters will love this. Thanks for sharing :)

    The Farm Girl