So many dresses and pants that we make for our dolls require gathered waistbands. This is a technique that I use very often, and I thought it would be a good idea to explain it for those of you that are new to making doll clothes.
There are two ways of making elastic waistbands on doll clothes. You can either make a pocket for the elastic to be threaded through, or you can stitch the elastic to the inside of the waistband. Both techniques can be found in clothing you buy for yourself, so as you read the instructions in this article, look in your closet to see what each one is supposed to look like when finished.
All of my dress and skirt designs give the measurements of the piece of fabric required to make the skirt. Since they are usually simple designs, the skirt fabric is a rectangle, for which I give the inches needed, but not an actual pattern. To make a skirt for any doll, measure around the waist of the doll then double the number. This will give you the length of the piece of fabric you need to make the skirt. For example, Bitty Baby has a waist that is 12.5 inches around, so you would need a piece of fabric that is 25 inches long. Next, measure from the waist down the leg, as long as you want the skirt to be, and add .5 inch for the hem and .75 inch to 1 inch for the waistband. as an example, if you want the skirt to be 5 inches long, your fabric needs to be 6.25 to 6.5 inches wide.
Once you have your rectangle of fabric, stitch the two short edges together with right sides facing each other.
Fold the bottom edge toward the wrong side .25 inches, twice and hem in place.
Fold the waist edge toward the wrong side .25 inches and press, then fold the same edge .75 inches and stitch down using a Running Stitch. Leave a small part of the folded fabric open, do not stitch the entire fold, instead, stop stitching about .5 inches from where the stitching started. You will need this opening to thread the elastic into the waistband.
Your piece of elastic should be shorter than the actual waist measurement of your doll, so that the skirt stays in place. So for a doll with a 12.5 inch waist, I recommend 11 to 11.5 inches of elastic.
Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and use the pin to thread the elastic into the opening that you left in your stitching. Be sure to keep the other end of the elastic from going into the waistband as you use the pin to thread the elastic through the waistband. When the safety pin has gone all the way around the waistband and is back at the opening, gently pull it out and, holding both ends of the elastic together, stitch the ends together. Gently stretch the waistband and the elastic should disappear into the waistband. Hem stitch the opening closed.
For the other type of gathered waistband, don't sew the two short sides of the skirt together first. To begin, fold the waist edge toward the wrong side .25 inches and press, then fold the same edge .75 inches and stitch down using a running stitch, along the entire edge. Tack or pin down one end of the elastic at one of the folded fabric. Stretch the elastic as far as you can, preferably to the other end, if possible, and stitch it in place. Sometimes the elastic won't stretch all the way to the other end if it is firm elastic, so I don't recommend using this technique unless you have light weight elastic that stretches easily. Once the elastic is sewn in place you can sew the side seam and hem the skirt.
Making and Dressing Cloth Dolls
Ebook with patterns and instructions to make 5 cloth dolls as well as chapters on general doll making techniques.The book includes 21 inch Lalena Doll, 21 inch David Doll, Bear Dolls, 9 inch Destiny Doll and 15 inch Annie Doll, all together in one handy book. 53 pages.Making and Dressing Cloth Dolls.