Sewing for doll competition doesnít need to scare you, nor do you need to be an expert dressmaker before you attempt to sew for competition. Here are a few guidelines:

1. FIT: This is very important. Necklines should fit snugly, and sleeves and hemlines should be the right length according to the age and era of the doll. Patterns, even commercial patterns canít always be trusted to fit properly. Cut out your pattern on paper towel or inexpensive cotton and sew together first. Try it on your doll with the seam allowance on the outside. Check the fit, then make the adjustments to your pattern.

2. STYLE: Choose a style to suit your doll and your sewing skills. A simple costume that fits well and is well made will win more points than a fancy costume that is poorly sewn. Remember to research the era and appropriate costume for your doll.

3. CHOICE OF FABRIC: Choose fabrics that are appropriate to the style and era. Synthetics may be used as long as they look like antique fabrics: e.g.. polyester silk type fabrics. Anything that is obviously modern should be used for a modern doll only. Obviously, cottons would be the best choice for many items of clothing, if you can find it. Old clothing places are a good place to look for fabrics and laces. Prints, designs and thickness of fabrics should be appropriate to the size of the doll.

4. LACE: Lace should look like old lace. Many laces made in polyester today are similar to old lace patterns. Again, anything that looks obviously modern should be left to modern dolls. The size of lace used should be in proportion to the doll. Lace should not be applied by zigzag. Hand sewn is more appropriate. Except in the case of Heirloom Sewing by Machine.

5. SEAMS: All seams should be finished. Raw or pinked edges are not acceptable. Lining the garment, overcastting, French seams are all good. Refer to any good sewing manual for proper seam finishes. Zigzag edges and overcasting machines are okay for modern dolls clothes only. Finishing should be done by hand.

6. HATS: Some sort of head gear is required of all dolls. A hat, ribbons, flowers, (hand made ribbons). Even commercial ribbon tied in a bow will get a few points, but anything made by hand shows the care taken to do a good job. the judges want to see that youíve researched what is appropriate and tried to copy it.

7. SHOES AND STOCKINGS: Shoes should be handmade but commercial shoes are acceptable. Stockings, silk or cotton for dolls to 1930. Judges are often very sticky about having appropriate stockings. Baby dolls should have socks or booties. Nicely made shoes and stockings can make the difference between winning and losing the top awards.

8. UNDERWEAR: Complete underwear is required. Many people forget a diaper on the baby dolls.

9. ACCESSORIES: Appropriate accessories can be an asset to your doll. The right accessory just could make the difference between winning and losing the top award in a competition. However, if you have an accessory, make sure that it is well made, appropriate to the doll and SECURELY fastened. You will not lose points for not having an accessory, but you WILL lose points if it is inappropriate, poorly designed and made and loosely attached!


            While most of these comments are designed to be used by the Antique Doll Reproduction Artist, in todayís competitions, Modern Doll Artists are incorporating more and more of the techniques used by the Reproductions. This attention to detail in Modern Dolls is also raising the expectations of judges in the quality of work presented in the Modern Doll field. Therefore, if you wish to WIN the competition, you, too, should pay attention to these details. The better your sewing, the higher your marks.

            Just a final comment: One of the things that is most often overlooked, and causes a VERY FINE doll to lose that ONE POINT that could have made all the difference and won the LOOSE THREADS!!!!!! Once you have finished and dressed your doll ready for competition...go over it THOROUGHLY. Donít leave a single loose thread hanging. I can guarantee you...the JUDGE WILL FIND IT.


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  This page last edited on July 21st, 2007


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