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MAKING DOLL SOCK SWEATERS

Sock Sweater Patterns are available for several size dolls.
See Sewing Patterns page.

MATERIALS:

Socks, etc.

Socks come in all shapes, sizes, fiber contents and prints. Within one size (e.g., ladies 9-11) there is a huge difference in the size of the socks both in width and length. Thus, the size of the sock - and the print on it - will determine which doll the sweater can be made for. Consider taking the pattern pieces with you when looking for socks - that way you will know if you can actually fit the pieces on a particular sock!


These socks are all a ladies size 9-11

Fiber contents can vary from wool, angora, cashmere, cotton or acrylic. And as you can see from the picture above, the designs are incredible. Everything from wee little creatures, to aran knits to ski sweater designs!

Designs - there are one-way (distinct top and bottom to the design-like the reindeer and snowman designs above) and two-way designs. This will also determine how you can use the sock. Some designs must absolutely face up toward the neckline of the sweater - and on others you can place the top of the sweater piece either up or down on the sock. A one-way design can severely limit your options in the layout so look carefully when choosing these socks to be sure the pieces will fit.

Another design pattern that will cause some limitation is when the print on the sock doesn't cover the entire bottom part of the sock (see 4th sock from the left). I usually cut the sleeves from the bottom part of the sock and if the sleeve is a wide one (e.g., for 18" dolls), it might "look funny" without the pattern going around the entire sleeve.

Children's size socks can be used for tiny Betsy, Kripplebush kids (you will use both socks in the pair) and sometimes the 10" size sweaters.

Note: People sweaters can also be cut up to make wonderful doll sweaters. Use the pattern pieces and assembly instructions from any of the patterns.

Ribbing

Again, there are several choices. You can purchase by-the-yard (this is actually sold "by-the-inch" as you can buy any number of inches you desire) ribbing from the fabric store. Fiber content can vary here too. Some ribbings are 100" cotton or cotton/polyester, but there are some that contain a small percentage of lycra (which helps shape retention-I found this ribbing at Hancock Fabrics). The cotton/lycra ribbing is slightly more expensive than the 100% cotton kind, but is well worth it. Also consider cotton or synthetic "t-shirt" knits that are ribbed - many times these work well and provide a wider color selection. Parts of the sock can also be used (after you cut out the main pieces) for ribbing - the cuffs and the toe or heel parts will work for neck/bottom and sleeve cuff ribbing. I have even used a portion of the sock itself for ribbing - if there is a section of solid color I can cut this from. This is a great choice when you want an exact color match. Additional ribbing alternatives are cotton/lycra or nylon/lycra fabric (what leotards are made of), specialty metallic knit fabrics or a solid color sock.

Cut by-the-yard ribbing with a rotary cutter. It's much easier to get straight, accurate pieces with a cutter and ruler combination than with scissors.

If the sock design allows it, consider cutting the sweater front and back out leaving the cuff on to become the bottom ribbing. Place the pattern piece along the fold and allow extra room at the bottom (the overall length of the sweater) to include what the ribbing would add.

Note: There are separate pattern pieces in the 16", 18" & 21" fashion doll pattern for this.

Lining

Use a lightweight lining that stretches so that the softness, stretch and fit of the sock material are not lost. There are several choices that all provide a nice lining.

1)
Nylon tricot (like slips are made of) - this fabric is reasonably priced, wide (60-108") and easy to work with. It stretches across the width of the fabric, but there is virtually no stretch along the length (this aspect does help to stabilize the knit when sewing the side seams).
2)
Powermesh (80% nylon, 20% lycra) - this fabric is a tiny mesh weave fabric with high lycra content. I use it for the fashion doll sweaters as they are a closer fit and the Powermesh is lighter weight than tricot and stretches as much as the sock material. However, it is a bit trickier to work with because of the "holes" and the high lycra content.
Note: I do sell some of the powermesh here on my website (http://www.dalerae.com/sewsup.htm). If you are unfamiliar with this fabric, the Tonner company has used it for Tyler's hosiery and to line many of her outfits.
3)
Swimsuit lining - this is usually a nylon/lycra fiber content and works well.
4)
Light-weight t-shirt type or synthetic knit - I have used this when I couldn't find another suitable color match (the color match is important for the tiny Betsy and Kripplebush Kid sweaters).

CUTTING INFORMATION:

Sweaters

Each sock design - combined with the size of sweater chosen - will determine how the sweater is cut out. The patterns include some "basic" layout instructions, but the variety of possibilities is endless! If the fit of the pattern pieces on the sock is tight, buy two pair of socks to make sweaters for two different size dolls and combine sizes to get the pieces to fit (e.g., on one sock place the front of the 14" size on the top of the sock and the sleeve of the 10" size on the bottom, etc.)

Consider cutting the pattern pieces out full-size (e.g., the entire sleeve) and out of a sheer paper so that you can place it around the sock to see where the design will end up on the sweater.

On the fashion doll patterns place a mark on the front pattern piece indicating where the bust point is so that you don't inadvertently place an undesirable design there!

Lining

Why line these sweaters? There are several reasons.

  • The inside of the socks has a multitude of loose threads from the woven design. These threads are cut when cutting out the sweater pieces - they could unravel when dressing the doll AND the doll's little fingers easily catch on these threads when putting the sweater on!
  • For the tiny Betsy and Kripplebush size, the lining finishes off the sleeve bottom and neck/center back edges. The lining thus eliminates the seam bulk that would result if ribbing were added to the neck and sleeve bottom edges.
  • The lining stabilizes the sock knit (which is VERY spongy and stretchy) making it easier to work with.

The lining should have the greatest amount of stretch going around the body - the least amount of stretch should go lengthwise.

The lining for the tiny Betsy and Kripplebush sizes is cut out using the basic pattern pieces.

When working with the larger sizes (which use ribbing to finish the neck, sleeve bottom and sweater bottom), cut out the sweater pieces and glue each piece (using a thick tacky glue and placing little dots of glue around the perimeter of each piece within the ¼" seam allowance), wrong sides together, to a large piece of lining. When the glue is dry, cut around all of the sweater pieces. (See pictures below).

After placing the pieces onto the lining, gently press down on each piece for a few seconds with a warm iron to "set" the glue.
***WARNING! - When working with acrylic socks, be very careful of the heat setting on your iron. Use only a warm setting and no steam - the sock "fabric" shrinks very easily! Consider using a Teflon ironing piece under the lining when gluing on the sweater pieces (if you are working on your ironing board). This will protect the ironing board cover so glue does not get on it.
Note: The Teflon sheets are sold in quilting departments (of a fabric store or sewing supply catalog) and are used for appliqué work to prevent the fusible interfacing from getting all over the ironing board cover.

CONSTRUCTION INFORMATION:

Seams

  • If possible, set the presser foot pressure at a minimum setting (e.g., on my machine, a setting of 4 is normal - for the sock sweaters, I change the setting to slightly less than 1).
  • Use a ball-point or universal point, size 11, sewing machine needle.
  • Sometimes it helps to pin the pieces together for sewing with the pins perpendicular to the seam line - and CAREFULLY sew over the pins. The machine seems to "grab" the pins and move the seam along without stretching it as much. Also, you can "push" the seam thru by holding onto the pin and helping the fabric feed under the presser foot.
  • The seams can be sewn in different ways:
    -You can use a serger to sew and finish the seams at the same time (if your serger has an adjustment for presser foot pressure, move it to the lowest setting).
    -You can sew a straight stitch at the ¼" seam line, trim the seam to 1/8", then zig-zag over the edge.
    Note: You do not need to use a very short zig-zag stitch to do this as the fabric really does not ravel away. In fact, a short stitch creates a thread build up causing a bulky seam.
    -You can sew one line of straight stitching at the ¼" seam; then sew a second row of straight stitching 1/8" from the first one and trim off the excess seam allowance.

Specific information for tiny Betsy and Kripplebush sweaters:

  • Because the tolerances are less flexible on these sweaters than on the larger ones, and the small pieces are sometimes harder to work with, there are a few different construction techniques to follow.
  • When sewing the lining to the sweater, or stitching the casing line at the bottom of the sleeves, the pieces feed easier if the lining is on top and the sweater fabric is on the bottom.
  • When putting the sweater together:
    Stitch lining to sweater body at center backs and around neck edge - taking approximately a 1/8" seam allowance around the neck edge and ¼" seam on center backs.

     

  • Trim seam allowance off corners and clip around neck edge.


  • Turn so wrong sides are together - press and glue lining to sweater body (placing glue dots within ¼" seam allowance) around side, armhole and bottom seam edges. Trim edges to make them uniform.

     

    Sleeves:
    Stitch lining to sleeve at bottom edge with a 1/8" seam allowance. Turn so wrong sides are together - glue lining to sleeve around edges (placing glue dots within the ¼" seam allowance). Trim edges so they are uniform. Stitch casing line along bottom of sleeve, approximately 1/8" from bottom edge.

     

Elastic at the bottom of sleeves:

1)
Mark the length required, measuring from the end of the elastic - however, do not cut off the elastic at this mark.
2)
Thread the loop turner thru the casing.
3)
Place the end of the elastic on the hook - approximately 1/8" into the length of elastic (note-you need to catch enough of the end of the elastic on the hook so the elastic doesn't unravel as you pull it thru the casing).
4)
Pull elastic thru casing and align the end with the side of the sleeve casing. Anchor it here with a quick hand stitch or a pin.
5)
Pull up the elastic until your mark shows at the opposite end of the casing and align the end of the casing with the mark on the elastic - anchor the elastic at this side of the casing with a quick hand stitch or pin.
6)
Cut off elastic at the mark.

 

****When working with the short sleeves, it is easier to sew the sleeve into the armhole before you insert the elastic into the bottom of the sleeve.


General information for all sizes:

  • When using the sock cuff for ribbing, take the height measurement given in the pattern instructions and divide it in half to get the measurement needed. The length will remain the same.
  • If you encounter some curling of the cuff cut edges after cutting to size, place some small dots of glue along the cut edge and press together before attaching to the sweater.
  • For a variation in sleeve styles for pattern P1021, use the adjusted sleeve pattern pieces for the 8", 10", 14" and 18" little girl dolls that are designed for an eased cap instead of a gathered one. To print out these alternate sleeves, click HERE, then click on the thumbnail picture of the sleeves (you will need Adobe Acrobat for this). Once the page comes up in Acrobat it will be the correct size to print out on an 8-1/2 x 11" piece of paper.
  • On the 10", 14" & 18" sizes (little girl dolls), the sleeve is gathered at the bottom to fit the ribbing instead of stretching the ribbing as you sew it on (like you would do on a "people" sweatshirt). The reason for this is that if the ribbing is stretched enough to fit the sleeve, it is distorted and it's difficult to control the size of the ribbing (in other words, if you want the ribbing to finish up 3/8" all across the sleeve bottom, it might be ¼" in some places and ½" in others). It is just hard to hang on to and stretch such a little piece of ribbing as you sew it on!

GENERAL SLEEVE INFORMATION:

Note:
This section is included to help you with sewing in different styles of sleeves. On the little girl sock sweaters, the sleeve cap is either gathered or sewn in with an eased cap (using the alternate sleeve pattern I've provided above). However, either way, the sleeves are drafted with a flatter, easier-to-sew, sleeve cap. The fashion doll pattern has a high cap that must be eased into the armhole - this allows for a closer fit. These sleeves can be a bit more challenging to set in.

Gathered Cap Sleeve:

  • Using a long stitch length, stitch 2 rows of stitching. One line of stitching will be just inside the seam line (1/4" from the cut edge) and one will be just outside.
  • Pull up the threads to create nice, even gathers. Stitch sleeve into armhole.

 

Eased Cap Sleeve:

  • Using a long stitch length, stitch only one row of stitching just barely inside the seam line.
  • Pull up the thread to take up the fullness so it will fit into the armhole - however, make sure that there are no gathers present. Stitch sleeve into armhole.


SWEATER EMBELLISHMENTS:
As a finishing touch, a little extra addition can make the sweater really special! Add a bow, button, bell, fur collar & cuffs or any other cute decorations to the sweaters. A beading design can look lovely on the fashion dolls. And don't forget about accessories like hair ribbons, baskets or other holiday items.

A FEW SOURCES:
Socks
Target - www.target.com
Kohls - www.kohls.com
Department stores
"Discount" stores like T.J. Maxx, Marshall's, etc.
Dollar Stores
Catalogs
Ebay!

Sewing/doll Supplies:
Dale Rae Designs - www.dalerae.com - 877.490.3716
Clotilde - www.clotilde.com - 800.772.2891
Home Sew - www.homesew.com - 800.344.4739
Newark Dressmaker Supply, Inc. - www.newarkdress.com - 800.736.5783
Tallina's - www.dollsupply.com - 800.257.9450
Mini-Magic, Inc. - www.mini-magic.com - 888.391.0691
The Fabric Club - www.fabricclub.com - 800.322.2582

Published Article
"Doll Couture - Sew Fun!" by Dale Rae
http://www.dollsandfriends.com/article-current.html

 



Last Revised: August 29, 2011
Copyright 2000 - Dale Rae Designs