Monday, February 3, 2014

Every Doll Needs Her Own Sleeping Bag! (Tutorial and Pattern for 16-18" Doll Sleeping Bag)

As my readers here at BTHM, Miss Grace, my daughter, has 'twin' 18" dolls (MyTwinn and Madame Alexander). She also received a Disney Mulan 16" doll for Christmas. All well and good, except....

"Mom, I only have one sleeping bag, the girls need their own sleeping bags!"

SIGH....I knew what was coming next....

"Can't you make them matching sleeping bags? You know the twins like to match!"

SIGH- see that's what happens when your kids realizes you can SEW!!!!!!!!!

Ok dokey then.....

BTHM sleeping bag for 16-18 inch dolls

Yup- you take enough Green Coffee Extract your brain starts working on all cylinders and you actually DRAFT out a pattern and get to sewing!

Seriously, I am a pattern follower/alterer, not a pattern maker, so this was a first for me!

But as I started to make them I realized that my friends might want the pattern too, or I may need to be making more of these for Miss Grace's friends, so I started taking pictures (course that thought didn't come to me til AFTER I had cut out the pattern and fabric, so no pix for step 1, sorry!) and drew out an ACTUAL pattern. I know- amazing, right? LOL.

I knew you might want it too, so I'm sharing this post with all of you today!
It would make a great surprise for Valentine's Day for your little one!

Please excuse any non-professionalism for this tutorial, as it's the first one I tried with step pictures and an actual pattern download! (And THANKS for stopping by, if you linked over from Skip to My Lou's, Made By You Monday!

Let's look at what we'll be making again:

doll sleeping bag comparison

The original version comes from a camping set, and is NOT sold separately (naturally), and is basically 4 layers of THIN fabric sewn together. My version has the same 4 layers, put with a padded piece in between the bottom layers for a) comfort while laying on ground and b) warmth, because you know the dolls kid are picky that way...

So you need:
- a Sewing machine or be willing to hand sew (which I don't recommend due to the layers)
- 2 fabrics- as different fabrics make it look more like a real bag, but you could use all the same fabric if you wanted to- I used about 1/3 yard of each fabric, per bag, and had leftovers that could make another bag for a smaller doll!
- 3rd fabric for padded layer. I used a old felt blanket that was too stained to use anymore, but was perfect for layering 
-matching thread to your fabric, if you don't want it to show- I just used white
- hand sewing needle, if you want, to seal open sleeping bag pattern pieces

As Miss Grace said, this is a 'recycled bag', as we used the old blanket and leftover fabrics. These bags are a great way to use up your fabric leftovers and scraps! You could even use old t-shirts and sweats! 

Be sure if you are using NEW fabrics, that they have been washed AND dryed, then ironed, BEFORE you start. These are kids items, which means they will have to be washed sometime, and you don't want them shrinking AFTER you've made them. So don't forget this pre-step!


Step 1:

Measure the doll you are making this bag for- this bag is aimed at 18", but fits 16" comfortably (better if you use the 1/4 inch seem allowance, versus the 1/2 for 18"). If you want your bag oversized some (for younger girls this might be a good idea), then you need to add extra seam allowance and/or length when you go to cut out the pattern, ie about 3/4" seam allowance.

Print out the TWO pattern pieces:

Step 2:

After cutting out your pattern pieces, attach them to your fabric, and cut out 4 (5, if using padded layer also)) pieces total- 2 for top and 2 for bottom of bag, making sure to add extra seam allowance and any extra length or width you want.

Step 3:

Now we need to pin those layers together, to make it easier for sewing!

This is the layout for the TOP layer, or if you are NOT adding a padded layer, 
then this is your pinning layout for BOTH top and bottom sections:

bthm doll sleeping bag pinning A

Make sure your RIGHT sides are together. it will get turned inside out, so don't start wrong at this step!

If you are adding a padded layer, then this is your pinning layout for the bottom layer:

bthm doll sleeping bag pinning B

Ok, that was the easy part!

Step 4:

bthm doll sleeping bag sewing seal allowance

Take your two pinned sections to the sewing machine. I used the smallest possible seam allowance, as you can see, as a) I wanted to have the maximum amount of internal space, and b) you will be sewing these layers again, so you want to reduce as much bulk as possible. Sew all the way around, leaving a SMALL opening, in which you can turn the piece inside out with. AKA made sure it's BIG enough for you to get your sewn fabric OUT of. If you look at the picture for Step 6, you will see that I left about 2 inches open on the SIDE of the bag. I messed that up on the first try, and left it open on the bottom, and realized it worked better on the side for the 2nd one, Aka, you get to learn from my mistake!

The only cutting I did was on the bottom corners- I diagonal cut across each corner, to there would be less fabric when it was turned. Again by having the small seam allowance, you don't need to cut extra fabric out.

Step 5:

bthm doll sleeping bag turn inside out

Basically just pull the fabric out through the 2" hole you left. By leaving the hole this big, you can either get a few fingers or a sewing turner easily in, to make sure you get your bottom corners nice and neat.

Step 6:

bthm doll sleeping bag sewing shut

Or you can be quick and cheat and sew with the machine! Which is what I did- you'll find it's easy to use the machine at this step, but some of you might have a hard time getting your fabric under your sewing machine needle, depending on the thickness of the fabrics you used. 

Coffee brain kicked in about here and I forgot to take more pictures for Steps 7 and 7- sorry!

Step 7:

Take your two completed fabric pieces and pin together as follows- layer your top piece on the bottom piece AS YOU WANT the finished product to look and pin.

This is also know as the 'I don't want to turn out 4/5 layers of fabric' step. As each later has already been sewed together, it actually works better than you think.

Lay your original pattern back on your pinned pieces and make start and stop marks with additional pins. This is VERY important, as you want your darlings to be able to get the dolls INTO the bags easily, and it allows for the top to be folded back!

Step 8: 

Sew your layered pieces together, following around the edges, starting where you want it to remain closed, and ending on the other side, either equal or a little higher up. I didn't mark these on the patterns, as some of you might want the points equal, and others has I did about an inch higher on the left side. Ideally you want a 3-4 inch pull down. Be sure you really tack down when starting and stopping, so the ends are really tight and secure, as they will be getting pulled on a LOT.

And this is what you end up with:

bthm doll sleeping bag finished bag

Step 9:

Give sleeping bag to the recipient and bask in the 20 second praise......

And then be prepared for the "Can you make a sleeping bag for......", which inevitably comes next!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Please let us know if you plan on making it, by commenting below this post, and after you do, come back and tell us how it came out!

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And head on over to Skip to My Lou and check out the other Made by You Monday Participants
(LOTS of Valentine's Day ideas!)

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