Fresh Prints of Belle Air


Me and a few of the girls are enjoying some time off strolling in the gardens of Paris AND perusing the stock of floral printed fabrics that have just arrived in the fabric stores of the city’s famous « Marché Saint Pierre ». We’ve been looking at store windows as well as how the young Parisians are dressed and while there is nothing noteworthy in terms of silhoettes—we can attest that everything is in bloom with colorful florals!

This post is not so much a tutorial as it is a styling tip for the next time you go summer fabrics. Of course you can always opt for those quilting/patchwork squares. In general the « Liberty House » style prints are usually perfectly scaled for dolly. But those cottons have a certain structure which means the garments you cut from it will tend to be a little stiff and move sharply away from dolly’s body. There is another option. Look for rayon, viscose or rayon blends. Rayon or viscose is a natural fiber that is soft and lends itself to designs where you want soft drapes. 

Don’t be afraid of large scale florals. On the doll, they will come across as abstract flowers which work nicely for garments cut in voluminous silhouettes including summer evening gowns.

As you know, wider shapes are all the rage. Emanuela shows off a kimono belted over wide trousers

Underneath it all, you can see that we cut the pants a little high on the waist. You can team this off with a bra top or bare midriff tank top. Her outfit was cut from a palm leaf and striped rayon printed fabric. The oversized print gives the whole look an exotic, almost Asian flavor.

For younger dollies, we’ve borrowed this look from the 1970’s. It’s an empire waist mini dress worn over straight legged trousers cut from a floral rayon fabric. The nice thing about this look is that it’s two looks in one. Dolly can wear just the little dress., or wear the trousers separately with a little T-shirt or tank top.

Here’s a tip. Cut the yoke of the dress in one piece to get a good, clean line over the shoulders by eliminating that seam.

1. Put the front sloper and the back sloper together along the shoulder seam.
2. Trace around. It is a good idea to indicate the shoulder line. When you are finished there is one piece only.
3. Now trace the right side off to the other side along the center front seam so that the yoke is all in one piece!

Add a rectangular piece of fabric. It should be roughly 2-1/2 times wider than the hem of the yoke (or width of your doll) and as long or short as you want. For Karen’s dress, my rectangle is 5’’ (13cm) long by 15’’ wide (39cm). Hem the bottom edge, Make a double gathering stitch at the top. Gather the stitches so that it fits the yoke and sew. The seam should point upwards. Leave about 1-1/2’’ open at the back near the neck (so that the doll can get in and out of the dress). Then stitch the rest of the dress down to the hem.

For Kimora, we were inspired by the 1960’s. She’s wearing a tent dress/trench coat ensemble cut from that cotton square we bought. The pattern for the dress is HERE and the trench coat pattern is HERE.


Sissilie fell in love with a cotton pleated scarf we bought on the street for very little money. Her dress was made from a simple shift dress pattern. The cotton scarf has, what is called—a ‘place’ motif. I made sure the rose fell in the front and center of the dress.

Feel free to mix and match patterns. Her we tossed a kimono over Sissilie’s shoulders. The contrasting floral print is made of a cotton chintz fabric.

Nothing is prettier than a cheerful floral print bursting with color transformed into a summer evening gown like the one Kym is wearing. Instead of traditional evening fabrics, the floral prints lend a fresh, cool look to formal wear! Making this dress is such a breeze as well. Her dress is essentially a sarong skirt wrapped around the bottom of a short dress, accented with a bow.

1. For my foundation, I started out with a strapless minidress. 
2. Take a square of the same fabric and create several pleats in one corner. Pin to the dress.
3. Carefully wrap the rest of the fabric around the doll’s hips and pin in place on the opposite side. Adjust those drapes until you are happy with how everything looks. You can pin down those pleats in the middle while you make the adjustments. With a single threaded needle, tack the pleats down in only enough areas to maintain the look you want. 
4. When I finish, I turn under the edges at the opening, measure and cut the hem. In this case I added a length of satin ribbon for halter neck straps that tie on the back of the neck. 
5. Your straps don’t have to be quite a song, but I wanted to add a small touch of drama down the back.

6. You can stop there or....add a bow where the two edges of the sarong meet at the top. This is just a simple rectangle of the same fabric folded in half and stitched in place.

For those cool nights, I thought Kym might need a shawl. This is a simple rectangle with fringe added to each end. Tossed over her shoulders....she looks stunning!

Looking for more ideas for summer floral fashions. Click HERE to check out a post we featured a couple years ago.

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