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Dolly's Wardrobe Review by Tess Hamre

JoAnn Gagnon
Bunkhouse Sewing
(800) 337-8845
607 Lower Hogeye Road
Waitsburg, WA 99361

Dolly’s Wardrobe, designed and written by JoAnn Gagnon, is a compilation of all occasion sewing patterns for 18” dolls. The book includes 40 doll patterns, sewing tips for doll clothes, and a Sewing Techniques Reference Library.

The book begins with the sewing tips section. These three and a half pages give basic sewing instructions and tips that are doll pattern specific. This means that Ms. Gagnon is giving instructions and tips that may differ from regular clothing but which are helpful for successful completion of her designs.

The included patterns are arranged into nine categories: Bedtime, Time Out for Tea, Outdoor Wear, Sweet Dress-Up, Fun in the Sun, Snow Season, Fancy Blouse, Work Apron, and Morning Jog. Within these categories the seamstress will find patterns for shirts, pants, jackets, and hats, as well pajamas, night gowns, and aprons!

One of the things that makes this such a fun pattern book is that Ms. Gagnon includes patterns for things like pillow and pillowcase, laundry bag, slippers, purse, duffel bag, backpack, and a tote bag! It’s more than just clothes.

Patterns and instructions are printed on only one side of the page so there is no worry about being able to use all the patterns or losing the instructions by cutting out the pattern. I suggest storing each pattern in a sheet protector after cutting it out and then storing the sheet protectors in a binder. This will protect the pattern so that you can re-use it again with different fabric for a new look or a different doll.

The pattern directions include lists of materials and supplies needed for each project. The instructions are organized into 2 to 3 steps: Cut out, Garment Construction, and Finishing. Some patterns do not have the 3rd step: Finishing. For each step there are bullet points detailing out the specific tasks for that pattern. For example, one pattern may have Step 1 divided into two tasks while another pattern may have 5 tasks. Patterns that require advanced skills are clearly marked. Most of the patterns can be successfully completed by anyone with basic sewing experience.

This book contains a treasure in the last section with the Sewing Techniques Reference Library. These pages include information on how to gather fabric, sew on a snap, or sew Velcro. These are techniques that are needed to successfully create many of the garments from the patterns in this book and this reference tool provides a solid reminder for both beginning seamstresses as well as more advanced sewers who haven’t sewed for long a time and need a refresher.

Overall I like the simple patterns. I like that young sewers can do this independently but there is one thing that I really dislike: the binding. The perfect binding is not perforated so pattern pages do not tear out easily. The pages do not lay flat which makes cutting the patterns out difficult. We found it best to cut the page out of the book and then cut out the pattern. I recommend this book for those who have at some basic sewing experience and want to make doll clothes. Advanced or very experienced sewers should find most of these patterns very easy. Inexperienced sewers or sewers with little knowledge of basic sewing skills may find these patterns challenging and overwhelming.

-Product review by Tess Hamre, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2015