Ball Joint Doll Sewing for Absolute Beginners! The Base of the Basics

For you all that are serious about getting into sewing I thought I’d write a little companion piece for the videos I think might need it. Even though most people will likely not watch the entire video through because the info isn’t what I’d call ‘exciting’, if you really want to learn all this stuff is important to know and I went over A LOT in a short period of time. So let’s dive in a little more!

First of all, terminology in this video (things I say that should be clarified and things that are real words you may not be too familiar with)

Handmade Clothing – Yes, all BJD clothing is handmade. When I use this term, however, I’m specifically talking about three or fewer persons sewing by themselves, on their own time, with their own materials, without compensation. They may have ebay, etsy, forum stores, etc; but this does not provide a significant part of their income. In short, sewing is a hobby.

Company Clothing – This is clothing typically made by a company that also casts dolls, though there are many that only make BJD clothes, where the manufacturing of clothing is done at a more professional level. The sale of clothing constitutes a significant part of their income and the clothing may be sold at various online retailers in addition to having their own website.

Sewing Scissors – It may seem like any ole clippers will do to cut fabric, but typically sewing scissors are very sharp, heavier bladed shears that dull slowly so they can stand up to cutting fabrics from the lightest gauze to the heaviest wool. A good pair of scissors will be able to cut all types of fabric with ease, which is a HUGE asset to any designer’s toolbox.

Fabric chalk – It’s usually blue, it draws on fabric, it rubs right off. Very useful for larger projects but likely not something you’ll need for your basic BJD sewing.

Patterns – This is what a designer uses to make the same type of clothing over again. Think of a pattern like the mold for a BJD that allows it to be cast more than once – it’s a guideline for a single garment which makes it possible to re-create that garment.

Drafting – Just like architects draft plans for buildings, clothing designers draft plans for patters. The process of drafting can be very technical, but I will never take it there in these videos. Drafting patterns can be a fun process but usually it involves a lot of math and detail work, especially when you get down to the seam allowances, hems, and other details.

Seam allowance – the amount of extra space you cut on your fabric to ensure the garment can be sewn together without becoming too small. For BJDs we will keep this number rather small – at least for the most part.

Seam, Seams – Basically, a seam is anywhere fabric is sewn to another piece of fabric.

Hem – Basically, a hem is anywhere the fabric is turned in on itself and sewn down to create a smooth (often exterior) edge.

Clothing Quality A – Superior craftsmanship. Bordering on the type of excellent construction expected in higher end human clothes. Few or no visible serge lines, all details to scale, item is exceptionally sturdy and design and execution are professional.

Clothing Quality B – Excellent craftsmanship. In addition to sturdy quality and basic skill, the designer has gone a step further to add extra detail or cleanliness to the project that has no bearing on the item’s functionality. Scale of these details is appropriately sized to the garment.

Clothing Quality C – Normal craftsmanship. Basic skills utilized to create many types of designs. Realism is intact, items are to scale, item is sturdy and able to be removed or applied to the doll without strenuous effort.

Clothing Quality D and Below – Amateur, damaged, or messy craftsmanship. Lacks realism, has few details, the design has flaws, and/or the fabric is inappropriate, dirty, or damaging to the doll.

Expected FAQ:

Q: Are you saying all my clothes are poor quality?!

A: You know, ‘C’ is not a bad grade, but instead an average grade. Think of it as normal or basic quality, while B is more like ‘best you can do’ and A is ‘above and beyond’ – like overachiever, like omg stop raising your hand the bell is about to ring and no one wants to hear you talk anymore class is almost over anyway, like SO PRETTY but also part of me is like ‘but why tho?’ because this is a doll lol, like this tiny shirt is the nicest thing I own including all my human clothes whoops

Q: What quality of clothing do you make?

A: I have this problem where once I get an idea I want to see it finished right away so I rush through my projects to get that lovely high of seeing the end product. That means I’m usually making a ton of mistakes, some little some big. I would say I typically fall somewhere between C and B quality, depending on how much I’m rushing. If I took my time I could make something solidly B quality, but I doubt I have the patience and skill to make something an ‘A’.

Q: What did you base your quality system on?

A: I based it on the quality of clothing I was getting from others online, as well as the quality of clothing I’ve made myself. I will mention that I have only bought ‘handmade’ clothes from other owners sporadically, but I have quite a wide sample of my own work to back up the handmade aspect.