Sunday, 14 July 2013

1:12 scale Bloomers tutorial

This picture is designed for pinterest boards! If you have pinterest, you can use this photo in your tutorial section, if you like 

I hope this tutorial covers everything. It has been really hot here and I would choose the hottest day, so far, to make a pair of tiny bloomers and take photographs of it, I hope it hasn't affected my ability to make things clear.  Even if you aren't interested in making a pair of bloomers, there might be something in here that will be of use, a technique or tip for small sewing projects.

I used cotton lawn and lace (lace code: CL319W/Iv/E) from Little Trimmings (online shop), and Guterman silk thread, I can't find the one I am using anywhere online, but the following is written on it - 80m nr100 colour 7901 seta reale, the finer the thread the better the results. I bought it at my local craft shop, who have now stopped stocking it, otherwise I would have done shopping requests for anybody looking for it. 

I used a fairly fine needle, no:12 sharp I think, the same one I have been using with the Bobbie Schoonmaker rug.  If the needle doesn't leave a visible hole in the weave, it is fine enough.

I have included three sewing diagrams, which look very condescending, but it is to show which stitches I used and how I fasten the thread to finish, and they aren't complicated, which is good.

 The pattern is for one bloomer leg. You will need to make two legs from this pattern. The pattern is not the same one I made for the first pair, I lost it, had to draw a new one, and then found the old pattern when I was looking for the 1:12 scale brass buttons, but it was too late, as I had already made the bloomers with the new pattern, but they don't look that much different to the other ones.  I also had to change the gusset part halfway through which is why in the early pictures it looks like a V, and in the pattern template and later photos,  it looks like a U. And I also discovered how difficult making tutorials are. Kudos to those that do this regularly!!

The 1:12 scale button is photo etched brass, I bought mine from the Dolls House Mall (online shop).

You will need:-

  • Lightweight fabric
  • Selvedge (on fabric)
  • Fine needle (and a few more for pinning)
  • Fine thread
  • Scissors (and nail scissors)
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Iron
  • Clear nail polish/hardener
  • Lace (optional)
  • 1:12 scale button (optional)

1:12 Scale Bloomer leg template. Those numbers represent centimetres (Cm) 

Simple stitch pattern : I draw the needle through the fabric for each stitch, very like needlepoint, punching straight through to the other side. There are a few knacks to sewing in such a small scale. I would try to keep each stitch at least a mm apart, or the width of the needle. Always draw the thread through slowly, the silk thread in particular knots quite easily. After every 10 stitches or so, you might need to take the needle off and straighten the thread, as it tends to twist whilst you use the needle, making it very prone to knotting itself = disaster. I also watch the thread as I draw it through and so I can see the thread looping as it goes through, then you can catch it just before it bunches up and knots, by pulling the bunch up and straightening it, again very hard to explain.  Use short lengths of thread, definitely no more than 8 inches. The best thing is to take your time when hand sewing small things.

Ladder stitch diagram (for crotch/gusset). When you come to sew the crotch together in ladder stitch, use the needle to lift about 1 or 2 threads of the fabric, pull the thread through, and then on the opposite side slightly higher up, do the same thing as before, and this will pull the fabric together as you work. The needle must always be coming from the back of the edge, to the front, but so long as you lift a few threads along the edge, it will work perfectly well.

P.s. the knot should really be at the back.

Knot diagram (showing how I tie off the thread at the end of the sewing line) I have no idea if I made this up, or if it is a real knot method, but it is a lot easier than wrapping thread around a needle to make a knot. You just push the needle under a few strands of the warp/weft, close to where the thread is coming out, pull the needle and thread through until you are left with a loop. Put the needle through the loop, as shown, and pull the thread through, and it will knot close to the fabric quite securely, and you should do it twice, as I do, if you aren't convinced it will hold :D

If you hold the fabric between the side of your forefinger and thumbnail, like this, it will help to keep the sides aligned, as the needle goes through. When I put the needle in, I use my thumbnail as the guide. Gently push the needle in, until your feel it on the other side, and when you turn it over, the needle should be poking through the corresponding pencil line, then you can pull it through, and repeat, repeat, repeat, until you finish.

I have used fine cotton lawn, that I bought from Little Trimmings. The selvedge is the finished edge of  fabric, this doesn't fray so it is great for using in some miniature needlework. Excuse the cat hair. Or you can play "spot the cat hair" on every photo on my blog, there is bound to be more than one that got on here.... If you can't read the text on the photo, it says " This is the bottom of the bloomer leg. Line the template up with the warp (or weft...), keeping it as straight as possible, then lightly trace around the template with pencil." I think I used an HB pencil.

In the template I have drawn a dotted line to cut around, but I would recommend having quite a bit more excess fabric around the pencil line, otherwise it will fray as you work. I should have thought to include that, when I was drawing the template, but it is just a guide to show how much to cut off, when the time comes, in other words never cut along the pencil line.

When cutting out a template that is equal on both sides, it is worth folding it over in the middle and cutting it, that way, it will be a perfect mirror image. You can see where I folded it, in this picture. When you make a copy from a copy, it starts to lose accuracy from the original. 

To create a crease along the pencil line (horizontal one shown here),  gently pinch the fabric between middle finger and thumb, using the forefinger to hold it in place, then once you can see that the crease will be perfectly aligned with the pencil mark, pinch it quite firmly. If you do this at either end of the pencil line and turn it over, you should be able to get a fairly accurate crease by gently squeezing the fabric between your finger and thumb working towards the centre. Don't "run" your finger and thumb along the edge, as it may pull the fabric, and not leave a straight crease. 

The first fold, not quite sure why I have thought it necessary to put this photo in....I suppose this is how much surplus fabric you should have around your pattern, so the photo has a use after all.

Continuing from the first fold, you need to make another fold, about 3mm high. Technically speaking, this is optional, but advised. I'll explain why later on (it is to do with the possibility of fraying).

So if you have done that properly, you should see this on the right side of the fabric. The right side is the side without the pencil markings. Above the red line is surplus and you cut that off.  The edge that is left should be no deeper than the previous fold. No need to apply fray check ( clear nail polish/hardener, in my case)

So now you fold it under, and you should be left with a clean edge, that will not fray.  Where the red dots are,  you can either use a pencil or needle to mark through to the other side of the fabric. Obviously, do not mark in red. If using a pencil just draw on the edge, turn over and you should be able to see the mark on the right side.

And these are the corresponding red dots on the right side of the fabric. I have laid out a piece of lace, to work out how long it needs to be, and which parts I want to be sewn on. Make it slightly longer than the distance between the red dots. 

I only wanted to use this piece of the lace, which I carefully cut away from the rest of the lace. You can use clear nail varnish/hardener along the edge that was cut, which will help prevent it from fraying. Though use very lightly. Pin the lace in place, and do not sew beyond the red dots.

When using the nail polish/hardener as fray check on the fabric, it is best to get any excess off the brush first and then lightly stroke the edge with the brush. If you have a blob of polish on the brush you will risk having it bleed into the fabric and beyond the pencil lines. 

I have the full lace showing on the right side, but alternatively, you could sew it on like this on the wrong side, and have less showing on the right side. Either way looks nice.

Turn around to the wrong side (pencil lines). Using nail scissors, carefully cut out the "U" as shown and use clear nail polish/hardener along the cut edge, sparingly. Crease the part shown, and do the same for the left side. 

And this is what you should be seeing on the right side. Cut off the surplus, above the red lines.

Fold the edges under.

With the fabric between your forefinger and thumbnail, use your thumbnail to press a crease along the pencil marked "U", so it leaves a raised surface on the right side, and pinch to create a more defined crease.

This next part is going to create the ruched effect later on. Thread a needle and sew a line as indicated by the dotted red line, about 5mm deep from the edge of the cotton lawn. Have the knot on the wrong side, punch the needle through, bring it back close to where the knot is, and knot on to the fabric. Then sew along to the other side, using the horizontal warp/weft as your guide (I have put the dotted red line right up to the pencil line, ignore that, stop about 2mm before the pencil line, because when you come to sew the sides together, the ruching thread may get sewn over). Leave a long tail on the wrong side (at least 10cm).

To help keep the thread out of the way, you could punch it through the middle of the pattern, above the red sewing line, to the other side, holding it somewhat taught across the fabric.

I didn't do it this way. I realised it would be easier to sew the thread in when the pieces were flat, rather than later, when the bloomers are in their leg form, very awkward. I haven't tried it, so hope it works..honestly, it will work. You won't see the tail in the following pictures, for the obvious reason, that I didn't do it this way.

Now fold over and pin the fabric together. I have used old Taylor (entomology) japanned pins, which are great for this, but unfortunately discontinued. But fine needles would work as well.  If you pin the top sides and bottom sides together first, it will make the middle easier to line up for pinning, even just "spearing" the material together is enough to hold it in place. Use the pencil line as a guide, as usual. The ruching thread will need to be tucked out of the way, so that it doesn't get sewn over, so if you have punched the thread through you can tug on it, to make sure it isn't near the pencil sewing line.

Using small stitches, sew along the pencil line, and be sure to sew over the lace as well.

Use your finger and thumb to bend  and press the fabric along at the sewn line. 

Cut the surplus off (including the lace), so you are left with an edge of fabric like this.  Use clear nail polish/hardener along the edges, sparingly. 

And you should be left with this, one inside out bloomer leg.  Now you have to make another one. As the back and the front of the bloomer leg are mirror images, you can make it exactly as you did before, without worry.

Carefully turn them inside out. The optional hem folding that I was explaining about earlier, is to make sure the fabric doesn't fray, when you are turning the legs inside out and as you continue to work on the bloomers. You could just cut the fabric a few mm away from the pencil line and use the nail polish fray stop method, though I prefer this way. I know it is a bit awkward, to get the fold right, but I think it is worth it. 

Now comes the most awkward part, not easy to explain in photos or words.  The legs are identical, so just put them together so you have the outer legs together, and the crotch together. Put the needle in as shown.

Now you have to sew along the pencil line behind those two flaps.  If you keep the stitches small, it will help keep the alignment correct.  When you reach the blue dot area, it will become impossible to use the simple stitch method, unless you are 5 inches tall, or have one of those mice from the Tailor of Gloucester, which would be BRILLIANT!! So beyond the blue dots, you will need to use the ladder stitch method, all the way to the top of the waist.  You won't be able to see the pencil lines anymore, so use the crease created by your thumbnail earlier, as your guide.

And if you got through that, you should see something like this. This is the front of the bloomers.  I have sewn along the edge halfway, if you hold the sewn part between your finger and thumb and gently pull the thread it will create a tiny ruched effect. Because the silk thread is prone to snapping if tugged too hard, it is best to work the ruched effect with thread along the front only, and use a new piece of thread for the back. Knot the thread a few times before you sew, or knot directly onto the fabric, before doing the first stitch.  The knot must not be able to pull through the fabric or else the ruched effect will just disappear if the knot breaks free.

And there is the ruched effect, the smaller the stitches, the tinier the ruched effect. I was in a hurry, so the ruched effect isn't quite as small as they were in the first bloomers I made.

The waistband is made using a strip of selvedge. Measure the width of the waist of the bloomers, multiply by 2 and add just over 2 cm to get the length of selvedge required. I used a 7cm strip. This will leave room for errors, and the surplus can be cut off later.

Spear the selvedge with a threaded needle as shown. 

And then poke the needle through to the right side of the bloomers as shown (the part of the bloomers I consider front, is the bit that was sewn with the normal stitch, as it looks neater than the ladder stitch side).  I considered taking photographs to explain how to sew this on, but I thought it would make it look more complicated. This bit is a bit fiddly, but it gets less fiddly as you sew around. Basically, you want to sew the selvedge to the waist of the bloomers. The pencil line on the selvedge needs to line up with the sewn line on the front (from the ruching). If you keep the stitches small it pulls itself into shape. When the sewn on part reaches the front, there will be some surplus selvedge to cut off. The selvedge should overlap the starting point, by about 4 mm.

Once you have the waist band on, you can now create the ruching effect at the bottom of the bloomers. Pull the thread tail down from inside the bloomers. Thread it onto a needle and poke the needle through the seam from the inside of the bloomer, close to the sewn line. With the thread tail, now on the outside of the bloomers, hold the sewn material between your finger and thumb and gently pull the thread, there is a bit of a knack to this. Once you have the desired amount of ruching (though remember, a tiny leg has to fit through also), you have to sew a knot onto the fabric close to the seam on the inside, to hold the ruched effect securely.  I used a thicker thread this time, in a light pink colour. A thicker thread might be a better idea, as the first time I did this, I used the silk thread, and it snapped, so I had to do all those tiny stitches again.

Soak the bloomers in water, and holding both ends, pull it gently into a tube shape, this will help to create folds.  I needed to use my other hand to take the photo, you should use both your hands to shape it into a tube, you don't necessarily need to copy my exact hand pose here :D. 

Then place the tiny bloomers onto a giant ironing board and notice how ridiculous this scenario is....... then shape them a bit so they look like this. Put your iron on the setting required for the fabric. Place a piece of white kitchen roll paper or a piece of white material, over the bloomers and press the hot iron on top briefly, for a few seconds, trying not to burn them, keep doing this until.........

...........they look like this, and they are bone dry and can stand on their own. They will seem as though they have been over starched. Then sew a 1:12 scale button on. Or just use a french knot, if you know how to do those. To sew the button on, you will need a very fine needle (beading needles are perfect). If desired, paint the button first. With a length of thread, knotted at one end, draw the thread through the overlapped selvedge, so that the knot is on the inside of the bloomers. Then put the needle through one of the holes in the back of the button, pull the thread through, place the button down onto the selvedge and push the needle through the other hole, to the other side of the selvedge and sew a knot on to the fabric.

These are the 1:12 scale buttons from the Dolls House Mall. They are currently £6 for all 6 frets.

If you really aren't a sewing person, you could always bypass the construction of these, and buy a pair of Heidi Ott bloomers. I don't know what they are made of, but as you can see, the soaking and ironing, really makes these look realistic. You could start off with a low setting on the iron, as they may be made from a synthetic, so could melt! In fact, you could do the soak, stretch and iron method on most of Heidi Otts' miniature clothes.

If you decide to make a pair of these, I would love to see them, and it will let me know that my tutorial was successful, so send me a link for your bloomers if you make them :D The next post will be the 1:12 camisole tutorial, so you can make the set.

Once I have both tutorials out of the way, I will be left with a spare set of bloomers and camisole, which I don't need, so there will be a giveaway, open to all followers where ever you are in the world. The giveaway will be a separate post from both tutorials, so keep an eye out for it, if you are interested. Hopefully, it will take place sometime late next month. It will be one of those names on folded over paper, picked from a bowl ones, aren't they the fairest?

P.s. If you have any problems or questions about the tutorial, let me know.


  1. Hi Sarah,
    I have just joined your beautiful blog. I found it through Norma's pintrest account and I have really enjoyed having a look through, I particularly like your conservatory which is what originally directed me here.
    Lovely work.


    1. Thanks Fiona, and thanks Norma. The conservatory is probably the only thing I will be working on for the foreseeable future, as it is my favourite miniature space, so much so, that I have abandoned the rest of the house for now :D


    2. Hi Sarah,

      I am so in love with your blog! Your detailed tutorials are outstanding, before too long I think you will have a flood of followers. I have had your little pots and seedlings in my mind for days now. I have just acquired a new dollhouse (actually I almost tripped over it in a thrift store) and it has a little patio and a veranda which will be perfect for a garden scene, I have always wanted to do one and I am so inspired by what you have achieved.

      Oh, and are now officially my BFF after the Charlie T comment!! You are the first to say so and believe me, in real life....far from the truth! A lot of people say my 14 year old daughter looks like Uma, she is now 5.11 so I can see that, especially if she gets out in a yellow jump suit and Samurai Sword she's a dead ringer.

      ML Fiona x

  2. This is a great tutorial, you've managed to overcome many of the difficulties with 1/12th scale sewing very neatly. The bloomers look perfect!

  3. Hello Sarah! This was a well-thought out and well-produced tutorial and I get it! I am really wanting to try to make these and with my nominal sewing skills they will probably Not be as nice as yours but I am going to try them anyway! Thanks for letting me know that you had this tutorial now,on- line and I will be anxiously awaiting the camisole tutorial as well. When I DO make them, I shall definitely link back to your blog and meanwhile count me in for whenever you plan on doing the giveaway of these beautiful Victorian-style 'Panties'. I am letting you know now, because I don't want to miss out and be late for these bloomers!


    1. Many thanks Elizabeth :) Don't put yourself down, you can do this!! :D

  4. Bonjour Sarah, ce tutoriel est excellent, les photos sont très explicites et les indications très claires.
    Merci beaucoup ! rosethé

  5. Прекрасная миниатюра! Спасибо за урок!

  6. Hello Sarah,
    Thank you for the great tutorial.
    big hug,

  7. Quel joli panty et le tutoriel très très bien expliqué!!
    Merci Sarah!

  8. Thanks for this wonderful tutorial.
    Greetings, Faby

  9. Very sweet! Thank you for the tutorial. I'm looking forward to reading more. :-)

    Best regards,

  10. Hi Sarah, I love the trousers and you made an excellent tutorial about it. Thank you so very much for sharing your talent and skills with us! Hugs, Liduina.

  11. Thanks for sharing! They are very beautiful! Hannah

  12. Thanks for the fantastic tutorial. They are beautiful. So glad you found my blog so that I could find yours :D
    Hugs from Ireland :)))

  13. Ruth said you were awesome and when I saw the needle and thread, I knew it. You have tutorial all the time. I think I just won the jackpot!! I in the 1:6 scale world but always willing to learn new techniques in the mini world. So giad I atop by.

  14. I have nominated you for the Liebster Award!! Stop back by my blog and check it out check out your intro and the questions I have presented you for the nominiees. Congratulations!!!

  15. Gracias por este fabuloso tutorial, es magnifico y se entiende muy bien. El resultado es una preciosidad.
    Un abrazo.

  16. Hello Srah! Thanks for this clear tutorial, I was looking for one like this :D!
    Your blog is so interesting and you make wonderful things, so I am going to follow your blog :D!
    Hugs, Ilona

  17. Hello Sarah. Thank you for sharing. This was a very clear tutorial and It is right I was looking for!
    It is amazing!

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