I have a only a small number of patterns for clothes: a few jackets and some coats, a few sleeves and that's it. I often change the look of a garment by altering its length, but generally the designs are changed most by choice of fabric and embellishments. If you look carefully at my website galleries, there are only a few garment styles that my figures wear.
The first step in making doll clothes this way is to think carefully about how the garment is going to be made. A few of my garments are cut and sewn as one piece (a swing coat, for example), but I usually cut, sew and line fronts, backs and sleeves separately, then sew the sections together on the figure. Even for one-piece garments, a few seams will have to be sewn on the doll - usually side seams. Embellishments are added last, after the basic garment has been completed.
Cut out a sample garment piece, following the contours of your doll and paying attention to where seamlines will appear. Try to cut where you want those seams to be. If you are not confident in your cutting skills, use a pair of round-tip scissors. Repeat this process for every garment piece needed (fronts, back, sleeves, etc). Remove your test muslin, neaten up the edges, make sure sides are symetrical (if that is important to the design) and cut out a complete new set of muslin garment pieces.
If something needs adjustment, consider if you want to adjust the pattern, or if you can make adjustments on finished pieces. For example, changes to length, armscye curves and necklines should be made on the pattern, but pleats, darts and gathers can be made most easily to completed garment sections. This isn't how you would make human clothing, but for dolls, this process is easier. Mark any changes needed onto the muslin and include where your seams overlap. This is important because your final pattern and garment sections will not utilize seam allowances.
Next week I explain how I create the finished garment. Stay tuned...