Making doll clothing is so rewarding and a great way to use up some of your favorite small pieces of fabrics. Here I will give you tips on how to sew doll clothes for beginners including choosing fabrics, cutting, stitching and finishing It is also a great way to teach kids to sew as most patterns are very simple and don’t take long to make. The first thing I ever made was a simple elasticized skirt for my beloved teddy when I was 7. I still remember it so clearly. I don’t have the skirt any more but I do have the teddy!
How to Sew Doll Clothes for Beginners
Doll Clothing Patterns
The internet is full of simple free doll clothing patterns and here are a few of mine to get you started. The doll t-shirt pattern is especially popular and a great starter project.
- 18 inch Doll Blanket Pattern
- Doll Pillow Pattern
- Doll T-shirt Pattern
- How to Make a Doll Mattress
- Doll Pillowcase Pattern
- Doll Cape Pattern
Once you have some confidence making doll clothing, it is time to create a whole wardrobe! Check out my sewing pattern shop for more doll clothing patterns. There are also matching girls dress patterns for most of these so you can create a “dolly and me” look. Here are just some of your choices.
Making Doll Clothing: Fabric and Trims
- PRINTS – Fabrics with small-scale prints work the best.
- SOFT FABRIC – Fabrics should be soft and not stiff. Quilting cotton works well for many patterns.
- FABRIC TYPE – The composition of the fabric you use doesn’t matter but try and choose fabrics that are not too thin as they are more difficult to sew due to the small seam allowances and size fo the garment.
- SCALE – Use small-scale laces and ribbons for trims. Sometimes you can cut laces down smaller. Otherwise, look for 1/4 inch (6mm) widths.
- UPCYCLING – Save money and don’t limit your fabric choices to your fabric stash. Consider upcycling old clothing and t-shirts for some really creative ensembles.
- MUSLIN – Because different brands of 18 inch (46cm) dolls and toys can vary slightly in measurements, make the first try of a new pattern in muslin or a cheap fabric to check the fit before using expensive fabric.
- FASTENINGS – Velcro can get caught in the doll’s hair so buy either doll velcro or the type used on baby clothing. These types of velcro are softer and less scratchy.
MAKING DOLL CLOTHING: Cutting
- BE ACCURATE – Because your pattern is very small and the seam allowance is only 1/4 inch (6mm) it is important that you cut accurately to ensure the garment fits well when you are finished.
- KEEP TRACK – Keep the pattern pieces pinned to the cut-out fabric until you are ready to sew to help identify the pieces more easily.
MAKING DOLL CLOTHING: Stitching
- STARTING – When you start sewing, hold the threads tightly to prevent them from getting caught up underneath.
- TROUBLESHOOTING – If your fabric is getting caught in your machine as you sew due to the small seam allowances, you could try sewing over a piece of thin paper to stabilize it. Gently rip the paper away when you are finished.
- STITCH SIZE – Use smaller stitches than normal if you want it to look to scale. Try a length of 2.0 on a scrap of your fabric and see how it looks.
Finishing seams for Doll Clothing
- Many of my pattern instructions include seam finishing options but really your dolly doesn’t care about the inside of the dress. You will notice many bought doll clothes are unfinished inside.
- In thicker fabrics, finishing your seams with a serger can add bulk due to the extra threads. Try a narrow zig-zag stitch or pinking shears. If you want to use your serger, try using a 3 thread overlock.
- Using a fray stop (also called Fray Check) solution is another great way to stop seams unraveling.
Further reading: Seam finishes without a serger
Making Doll Clothing: Pressing
- Like our own clothing, dolls clothing looks better if you press as you sew.
- It is not essential but it can help to buy a mini iron like Clover makes to press fiddly small seams
Further reading: How to press for sewing
18 inch Doll Alternatives
Plastic 18-inch dolls can be expensive and hard to find in some countries so why not sew your own!
The Milly rag doll pattern will fit all my 18-inch doll clothing patterns. Technically she is a little taller as her feet point downwards but her body has similar dimensions to most of the popular brands so you can sew her a whole wardrobe. She comes with the dress pictured so you can start off her clothing collection in style.
I also have a rabbit rag doll to fit my 18-inch doll clothing. Her name is Rachel and she comes with the tutu dress pattern.
So it is time to get making doll clothing! I hope these tips and tricks on how to sew doll clothes for beginners have got you started on your way. Thanks for reading!