Choosing Fabric for Doll Clothes

Just like clothing for little girls, fashion for 18-inch dolls has many unique elements. Dresses, shirts, pants, skirts, jackets, sleepwear and accessories are all essentials for a complete wardrobe, and choosing the right fabrics to make these small garments is important. 

Below, we’d like to share some handy fabric-selecting tips with you from two of doll expert Joan Hinds’ popular books, All Dolled Up and Doll Fashion Studio:

Flowered Party Dress

Cotton – Many doll garments are made from cotton fabrics, and a lot of cotton prints today are designed to have several companion prints. These make bright, colorful clothes that girls love, like the “Flowered Party Dress” pictured here.

Embroidered Jeans

Denim – For fabrics other than cottons, the weight of the fabric is important. Making jeans for dolls – like the “Embroidered Jeans” – is much easier, and the fit is better, if the denim is lightweight. Another choice for jeans would be a chambray or lightweight twill. 

Knits – Knits are good to use for making doll T-shirts. Many people may hesitate to sew with knits, but they’re not difficult to work within the T-shirts since the smaller pieces tend not to stretch as much as larger ones. Sewing with knits only requires a few minor changes:

• Make sure your sewing machine needle is appropriate for knits. 

• The seams in the knit garments are quite short, which helps eliminate stretching. Use a straight or zigzag stitch if using your sewing machine, or stitch the seams with a serger. 

• You may want to try a double needle for hems on shirts and leggings. 

Fleece Vest

Fleece – For fleece garments, stay away from very heavy fleece. If you can find a microfleece fabric, this works the best for doll garments. The fleece used on the “Fleece Vest,” with good results, is medium weight. 

Classic Nightgown

Flannel – Flannel prints are good choices for sleepwear, as pictured on the “Classic Nightgown.”

Rainy Day Fashion Raincoat

Laminated Cotton – Laminated cotton, which was used on the “Rainy Day Fashion Raincoat,” is fabric with a protective finish applied to the surface. Follow these tips to make sewing on laminated cotton easier:

• Only put pins inside the seam allowance when cutting and sewing your fabric. Pins will leave a permanent mark on the fabric. Try using double-sided or cellophane tape to hold the fabrics together when cutting and sewing. 

• Do not press the fabric from the right side because the coating on the fabric will melt. Press only if needed on the wrong side or on the lining side.

• Use a sharp needle, size 12, with a 1/8-inch stitch length. If needed, try a Teflon-coated presser foot when topstitching to keep the foot from sticking.

Scale – Larger-scale prints can look great in doll clothing if they match a girl’s outfit. Sometimes, prints have companion fabrics with both large- and small-scale motifs. If you’re making matching outfits for a girl and doll, use the larger pattern for girls and the smaller one for dolls. 

Weight – The weight of the fabric will have a bearing on some of the techniques used. For example, some garments in All Dolled Up have a ruffle that is made by doubling the width of the fabric. It is folded in half with wrong sides together and stitched to the garment. The need for a hem is eliminated, and the ruffle has more body. If you’re using a cotton fabric for a doll garment, a double fabric ruffle will be appropriate. If you’re using a heavier flannel, the doll ruffles consist of only a single layer of fabric. You may need to adjust the pattern depending on your fabric choice. 

Sewing Secrets for Doll Clothing

For more doll sewing tips and tricks, check out Joan’s new DVD, Sewing Secrets for Doll Clothing. On this DVD, Joan will show you measure your doll, create a paper towel pattern, match it to patterns in a pattern book and adjust if necessary. She’ll also teach you all about tiny tools and notions, fabric tips, pressing tricks and much more!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia


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