Doll clothes are much more expensive to buy than they are to make at home. Since it takes only a tiny piece of cloth to make a doll dress, most outfits cost only pennies to make. The way a dress is embellished can make all the difference, too. You may use the most ordinary cloth in the world, but with tiny faux jewels embedded here and there, the dress can be very impressive.
Remember that you are working with very small, well, everything. Use a smaller needle, daintier thread, the tiniest of stitches and really small notions for Barbie dolls. If you already sew you’ll have to forget just about everything you’ve learned. For example, most people that sew fold a hem over once, then again, to prevent being able to see the raw edge of the fabric. Not so with doll clothing. Fold once, hem, and trim excess cloth/threads. Fray prevention products can be used to keep the outfit from unraveling. Larger doll clothing can be made in the same fashion as people clothing, though.
Many stores will give you swatches of fabrics that you can use to make lots of different clothes. If you’re a good customer, who purchases notions at that store, you’re even more likely to get some fabric samples. Not to say that you want to get all your fabrics free but if you want to try, say, a new lace they have, ask if you can have a small swatch. Depending upon the swatch size you can make purses, scarves, even stockings.
One quick and easy outfit can be made for a Barbie doll by simply cutting a rectangle of fabric. Cut various sized rectangles to make short dresses, knee-length numbers, or floor-length outfits. Simply hem each side of the cloth piece then stitch elastic in across the bust line and lace across the bottom. Add elastic in the waistline, if desired, for a completely different appearance to the dress. Stitch the side seam and the dress is finished.
There are various ways to add sleeves to any simple pattern. One is to take a piece of lace and cut it in half, lengthways. Each piece will make one sleeve. Scrunch each lace piece together, at the ends, then stitch one end to the back of the gown and one to the front. This gives a flared sleeve appearance up on the shoulder but narrows where connected to the dress. This method makes it extremely easy to add sleeves to a strapless design.
Another easy design for Barbie-size dolls is made from a shirt or jacket pocket. Whether the pocket is the type that comes to a point at the bottom center, or is cut straight across, it can still be used to make a cute outfit. The hems are already in place, on the pocket, making it unnecessary to hem at top or bottom. The pockets with the point in the front gives the design an unique look. Put the point in the front, back, or center. If you make the pointed side the back of the dress, you’ll need to put a nice closure, such as small zipper, in the front. Other pockets are simply wrapped around and seamed, then decorated to your desire.
Use a large, wide hair scrunchie to make an impressive dinner dress for a Barbie. Wrap the scrunchie around the doll once, then twist into a figure-8 form before wrapping again. Continue this pattern until the entire scrunchie is twisted onto the doll. Make sure the doll body is covered from chest area to a mini skirt or longer design. Now use fabric glue to spread onto the scrunchie and allow to dry. The scrunchie will stay in place with fabric glue and after drying, the dress will simply slide on and off the doll. Be careful when applying the fabric glue. Use a small paintbrush and apply it just where sides of the scrunchie meet. Do not get the glue on the doll. To make sure you don’t, try slipping a thin plastic bag over the doll before winding the scrunchie into place.
Look around at yard sales for great fabric buys. A brand new shirt, which you would never dream of wearing, can be used to make a beautiful doll set of dress, bonnet and matching booties. You may also purchase a pair of denim jeans cheaply then make the pants into a denim dress, jacket, purse, bonnet, or even a bed set for your doll.
Some notions make perfect accessories for your dolls. A small piece of elastic, with lace sewn to it, can make a cute bracelet, hair scrunchie, or belt. You can also cut small strips of fabric and affix velcro to make belts. Make neck scarves by cutting a length of narrow fabric and hemming. Make head scarves by cutting a triangle, hemming, and tying it onto the doll. Other great sewing notions include fringe, tiny faux jewels, small beads, tiny buttons, and bitty pom-poms.
Children’s stretch gloves make fantastic socks for your doll. The thinner the gloves, the better. Cut the fingers from the glove and treat the cut end with anti-fray solution. Use fabric glue or small stitches to attach lace to the cut edge for cute socks. Adult stretch-knit gloves make cute Barbie outfits. Cut the fingers out then cut off the tips. Attach lace or other embellishments to the top and bottom edges for a strapless number that slides on and off easily. Add very narrow ribbon strips for straps if you desire.
Cut the tip of the toe off of socks to make hats for dolls. For small dolls cut the very tip. For larger dolls go further up the foot part of the sock before cutting. Apply no-fray liquid to the cut portion of the sock and allow to dry. Now add embellishments like a fur piece around the edge, a leather strip as a brim, or small silk flowers all the way around the edge. For large dolls make a ribbon tie to attach to baby’s head.
Try using bandanas for outfits, a sliver of leather from a belt to make a leather choker, mittens for knit skirts, a shirt sleeve for a dress or skirt, very narrow roping to wind into a dress design, the ankle portion of a sock to make a dress or skirt, and other unusual materials. Look around at a craft or sewing department and you’ll come up with all sorts of new ideas for designing doll outfits and accessories. Now, let’s talk doll furniture…