5 tips for designing fantastic doll clothes doll



5 Tips for Designing Fantastic Doll Clothes


January 30, 2015 by Anna


It’s Friday and that means it’s time for a little doll fashion! I’m excited to have a day dedicated to fashion topics because there are so many fun ideas floating around in my head for this series. I hope you will join me for Fashion Friday’s!


Get out your sketch pad and pencil we’re designing doll clothes today!


When I started sewing doll clothes for my daughter in 2007 there were not many patterns available and the ones I had were ill fitting and boring.https://www.pinterest.com/powerpoint_templates/world-map-powerpoint-template/ On a tight budget and with a small stash of fabric I discovered a love for designing my own doll clothes and adapting patterns.


Today I want to share 5 tips for designing doll clothes. I pulled out examples of some of the doll clothes I experimented with designing over the years. Every project isn’t perfect but I learned a lot along the way. These tips are things I discovered to be helpful and I still use today when I’m designing clothes for dolls!


Two fun shirt designs inspired by fashion.


Design starts with an idea. The seeds for ideas come from things around us. Take note of what you love!


How about one of your favorite shirt for instance. What do you love about it? Is it the color? The patterned fabric? The shape? The type of fabric? Take what you love about your favorite shirt and try to add that element to your next sewing project for dolls.


A few years ago a shirt my niece was wearing caught my eye. I went home and sketched out the grey thin striped shirt with diagonal ruffles. I started with a favorite doll size shirt pattern and added the things that inspired the project. The first inspiration, the thin striped fabric, came from a baby onesie. The second inspiration, the diagonal ruffles, were easily added to the pattern.


Fabric is an important part of the design process! Think differently about fabric. Dolls are small and not all fabrics are going to work sewed into small clothing. Here are several elements you want to get right to really love the fit on dolls.



  • Size of the stripes, plaid, floral, or polka dot pattern.

  • Weight and thickness of the fabric.

  • How stretchy the fabric is and how that will effect the fit.

  • Drape or how the fabric hangs.



Using the right fabric will make all the difference with how your design turns out!


Clothing can make great fabric for a doll size project. Sometimes there are fun details that can be incorporated into doll clothing.


Here are a few things to look for:



  • Edging that will work on a doll sleeves, hems and at the neckline.

  • Graphics that are the right size and shape for a doll shirt or sweatshirt.

  • Patterns on the fabric that are placed close enough to make a nice pattern cluster or a grouping on doll clothes.

  • Anything on clothing that is sized well for doll clothing like ruffles, lace, or beadwork.



If the detail compliments the sewing pattern you will love the finished product!


The orange and pink shirt pictured below is one of my early design projects. It was made from a top I found at the thrift store. There are several fun elements from the original clothing incorporated into the doll size shirt. With a little planning I placed the pattern pieces to use the details. The “2 sweet” was added by centering the bodice pattern over it. The sleeves have a cute edging that was along the base of the top.


Take a new spin on a favorite pattern and try it with a different type of fabric. Such a simple change can give you a unique look!


As a rule of thumb-



  • Swap knits with knits-don’t use woven’s in place of knits. If you want to change something stretchy for something not, the fit may not work without adjusting the pattern.

  • Swap lightweights. Don’t throw everything out the window- size, weight, and drape still matter!



Ruffle skirts come in all types of fabrics these days but I wanted to sew one in a mesh. I came across this lightweight mesh at the local fabric store that was the perfect weight and had the perfect size polka dots. It was fun to sew on a different fabric and the mesh really made the look of the skirt!


This last one is a favorite!


As you sew and follow patterns you learn a little about how clothing is constructed. Take it to the next level a little at a time by adding your own touch to the design.


Look at a pattern you love and brainstorm what elements would make it even better or give it a new twist. Here are some changes that could be incorporated-



  • change the shape of the hem on a shirt i.e. make it high low

  • make a skirt fuller or less full

  • change the length of the skirt

  • plan in something decorative i.e. lace edging or a sheer panel

  • change the shape of the sleeve



If you are not sure where to start take a closer look in your closet at the way some of these things are incorporated into clothing. Looking at a clothing example can be a wonderful learning tool to give you a better idea of the shape and the way it is constructed.


This jacket is another early project that had successes and it had failures. I added a lined bubble sleeve to a jacket pattern. I loved the fit and shape and it was so fun to add a little more pizzaz to this jacket! On the down side this little jacket wore out fast because I used cheap fabric. 🙁


These 5 tips have made all the difference in building my confidence and skill for doll clothing design! It also keeps the design process fresh, creative and fun.


Try your hand at design!



  • Start with an inspiration.

  • Carefully choose the fabric for the project.

  • If you are using clothing, look for details to incorporate into a doll size project.

  • Look outside the box and push your creativity by trying different types of fabrics to sew a familiar pattern.

  • Last but not least, alter patterns to get the unique look you want!



I’m hoping to talk more about sewing, fashion and design for doll clothes around here this year. Let me know if this topic interests you so I can put together more along these lines! I often feel I have ideas overflowing, so I am focusing and working around themes to bring you more great projects for dolls!


Thanks, Anna. I will look forward t the next installment!


What is the size of the “2 sweet” design? Is is 2″?


Tina Jones says


Thnx Anna for tha tips, theze tips just reenforce what I learned thru a design class I just took. And I look forward to any other tips you may want to share.


Thank you for the ideals. I have tried some on my own, but my problem is I have a problem making them fit right. I am not new at sewing but by far am not good. I try. I like to take a pattern and change it up but I always have trouble making it fit. Thanks for the help and looking forward to more tips. Have a good day


Very interesting article. I’m interested in how to shape a sleeve. I like many different sleeve shapes, but don’t know how to draw the shoulder and underarm edge so it will fit into an existing top.


Some of these tips (like being inspired and changing it up) can be applied to other areas of designing dolls, too. I have a friend who’s daughter loves to paint her own version of a face on her dolls as well as dress them up. Thanks for the ideas on how to make doll clothing more sentimental.


Anna, may I ask if you are selling that blue jacket pattern?


Where did you find the pattern for the blue jacket.


This is some really good information about designing doll clothes. My niece really loves dolls and fashion. So, I have been thinking about making or finding some fun doll clothes for her birthday. I liked that you talked about how you should find ones with patterns that fit the size of the doll.


I just wanted to thank you for going over some tips for sewing for small dolls. I actually didn’t know that the fabric is incredibly important, like to consider how thick the fabric can be or how stretchy it is. My brother has been thinking of learning how to sew, so maybe this could be some good information for him to know in the future.


Great tips and it’s obvious that you really love designing and sewing for these dolls. Thanks for the these tips. I really like the tip about evaluating and adapting recycled clothing.

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