How to sew a doll dress (a how-to for kids!)

If you and/or your child are new to sewing doll clothes and you're looking for a quick, easy method that kids can eventually do on their own, try this one out!  It's rudimentary, but it's a method that my oldest has used many times over the past few years, including here, here, here, here, and here.

So when she got the urge to make a "witch" outfit for her doll yesterday during our Sunday lessons, she went to work on the pattern.  Below, you'll see her model placed on a sheet of freezer paper. 

I drew the two perpendicular lines/right angle for her to follow.  The vertical line runs from the center of the doll's neck down the center of the doll's body.  The horizontal line marks the top of the sleeve, with the arm extended out to the side.  She marks how long she wants the sleeve and how long she wants the dress.  Since she was using a scrap of black fleece fabric, there was no need to add extra length (no hemming planned/required).  At this point, she knows to give more than enough space for the arm and the side of the dress.

I still help her with ironing.  First, I fold the fabric lengthwise.

Then I fold the fabric widthwise.  There are now 4 layers of fabric (one big fold on top and two on the side).

I iron the pattern in place and then pin it (again, to hold the four layers together).

After your shirt/dress/nightgown is cut out, unfold the fabric (I forgot to take a photo of this) and then refold again along the shoulder/sleeve, placing right-sides together*, and you'll have this below.

At this point, you can either cut all the way down the front or back of one side of the fabric (for a front or back opening), depending on your personal preference. If using fabric that will fray, the raw edges can be finished with a small hem or bias tape, etc.  This step could also be finished after the sides are sewn - but it is easy to do here while the freezer paper is still attached.  Since my daughter was going for "quick and easy", she just cut a few inches down the back of the dress (eventually finishing the back with a hook-and-eye closure).  

I pinned the sides for her.  Notice, she only has to sew under the arms and sides of the dress.  Easy!  She sewed these by hand using a backstitch.

And there you have it!  A super easy doll dress that a kid could make.  I topped off the outfit with a floppy, kinda ridiculous, over-sized witch hat.  She's all ready for Halloween.

*In full-disclosure, I didn't pay attention to the fleece, and even after my daughter told me I pinned the fabric wrong-sides together, I told her to "just sew...it's fleece...there isn't a right or wrong with that fabric".  Well, after she sewed up the sides, I took a look at it and noticed that, yes, there actually was a "right side".  Yikes!  I had her turn it wrong-side out, sew it again, making french seams.  So the dress has extra bulky french seams.  It's a little wonky.  Lucky for me, she made the pattern extra roomy and she isn't a perfectionist.  I should definitely listen to her a little more closely.  *Ahem*, lesson learned.


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  2. Oh thanks, Lottie! Hopefully, I'll have a lot more posts these coming months. So many ideas!

  3. That's adorable! My daughter would love this.

  4. Gorgeous. Look forward to using this idea next time Miss 4requests a new dress for one of her babies!!