Use the Picnic Play pattern to make quick and easy play clothes for your 18 inch dolls like American Girl® dolls. The pattern is available in the Oh Sew Kat! Etsy shop for 18 inch and 14.5 inch dolls. It includes a reversible top (one pattern piece!), cuffed capri pants, and a cute, drawstring backpack.
18 inch American Girl Doll PDF Sewing Patterns
Michele made this adorable outfit as part of my test team.
Mix and Match Doll Clothes- Easy Sewing Pattern for Dolls
This quick to sew outfit is also perfect to make pieces that mix and match in your doll’s wardrobe. This Picnic Play top was sewn with a lace overlay and looks cute with a skirt!! Emily’s striped skirt was made with the Everything Nice Pattern and THIS TUTORIAL.
Use the Picnic Play Pattern to Make an 80s Style Top
Don’t pass by that huge fabric section of batik fabrics! I love to use batiks as “solids with interest”. With such a wide range of solid colors and fun patterns, you can create a whole new vibe for your doll clothes.
Use batik fabrics in place of solids to improve your doll clothes sewing.
This blue batik fabric was in my mother’s stash. It must have been a quilt backing as there is four or five yards of it! It’s my go to for a “denim” look because it’s so lightweight and easy to sew!
This batik fabric has a pattern over it, but the muted colors behind it make it perfect for spring play clothes, like this adorable Popsicle Top and Sandbox Shorts outfit for Welliewishers™ sewn by Pam. Find both patterns in THIS BUNDLE.
Use Batik Fabrics to in Your Doll Clothes Sewing
This patriotic batik is a stunner. Each outfit will have a little different look with fabrics that change colors. These outfits are both made with the Backyard Bibs pattern.
Batiks are fun to sew with. You just don’t know what you will get until it’s done. Try it out today!!
Just as every doll top sewing pattern you have can usually be made into a dress, the reverse is true as well. Every dress pattern can be made into a top or shirt. Here are a few examples to use the patterns you have (or choose a new one) in a new way.
Use your Oh Sew Kat! Doll Dress sewing patterns to make cute doll tops too!
Kelly is wearing a cute spring outfit. Her top is made from the Sugar n Spice pattern. Instead of a full skirt, I just made it ruffle sized. Read more details in THIS POST. The skirt is a simple skirt like THIS TUTORIAL.
Easiest Pattern Hack Ever: Make a Dress Pattern as Top for Dolls
In the above example, sewn by my amazing tester, Michele, Leah is wearing a top made from the Oh Sew Kat! Spring Shine Dress pattern. It’s simply the bodice with a little trim at the hem. Cute cute!! Find the pattern HERE. The skirt is made from the Twinkle Twirl Skirt pattern.
Michele also sewed the cute outfit Snow White is wearing below. Her top is made from the Sunshine Dress pattern. It doesn’t matter the doll size, this hack works for every size. Find the pattern HERE.
Use your Oh Sew Kat! Doll Dress Patterns to Make Cute Summer Tops too!
Maryellen is ready to hit the beach!! The Backyard Bibs is my favorite pattern for every season. Shorten the skirt to ruffle length, and look how cute the top is! (The green shorts were purchased at American Girl®.) See more details in THIS POST. I simply made the ruffle even smaller in the patriotic outfit below. Paired with a pair of Bloomer Buddies bloomers and it looks like a bathing suit!!
Make Easy Doll Tops with your Oh Sew Kat! Dress Sewing Patterns
Pam, another amazing tester and photographer, always made the cutest outfits. Here she used the Sugar n Spice Dress pattern and made it into cute tops for Welliewishers 14.5 inch dolls. She paired them with Sixth Grade Skirts and added the pockets as in THIS TUTORIAL. Such cute outfits!!
What other dress patterns will you use to make your doll tops?
When it comes to doll dresses, I say, can there ever be enough ruffle? Whether it’s a full, twirly doll skirt, or a cute ruffle at the hem of pants or a skirt, you can make your ruffles in mere seconds with this fancy accessory for your sewing machine!! Use this quick method when you sew the Boardwalk Boutique, Party Time Peasant Dress, Playtime Peasant Skirt, and the Sugar n Spice dress patterns from Oh Sew Kat! See the full pattern collection HERE.
Learn to Use Your Ruffler Attachment for Your Sewing Machine
The first thing is to ensure you have the exact correct ruffler for your specific machine. My machine is a Bernina 560 and the ruffler foot is #86. I have a ruffler foot for my babylock machine as well, and even though it looks almost identical, it’s not compatible with my Bernina. A ruffler for your machine is not a cheap accessory, but if you use it often, it can be a huge time saver!!! Be sure to watch a few quick videos on you tube to get familiar with how to use it. Generally, a ruffler will look like the photo below. It’s quite the contraption! But once I tried it, I fell in love!
Sewing Doll Skirts: Ruffler Tips
There can be a lot of math involved when using a ruffler. It has a few options and if you change the number and the stitch length, you get even more! That all gives me a headache, to be honest. I’m an English teacher not a math teacher, remember? If you want a great tutorial on how to figure all of this out, I highly recommend searching you tube. Me, I just want to put a piece of fabric in and gather my doll skirts in about 15 seconds! So this is what I did and maybe it can benefit you too.
The ruffler foot seems intimidating at first, but it really attaches just like any of your other sewing feet. You need to make sure the top “hook” (looks like a backwards “c”- see Fig 1) is over the needle bar (see Fig 3), which will move the entire mechanism. This is similar to some buttonhole feet. Once the foot is secure, and the “c” hook is over the bar, lower the foot and check that your needle moves in and out freely and doesn’t hit any of the metal.
In Fig 2, you can see the front notch which shows the number of stitches between “tucks” or gathers. For tight gathers, set this to 1, so it will “tuck” every stitch. You can also set it to every 6th stitch or every 12th stitch. The smaller the number, the tighter the gathers. You will need less fabric the higher the number.
The fabric will move front to back, just like your regular sewing. The center, middle of the foot has a darker, flat piece of metal. The back end of this piece has a zig zag type edge, which will grab the fabric. As the fabric is tucked, the needle stitches it in place. Your fabric is fed in between the two bars at the front, then under this little metal piece and out the back.
In Fig 1, you can see that the foot has a two layer bottom. The fabric will feed in between these two layer bars at the front, then under the metal piece and needle etc. (Fig 4). Start slowly, and ensure the fabric and the little claw are moving correctly. You will hold/feed the fabric, watching the front guide. If you start to sew, and your fabric doesn’t start to move in under the needle, pull it out and try again.
I sat down with a pile of cotton strips (I used the ugly parts of a quilter’s jelly roll, but you can use anything that is similar to the fabric you will gather the most. You can even ruffle a strip, measure it, pull the stitches out, and ruffle it again using the same strip more than once.) The jelly roll strips were all 42 inches long (and 2.5 inches wide), which is more or less the width of fabric when you buy it off the bolt. I sat down and set my ruffler to ruffle every stitch, (the little holes front and center) and my stitch length to 2.5. I ruffled the strip. The next one I ruffled with the stitch length set at 3.0 and kept moving up to 5.0 which is as long as my machine will let me set. (No idea what a jelly roll is? Click AD: to see at the Fat Quarter Shop HERE. Jelly rolls (also called Bali Pops, Rolie Polies etc) are a type of precut cotton fabric, designed for quilters, but also great for doll clothes!)
Once I ruffled each strip, I measured it and started making a chart. I entered the original length of fabric, the stitch length (2.5-5.0), the ruffler stitch count setting (every stitch, every sixth stitch, etc), and the finished, ruffled length. My goal was to see what stitch length would give me the closest measurements to the skirts in my doll clothes patterns. I add them to a white board or wall chart for quick reference. Look up the skirt measurements of your favorite doll clothes patterns with ruffles or gathered skirts. Cut strips to match, and start with the lowest stitch length setting, to see where you end up. It’s not hard to get right to certain measurements, and as I said, I’m an English teacher, and I didn’t want to do the math. I needed the strips to be 1 or 2 inches LONGER than what I would use on the doll garment. I can trim off the end. 😉 If a measurement is too short, leaving an inch unruffled at either end can work as well. This also makes it a little easier to add the hook and loop tape to a back closing garment.
I found that a strip that measured 42 inches, ruffled at 5.0 stitch length gave me 14-15 inches. This is what I use most of the time for 18 inch dolls. I leave one inch at the beginning, and ruffle all the way to the end. Once it’s pinned to the skirt, I can remove the part I don’t need (perfect for an apron like in Sugar n Spice pattern), remove a few stitches to flatten out the back edge, and attach it to my waistband. Time saver!!!
It’s possible to ruffle and attach your skirt to your waistband at the same time. As long as you know you can trim off the excess at the end, you can do it in one step. Having your handy chart of which stitch length will give you what approximate measurement will really help! I encourage you to ruffle a few strips of fabric and make your own chart. At first I used a notebook, but I’ve since put it into my google drive so it is now sorted by fabric length. I add to it every time I ruffle a skirt or piece of fabric, and I reference it when I sit down to sew a pattern to speed up my doll clothes constructions.
How to Use a Ruffler to Gather Doll Skirts when Sewing
A ruffler foot can also be used to make your own gathered trim (think eyelet lace) and ruffles for any and every project. Have fun with this new tool!!
Use the ruffler foot to make the quick to sew Party Time Peasant Dress even quicker!! Find the pattern here.
American Girl® just celebrated its 35th anniversary, and released their original canon historical characters on a limited basis. (Addy, Kirsten, Felicity, Samantha, Molly, and Josefina.) These characters have been around for years, and each had a pretty extensive wardrobe and accessory collection, but those are all retired now and can be very expensive on the second hand market. The good news is that with a little time, effort and Oh Sew Kat! pdf sewing patterns, you can make your own!
Sewing for American Girl Doll, Kirsten Larson™
Sew for Your 18 inch Kirsten American Girl® Doll
Kirsten Larson™ comes to us from 1854. She’s the “Little house on the prairie” and the “holly hobbie” doll- if you know, you know. Her clothes are simple calicos with growth pleats and high necklines with pinafores and aprons to keep dresses clean during chores. Much of her collection has a red, white and blue color palette- so by sticking with those colors, I can add some mix and match options with her meet outfit pieces. Look for calicos, homespun stripes, and small ginghams. The AD: PRAIRIE DAYS collection by Moda in the Fat Quarter Shop is perfect fabric collection for Kirsten!!
Looking over Kirsten’s wardrobe on google, you notice that most of her dresses are very similar. A basic dress, with short or long puffed sleeves, high neckline, growth pleats and a thin waistband. This blue dress is inspired by Kirsten’s pink spring dress from American Girl®.
Oh Sew Kat! Pattern Hack: Sugar n Spice Dress for Kirsten
Use the Sugar n Spice PDF Sewing Pattern to make Kirsten a new dress for spring!! This basic dress pattern also includes a simple apron tutorial, check THIS POST to see how to make it fit just like Kirsten’s meet apron. Find the Sugar n Spice pattern in four doll sizes HERE. Use the pattern pieces for the basic underdress with a few modifications to make it more historical for Kirsten, although this pattern hack is cute for modern dolls too!
Cut out your pattern pieces. Add 3/4 inch to the length of the short sleeves. (I added 1/4th inch to my blue sleeves, which have a cute, modern look, but for a more historical dress, the sleeves should be longer.) Cut a waistband 1 inch by 14 inches- just trim the end off if there is any extra. Skirt length is 7.5 inches, or 8 inches if you want to add the growth strip. See the tutorial for the growth strip HERE.
Finish the raw edges of the sleeve. I used a rolled hem on my serger, but you can press it up and hem it as well.
Stitch 4 inches of 1/8th inch elastic to the inside of the sleeve hem, approximately 1/4 to 3/8th inches from your hemmed edge. You can use a pencil or marking tool to draw a line to follow if you want. This makes that pretty ruffled sleeve! On the inside of the sleeve, put your elastic on the line to sew, and lower your needle into it. This will hold the elastic tail while you pull the other end “generally” to the end of the fabric (where you want the elastic to end.). Stitch very slowly, pulling the elastic as you go, and keeping it on your marked line.
Follow the pattern instructions to complete the bodice. With right sides together, add your waistband to the bodice. Top stitch if desired. (Of the three AG branded Kirsten dresses I own, none have topstitched waistbands, but it does create a nice, neat finish.)
Gather the skirt, attach it to the waistband, and complete the dress according to the pattern.
This dress looks super cute on your modern dolls as well!
Sewing Doll Clothes for your 18 inch Kirsten Larson Doll
If you visit your local quilting shops- you will find full walls lined with bright rainbows of batik fabric. These fabrics can be a little pricer than the regular quilting cottons, because many of them are specifically dyed. Browse through this section and choose a few to try on your doll clothes. Some are multicolored and some are not, which makes them the perfect solids to use in outfits to make them pop!!
Using Batik Fabric to Sew Doll Clothes to Add Fun and Interest
Joss is wearing the Backyard Bibs made in a colorful batik. I used ribbons instead of straps as outlined in THIS POST. This simple pattern is perfect to highlight the batik fabric’s watercolors. Find the Backyard Bibs pattern in five doll sizes HERE.
DIY Doll Clothes for American Girl Dolls with fun, Batik Fabrics
Some batik fabrics have a defined print, such as this blue and green poinsettia floral of Nanea’s muumuu style dress. I used the Sugar n Spice pattern and THIS TUTORIAL. Find the Sugar n Spice PDF pattern in four popular doll sizes HERE.
Mix and Match Solid fabric with Batiks for Unique Doll Clothes
Ivy’s festive outfit was made with the Playtime Peasant Top and Twirl Skirt pattern. I paired a solid gold top with three different batik fabrics in the skirt. This pattern lends itself beautifully to a quilting precut called a JELLY ROLL. I purchase mine at the AD: Fat Quarter Shop. You can get a full range of colors and prints already cut in long strips to make into ruffled skirts and hems, which can be a big time saver too! Find the Playtime Peasant Top and Twirl Skirt pattern in five doll sizes HERE.
Add Interest to Simple Doll Clothes Styles with fun Batik Fabrics
Is the Easter Bunny headed to your house soon? Dress up her dolls with pretty new dresses for the big day. Oh Sew Kat! offers doll dress sewing patterns in popular doll sizes and you can sew one up in just an afternoon!
Easy Easter Dresses for Dolls: Oh Sew Kat! Sewing Patterns
How about a free skirt pattern? The Four Season Skirt is FREE in 3 sizes. Click HERE to get yours. This skirt is quick and simple and will give your dolly that perfect outfit for hunting Easter eggs.
The Spring Shine dress has pretty flutter sleeves and can be made with or without the button placket. Use your fun prints like these rainbow unicorns (above) or unicorns and castles (below).
Sewing Easter Dresses for American Girl sized Dolls
The Sugar n Spice dress is perfect for Easter and every other occasion. Visit the Inspiration Gallery to see the many ways to sew this fun pattern. The Sugar n Spice pattern is now available for 15 inch baby dolls too! Find the pattern HERE.
The Bloomer Buddies pattern also has a dress option (with or without sleeves) that can be a fancy dress as well, such as Willa’s ruffled dress (Photo by Shirley F.). Find the pattern HERE.
And finally, the newest dress pattern from OhSewKat!- the Summertime Stroll- is perfect ofr your spring dresses too! Find the pattern HERE.
Pretty Spring Dresses to DIY for your Dolls
Be sure to visit the Easter Inspiration Gallery for more ideas for your dolly dresses. Visit OhSewKat on Etsy to find these patters, plus many more, including the BEST DRESSED Bundle to save 15% on three dress patterns.
Ready for spring? How about some bright colors and feelings of sunshine about now? Use the Backyard Bibs to create these quick and easy fake overall dresses. The pattern also includes another skirt version and two pants (shorts and capris). The Backyard Bibs is available in five doll sizes!
Does your Kirsten doll need a new apron? Or do you want to mix up her wardrobe a little bit since American Girl® doesn’t offer any clothes for her anymore? Kirsten’s apron (part of her meet outfit) is a simple, quick project you can complete in under an hour. Your modern dolls might like a cute apron too! Have fun with this simple tutorial and use it to expand your Kirsten doll’s fashion wardrobe.
Simple Apron Tutorial for 18 inch Dolls like American Girl®
Make A Simple Apron for your 18 inch American Girl® doll like Kirsten Larson from 1854
Choose lightweight fabrics, like homespun cottons in gingham, stripes, and soft florals. You can make the apron with or without a pocket. You can even check your local thrift shops for men’s shirting to use as fabric.
Make a Simple Apron for Kirsten Larson™, 18″ inch Doll from American Girl®
Cut out three pieces of fabric. For all pieces, you can use a pinking shears for the raw edges, or a zig zag stitch or serger.
Skirt: Cut one rectangle 6 x 10 inches. On one long side and two short sides, press up a slight 1/4th inch, then fold and press up another 1/4th inch. Or use your serger to finish each edge, then press up 1/4th inch and stitch. Stitch these three sides so you have a nice, hemmed skirt. Mark the center of the top (raw edge) of the skirt with a pin. Gather the skirt until it measures four inches. (Kirsten’s actual meet skirt is pleated every 1/2 inch, rather than gathered, but you can do either of course.)
Pocket: Cut a pocket 2.5 inches square. Finish the raw edges, then press in three sides and the top. Sew the top hem in place. Place the pocket’s top right corner about 1.25 inch down and 1 inch to the left of the right side edge on the front of the apron. If you are using a stripe or check fabric, you can match up the lines. Using an edge stitch or top stitch foot, stitch the three sides of the pocket (not the top) in place, leaving the top open. Use a glue stick or scotch tape to hold your pocket in place while you sew or try some thin seam tape for best results.
Strap: Cut your strap fabric 1 inch by 22-24 inches. (You can also use a .25 – .5 inch wide ribbon instead). Fold in each short edge 1/4th inch and press well. Press in half the long way with wrong sides together. Open back out, and press each long, raw edge to meet in the center. Repress along the original center line fold. (Basically like creating bias binding) Mark the center of the strap with a pin.
Assembly: Open the strap and place the raw edge of the skirt inside, with the raw edge up at the center fold line, matching (and removing) the center pins. Continue to place the raw edge of the skirt up against the center fold of the strap, pinning it in place. Make this as even as possible, as you will want to catch both the edges of the strap as you sew it all together. Once the skirt is pinned, you can also pin the rest of the strap edges together if you want to. Stitch the strap close to the edge (like topstitching), from end to end (folding both short ends in), and securing the skirt inside your seam.
Simple Apron Sewing Tutorial for 18 inch dolls like Kirsten
Your Kirsten Larson doll is now ready to do her chores!! Click the photo below to see more Kirsten themed ideas and projects. Find this blue spring dress tutorial HERE.
It’s Tester Tuesday!!! The 16 inch A Girl for All time Dolls® are still newcomers to the doll world, but they sure have their own following. Oh Sew Kat! currently has 11 patterns specifically sized for these pose-able dolls HERE.
The Sandbox Shorts pattern is the perfect pattern to give your 16 inch ball jointed dolls like A Girl for All Time a cute, modern, summer look! With three lengths and cute, patch pockets, you can make all kinds of different shorts for your doll. See the Inspiration Gallery for more ideas, and find the pattern hacks for this pattern HERE.
The Oh Sew Kat! testers had so much fun with these cute mix and match shorts and Popsicle Tops. Download and sew your own summer fun set today! Photo credits: Sandy S, Carol G, Linda R, Pam R, Kathy M, Kathy N, and Juliette A. They all have such a talent for mixing and matching and creating the perfect doll clothes outfits!
The Sandbox Shorts are also available sized for 18 inch dolls like American Girl®, 16 inch Disney Animators, 14/5 inch Welliewishers™ and 15″ baby dolls like Bitty Baby™ and Bitty Twins™. Find them all in the Oh Sew Kat! Etsy Shop!