When my daughter was younger, I had so much fun making doll clothes. I enjoyed the making of the doll clothes, but even more than that I loved seeing the look on her face when I gave her something new for her dolls to wear.
And while every now and then I liked to take on the challenge of making some very detailed garment, mostly I liked to make simple outfits for her dolls. You know, things you can whip up in an afternoon using bits of fabric you already have around the house.
One of the easiest doll clothes outfits to make is a simple t-shirt and skirt. I’ve got tutorials (and a free pattern) below for making a top and a skirt for an 18” doll.
The shirt is a basic t-shirt with cap sleeves and a boxy, slightly cropped fit. There are just 2 pattern pieces – a front and a back. And aside from some hemming, there are just a few seams. How’s that for easy?
You can make it from scraps of knit fabric. If you don’t have scraps, you can just cut into a shirt that your kid has outgrown.
The other piece of the outfit is a simple gathered skirt. It’s made from quilting weight cotton that most of us have in our stash already. You can make it even more fun for the kids by letting them pick out the fabric!
If you’ve ever made a skirt before, the doll skirt is made exactly the same – just in smaller dimensions. In fact, this skirt is an almost exact copy of a baby skirt that I shared last year. You can find the tutorial here.
But what’s even better than a doll outfit that’s easy to sew? A doll outfit that’s easy for young hands to dress the doll! The crop tee is split down the back with an easy hook and loop tape closure. And the skirt is gathered on to an elastic casing so it’s just a matter of sliding it on the doll.
You’ll notice in the tutorial below that I use ¼” Lite Steam-A-Seam fusible hem tape. If you don’t already have some of that, go and get you some. It makes putting those tiny hems on doll clothes sooo much easier! It makes it easy to get a consistent ¼” hem, and the fusible holds it in place while you sew. Plus, it helps stabilize knits so they’re less likely the stretch out as you sew in the hem.
Easy Crop Tee for an 18” Doll
Knit fabric – a heavier, more stable knit will work best. The lighter weight (tissue weight) knits may give you trouble if you’re not used to sewing on knits.
¼” wide Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 Double Stick Fusible Web Tape
4.5” hook and loop tape (standard ¾” width)
Free pattern – Easy Crop Tee for 18” Dolls
To Sew the Crop Tee:
All seams allowances ¼”, unless otherwise stated. RST = Right sides together
Assemble the tee and hem the edges:
Sew the Back to the Front at shoulder seams RST. Press seam open.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions to use Steam-A-Seam fusible web tape to fuse a ¼” hem to the back of the sleeves. Stitch in place to secure the hem.
Now, use the Steam-A-Seam fusible web tape to fuse a ¼” hem to the back of the neck line. The knit fabric will need to stretch to make it around those tight curves. Stitch in place to secure the hem.
If your knit won’t stretch enough to make it around the tight curves, you can make little snips into the seam allowance. Just be sure that your snips are no longer than 1/8” long.
Fold the shirt at the shoulder seams RST and then sew the side seams.
Use the Steam-A-Seam to fuse a ¼” hem down both sides of the back opening. Stitch in place to secure the hem.
Use the Steam-A-Seam to fuse a ¼”hem around the bottom of the shirt. Stitch in place to secure the hem.
Add the closure:
Now all that’s left is adding the hook and loop closure to the back.
First, cut the hook and loop tape in half lengthwise so you have two long skinny strips. You’ll only use one strip for this shirt. (That means you can use the other strip to make another t-shirt!)
Turn the shirt right side out. Lay it so the back of the shirt is facing up. Sew the hook side of the tape along the FRONT side of the right opening. Use a box seam so the tape is good and secure. (Sew down one side, across the bottom, up the other side, then across the top – essentially stitching around all 4 sides of the tape.)
Finally, sew the loop side of the tape the WRONG side of the left opening. (Diagram shows the shirt turned wrong side out.)
Your doll top is done!
Gathered Skirt for an 18’ Doll
Main fabric –quilting cotton, 5 ¾” tall x 22” long
Hem band –quilting cotton, 2” tall x 22” long
½” wide elastic – 11”
To Make the Gathered Skirt:
Seam allowance ¼” unless otherwise noted. RST = Right Sides Together, WST = Wrong Sides Together
Sew the Hem Band
Place the hem band across the bottom of the main fabric, raw edges aligned. Sew across bottom.
On the back, press the seam allowance toward the hem band.
Fold in half the short way, RST. Sew down the side.
Press bottom edge of hem band ½” to the back of the skirt.
Fold hem band to the back of the skirt so that the pressed edge just barely covers the seam between hem band and main fabric. Glue baste in place. Press with a hot iron to be sure the glue is dry.
From the front of the skirt, stitch in the ditch in the seam between the hem band and main fabric to secure.
Sew the Casing
Press the top edge ¼” to the back.
Press the top edge over another ¾” to the back.
Sew all the way around close to the edge to create a casing, leaving 1.5” open at the back to insert the elastic.
Thread elastic through the casing.
When I thread elastic through a casing, I put a large safety pin in each end of the elastic. I use one of them to push the elastic through the casing, while the other one keeps the end of the elastic from sliding up into the casing.
Overlap the ends of the elastic by 1/2”. Stitch back and forth across the elastic several times. You’ll need to pull the ends pretty far out of the skirt in order to overlap them and place them under the presser foot.
Now that the elastic is sewn together in a circle, let it get pulled back into the casing. Top stitch the opening in the casing closed.
Your doll skirt is done!
If you love this adorable tutorial as much as I do then be sure to check out Anne’s other doll sewing tutorials: