Dress your American Girl doll for winter with a wardrobe of warm winter sweaters! Don’t worry if you can’t knit. You can sew a DIY doll sweater from a pair of socks, and I’ve got a free pattern you can use.
These little doll sweaters are so cute! I can’t stop making them – and my daughter hasn’t played with dolls in YEARS. Luckily, I have friends with younger kids who still play with dolls so I can gift the sweaters to them.
I started out with a simple striped sweater.
Look at those ribbed sleeve cuffs!
And the little ribbed neck band, just like on a real sweater.
And the set-in sleeves! If you’ve never set in sleeves before, that part probably sounds scary. But it’s actually quite easy, and once you do it you’ll feel like a sewing rock star.
On the back, the doll sweaters have a hook and loop closure so it’s easy to put on and take off the sweater. That’s always a plus for me. I hate it when doll clothes are hard to put on!
If you’re wanting to add to your doll’s wardrobe, be sure to also check out my free pattern for a crop tee and matching skirt! They’re quick to make and create a cute outfit for your doll!
Socks are the perfect thing to use to make a doll sweater. They’re made from super stretchy knit, just like sweaters. And the binding makes perfectly coordinating neck and sleeve cuffs on your sweater! And they come in a wide variety of colors and patterns so there are endless options for making cute sweaters.
Rainbow stripes, anyone? I love the 80s style on this sweater!
The penguins print makes a fun ugly Christmas sweater!
And my favorite…. Hamsters! Little hamsters on a doll sweater!!
Having said that, I should tell you that you can’t use just ANY pair of socks. They need to be big enough to cut your pattern pieces. The absolute easiest thing to use is a pair of Adult size knee socks. Crew socks are also a good choice. But the shorter socks, the ankle and footie socks, won’t have enough sock for you to cut your pattern pieces.
My best advice is to bring the sock pattern with you to the store and audition it against the socks before you buy them. You can see if the pattern fits, and where the design on the sock will fall on your sweater. This is probably the most fun part for me – walking up and down the sock aisle and imagining all those cute designs sewn up into sweaters!
1 pair socks (Adult size, crew or knee length)
7” hook and loop tape
HeatnBond SoftStretch fusible web adhesive tape
Free pattern – DIY Doll Sweater
All seam allowances ¼”, unless otherwise noted. RST = right sides together.
Cut and Prep the Pieces
Cut the bands off of both socks. Trim the bands to ¾”tall. From one band, cut a piece that is 5 ½” long. This is the Neck Band. From the other band, cut two pieces each 3” long. These pieces will be the Cuffs (Socks vary in size, so if your bands are slightly less than ¾” tall or slightly shorter than the lengths listed above, that’s okay.)
The heel of the sock can make it difficult to get a clean cut, so go ahead and cut across the socks just above the heel. Then, from one sock top, cut the sweater Front.
From the other sock top, cut the sweater Back. It’s likely that the sock won’t be wide enough for the entire pattern piece. If that’s the case, let the Center Back side of the pattern hang off the edge. Socks are stretchy so the sweater will still fit the doll – it’ll just stretch a little bit more snugly across the back.
Finally, cut the Sleeves from the bottom portion of the socks – one sleeve from each sock. Mark the center of the curved edge with a small notch.
Sew the Shoulders and Sleeves
Sew the Back pieces to the Front at shoulders, RST.
Open out at the seams, with the fabric right side up.
Rotate the sweater so one of the armholes is facing up, with the armhole making a wide U-shape.
Place one of the Sleeves on top of the sweater RST with the center of the sleeve cap (the curved edge) lined up with the shoulder seam. The raw edges will be touching only at the center because the curve are facing opposite directions. Pin at this spot.
Now, bring the left edge of the armhole down so the end meets with the left end of the Sleeve. The armhole will stretch to fit the shape of the Sleeve curve. Pin at this spot.
Repeat with the right edge of the armhole.
Now, sew around the top of the Sleeve. Because the armhole had to stretch to match the curve of the Sleeve, it won’t lie completely flat under the Sleeve. Just feel for the bumps as you sew, adjusting the extra fullness out of the way of the needle as you work your way around the Sleeve curve.
Repeat all of this for the second Sleeve.
You’ve just set in sleeves! On a doll sweater! I told you you’d feel like a rock star.
Sew the Cuffs and Neck Band
Sew one of the Cuff pieces across the bottom of one of the Sleeves, RST and raw edges aligned using a zig zag stitch. The Cuff is significantly shorter than the Sleeve so you will need to stretch it to fit. The Cuff is super stretchy so you can stretch it pretty far.
The diagram below shows just the Sleeve, though in actuality it’s sewn on to the sweater. I left that part out of these illustrations so you could more clearly see what to do at the cuffs.
I find it’s easiest to stitch a few stitches without stretching the band to secure the pieces together, then stretch the band out until it reaches the end of the Sleeve. I hold the two layers together at the end, with the band stretched, while I sew the seam.
A zig zag is a stretch stitch, meaning that once it’s sewn you can stretch the fabric and the zig zag will stretch along with it. This is important on the Cuff, which will need to stretch over the doll’s hand when you put the sweater on the doll.
Finger press the seam open so the Cuff finishes off the edge of the Sleeve.
Repeat with the remaining Cuff piece and Sleeve.
Now, sew the Neck Band around the neck line of the Sweater in the same manner. You will need to stretch the Neck Band significantly to make it from one end of the neck line to the other. This stretching is necessary to make the Neck Band lie down flat around the sharp curve of the neck line.
The diagram shows the Neck Band and neck line as curved edges, but when you stretch out that band the neck line will stretch to a straight line. Once you get the Neck Band sewn on, the neck line will go back to a curve and the Neck Band will curve with it.
Finger press the seam open so the Neck Band finishes off the edge of the neck line.
Sew the Side Seams
Fold the sweater at the shoulder seams, RST, lining up the raw edges along the sleeves and bodice.
Sew the side seams from Cuff, through the seam at the armpit, and then down the bodice to the hem.
It’s starting to look like a doll sweater!
Sew the Hem
Cut a piece of HeatnBond SoftStretch hem tape 14” long. Then, cut that piece in half lengthwise to make 2 pieces each3/8” wide.
Take one of those pieces and use it to fuse a 3/8” hem around the bottom of the sweater.
Using a zig zag stitch, sew around the bottom of the sweater with a ¼” seam allowance to secure the hem.
There’s a good chance that the bottom edge of your sweater stretched out while you were sewing that hem. It’s just the nature of the beast, sewing across a super stretchy fabric. Just give it some steam from your iron, with as little pressure from your iron as possible, and it should relax back to shape.
Sew the Back Closure
Sew a ¼” hem down both sides of the back opening. You can probably just fold the hem to the back as you sew, but if your sock is particularly unruly you can use the remaining bit of the hem tape to fuse it down before you sew.
Now for the hook and loop tape to create the closure.
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.
Turn the sweater right side out. Lay it so the back of the sweater 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 sweater turned wrong side out.)
Your doll sweater is done!
If you love this doll clothes pattern you will also love these doll sewing tutorials: