Sew your child’s doll a new outfit for summer! This doll romper is cute outfit for summertime fun, and I’ve got a free sewing pattern you can use to make one.
There’s something about a shorts romper that just feels like classic summertime fun. I wore them when I was a kid spending my summer days riding my bike, having lemonade stands, or just swinging in the backyard tire swing.
I’ve got a tutorial and free pattern for you below to make a shorts romper for an 18” doll.
The romper has thin shoulder straps, a cute bow-shaped yoke, and a stretchy elastic waist.
On the back there’s a simple hook and loop closure. Between this and the elastic waist, it’s easy to put the outfit on your doll. (Don’t you hate it when super cute doll clothes are hard to put on the doll?)
I made this romper from a lightweight pinstripe denim, but you could also use a quilting weight cotton, chambray, or even a rayon challis. As long as the fabric is lightweight and will hold a pressed edge, you can use it to make a romper.
There are a lot of steps in this project, but I promise you none of them are hard. I designed the pattern to eliminate anything that was super tricky or fiddly. You can easily finish this doll romper in just an hour or so.
If you want to make even more doll clothes, check out these other 18” doll clothes patterns:
Supplies to Make the Doll Romper
¼ yard (or fat quarter) quilting weight cotton, chambray, or other lightweight fabric
¼’ wide elastic – 1 piece, 10.5” long
½” wide hook and loop tape – 1 piece, 3.5” long
Free Pattern – Summertime Doll Romper
All seam allowances ¼” unless otherwise noted. Seam allowances are included in the pattern. RST = Right Sides Together
Sew the Shorts
When you sew people-sized pants, the hemming is usually the last step. But with doll clothes, if you wait until then you’ll have to sew around some very narrow circles. It’s easier to just do it first thing.
Press the bottom edge of each of the Shorts pieces ½” to the back.
Press another ½” to the back, encasing the raw edge.
Sew close to the folded edge to secure the hem.
Place the two hemmed pants pieces RST. Sew the long curved edge at both sides, from the top down to the point. These are the crotch seams.
Open and rotate the pants so the crotch seams are lined up on top of each other.
Sew the inseam, which is shaped kind of like a little V. Start at the bottom of one leg and sew up to the crotch seam, and then back down to the bottom of the second leg.
Sew the Straps
Press the Strap in half lengthwise, then open up and fold long edges to the center and press again.
Stitch down the middle of the Strap.
Cut the Strap in half to make two Strap pieces, each 4.5” long.
Sew the Yoke
Place the Yoke pieces RST. Sew along bottom (curved) edge.
Clip curves, then turn right side out. Press.
Sew the Front Bodice
Place one of the Front Bodice pieces right side up. This will be the Front Bodice Lining.
Place the ends of the Strap pieces along the top edge of the Front Bodice Lining, RST and 3/8” from the sides. Baste in place with 1/8” seam allowance.
Place the Yoke piece across the top of the Front Bodice Lining, RST and raw edges aligned. Baste in place with 1/8” seam allowance.
Place the remaining Front Bodice Piece on top of the Front Bodice Lining RST. Sew around armholes and top. Leave the sides and bottom open.
Clip curves and corners, turn right side out. Press.
Make a small pleat in the middle of the yoke and stitch it in place. Go back and forth several times so it’s good and secure.
Sew the Back Bodice
Place two of the Back Bodice pieces RST. Sew around armhole, top, and long side. Leave the angled side and bottom open.
Clip curves and corners, turn right side out. Press.
Repeat with the remaining two Back Bodice pieces.
Now to join the Back Bodice to the Front Bodice. Open out one of the angled sides of the Front Bodice, and the angled side of one of the Back Bodice pieces.
Arrange these pieces so the angled sides are RST. Open out the angled side of one of the Back Bodice pieces. and place it RST along the angled side of the Front Bodice, matching the underarm seams. Sew these pieces together along the angled sides with one long seam.
Repeat with the other angled side of the Front Bodice and the remaining Back Bodice piece.
The Front and Back Bodice are now sewn together at the sides.
Add 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. (Save the other strip so you can make another romper!)
Place the Bodice flat with right sides up. Place the hook side of the tape along the left edge, with the top of the tape close to the top of the bodice. The tape is shorter than the bodice, but that’s on purpose. The area at the bottom without the tape allows the bodice to blouse when the doll is wearing the romper.
Sew the Hook side of the tape in place using 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.)
Now, flip the entire Bodice over so the lining side is facing up. Place the Loop side of the tape along the left edge, just as you did before. Sew it in place with a box seam.
Assemble the Romper
Now that we’re going to assemble the pieces of the romper, it’s a good idea to mark the centers/sides of the pieces. That will make it easier to match the pieces up.
Mark the center of the Bodice front with either an erasable fabric marker or a small cut. Then, mark the sides of the Shorts (the middle points between the crotch seams.)
I think the easiest way to find and mark the centers is to simply fold the piece in half and then make a very small snip at the top of the center fold. Boom. Center is marked!
Close the back of the Bodice using the Hook and Loop tape closure.
Then, place the Bodice around the Shorts, right sides together and with raw edges aligned. Use the marks you made to match the centers/sides.
(The side seams of the Bodice should line up with the sides of the legs, and the crotch seams of the Shorts should line up with the centers of the Bodice.)
Sew all the way around with a ½” seam allowance. This is the Waist seam.
Turn the romper so it’s inside out. Then finger press the seam allowance to the Bodice side of the Waist seam.
Fold the piece of elastic in half to find the center. Mark this point with a fabric marking pen. Then, fold the ends of the elastic to the center to find the quarters, and mark those points as well.
Use a zig zag stitch to sew the elastic around the top of the Shorts, just below the Waist seam, stretching the elastic as you sew. Match the half/quarter markings on the elastic with centers/sides of the Shorts. When you get all the way around, overlap the start of the elastic by about ¼”.
I like to start and finish this seam with a couple of straight stitches to be sure the elastic is good and secure.
After the elastic is sewn on, you can go ahead and finger press the Waist seam allowance back down over to the Shorts side so it covers the elastic.
Your romper is almost finished! The only thing left is to sew the ends of the Straps to the back Bodice.
The Straps are longer than what you will need, to allow you to get the right size to fit your particular doll. Put the romper on the doll and use a temporary fabric marking pen to mark how long the strap should be.
Take the romper off the doll and sew the Straps to the wrong side of the back Bodice with a 1/8” seam allowance. Go back and forth a couple of times so the strap is good and secure. Leave the Strap long until you’ve sewn it to the back Bodice, then trim off the excess.
Your Summertime Doll Romper is finished!
If you love this doll romper sewing pattern, you will also love these patterns to make for your doll!