Sewing Tips for Very Small Doll Clothes
by Andrea Schewe
Up until the 20th century all doll clothes were made at home. Now the skills for sewing these small garments are being lost. Gone is the next door neighbor who can show you the best way to sew something. Simplicity wants to be that neighbor.
My name is Andrea Schewe. I design a lot of different things for Simplicity. Where did I learn my skills? By designing costumes in professional costume shops in New York; by making patterns and samples in fashion houses; and by working for a toy company for a few years. For the last 28 or so years I have been a freelance designer for Simplicity and a number of toy companies.
I have been sewing doll clothes since I was ten years old. One of my first attempts at sewing was for my Barbie doll. Since then I have designed and sewn doll clothes of all sizes for the home sewer and for the toy industry. The smaller the doll the more challenging the sewing, but over the years, through trial and error, I have figured out what works and what doesn’t. I hope these special tips will help you have more success sewing small doll clothes.
Part 1: Getting Started – Fabric Choices and Helpful Tools
For small doll clothes fabrics need to be thin and the prints tiny. Choose fabrics by look and feel. Don’t worry about fiber content, your doll won’t know if it is pure silk; doll clothes usually don’t get washed anyway. Fabrics that contain a little Lycra drape really well; knits work well for doll clothes, as long as they are not too thick. Don’t be afraid to use an old scarf or cut up old clothing for doll clothes fabric.
Trims used for doll clothes also need to be on a small scale. Many trims come in narrow widths, but often a wide trim can be cut narrower if needed.
Learning to use the point of a seam ripper and a pair of very pointed tweezers to guide the fabric under the presser foot will give you the control to make sewing tiny doll clothes much easier. You can even try using a quilter’s bamboo pointer and creaser tool or guiding fabric and turning small seams and corners.