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As a mom of two girls who love dolls, I’ve dedicated more of my sewing time to sewing doll clothes.
When I first bought my girls their dolls, I decided I’d probably buy a few store-bought outfits and call it a day. I soon discovered that doll clothes were SO expensive, though!
While I had the foresight to save many of my younger daughter’s newborn-sized clothes to double as doll clothes for their 18″ dolls, the dolls still needed more fun clothes in their wardrobes than baby sleepers and onesies. I wanted them to have nightgowns, dresses, athletic clothes, and even a few of their own dress-up outfits.
To get some pattern ideas and learn tips and tricks for sewing new clothes for dolls, I went and bought (and checked out from the library) as many doll clothes pattern books as I could find.
This was a really fun learning experience for me, and I want to give you a little information about some of the best books that I found.
Top 5 Best Doll Clothes Pattern Books
Read below for more in-depth reviews of these books!
At less than 50 pages, this is not a huge book. However, given how much information it packs in, it’s still one of my favorites!
It includes 9 basic patterns that can be mixed and matched for more options. These include a sundress, classic skirt, camisole and underwear, tankini, shorts, lace top, jumper, button-down shirt, and party dress. Several options have “bonus patterns” that allow you to add an extra feature, for instance, a peplum to a top.
Paper patterns are included for you to trace or cut. This is helpful if you don’t have a printer or know how to download or print patterns online.
What I like about this book is it has a great introduction that details fitting doll clothes, choosing doll clothes fabrics, and how to master techniques that are useful when sewing doll clothes. For instance, gathering a skirt, finishing a neckline, or using fold-over elastic. (Being reminded of the awesome role of fold-over-elastic in sewing was one of my big takeaways from this book!)
If you’re new to sewing doll clothes, this book requires no prerequisite knowledge and will teach you as you go!
If you’re new to sewing with a machine, though, you will need lessons or a beginner sewing book to teach you how to use your machine first. Overall, I’d rate this as an excellent book for confident beginners to more advanced sewists.
Now, one downfall is sewing patterns are for 18″ dolls only. You could easily alter the patterns to be slightly smaller and fit smaller dolls, though.
The author of Doll Days has also written the book Doll Dress Boutique: Sew 40+ Projects for 18″ Dolls – A Dress for Every Occasion, which features a similar style but contains 40 patterns for dresses only. I like books with more variety, so I prefer Doll Days!
This doll clothes sewing book is written by the same author who wrote Doll Days.
What’s different about this book, though, is it is aimed towards helping older children sew doll clothes. If you’re a true beginner (even an adult beginner) with no sewing experience and need to be led hand-by-hand when sewing, this will be perfect for you!
The book includes 22 projects for 18″ dolls and includes many more basics about learning to sew. For instance, how to use a pattern and a sewing machine, how to sew by hand, and even how to choose the beginner sewing supplies you’ll need.
Projects are broken down based on the following themes: on-the-go, invited to a party, it’s a sleepover, hanging out with friends, and school days.
The projects are not all doll clothes; there are some easy-to-sew doll accessories such as a messenger bag, pillowcase, and DIY doll sleeping bag, for example. All in all, there are 14 outfits and 8 accessories, each marked with a difficulty level.
Of all the doll clothes books I’ve listed, these are the simplest patterns. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for beginners because it’s nice to gain confidence with doll clothes that are within your emerging sewing skillset.
First, this book is from 1999, so some clothes are outdated. Second, the patterns are hand-drawn, and the diagrams are not snazzy.
However, one HUGE plus of this book is the patterns are for 12″, 14″, 16″, and 18″ dolls.
While all of the pattern books I’ve listed are for 18″ dolls (geared towards American Girls), this book features clothes for soft dolls (think Raggedy Ann type), teddy bears, and more! As such, this is a great addition for sewists wanting to sew doll clothes for more unconventional dolls and stuffed friends.
If you want a book with no-sew doll clothes, there are also several options!
However, these patterns are not for true beginners. They are a bit more complicated, and there are minimal instructions at the beginning of the book. (They gave you a fair warning by calling this the TWO-hour dolls’ clothes book!) Some of the patterns are so intricate and gorgeous and remind me of the doll clothes I had for my dolls in my childhood.
The patterns are split up by season: Spring and Summer wear, Fall finery, and Winter attire. In total, there are 20 patterns for outfits.
If you want a book with paper patterns included, this book is NOT for you. To retrieve the sewing patterns, you must visit a website to download and print them yourself. (There are 47 pages!)
While this online accessibility is a nice feature if you’re tech-savvy, if you’re not or don’t have a printer, this book will be useless. I also cried a little on the inside when I printed out all 47 pages and went through what was undoubtedly a ton of ink.
Technological issues aside, this book offers something different than the others on this list: patterns primarily made out of stretchy knits.
Sewing with knits can be challenging for beginner sewers, but the resulting outfits are so cute! Because knit outfits can stretch over a doll’s head and body, you don’t usually have to worry about buttons, Velcro, or other fasteners.
The book starts with around 25 pages of information regarding sewing doll clothes and then moves into the tutorials for the 19 projects.
Some patterns include a swimsuit, athletic gear, pajamas, dressy dresses, kimono cardigan, and a circle scarf. If you want a doll that will be dressed in the latest fashions, this book includes the most “trendy” and stylish outfits of the bunch.
This book is ONLY for 18″ doll clothes, though.
As the title says, this book provides patterns for dolls to “dress up” in. Who wouldn’t want their doll also to be able to dress like a mermaid, Cinderella, or a ballerina?
Geared towards experienced sewists, this book does not provide much introduction. It assumes a working knowledge of how to use a sewing machine and how to sew doll clothes.
Furthermore, there are no colored photos with the instructions. Just a few diagrams or drawings. Some of the sewing patterns, like the wedding dress, are very extensive and are not geared towards beginners, either.
This book isn’t a great fit if you want to spice up your doll’s everyday wardrobe. However, you’ll love the options if you want some unique statement pieces!
And lastly, patterns are included on a CD, which is not ideal. I don’t have a CD drive on my laptop or an external drive, so I had to bring the CD to my Dad, the only person I know with a desktop, to download them. I would have preferred a paper copy or even a digital copy.