Category Archives: Sewing Tutorials

Free sewing tutorials. Make fun accessories for moms, girls, and dolls.

Make a doll skirt with old jeans!

Have a pair of jeans with a lot of wear and some tear in them? Well, usually jeans can be salvaged from the knee down. This is a great way to make skirts for your dolls. The hem is already in place – and probably has a built-in distressed look. Just make sure that area for the waist casing is at least 6 1/2 inches wide (which makes a circumference of at least 13 inches for the waist).

1. Decide how long you want your skirt to be. Do this by measuring from the doll’s waist to the place on her leg where you want it to fall. For and 18 inch doll, about 6 inches will give you a knee length skirt.

2. Measure the skirt length from the hem to the waist area and add 1 inch at the top for the waist casing. I am using 7 inches. (You can choose to have a wider casing if your hem is wider and you want to match the weight of the casing with the hem. Just use the size hem you want to match and add 1/4 inch.)
Measure Hem
3. Cut this line with the casing included. Now is the time to add any embellishments, if the jeans don’t have any to begin with. If your skirt is wide enough, you can add a small applique. If it isn’t wide enough, you can use the patch your jeans tutorial to open up the side seam to lay your skirt flat.)

4. All decorated? Good. Now you are going to press the top edge 1/4 inch all around the skirt. Then, press it again 3/4 inches.
Pin and Stitch Casing
5. Sew very close to the pressed edge all the way around the casing, leaving a 1-2 inch opening for threading your elastic.
Sew elastic casing
6. Using two safety pins, thread your 11 inch piece of elastic (for an 18 inch doll) through the skirt casing and stitch the two ends together at the opening.
Insert and stitch Elastic
7. Sew the opening closed and enjoy your skirt!

Note: If you use a kid-size pair of pants, your skirt will have a sleeker look – like a pencil skirt. If you use an adult-size pair of pants, you can have more of a gathered A-line type skirt. You will see how different the looks can be once you’ve done a few of them. This skirt was made with tapered leg pants and looks like a straight skirt.

6 Reasons I Heart Sewing Doll Clothes

  1. I can sew most doll clothes with a fat quarter size fabric sample. (Fat Quarter = 18″ by 22″ piece of fabric.)
  2. I can learn new sewing skills without worrying about wasting much fabric if I totally mess up my outfit.
  3. I only have to make one size and don’t have to figure out which cutting line to keep straight on the pattern.
  4. Dolls are the perfect “sample size.” I can see what a piece looks like before I commit to making a larger size in the fabrics I’ve chosen.
  5. If I make something for my daughter’s doll, I have more of a chance that my daughter will actually wear the outfit I made for her!
  6. Doll’s are happy to wear anything you put on them, because they’ve spent many days wearing nothing. Dress your dolls, girls! (That was more for my daughter than anyone else. But, if you need to be told. There, I just did.)

Can you think of any other great reasons to love sewing doll clothes? Leave me a note in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts too!

Easy Camisole for 18 inch dolls

This is a picture of our newest pattern, the Easy Camisole and PJ Shorts Pattern.

Patch Jeans – Sewing “How To”

This is an easy “how to patch your jeans” tutorial that anyone can learn to do. First, lets talk about two ways to patch a pair of jeans.

1) You can iron on a patch where your jeans are ripped or torn. All you need to do is buy an appropriate sized patching material and cut it to size (or) get a fancy iron-on applique and iron them where you want to cover the blemishes.

2) Use this step-by-step tutorial for sewing on a cute patch that you have made yourself to cover up holes or blemishes in your jeans. Or, just decorate your entire jeans wardrobe because you are going to make them sooo cute!

Here we go…Look at your jeans and determine the problems. These jeans have a couple problems. My daughter found a permanent marker and wrote on these jeans and she has a worn spot and hole in her jeans. (I am going to have to get creative to fix this and make it look good because they aren’t in the same position on each leg.)

Take a pin and mark your problem areas like this. Only pin through the top layer – not both.

Turn your jeans inside out and locate the area you need to work within. Place a pin at the top of the area and just below it. This is the minimum amount you will need to open up in the leg’s side seams.

Notice that the seams of these jeans are different. Don’t open the side with the flat fold seam. Use the other one – which ever side it is on. Open up the seam until you can lay your legs flat to work on them. (To tear serging, rip the needle stitches a few at a time until you have the length you need. Then, the loopers around the seam should just ravel off.)

(I need to confess something here. I was using this method of ripping the seams carefully. After about 10 minutes of time-consuming ripping, I got out my embroidery scissors and cut through the loopers on the serged edges I needed to open. Then, I took my razor blade and just carefully cut through the two lines of stitching to open the side seams. Jeans are harder to rip out than any other type of garment and I got impatient, lol!)

Now, you need some patches. You can get creative and make your own shapes or use a template. My favorite templates are cookie cutters. You can get some great shapes that way. You can also google practically any shape you’re looking for and find a variety of sizes to use as a template. However, I had this fabric that I thought would be a perfect template.

Next, cut your shapes from the template/fabric. Then, get some heat ‘n bond and iron it to the back of your patches.

Cut the shapes from the heat ‘n bond out a tad smaller than the actual patches and iron the heat-n-bond to the back of your patches.

After they have completely cooled from the iron, remove the paper backing from the patches.

Take the patches to your jeans and try placing them where you need the coverage. Then, get crafty with the rest of the patches that you’ve cut out. Once you’re satisfied with the placement, iron the patches into place on the jeans.

Now, you’re ready to go to the sewing machine. There are a variety of things you can do to sew the edges.

1. Sew just inside the edges with a thread color that matches your patch.
2. Satin stitch around the patches, encasing the edges.
3. Make your patches about 1/3″ larger, sew around the perimeter 1/3″ from edge and then “rag” the edges in the wash for a fringed look.
4. Use a decorative stitch to sew around the edge catching both edges as you work.

Here I just used invisible thread and did a zigzag stitch around all the edges of my patches. The stitching isn’t perfect. But, then, that’s the beauty of using invisible thread.

Once you’ve finished patching your pants, you are going to sew the seams of your legs back together. To fix the serged area, zigzag over the edge or use whatever wide stitch your machine does just inside the edge of the seam allowance. You need to make sure this is reinforced in case you are too active and the side seam opens on you and to prevent further fraying.

(I’m assuming that you don’t have a serger. If you do, then serge it back together after sewing the seam line.)

Enjoy your new-ish jeans!

Great Art Case!

Art Case Picture

I just made this great Art Case in less than 2 hours! I started after lunch and finished by the time my daughter came home from school. She loved it. I had to beg for enough time to take this picture. Now, she is busy filling and using this great case.

There’s an extra bonus too! I also think it’s easy enough for your child to sew, if they have a knowledge of basic sewing skills! What a great project for you to make together. I know everyone is looking for great activities during Spring Break. This would be a perfect afternoon or rainy day project.

I got the idea from one of my Twitter friends @thisiscarrie. She has posted this pattern on her blog FOR FREE. Head on over there now to get the instructions. You won’t be sorry. (They come complete with full-color photographs.)

Graduation gift I “just whipped up!”

I needed a graduation gift for the daughter of a friend of mine – she and her sister were the ring bearer and flower girl at my wedding! Look how cute they looked almost 14 years ago.

It’s hard to imagine it has been that long since our wedding. Sigh.

Anyhow, this high school graduate is moving into an upstairs apartment with a friend. I decided to give her a gift certificate to a local store so she can get something that matches her decorative taste.

The only problem was…I didn’t want to just put it inside a card envelope. So, I made this cool little wallet! (At least I hope its cool, LOL!)

I used some non-quilted remnants left from one of my doll carrier projects. On the outside this wallet has a velcro closure with a pretty flower button to match.

The inside has three card pockets on one side, a zip pouch on the other side, and some slide-in pockets between them.

I put my gift card in one of the card pockets. The card that shows how much the card is worth in the opposite slide-in pocket, wrapped it in tissue, and placed it in a gift bag with the card. I hope she likes it!

This post is being linked to the following project parties:

The Girl Creative Registered & Protected

Making Doll Clothes – #3 Easy Dolly Bib

We are going to use the concept of the “sandwich” from Making Doll Clothes #2 to make a bib to match or our dolly burp cloth.

Step 1 – Measure the width of your doll’s chest between the shoulders like this.

Step 2 – Find an appealing shape template that is close to the size of your doll’s chest measurement. I have selected from these heart shapes. Print out the size that is closest to the measurement (or, you can print them all out and place them over your doll’s chest to see how they fit).

Step 3 – Cut out the printed shape from the template and use it to cut your two coordinating fabric pieces.

Step 4 – Place the heart pieces on your doll’s chest where you want the bib to stay and measure around the back of the doll’s neck.

Step 5 – Add one inch to your measurement and then cut a strip that is two inches wide by the length you discovered. (My measurement was about 8 inches, so I am going to cut my piece 9 inches by 2 inches.)

Step 6 – Fold the strip at the short ends 1/4 inch and press. Next, press 1/4 inch on the long ends. Fold the strip in half on the long side and sew close to the edge on all four sides of the strap.

Step 7 – Now Cut this strap in half so that you now have 2 finished straps.

Step 8 – Place and pin the two strap pieces at the top each side of one of the fabric heart pieces that is facing up. (See illustration below #9)

Step 9 – Place the other heart piece on top of the heart and straps facing down. (You have just “sandwiched” the straps between the heart pieces)

Step 10 – Pin and sew around the shape using a 1/4 inch seam and leaving about a 2 inch opening as shown in the last picture above.

Step 11 – Clip the top of the heart in the center but not through the stitching.

Step 12 – Clip the bulk from the bottom of the heart to rid of extra bulk at the point. (See right picture above.)

Step 13 – Press the edges at the opening toward the center of the heart so that all the edges line up around the heart.

Step 14 – Turn the heart right side out and press. Stitch all the way around the heart about an 1/8 inch from the edge. This will sew the opening together.

Step 15 – Find a small piece of velcro and sew onto the ends of the straps to keep the bib on the doll.

Step 16 – Try the bib on your doll. Do you like it?

Now, find the burp cloth and give them to your little girl to feed and burp her doll. She will love them.

Once you learn the process of making these bibs, you can find and use a template for almost any shape. You could make matching bib and burp cloth sets for each season or holiday. The possibilities are endless. Registered & Protected

Making Doll Clothes – #1 Easy Skirt

The first making your own doll clothes sewing pattern is for a doll skirt. This is a simple, full skirt that anyone can learn to sew. This tutorial uses the straight stitch function of your sewing machine.

Making the pattern.
Step 1 – Find the doll you have that needs a nice skirt.
Pick a point on your doll’s waist where you want the doll to wear the skirt.
Now, take your tape measure and measure all around the doll’s waist. (Pictured below on left.)

Step 2 – Keeping a mark on the waist point you picked, now pick a point on the doll’s legs for the length of the skirt.
Measure the distance from the doll’s waist to the point you picked on the doll’s legs. (Pictured below on right.)

Step 3 – Draw your pattern by making a rectangle using the two measurements you just found. The waist measurement for my doll was 11 inches. I want my skirt to be just about knee length and am using 6 inches in height. My rectangle is 11 inches wide by 6 inches tall.

Step 4 – Now we are going to add 3/4 inch to the length at the top for the waist casing and 3/4 inch at the bottom for the hem. Your rectangle should now look like this.

Cutting the pattern and fabric.
Step 1 – Cut your pattern piece if you have not done so already.
Note: If you made this on regular copy paper or tissue paper, cut your pattern out using the paper scissors from the sewing supplies list. If you used Quilter’s Grid or True Grid, use the fabric scissors.

Step 2 – Look at your fabric. Is there a right side up or upside down to the fabric?
Place your fabric flat right side up in front of you.
Then, fold it over to your right just about an inch wider than your pattern piece. Make sure it is folded the same width all the down the fabric.
Place your pattern piece with the left edge on the fold of the fabric.

Step 3 – Pin the pattern piece to the fabric on all sides.

Step 4 – Cut around three sides of the pattern piece leaving the left folded size intact.

Your fabric should now be the same length as your pattern piece and twice the width.

Sewing the skirt.
Step 1 – Pin the back of the skirt together like this. Make sure to put enough pins in so that there are no wrinkles.

Step 2 – Sew the back of the skirt together using a 1/4″ seam.
Remember to stitch in reverse after the first three or four stitches and also at the bottom of the skirt to lock them in place.

Note: If you are not sure where on your machine the 1/4 inch measurement is, you can take your seam gauge and mark a 1/4″ line down the side of the skirt edge and use it as a guide. (For children sometimes it helps them keep a straight stitch, especially when they are just beginning.)

To reinforce the stitches you can do one of these things: Stitch over your first stitching again, Stitch a little closer to the edge near the first stitching, place a zig zag stitch in the seam allowance, or serge it (if you have that option available).

Step 3 – To make the casing for the elastic waist, take your seam gauge and sewing pins over to the ironing board and mark the 1/4 inch mark on your seam gauge like this.

Step 4 – Next, put the top of the skirt around the edge of the ironing board and measure and press all around the skirt at 1/4 inch.

Step 5 – Now, move your seam guage lever to the 1/2 inch mark. Measure and press all around the top of the skirt again at the half inch mark. This time, pin every inch or so to hold the casing in place.

Step 6 – Sew at the very edge of the fold all around the skirt leaving about an inch opening.

I always start about an inch to the right of the seam and then stop about an inch before the seam.

Step 7 – Cut a piece of 1/4 inch wide elastic the same length as the waist measurement from the beginning of the project. (My doll is 11 inches.)

Step 8 – Place a safety pin on each end of the elastic. Next, take one end of the elastic and feed it through the waist casing you made using the opening.

Step 9 – After you have threaded the elastic all the way around the skirt, take the safety pins off (don’t let go of the ends) and place them one on top of the other like this (overlapping about 1/2 an inch).

Step 10 – Sew the two pieces of elastic together and back stitch three or four times to lock them place. (Take the pin out when you sew so that you do not run over the pin. The pin just keeps the elastic in place until you can lower your presser foot onto the elastic.)

Step 11 – Now take your skirt and widen the waist a bit to grab the rest of the elastic into it and sew the opening in the casing shut. You will need to pull on the elastic a bit to get your opening to lay flat.

Step 12 – To hem the skirt, repeat steps 3-6 without leaving the opening for the elastic.

Step 13 – Cut all the loose threads.

Now, look at your masterpiece.
Try it on your doll. Registered & Protected

Making Doll Clothes – Recommended Supplies

The list of sewing supplies to make simple doll clothes for your doll’s wardrobe is very basic. The items listed below are necessary for all of the projects we post. If any additional supplies are needed for new projects/sewing techniques they will be listed at the top of each project.

  • Sewing machine
    I find a way to use my machine on everything I sew. I like to finish projects quickly and the seams are more stable. If you are good at hand sewing, be my guest.
  • Iron and ironing board
    This is for pressing seams, hems, casings, etc. It is also helpful to press manufactured pattern pieces, fabric (after you have prewashed it, etc.). Yes, I am an ironer of everything – but you don’t have to. It will just make your sewing sooo much easier.
  • Tape measure, 12 inch ruler, or yard stick
    These are for measuring for the pattern. The patterns I use will give cutting instructions for basic shapes. You will need the ruler to cut the right size.
  • Paper scissors
    These are for any cutting you do using regular paper. On some of the instructions you can measure the pieces on copy paper and then cut them out.
  • Fabric scissors
    You want to mark and only use fabric scissors to cut fabric. Paper scissors are not as sharp and may give you difficulty cutting the fabric. In addition, if you use fabric scissors to cut paper they will be dull in a short period of time.
  • Sewing pins
    These will be for lining you seams appropriately and making sure they stay together.
  • Pin cushion
    A place to put your pins when they are not in use.
  • Seam ripper
    Because NO ONE is perfect. We ALL make mistakes, have tucks, and skip over instructions. That is part of learning. Do not let it get you frustrated. I own 3 seam rippers myself. I have even worn out a couple of them.
  • Seam gauge
    This is for measuring hems, making casings, and placing marks on fabric pieces.
  • Marking pens, or wheel and tracing paper
    These are for placing pattern marks on fabric pieces.
  • Needle threader – optional.
    But can be very helpful with small needles.
  • Quilters grid or True Grid- optional
    This is a type of sew-in interfacing that has 1 inch squares marked on it like a big piece of graph paper. (They also have a fusible type of quilter’s grid. The fusible type does not mark well. It is for ironing onto fabric or patterns.) Quilter’s grid can be very useful for measuring and drawing the patterns when following the cutting instructions. It is sold by the yard for about $1.99.

This may seem like a long list of supplies. But you can get all of these items, with the exception of the sewing machine and ironing supplies, at your local fabric and craft store in a kit for less than $20.

Here is a list of the basic fabric notions that will be used for most projects.

  • Fabric
    For those who are just learning to sew cotton and quilting fabrics are the easiest to work with. Knits, satins, silks, and thicker fabrics can be harder to work with for beginners.
  • Thread to match fabric
    Cotton or poly-cotton blends work very well. Stay away from glazed cottons because they can be hard on your sewing machine.
  • 1/4 inch elastic
    This is for waistbands, sleeves, pant legs, etc. as the project style recommends.
  • Sew-in velcro
    Sticky back velcro gums up your machine needles, is very hard to get off, and may ruin them.
  • Buttons, lace, snaps, zippers (for more advanced projects).

You can add other supplies that may make sewing more convenient as you feel you are ready. Buying any crafting supplies can easily become overwhelming. This is also very true with sewing and learning to sew. However, as with any other craft, hobby, or sport it is not the fancy equipment that makes a great product. The time, dedication, and effort used is what creates the love of your designs.

Making Doll Clothes – An Introduction

Have you wondered how easy it would be to make your own doll clothes? Are you looking for free doll clothes patterns that have easy directions with clear pictures about each instruction? Would you like to work with your daughter together on projects that are easy to explain – even if you don’t know how to sew yourself?

I have tailored this series on making your own doll clothes for the Mother and/or Daughter who want to design their own clothes, learn more about sewing (or learn to sew), and have fun in the process. All projects will be designed for those using sewing machines. It does not matter what type of sewing machine you have as long as you are happy with its functionality. All of the tutorials will show which machine stitch is needed for each step of the project.

My projects are designed with the beginning sewist in mind. Sewing terms will be explained and shown as if the reader has never heard the term or technique before. I will also give optional instructions for ways of creating truly unique designs and alternative machine stitches that your machine may perform whenever possible.

The first few projects feature extremely easy doll clothes patterns that mostly involve straight stitch functions.
The next few projects will introduce new techniques one at a time. That way you will be able to reinforce what you have already learned as well as increase your knowledge without being frustrated because you can’t seem to grasp one of instructions.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments directly under the tutorial you need help with. I will be answering questions in the comments as well. That way if more than one person has the same question, everyone can benefit from the answer.