• Karole from Kimberling

Sewing for 18" Dolls - How Hard Can It Be?

What Do A Southern Belle, Irish Maiden, and Angel Have In Common? Dresses made from the Same Pattern.

Over the past year, I have found that doll patterns with simple lines are the most versatile; they enable me to create the greatest variety of styles with the least amount of effort.

One such pattern is Farmcookies' Bodice Basics.

Farmcookies' Bodice Basics was the first online downloadable pattern I purchased for sewing 18" doll dresses. It provides several options for collars, bodice overlays, and sleeves, which in combination, provide dozens of possibilities. In addition to using this pattern for dresses, I lengthened the bodice pieces to make a blouse pattern, and sketched out a small rounded collar to add to the collar options.

(Please note: I am not affiliated with Farmcookies -- I am merely a very satisfied customer.)

This pattern is the foundation for three of outfits that are very different: a Southern Belle, an Irish Maiden, and an Angel. And, although the pattern has many options, only two very basic ones were employed to achieve these results.

SOUTHERN BELLE -- the first outfit I made using this pattern; my Beta test.

Before making this dress, I contacted FarmhouseCookies via Etsy to ask how much room was at the back bodice for sewing regular Velcro. Kathy replied that there was enough room for the Ultra-thin Velcro -- a product I had never heard of. She sent me a sample, which I I used for this dress. This 3/8 inch Velcro was so easy to use, and so soft (so unlike regular Velcro) that I now use it whenever the clothing style allows.

The Dress

The solid pink bodice overlay is trimmed with a soft cream scalloped lace, and a rosebud & tulle trim is sewn above the lace. The same cream lace with rosebud trim is sewn at the hem of the skirt; and the rosebud trim is also sewn to the sleeve cuffs. I purchased the soft cream elastic lace on eBay from a vendor in China.The rosebud lace trim was purchased from a vendor on Etsy.

The light mauve cotton print of the dress has a dainty leaf pattern across it that almost make the fabric look like a faille taffeta. The light pink bodice overlay is also 100% cotton.

Another feature of the Farmcookies' Bodice Basics pattern that I like is that the back is completely open. Ultra-thin Velcro is sewn from the neckline to a few inches above the hem, which makes dressing the doll easier for a child and the seamstress.

The ivory lace-trimmed pantalettes were purchased at a local thrift store. (They had been used as a wall decoration and then donated to the thrift store.) I overcast the seams, and added elastic at the waist so they fit the 18" doll. The pink and white shoes were purchased on eBay.

The fascinator/hair decoration (on top of the bird cage in the picture) was made from ribbons, silk flowers and lace sewn to a felt base. An alligator clip is sewn to the underside of the base.

You can see from the cover page of the Farmcookies pattern, that the bodice overlay option for this dress is in the top row, second from the left, and the long sleeves option is in the bottom row, second from the left.

Directions for making the skirt for the dress are simple and require no pattern piece.


The same Farmcookies' pattern options were used for the Irish colleen's dress below. The bodice overlay was made of white cotton eyelet with a white cotton lining. A delicate white lace is sewn between the overlay and overlay lining.

Instructions for creating the scalloped hem on the skirt are not part of the pattern. I'd like to tell you that I had planned for a scalloped hem -- but that's not the way it happened. I wanted to bring out the yellow in the tiny flowers on the green cotton print, and had a remnant of bright yellow fabric to make a border at the bottom of the skirt that would accomplish that. Putting a yellow border at the bottom of the skirt led me to think about making a scalloped hem above the yellow fabric. I had never made a scalloped hem before, so, I went on a Google search to find out how to sew one. After making the scalloped hem, I then sewed a folded strip of the bright yellow fabric under the scallops.

Here is a link for a YouTube video on how to make a scalloped hem:

The Tam/Hat

was made using Simplicity pattern 1179. It is very simple to sew and only has two pattern pieces. The brim decoration is a green yo-yo made of the skirt fabric with a purchased white ribbon flower sewn at its center. The embroidered edge of the white eyelet fabric used for the bodice overlay and sleeves was used to trim the hatband.

The Lace Trimmed Pantaloons.

were made of white cotton using McCall's pattern 2609, Instead of sewing the casing at the waist (a separate pattern piece) for the elastic or ribbon, I lengthened the top of the pants to include the increase in length the casing would have added, and sewed White lace elastic directly to it, and added three tiers of soft elastic lace on each leg.

The Necklace/Choker is a thin white velvet ribbon with a white Murano glass bead at its center. Ultra-thin Velcro is sewn at each end for fastening.

The Shoes were purchased on eBay.


While trolling on eBay one day, I saw a wings and headband set one would use as props for photographing a baby (Anne Geddes style.) I wondered whether I could use the wings to make an angel costume for an 18" doll, so I bought them.

The Dress

I used a very basic version of the Farmcookies Bodice Basics pattern for the angel's dress -- long sleeves, no collar, and

no bodice overlay.

A lightweight forest-green polyester brocade was enlisted for the dress. Dainty white lace was sewn at the neckline between the bodice and lining, and a richly embroidered white cotton scalloped lace was sewn on the bodice and sleeves. (Normally I would not have used such wide cotton lace for doll clothes, but it works here because it is the main focus of the dress.) Embroidered white nylon lace was sewn at the hemline.

The headband/halo is made of frilly white elastic. A metallic-green button star is sewn to the center of a white ribbon flower.

The Detachable Wings

I replaced the original elastic on the wings with a wide forest green elastic used for lingerie, and sewed Velcro at one end of the elastic on each side and on the wings to make it easier to attach the wings to the doll. (If you look closely, you can see the forest green elastic at the shoulders in the picture. I bought this elastic many many years ago, and cannot remember where.) There is some matting on the wings where I sewed the elastic and Velcro to them. (Even were I to make the wings again, I would still sew the elastic and Velcro to them, as they enable the wings to fit properly on the doll.)

Not seen are a black dotted-Swiss petticoat with black lace at the hem and encased elastic at the waist (made without a pattern), and white faux-leather boots purchased on eBay.

I think I have also just demonstrated that going off on tangents is part of my creative process, or perhaps that I don't have a creative process -- I'm not sure.

Hope to See You in 3 Weeks -- when I return from vacation . . .

121 views0 comments