Buy the doll, Make the clothes.

Ellery asked for an American Girl doll this past Christmas, and I was happy to make that happen.  My kid doesn’t like to play with Barbies, but I had a feeling a big doll like this was right up her alley.  She really enjoys changing her doll Saige’s outfits and doing her hair.  She gets her ready for bed at night and sleeps right next to her.  It’s sweet.

I remember as a kid a lot of my friends had these beautiful dolls with amazing hair and eyes that opened and closed. I specifically remember sleeping over my friend Gillian’s house when I was 9. We got into sleeping bags on her bedroom floor. She snuggled up with beautiful brown-haired, Samantha, and gave me some ratty old stuffed animal to sleep with. Not cool.  Anyway, I don’t think I ever begged my mother for one of those dolls but I think I deep down always wanted one. I suppose I caught wind of them a little too late in my youth.


O + S popover sundress: sewn by me

Here are my thoughts on AG dolls:  They are quite pricey (though there are free shipping codes everywhere- that’ll save you $15 in the end).  However, they are really well-made dolls. They have adorable faces with bright eyes that open and close, and perfect hair. They are not gussied up in tacky tween clothing that you see on dolls in toy stores everywhere now. They arrive in tasteful outfits with cute shoes and a book (Ellery and I currently are on chapter 4 of Saige’s book). They are sturdy, their bodies are stuffed nice and tight, and their legs and arms move around 360 degrees. Your child will likely have this doll forever. And even if the face gets ruined with a permanent marker, or it gets an unexpected haircut by a little sibling, a nice new head can be purchased and put on for something like $28.  I totally justified my purchase of Ellery’s doll by the fact that I sew and would be (or my mom would be as it turns out) whipping up an entire wardrobe with my fabric scraps instead of buying any or many doll clothes or accessories.

If you are considering purchasing a doll and you happen to sew, my advice is to buy the doll, and make the clothes.


reversible wrap skirt: sewn by my Mom


leggings made from adult sock: sewn by my mom


more leggings made from adult sock: sewn by my mom

Ellery loved Saige immediately, but my little girl Corinne became OBSESSED. As soon as Ellery would go to school in the morning, Coco would run back to her room, search for the doll (Ellery often hides her so her little bro and sis can’t leave their greasy prints on her perfect face, or smear peanut butter into her loose side-braid). She’d find her under a pile laundry or pillows, and just clutch her for the next hour as she roamed through the house.  At bedtime every night, when Ellery would change Saige into her pj’s, Corinne would sit on her own bed, looking over at Ellery’s doll, and just sob the biggest tears. “I want Saige! I want big doll!” . Really, it’s pitiful, but so adorable.  I’d leave their room and my husband would be like, “BUY THE KID A DOLL ALREADY.” And while it might seem totally ridiculous, we did.  Coco had a birthday this past weekend and we surprised her with her own.

Oh, that smile she had when she saw that silky-haired beauty.

(Note: there is a set of AG “bitty twins“- two 15” dolls that are geared towards toddlers- it was an option that I ultimately decided against for two reasons: I don’t like their expressions as much, and I was not going to start making separate clothes for a different sized doll.  I’m not suggesting you get any 2 year old an AG doll.  But, hey…she’s my 3rd kid, and I can do whatever the heck I want!)

Here is Corinne’s new pal:


Winter Pyjamas: sewn by my mom (these ones are my fave.  so cute.)


O + S tea party sundress: sewn by me


O + S popover sundress: sewn by me

My mom sews all kinds of things. Kid’s clothes, quilts, head wraps, totes, pouches, and now, 18” doll clothes. When Ellery got Saige, my mom started making the cutest things. Most of the clothes you see here were made by her.  Thanks Momma! She is so good at pumping stuff out. So good, that she recently decided to open a little etsy shop!


Little Abbee Doll pj’s: sewn by my mom


Winter Pyjamas: sewn by my mom

There are a ton of patterns and tutorials out there for doll clothes.  It’s fun, but I’ll admit that I needed a break from all that 1/4″ bias tape!  My real-life friend and fellow sewing blogger Allie of Crozette, made the cutest Sunday brunch jacket for her daughter’s doll.  And Sanae has a great post full of amazing clothes that her mother made her daughter.

I would love to know if any of you out there have made doll clothes, and which patterns you like.  I need quick sews at this point, and I’d love to find a little moccasin pattern too.

Hope Spring has found you!


p.s. doll photoshoots are totally creepy after a while.

12 thoughts on “Buy the doll, Make the clothes.

  1. These dolls do last forever! My two daughters are playing with the American Girl dolls my sister and I had when we were kids 🙂

  2. Haha, I could see that being disconcerting what with the doll staring at you the whole time. I wonder if baby clothes patterns would work, just skinnier. And I’d do everything sleeveless or never set in sleeves.

  3. hi Erin,
    I, too, have spurts of AG doll clothes making! I found that if I just made a simple drafted pattern of their existing shirts, you can do a lot of simple stuff with that. Dresses and shirts and even cardigans. Then I just do easy skirts 🙂 Love those sock leggings! It’s also a fun way to get your oldest involved in sewing a little later. I don’t worry too much about finishing seams or even hems! Doll clothes are awesome like that! The small scale does get on my nerves eventually though! Cute photos- you made them as uncreepy as possible- HAHA!

  4. Love this, Erin!! I found pictures on my camera of my daughters AG doll posed against a blank wall. It was creepy and sweet all rolled into one. Ha. I have sewn a bit for the doll, but this makes me want to sew her up a whole little wardrobe. Then maybe Chloe will let me sew for her, too… 😉

  5. I bought my two youngest girls Kate Finn dolls. Similar but smaller. Ridiculously priced but they love them so and my older Twin girls were not into dolls so I am embracing it.

    I love the clothes you have made. Good on you!

  6. Such a great wardrobe you and your mom created! I’ve only made the tea party sundress and I agree the photo shoot was a bit creepy but at the same time it was nice to have a model that cooperated ha! Love all the little outfits.

  7. This is so adorable! I have my two American girl dolls packed away for whenever I have a girl but this makes me want to get them out and play dress up! Wish my mom could sew because I was stuck with the clothes they came with. And you’re right, these are well-made= or at least they were when I got mine! Mine still look new after 20 years.

  8. I enjoyed this post, even learned about a few doll patterns that I didn’t know about. I agree with you about sewing the doll clothes. Do you knit also? They are a lot of free knitting patterns for 18-inch dolls @ ravelry. I will continue to sew many outfits (I got lots of books at the library by Joan Hinds), but I hope to knit several items during the summer while at the beach & poolside as I cannot bring the sewing machine there!

  9. I have a whole trunk full of doll clothes my mother made my dolls,so I did try to make some for my daughter. I cannot remember which patterns I used – something I got at JoAnn’s. I altered them so that little fingers could get them on & off. They were also easier to sew that way. Such little pieces!

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