Kid-Friendly Ways to Dress a Doll
If you know how to sew, your child's Barbie can be the most stylish plastic veterinarian or mermaid on the block. But if the sewing gene skipped you, or if you can't handle anything more basic than a simple mending job, your household's dolls can still look fabulous. All you need are some basic supplies and a little creativity. Fair warning, though: you may find yourself feeling jealous of Babysitter Barbie's glamorous new wardrobe, and that's a depressing moment.
Making No-Sew Doll Dresses
Even if your crafting skills are nonexistent, a no-sew dress is easy to perfect. And if your child is old enough to use scissors (with your supervision), she can make this dress entirely on her own. Besides the scissors, all you need is a scrap of fabric. Buy fabric remnants from a craft shop, or cut the piece from an outgrown T-shirt or a thrift-store garment.
Cut a circle out of the fabric. It should be twice as long as the area of the doll you want to cover. So if you want to make a full-length dress for a doll that measures 10 inches from her neck to her feet, cut a 20-inch circle of fabric. You can always trim the length later.
Now cut out a circle from the middle of the fabric, just large enough for the doll's head to fit through. Drape the fabric over the doll's head. It should resemble a cape at this point. Find her shoulders under the fabric and cut slits there. Take the fabric off the doll and cut out small circles around the slits to make arm holes. Fit the fabric onto the doll and tie a ribbon or strip of fabric around her waist as a belt.
Using Old Doll Clothing for Patterns
A fairly easy way to create tailored doll clothes is to use older clothing as patterns. You'll have to rip up these clothes, so don't use any pieces that your child treasures. Use the clothing that she never dresses her doll in, or buy some used pieces online. Look for pieces that are made very simply. Sleeveless tops and items that require only one snap to close are easier to reproduce than dresses with fitted sleeves and a ton of closures.
Gently cut open the seams using small, sharp craft scissors or a seam ripper. Lay the flattened fabric out on top of the fabric you want to use to make the new pieces. Trace them onto the fabric and cut out the pieces. Use a needle and thread or a hot glue gun to close the seams of the new clothing, but don't forget to leave openings so your child can get the clothes on and off of the doll. In those places where you need closures, attach pieces of hook-and-loop tape (such as Velcro) using a hot glue gun, or use hand sewing to attach buttons.
Jazzing Up Existing Clothing
If your child craves a new wardrobe for her doll, she may be satisfied just by making some simple changes to the current pieces she owns. Help her hand-sew tulle ruffles to the bottom of her doll's skirts and tops. Supervise while she cuts the legs off her doll's pants to make them into shorts or cuts necklines into new shapes. Even doing something as simple as gluing sequins and beads onto plain garments makes them look new.
Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.