Make a Basic Doll's Shirt With Long Sleeves For Any Size or Shape of Doll

  • 01 of 15

    Make a Basic Front Opening Removable Doll Shirt or Blouse for Any Doll

    Basic front opening doll's shirt with sleeves is shown worn under a simple vest.
    The basic front opening shirt with sleeves is shown worn under a simple vest made from the same custom sloper pattern that can be made for any doll. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    The instructions in this tutorial will help you make front (or back) opening shirts for any size or scale of doll. The method shown uses a sewing machine, but the shirt can also be hand sewn, or carefully seamed with thin bands of iron on bonding or fabric glues.

    Once you understand the method and have made your basic pattern to fit your particular doll, you can modify and adapt the shirts to a range of different materials and styles. The doll shirt shown here is a basic plain shirt with a front...MORE opening and long sleeves.

    Materials Needed to Make a Basic Front Opening Doll's Shirt

    • Custom Torso Sloper Pattern For Your Doll - The instructions to Make a Torso Sloper Pattern For Any Doll will show you how to make the basic pattern you need.
    • Custom Arm Sloper Pattern - See instructions on next page for how to make a custom arm sloper to fit your doll.
    • Fabric - Lightweight woven cotton in a small pattern or print in scale to your doll is a good fabric to start with. For miniature dolls, cotton lawn (or cotton handkerchiefs) are also good.
    • Fray Check - or fabric glue. Fray check prevents tiny seams from fraying and allows you to work with 1/8 inch or smaller seams.
    • Paper - For drawing out your pattern and to hold the fabric secure as you sew with a sewing machine.
    • Lightweight Non Woven Interfacing - To make master pattern pieces.
    • Pencil - to draw out the pattern
    • Sharp Scissors To cut fabric and threads
    • Sewing Machine or hand sewing supplies
    • Thread - in a color which does not show easily against your fabric.
    • Dressmaking Pins - to hold fabric pieces together.
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  • 02 of 15

    Make a Custom Sloper Pattern To Fit the Arm of Your Doll

    Lightweight interfacing is held tightly to a doll's arm and marked for a custom arm sloper pattern.
    A piece of lightweight interfacing is pinned tightly to the arm of a doll, and the underarm seam is traced onto the interfacing. Note that there is extra material at the top of the doll's arm. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    To make a pattern for sleeves for your basic doll shirt you will first need to make a custom sloper pattern that fits your particular doll's arm.

    To Make the Custom Arm Sloper Pattern

    • Cut a rectangle of lightweight non woven interfacing wide enough to go easily around the arm of your doll, and the same length as the distance from the doll's wrist to halfway across its shoulder.
    • Extend the doll's arm out to the side of its body. If the arm won't extend out, turn the arm so it faces back...MORE from the doll, away from its body. Fold the interfacing over the doll's arm and pin it so you can mark the points on either side of the arm at the bottom, where the fabric joins the fabric on the other side, and along the under arm seam line of the doll. Leave the excess length of fabric above the doll's shoulder free and loose until you have the underarm area marked.
    • Mark the underarm seam on either side of the doll's arm on your interfacing using a soft pencil. See photo above.

    Instructions on the next page show you how to mark the upper shoulder and underarm edges

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  • 03 of 15

    Mark the Shoulder Edge Lines for the Custom Arm Sloper Pattern for Your Doll

    Marking the underarm and shoulder seams on the back of a doll's arm or sleeve sloper
    The back underarm seam on the arm sloper is marked with the doll's arm outstretched, then the arm is dropped to the doll's side and the shoulder seam is marked on the extra fabric above the arm. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    With the doll's arm still extended, mark the underarm seam along the bottom of the doll's arm onto the piece of lightweight non woven interfacing you are using to fit the arm sloper.

    Mark the Shoulder and Underarm Lines

    • Drop the doll's arm to its side to mark the shoulder line, your interfacing should extend up over the doll's shoulder, even though it is still pinned in place to hold it below the doll's arm. If your doll is awkward to work with in this position, you can remove the...MORE interfacing with it's underarm seam markings, trim the fabric back to the marked lines, then tape it back onto the doll to mark the shoulder seams.
    • Draw a line from the top of the underarm seam at the back of the doll's arm, up and over the doll's shoulder, following the edge of the shoulder joint. Make sure you have left enough interfacing to add this 'sleeve cap' to your pattern, or tape some extra interfacing to the top of your doll sleeve sloper. On the photo above, there was barely enough fabric to cover the top of the doll's arm, once the arm position was dropped to the doll's side.
    • Continue to mark the dolls shoulder seam above the top of the arm, and down to meet the underarm seam on the front of the doll's arm (see next page for a photo of how the sloper should look when you have it fully marked.)
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  • 04 of 15

    Finished Basic Arm Sloper And Sleeve Pattern For Doll Patterns

    A doll sleeve pattern is made from a basic arm sloper adding seam lines, ease and a hem.
    A doll sleeve pattern (blue) is made from a basic arm sloper (yellow) adding seam lines, ease and a hem or cuff. Seam allowances are shown on the pattern in red. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    When you have finished drawing the markings on the interfacing for your arm sloper pattern, remove the interfacing from the doll, and trim it along the lines you marked. Test fit the trimmed sloper back on your doll's arm, making sure that the underarm seams touch, but do not overlap. Also check that with the doll's arm is down against the body, the sloper covers the back of the arm, over the edge of the shoulder, and fits down under the arm following the lines of the shoulder joint.

    Your basic...MORE arm sloper should resemble the one in the photo above, with an inner curve on the front of the shoulder or arm, and an outer curve on the back of the shoulder or arm. The sloper is the mark of the smallest amount of fabric that will cover the doll's arm. It is not a pattern for a sleeve.

    To Make Sleeve Patterns from Your Arm Sloper

    • Mark the upper line of the arm sloper to show the shoulder seam. Draw a line out at least 1/8 inch above that shoulder seam line to create a seam allowance.
    • Extend the edges of the underarm out on either side of the shoulder seam and mark the width you want your sleeve to have at the underarm seam, to allow for the sleeve to move forward and back and to allow the doll's hand to fit through into the sleeve as you dress the doll. Mark your seam lines at least 1/8 inch outside the outer edges of the sleeve width line.
    • Check the width of opening you need to allow your doll's hands to fit through. Mark that width on the bottom end of your sleeve, marking the bottom line of the sleeve as the 'turnback' line for sleeve and extending the sleeve below that line to allow for fabric to be edge sewn and turned back into the sleeve. For a basic shirt like this pattern is designed for, there are no cuffs on the bottom of the sleeve.

    When your pattern has been drawn, trim it away from the backing paper and mark it showing the arm back and front, the name of the doll, and labelling it 'basic shirt sleeve'. Transfer the markings from the paper to a more permanent pattern made from lightweight interfacing. Test fit the interfacing pattern on the doll, checking to make sure that when the arm is sewn, the hand will fit through the opening at the end of the sleeve. Also check the fit of the sleeve against the front and back pattern pieces.

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  • 05 of 15

    Make the Shirt Front Pattern From Your Custom Doll Sloper

    Tracing a pattern for the front of a doll's shirt from a custom sloper pattern fitted to the doll.
    Tracing a pattern from a custom sloper fitted to a doll onto a piece of paper to make a pattern for a front opening doll shirt. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    To make the shirt front pattern, lay a custom doll sloper, folded in half along the center seam line, over a large piece of paper and copy the neck, center front, shoulder, and arm hole lines from the sloper onto the paper. Draw a line at least 1/8 inch above the neck and armhole lines to mark the seam allowances. For your first shirt, where you aren't used to working with smaller scales and fabrics, move the shoulder seam up 1/8 of an inch above the line marked on your sloper, then add a...MORE seam allowance. As you test fit your shirt, you can always adjust the shoulder seam to move the shirt up the doll's body. When you sew seams in fabric, the thickness of the fabric and the seam will hold the shirt higher up the doll's body than your sloper was designed for. Your sloper is the 'skin' of the doll and the shirt will have to be larger to fit over the skin. Most seam allowances are shown in red on the photo above.

    You will adjust the armhole lines in the next step, so don't cut your pattern free from the paper yet! Mark the length of the shirt front below the waist onto the paper, making sure you add extra fabric to allow you to turn up the edge and finish it neatly (allow an extra 1/4 of an inch in most cases, below the length you want your shirt to be).

    Determine how tightly you want the shirt to fit, and add at least the width of a seam line to the side edge of the underarm on your sloper. Most loose fitting shirts can be adjusted on the side back to the outer edge of the side bust dart line on the sloper. Draw a side seam line down along the points from your extended underarm at the top of the side front of the shirt, to the bottom hem line of your shirt. Draw another line at least 1/8 inch outside of that line to mark the seam allowance.

    Determine how you want the bands or center front edges on your shirt to overlap. Most shirts will have a slight overlap to allow for buttons or snaps. On smaller doll shirts you can sewn on tiny bits of velcro for shirt closures and sew the buttons to the outer visible layer of the shirt for show. Leave at least 1/4 inch of fabric (for most doll shirts) on the outside of the center seam line you transferred from your sloper pattern, to allow you to turn over and finish the edge of the shirt along the center front.

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  • 06 of 15

    Adjust the Armholes To Allow Ease For the Fit of the Sleeves

    Doll shirt pattern beside the custom sloper used to make it for comparison.
    Doll shirt pattern beside the custom front sloper used to make it. The shirt pattern has a lowered armhole to allow a looser fit once the arm is seamed. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    Remember when working with basic slopers to draw patterns, that the outside lines of the sloper are the tightest fitting seams that will work for your doll. You added extra 'space' to the side of the shirt and the center front and waistline in the last step, now it is time to add space to the armhole.

    The armhole marked on your sloper will fit tightly to the arm, and won't allow the sleeve to move or the arm to adjust position. To allow for 'ease' to let your arm move freely in your...MORE basic shirt, drop the bottom curve of the armhole lower than the one on your pattern sloper. See in the photo above how the top of the underarm seam allowance near the side of the armhole, is roughly the same as the line of the armhole on the sloper. When drawing the armhole lines, you add the seam allowance below the under side of the armhole, not above it, as you do for the other seam lines. This will create a deeper armhole when you sew the pattern and allow for ease of movement.

    For a basic shirt, you want the side of the arm seams, and the top of the arm, to match roughly where the sloper touches the doll, allowing for the thickness of seams and the thickness of fabric, so your traced line outside the sloper works for thin fabrics, by drawing the pattern slightly larger.

    When you have drawn the armholes on your shirt pattern front and back, use a length of thread or string to check the length of the seam lines that the top of your sleeve must fit into, by laying the thread along the shoulder seam line on the front of the pattern, then adding the length from the back of the pattern (without the seam lines at the shoulder or the underarm. Check that the total length is close to the seamline of your upper arm pattern. If it is too large on the front and back of the pattern, the width of your arm pattern may need adjustment. If it is too small, but not by much, you can 'ease' the sleeve into the armhole to fit, causing the sleeve to be slightly 'puffy' at the top and back of the arm. For the armhole on a doll shirt, one of the important criteria is that the doll's hand can fit through it easily.

    When you have the basic shirt front pattern drawn out on paper, cut it free of the paper and transfer the seam lines and outside edges to a piece of non woven interfacing for a more permanent pattern. Mark the pattern on the center front edge and label it with the name of the doll it fits and the word 'shirt'. Check the interfacing pattern against the doll to check for fit, adjust the pattern if necessary.

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  • 07 of 15

    Make The Pattern Back For the Basic Doll Shirt

    Tracing a custom doll sloper back pattern to make a new pattern for the back of a doll shirt.
    Tracing the back of a custom doll sloper pattern onto a piece of paper to make a pattern for a doll's shirt back. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    To make the back pattern for the basic doll shirt, fold the back sloper pattern in half and lay it on top of a larger piece of paper. Trace the line of the center back at the fold onto the paper pattern below it. Trace along the neck lines and slightly above the shoulder line. Draw seam allowance lines at least 1/8 of an inch away from the neck, and shoulder. Draw along the arm hole line of the sloper, extending the armhole slightly at the side of the pattern. Drop the bottom of the armhole...MORE slightly lower than shown on the sloper (as described for the front pattern of the basic shirt in the previous step). Add in a seam allowance at least 1/8 inch away from the armhole seam marking. Mark the length you want for the shirt back (to match the distance from the base of the armhole on the shirt front) and draw a straight line between the extended armhole and the bottom of the shirt. Add your seam allowance outside this side seam line. Make sure you allow some extra length on the bottom of the shirt to allow you to hem or finish the shirt's bottom edge.

    As the back of the doll is fairly straight, you do not need a lot of extra fabric on the back of the doll's shirt to get a correct fit. The major adjustments here from the basic sloper pattern are the shirt length below the waist (allowing for a finished hem), a slight extension of the shoulder, a straight seamline along the side at the back, and the adjustment of the armhole to mark the seam line roughly 1/8 inch, or the depth of the seam allowance, below the seam line on the sloper. (The base of the armhole on the sloper becomes the top of the seam allowance on the pattern more or less, depending on the 'ease' you need for the arm and sleeve.

    When your pattern has been drawn, trim it away from the backing paper and mark it showing the center line, the name of the doll, and labelling it 'shirt back'. Transfer the markings from the paper to a more permanent pattern made from lightweight interfacing and test fit the interfacing pattern on the doll. If you like, you can baste or tape the pattern pieces together to hold them while you check the fit before you cut your real fabric for your doll shirt.

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  • 08 of 15

    Cut Out the Fabric Pieces For A Basic Doll's Shirt

    Main pattern pieces made from interfacing are used to cut fabric pieces for a basic doll's shirt.
    Main pattern pieces made from interfacing are used to cut fabric pieces for a basic doll's shirt. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    To cut out the basic pieces for your doll's shirt, look carefully at the pattern on your fabric. This pattern is for a woven shirt, and the center lines of the sleeves, back and shirt fronts should match the grainline of the fabric. If the pattern pieces are not laid on the fabric along the grainline they may stretch or sag when sewn or washed. Most woven fabrics have a 'selvage' or finished edge that runs with the grainline along the fabric. If your fabric has a selvage, you can...MORE measure back from it to fold and mark your fabric grainline.

    Finding the Fabric Grainline - If you are using 'fat quarters' or other fabrics which may not have a selvage, check the grainline by pulling a thread near the edge of the fabric. If you pull the thread out of your fabric it will show you where the grainline is, and you can use that to make sure your pattern pieces line up with the grainline.

    For the plaid fabric I used for my shirt, the lines of the plaid are woven, so I laid out my pattern pieces to match the lines woven in the fabric.

    Matching Fabric Patterns - If you use a patterned or striped instead of a plain fabric you may want to check that prominent designs are not going to be in the wrong place on your finished shirt. One good reason you transfer your shirt pattern to underlining fabric is that it allows you to see through the pattern to adjust for patterns and lines. If you are using a plaid or striped fabric, try to make sure the seamlines at the shoulders have matching lines when the seams are joined. Also try to make sure you cut your front shirt sections so main design lines or patterns match to balance the design evenly across the shirt front.

    Fold Fabrics to Cut Matching Pieces - The best way to cut matched fabric pieces is to fold your fabric in half along the grain line, matching any lines on the fabric by pinning through one or two prominent ones in the area you will cut so they stay lined up. Lay your shirt pattern pieces on top of the folded fabric. You will need to cut two shirt fronts, so line up the center line of the shirt pattern with the grainline close to the fold of your fabric and pin the pattern in place. For smaller pattern pieces you can also treat them with "post it note" glue sticks or Spray Mount artist's adhesive, which will stick slightly to the fabric after the glue has dried, holding the pattern in position while you cut it out. Lay out your sleeve pattern along the seamline and cut two sleeves at once but cutting through two layers of your fabric. Lay out the back pattern along the fold line of the fabric and cut one back piece from the fabric with a fold along the center back.

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  • 09 of 15

    Treat The Edges of Your Doll's Shirt Fabric With Fray Check

    Main fabric pieces for a front opening dolls shirt have seams treated with Fray Check.
    All main pieces for a front opening dolls shirt with long sleeves for a miniature doll are treated along the edges with fray check to make them easier to handle and sew. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    To make your tiny fabric pieces for smaller scale dolls house dolls or fashion dolls easier to work with, apply a seam finish like Fray Check to the edges of all pattern pieces. Properly applied, fray check, or a very thin line of pva glue, will prevent the edges of your seam allowances from ravelling, an important consideration for dolls clothes which may have 1/8 inch seams, that get stressed when removed and replaced by a child. Take careful note of the fact that your two sleeve pieces for...MORE your doll's shirt have a front and back edge at the top of the sleeve. You will need to pay attention to this or refer to the pattern when it comes time to sew the sleeves to the main body of the shirt.

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  • 10 of 15

    Finish the Opening Edges Of the Doll's Shirt and Sew the Shoulder Seams

    Sewing the back of the doll shirt to the front at the shoulders and finishing opening edges.
    The bottom edges of the sleeves and the opening edges of the front of a doll's shirt can have edges turned under and sewn for finishing before the shirt begins assembly by joining the fronts to the back at the shoulders. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    Tips for Sewing Dolls Clothes

    There are a few tricks that may help when working with small fabric pieces for dolls clothes.

    • Check the Tension on Your Sewing Machine and Set the Stitch Length. - the smaller stitches for dolls clothes often need a new stitch tension from the one you regularly use.
    • Use a Sharp Needle - with tiny seams you can't afford the needle to pull on the fabric, make sure you have a fine, sharp needle installed in your machine.
    • Sew On Top Of a Piece of Paper - My grandmother...MORE taught me to do this almost fifty years ago on a treadle sewing machine, and it works as well today for small dolls clothes as it did then. Use thin paper, white packing tissue, a thin paper bag, or old opened envelopes work fine. Lay the pieces to be sewn on top of the paper and begin stitching on the paper before you reach the fabric pieces. This technique lets you start sewing small seams where you cannot easily hold the fabric, without the fabric being driven into the throat of the sewing machine. When you have finished sewing the seam, remove the paper and fabric from the sewing machine and tear the paper carefully away from the back of the fabric. Depending on the thickness of your paper it may cause your stitches to be slightly loose. Test the technique on a scrap of your fabric and adjust the tension if necessary before you begin to sew.
    • Tie Off Thread Instead of Back Sewing - Back sewing is when you start a seam on a sewing machine then reverse, and then stitch forward again to hold the threads in place. With small dolls clothes this technique is too cumbersome and creates overly thick seams. Instead sew the seams on paper, and after you have torn the paper away, tie the threads together at either end of the seam and trim the knots after sewing.

    Finish the Fabric Edges on Hems and Openings

    To make your work easier and keep your pieces from fraying, turn over the bottom edges of the shirt front, back, and bottom sleeve edge to make a 1/8 inch 'hem' and stitch close to the fold to create a finished edge. If you can notice a back side on your fabric, make sure your tiny fold is against the back edge of the fabric. Sew the front opening edges of the shirt this way as well. Tie off the thread ends.

    Stitch The Shoulder Seams

    With the right sides of your fabric together, line up the front and back pieces of your shirt, making sure you have the shirt fronts correctly lined up so the center seam is in the shirt center and not on the side. Stitch the shoulder seams for your doll shirt, (on the wrong side of the fabric) matching the edges of the shoulder and sewing along your seam line (leaving your 1/8 inch seam allowance free). Tie off the thread ends and trim them.

    Test fit the shirt on your doll, checking that the seams are in the correct place on the doll's body. If the seams are not correct, adjust them so they lie on the top of the doll's shoulder.

    If you wish a more finished shirt, you can fold the sewn seams towards the back of the shirt and stitch just below the visible seam on the right side of the shirt. This shows as a tiny line of top stitching but secures the shirt seams.

    Finishing opening edges (or not, depending on collar) sewing shoulder seams, using paper under seams, finishing seams by tying threads
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  • 11 of 15

    Sew The Shirt Sleeves Into the Shoulder of the Basic Doll Shirt

    The sleeves of the doll's shirt are joined to the armholes after the shoulder seams are sewn.
    The sleeves of the doll's shirt are joined to the armholes, sewing from the top of the arm down to the bottom edge of the front armhole, then from the top of the arm to the bottom edge of the back armhole. In this photo the shirt is shown right side up. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    Check the shirt sleeves against the pattern to check for the front and back of the sleeves. With right sides of the fabric together, lay the sleeve on top of the shoulder with the center of the sleeve lined up with the shoulder seam and the front of the sleeve facing the front of the shirt. Set the doll shirt on top of paper to control the stitching, (see tips in the last step) and place your sewing machine needle into the seam line at the center top of the sleeve (close to the shoulder seam...MORE line. Start sewing the seam of the arm sleeve, stitching from the center top of the arm towards the side front of the shirt, shaping the sleeve edge to the armhole edge.

    Repeat for the back of the sleeve, using your fingers or a toothpick or pin, to adjust the fullness of the sleeve to fit the armhole. If your pattern has full arms, you may need to baste the tops of the sleeves along the seam line to 'gather' them so that you can fit the fullness of the top of the sleeve into the armhole. Remember that this is your first real test of your basic pattern, and you may need to adjust your armhole opening, making it smaller or cutting larger sleeves. If you have to adjust your fabric to fit in a sleeve, remember to transfer any adjustments to your basic pattern so that your next shirts will not need adjustments.

    Set the sleeve into the armhole of the other side of the shirt, taking care to make sure the sleeve front is facing the front of the shirt.

    When the sleeves are set into the armhole, test fit the shirt on the doll to check the fit of the top of the sleeves against the doll's body. Adjust the sleeves (and your main pattern) if necessary.

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  • 12 of 15

    Make and Fit the Collar and Sew the Side Seams of the Doll's Shirt

    Making and fitting a collar to the neckline of a basic front opening doll's shirt.
    The collar for the doll shirt is made once the first shirt has the sleeves sewn into the arm holes. Once the collar is fitted it can be used to make a pattern for future shirts made from similar fabrics. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    For your first basic doll's shirt, it is easier to make and fit the collar to the shirt after the shoulder seams are sewn. To simplify this shirt for a first sewing project, the collar in this case is not sewn with a standard collar band. If you have trouble understanding how a shirt is made, look at one of your own shirts for reference.

    Cut the Fabric For the Shirt Collar - Cut a folded length of fabric along the grainline, making it the width you want for your doll's shirt collar plus twice...MORE the amount you need for a seam allowance, and cutting it long enough to be larger than the neck opening on your doll shirt. Treat the edges with Fray Check. Cut a similar size piece of interfacing to make a collar pattern for future shirts based on your basic pattern.

    Prepare the Shirt Front Overlaps - Turn the center front openings for your shirt fronts back along the fold lines and overlap the shirt where the fasteners will be. Usually shirts for women overlap right over left and men's overlap left side over right. Turn the top edge of the folded shirt front to the inside of the fold, hiding the cut edges of the seam. Baste the top front edges of the shirt overlaps, cutting a tiny notch into the seamline where the neck edge seam meets the shirt front overlap. The notch will free the neckline seam from the overlap, and let you turn the seam under for the folded overlap closure at the front of the shirt.

    Stitch The Collar Front - Turn your collar fabric so the right sides of the fabric are together and the cut edges match. Stitch across the folded end of your collar fabric at a 45 degree angle from the fold to the cut edges to make a standard pointed collar.

    Determine the Correct Collar Length - Match the collar opening (non folded) edge at the base of the angle, to the front neckline edge where it joins the shirt front band or overlap and pin it in place. Carefully shape your fabric around the neck edge stretching the collar slightly pinning the collar to the neck edge at the shoulder seams and center back as you fit it. When you reach the overlap point on the other side shirt front, mark the point where the collar will meet the shirt front overlap. Mark a 45 degree angle seam line on the collar from the neck edge to the point of the collar. This will give you a reverse point to the collar point on the other end which you have already sewn. Trim the collar fabric leaving a 1/8 inch seam allowance away from the body of the collar. Unpin the collar and stitch the collar point along the 45 degree angle seamline you marked. Lay out your collar on paper or underlining fabric and use it to make a pattern for future shirts.

    Sew the Collar to the Shirt Neckline
    - Turn the collar so the right side faces out and the end seams are hidden. You may need to use a rounded toothpick to poke the point of the collar into shape once it is turned. Press the collar flat and make sure the ends of the collar are the correct shape. Fit the collar to the neckline edge of the shirt, matching the front edge of the collar seam to the front open edge of the neckline where it meets the shirt front overlap. Baste the collar in place on the neck, making sure the ends of the collar meet the shirt overlaps. Adjust the collar if neccessary, stretching it slightly to fit to the neckline. Sew the collar seam to the neckline seam. If your doll shirt is large enough to handle on the sewing machine, stitch one opening edge of the collar to the neckline seam, leaving the top edge of the collar free. If the collar is for a fashion doll or smaller dolls house doll shirt, stitch both layers of the collar to the neckline seam at the same time.
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  • 13 of 15

    Finishing the Shirt Collar Seam for the Basic Doll's Shirt

    Stitching the seam of a doll's collar in place on the inside of a shirt for a miniature doll
    The inside seam of a doll's shirt collar can be stitched down into the shirt by running a line of stitching just below the collar seam on the outside of the shirt neck, catching the seam in the stitching. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    If you are making a shirt for a larger doll, turn the free edge of the collar over the neckline seam and carefully sew it in place on the inside of the doll shirt by hand covering the neckline seam. If your doll shirt is for a fashion doll or smaller, stitch both sides of the collar to the neckline seam. To finish a tiny collar seam, you can Glue a narrow piece of silk ribbon to the seamline of the collar, or stitch it in place by hand, to cover the the seam inside the shirt, or fold the...MORE neckline and collar seams down so they are folded against the body of the shirt, turn the shirt so the right side of the shirt is visible, and sew a fine line of stitches just beneath the collar seam line on the right side of the shirt to stitch the collar and neckline seams to the inside of the main shirt body.

    The shirt in the photo above shows two places you can stitch the collar to hold the seam. You can 'stitch in the ditch' of the collar seam to hold the collar, or you can stitch just slightly below the collar seam on the main body of the shirt. I sewed the seams on my shirt with white thread to make them easier to see in the photos. If you sew your seams with thread that matches your fabric, you won't see the stitching once the collar is turned over on the shirt.
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  • 14 of 15

    Sew the Underarm and Side Seams to Finish A Basic Doll's Shirt

    Finishing a basic doll's shirt by sewing the underarm and side seams as one unit.
    The doll's basic shirt is stitched together at the underarm seams after everything else has been sewn. If the doll has large hips, the side seams of the shirt can be left unsewn and an opening split finished along the bottom side seams. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    To finish stitching your basic doll's shirt, test fit the shirt to the doll and turn back the sleeves at the fold line , holding the fold in place with tape if necessary. Turn the shirt so the right sides of the fabric are together and the sleeve underarm seam and side front and back seams line up. Stitch the underarm seam across the folded 'hem' at the end of the shirt sleeve, continuing around the underarm seam until you reach either the bottom of the shirt, or if you are fitting a...MORE doll with large hips and an narrow waist, the point where the shirt needs side slits in order to properly fit the doll.

    Finish the Edges of Opening Side Seams - The Brenda Breyer doll I am fitting my shirt to has very wide hips so she can sit on model horses. To make the shirt fit properly, it is best to give it split side seams below the doll's waist so the shirt will fit easily over the doll's hips. In the top of the photo above, you can see how I have turned the side seam to the underside of the doll's shirt below the main seamline, and used a scrap of paper to stabilize the narrow edge while I stitch the seamline to the shirt front, and again on the other side to the shirt back to leave an open split seam at the bottom edge of the doll shirt. When the side seams are sewn, turn up the bottom back and front edges of the shirt to sew a narrow hem if you wish.

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  • 15 of 15

    Test Fit the Doll's Shirt and Finish the Front Opening with Closures

    Test fitting a basic doll shirt with sleeves to a miniature doll.
    With all the seams finished the basic doll's shirt is test fitted on the doll. If the fit is correct, velcro, beads and loops, tiny snaps or hand sewn buttonholes can be added to finish the shirt. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd

    With all your seams finished and neatly tied off, test fit the shirt on your doll, checking that you can get the doll's hands through the armholes easily. Some dolls may be so inflexible that you need to modify the pattern to make shirts which remove easily. If necessary you can make shirts which have closures along the side seams below the arms or other innovations to fit the shirt on and off the doll. If your doll has problem arms, you may need to make shirts from knit material which has...MORE more give. You won't know until you try!

    As shown in the photo above the doll's shirt still needs to have the front band turned to the inside of the shirt to make a narrow and for the shirt closures or buttons. For this scale of shirt I will use a narrow strip of hook and loop closure (Velcro) and sew small buttons to the top of the shirt band to make it look like the shirt has buttons.

    Adding Closures to the Front Opening of the Doll's Shirt

    • Buttons - For larger dolls it may be possible to use small buttons and button holes to close the front of the shirt. For dolls larger than fashion doll scale (1:6) you can buy tiny buttons, for fashion and smaller scale dolls house dolls you can use beads or make buttons from polymer clay. Buttons for doll's clothes are best made from stronger varieties of polymer clay which are a bit flexible and not brittle when cured. Fimo, Cernit and Pardo Clays are best. For smaller scale dolls, use buttons and beads as decorative items sewn on the top overlapping edge
    • Hook and Loop Fasteners - For larger dolls, 'dot' type hook and loop fasteners (including velcro) can be attached to the underside of the front overlap and the top of the bottom underlap at the front of the shirt. If you wish decorative beads or buttons can be sewn to the top of the shirt overlap above the closures so they appear to be holding the shirt closed. For smaller dolls, it is easiest to sew a fine strip of hook and loop tape to the underlap and the underside of the overlap of the doll's shirt. Although you can sew tiny bits of these closures to small areas, the force of opening and closing them distorts the fabric. With a longer strip, the shirt fabric gets far less wear when the shirt is removed or replaced.
    • Snap Closures Small snap closures can also be used to hold the doll shirt closed. They work with dolls down to around 1:8 scale, but are not really suitable for dolls house scale dolls, unless the style of the shirt only requires one snap, which can be placed away from the curved lines of a bust or waist.

    Adapt Your Basic Shirt Pattern

    The basic doll's shirt can be made without collars (use an extra piece of fabric called a 'facing' to finish the neckline seam), with rounded upright 'mandarin' collars (don't sew a point on your regular collar) and it can be designed with back instead of front openings, and with short, flared or cap sleeves. Experiment and find styles and fabrics that suit your doll to extend her (his) wardrobe.