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A Perfect Little Dress – Tips for Making a Dress for 18″ Dolls


My friend Erin Hentzel just came out with the most adorable book, “Doll Dress Boutique.” It is full of over 40 projects, including a dress for 18″ dolls. If you have a young girl in your life, she most likely has a doll this size. These dresses make great gifts, but they are also great projects to use to teach the younger generation how to sew!

Because of my love for all things 70’s fashion, and because I had a small piece of this awesome 70’s-style fabric, I decided to do a take on this dress from the book. The directions in the book are great, and easy to follow. Here are my tips to make sewing easier, and for ending up with a great final product.


I used:

The vintage 70’s fabric
Grey Kona® Cotton
A scrap piece of a darker grey
Cotton+Steel® Thread by Sulky, 50 wt. cotton thread in Cornsilk (#0502) for all my piecing
Sulky 30 wt. Cotton Thread 733-1147 (Christmas Red) and 733-1225 (Pastel Pink)
Sulky Cotton Blendables® 30 wt. 733-4002 (Buttercream)
Sulky 12 Wt. Cotton 713-4068 (Dark Chocolate)
Sulky Totally Stable® Stabilizer to trace the pattern pieces
1/4″ strips of Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy™ Stabilizer to use as guides for sewing the decorative stitches
Sulky Tear-Easy™ Stabilizer to stabilize the fabric for sewing the decorative stitches.
Janome® Quilt Maker Memory Craft 15000 – this machine had wonderful decorative stitches!
Havel® Sewing Cutting Mat

Pattern Pieces for Dress for 18″ Dolls

BTW – I adore my Havel Cutting Mats

I like to use Sulky Totally Stable when tracing off patterns, because it is easy to see through and it can be ironed to the front of the fabric.  Use a medium temperature iron, and just press lightly.This keeps the fabric from slipping around when you are cutting. One you have cut the piece out, just peel it off and iron it in place for the next piece.

Decorative Stitches

The book said to use decorative ribbons to embellish the front panels, but I really wanted to use some of the cool decorative stitches on my Janome Quilt Maker Memory Craft 15000 and a variety of Sulky threads. Because I used a variety of thread weights and stitches, I put a piece of Sulky Tear Easy under the fabric.

Just look at the difference in this test stitch with and without the stabilizer! The top half of this picture has Sulky Tear-Easy under the stitching. The bottom half, where the stitches start to pucker and distort is without the stabilizer.

I also cut two 1/4″ strips of Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy, and used those as guides so my stitches would be straight.

Since I used both 30 wt. and 12 wt. threads on top, I put 50 wt. Cotton+Steel Thread by Sulky in the bobbin, and used a 90/14 topstitch needle.

The Finished Dress

I just love how it turned out! My perfect little flower child. Making a dress for 18″ dolls doesn’t have to be difficult! And you can make a matching one for the doll’s owner, too.

Bonus: The dress for 18″ dolls fit my daughter’s smaller doll, too!

Want more Doll Dress Boutique Inspiration? Check out the entire blog tour! Here is the schedule:

Monday, Nov. 12: C&T Publishing blog by Erin Hentzel
Tuesday, Nov. 13: Jane Wilkes, Janie Carroll Designs
Wednesday, Nov. 14: Me! Kelly Nagel for Sulky of America
Thursday, Nov. 15: TerifiCreations by Teri Lucas
Friday, Nov. 16: Riley Blake Designs
Monday, Nov. 19: Cherry Guidry, Cherry Blossom Quilting
Tuesday, Nov. 20: Tamarinis by Tammy Silvers
Wednesday, Nov. 21: Erin Hentzel, Avery Lane Sewing

Peace. Love. Sewing.

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