Friday, October 19, 2012

Sewing for American Girl Dolls

My sisters and I discovered the American Girl Dolls over 20 years ago and instantly fell in love.  In those days (wow…am I old enough to say that!?!) there were only a handful of dolls, each from a different significant era in American History.  It was far from the massive operation that is now American Girl.  Even then though those dolls were way out of my parents price range for dolls.  We came to the arrangement that both myself and my older sister would each pay for half of our dolls and they would pay for the rest.  We saved and saved and counted and recounted our coins and finally had enough.  Felicity and Kirsten soon came into our homes and were immediately considered part to the family.  Well…okay, they were considered part of the family by the girls in the family…not so much by the brothers perhaps.

It’s true that the American Girl Dolls pricey.  But they are also very high quality.  So when our own little girl discovered them we chose to go with the real thing (in brand new condition from a consignment shot) instead of one of the great knock-offs on the market.   With my own doll now in her possession, and another we happened upon at a church swap we now have more American Girl Dolls in the house than is totally necessary…but boy is it fun!  My favorite part….sewing for them!  Clothes from the A.G. Doll company are way beyond what I am willing to pay for doll clothes…plus, it’s so fun to create unique things together!

For Rebecca’s birthday I sewed her several new clothes for her dolls.  I thought I would share a few of the things that I have learned about sewing for these dolls.

  • Don’t be fooled…just because they are little doesn’t make them easier or faster to sew.  I am convinced that I could sew an outfit for one of my own girls in the time that it takes to sew one for their dolls.

  • The American Girl Company has sewing patterns available for their historic dolls.  I’m not sure if they are still in production but they can be found on ebay I’m sure.

  • Major pattern companies like Butterick, Simplicity, and McCalls all produce patterns for 18” dolls.

  • Patterns for 18” dolls work quite well for the American Girl dolls.  There is one big thing that I have noticed:
    • The American Girl Dolls have a bigger body and bum so that they can stand and sit on their own.  (This is also one of the huge differences between the “real” thing and the knockoffs) Because of this the generic patterns can be a bit snug.  I add ~1/4”-1/2”  to the patterns at the side seams when I am cutting them out.


  • It is important, maybe even more important than with regular girl clothing, to sew very carefully, backstitching and reinforcing seams at high stress points like under the arms. *Remember that little and sometimes impatient hands will be putting these clothes onto dolls that don’t bend!

  • I’m all about velcro for the fasteners!  It’s so easy for little fingers and is infinitely faster to attach than the teeny-tiny snaps usually used on doll clothing. 

It is so much fun for me to create for these dolls.  For her birthday we made a raincoat (I didn’t have oilcloth so just layered clear vinyl and a cotton print), a winter coat, a pair of jeans, a summer dress, and a fancy dress.  They were met with great enthusiasm!! 


Can you tell which doll is 20 years old?!  I’ve been researching how to help their hair and have a few tips I’m going to try.  I’ll let you know how it goes!


Just one more tip:  the Our Generation doll clothes and accessories available at Target are fantastic for American Girl Dolls.  We have found that some of the clothes are tight…but the furniture and accessories are wonderful and a fraction of the cost.  Yay!