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No-Sew Doll's Sundress

Updated on April 12, 2015

Easy Craft - Making Doll Clothes without Sewing

I bet you have all the supplies on hand to make this easy doll's sundress. No need to get out the sewing machine or even the needle and thread.

If you have scissors, glue, an old short-sleeved shirt, and some double-stick tape, then you are ready to start making a doll dress. Some rickrack or trim adds a nice touch or some paint but those are optional.

This outfit is perfect for your doll to wear around the patio this summer or use for a cover-up for her swimsuit at the beach.

This Is the Part of the Shirt to Use for the Doll Dress

The sleeve becomes the doll dress.
The sleeve becomes the doll dress.
Choose the trim for the doll's sun dress.
Choose the trim for the doll's sun dress.

Steps for Making a No-Sew Sun Dress - for a Doll

For this project, you are repurposing the sleeve from a short-sleeved shirt.

  1. Find a shirt that you don't mind cutting up. This one was stained, so it was headed for the rag-bag. This is a cotton-poly blend that shouldn't fray much. That's good as we don't plan to do any hemming.
  2. Cut the sleeve off a short- sleeved shirt. Do this by cutting outside the seam where it was attached to the body of the shirt. Trim closely to the seam. Cut along the seam under the arm to end up with a flat piece like this.
  3. Position the doll in the sleeve with the longer part in front. Wrap the material around the back of the doll. You want some overlap (1/2 inch or 1 inch). Cut off the excess. Since this is a sundress, it is backless.
  4. Add any trim and decoration that you want for the dress. Here I thought about making it with a sailor theme to use an odd piece I'd been saving. It would have looked good with blue rickrack trim.
  5. Using a good craft or fabric glue, secure the decorations in place on the doll's sundress. Most glues dry clear, so don't worry about excess glue.
  6. I used a strip of velcro to hold the back of the doll's sundress in place. The velcro had the sticky back so I just applied it firmly to the fabric.

    PROBLEM: the velcro is bulky so doesn't look the way I wanted. I'm going to replace it with some double-sided carpet tape that I have. It is heavy enough to stick firmly and can be unstuck to change the doll's dress. The carpet tape is much thinner and will not look lumpy.

  7. Cut some rickrack to use at the top of the dress. It needs to be long enough to easily tie behind the doll's neck. Glue the tie to the dress. Make sure the glue is quite dry before the dress is worn.

Fabric Glue to Use for Making Doll Clothes - without sewing

Sargent Art 23-1405 4-Ounce Fabric Glue
Sargent Art 23-1405 4-Ounce Fabric Glue

This does the job to glue on rick-rack or decorative pieces. You can even use it to form a hem and glue it in place. No sewing needed.

 

Add a Special Touch to the Doll Dress

with a Painted Design

I chose to add a sun graphic to the sundress for the doll. First I practiced on a scrap of fabric to see what my design might look like. You can search online for ideas for your design. I just used my imagination.

The paints I used are leftover paint-by-number oil paints. You can often find these cheaply at yard sales. Special paints just for fabric are available too. Put a sheet of newpaper under the fabric before you paint. Sometimes the paint soaks through and could stain your work table.

Close-Up on Some of the Details - for a doll's sun dress

Painting on a summery design. Practice on some scrap fabric first to get a feel for applying the paint.
Painting on a summery design. Practice on some scrap fabric first to get a feel for applying the paint. | Source
Closing up the back of the dress using the fabric tape.  The hem of the dress is the bottom of the shirt sleeve so no sewing is needed there.
Closing up the back of the dress using the fabric tape. The hem of the dress is the bottom of the shirt sleeve so no sewing is needed there.
Here's the finished dress being modeled by Toni doll. I added rickrack around the bottom of the dress for accent.
Here's the finished dress being modeled by Toni doll. I added rickrack around the bottom of the dress for accent.
The top of the sundress with rickrack ties to go around the doll's neck.
The top of the sundress with rickrack ties to go around the doll's neck.

Try Double-Sided Fabric Tape - Instead of Carpet Tape

Braza Body & Clothing Double Sided Flash Tape (1009), Clear, 20' Long
Braza Body & Clothing Double Sided Flash Tape (1009), Clear, 20' Long

This is great tape to hold the doll dress closed and in place without having to use needle and thread. No-sew... makes it easy to dress the doll.

 

Will You Make a Sundress for a Doll?

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Source

My inspiration for the sun design on the sundress.

Graphic from Zazzle: Happy Day ~ Magnet by SharonKMoore

Lots of Choices for Fabric Paints

Use these to make summer designs on the doll's dress. You can paint flowers or starfish or rainbows. Use your imagination.

Fabric Paints - Great for one-of-a-kind doll dresses or other crafts

The Doll Wears Flip-Flops with Her Sun Dress

Here's how to make doll sandals

Find a scrap of packing foam. Cut it to fit the shape of the doll's foot. I painted it with the oil paint to match the decoration on the doll's sun dress. You could also glue the matching rickrack around the base of the sandal and across the strap. These don't stay on very well, so not very practical for an active doll. The straps can be glued to the base or attached with straight pins (if only for display or for an older child who won't be sticking themselves).

Would You Like a Doll Like Mine? - She's a Toni doll from the 1950s

These can be pretty pricey on eBay but keep checking and you can find one at a good price. I was really lucky and found mine for just $30. Usually they go for more than that.

Best of luck with your bidding. Toni dolls come in several sizes and with blonde, brunnette and other colors of hair.

© 2012 Virginia Allain

Tell Me about Your Doll

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    • heytoto profile image

      Karen Kolavalli 4 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      This just made me laugh out loud: "These don't stay on very well, so not very practical for an active doll." Your lens reminded me that I need to get Belinda into some summer clothes!

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      My daughter would love to make a couple of these for her dolls...so easy with the double sided tape! Great idea! And I love the little flip-flops... :)

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      @Zut Moon: Now don't make fun of this retired lady and my dolly. Haven't you ever heard of a second childhood? Being retired means having fun.

    • Zut Moon profile image

      Zut Moon 5 years ago

      I saw this and had to drop by ... of course to make a comment. Ah ... most females stop playing with dolls around 8 or 10 ... I think maybe you're a little later than most .... LOL

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