Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bitty Baby or American Girl Fairy Tale Dress Tutorial {Dressing Up Dolly}

This post has been edited to include instructions for inserting the sleeves. 

Hi all.  I'm Jessica from Chickadee Jess. I'm so very excited to be guest posting at Nap Time Crafters today.  Amy's patterns and tutorials are top of the line and her kids are darling and funny too!

Recently, I made the Fairy Tale Dress for Evangeline.  The dress turned out beautifully and I'm so pleased to say Ev and the dress were featured as Oliver+S's photo of the day. Read past posts on the dress here and here.

When Amy from Nap Time Crafters called for bloggers to participate in her Dressing Up Dolly series, I jumped at the chance!  I knew Ev would love a Fairy Tale Dress for her Bitty Baby.  I got to work drafting up a pattern with similar details to the Oliver+S Dress. It has petal sleeves, straight bodice, peter pan collar, full skirt and ties in the back. The best part is that this dress will fit your 15" Bitty Baby or 18" American Girl Doll.

Fairy Tale 18" Doll Dress from

Bodice, sleeve and collar  pattern pieces
22"x22" fabric square for bodice, sleeve and collar pieces
6.5"x30" (bitty baby) or 9"x30" (american girl) fabric for skirt
28 inches of 1/2"-3/4"  Ribbon for ties
10" single fold bias tape
6 inches of 1/2" velcro

Print the pattern pieces from here.  Make sure the scaling on your printer is at 100% so the sizing of the pieces in accurate. The bodice, collar and sleeve pieces are the same size for both the Bitty Baby and the American Girl sizes.

Cut 4 collar pieces, 1 front on fold, 2 back pieces and 2 sleeve pieces.  Cut a rectangle 30"x6.5" for the Bitty Baby or 30x9" for the American Girl Doll. Below I've put a suggested pattern layout.

The pattern is sewn with a 3/8" seam allowance.

First, we will construct the bodice. Finish the edges of the back bodice.*

Prepare your ribbon by cutting it in two equal pieces and trimming one end of each piece diagonally. Seal the ends of the ribbon by running it through a candle flame or lighter.  Pin the ribbon 3/8" from the bottom of the back bodice at the side seams.

*Regarding seam finishes: Usually, I use a serger but when sewing doll clothing using a narrow zig-zag is easier and just as effective.  It's important to finish seams so your little one can enjoy playing with the clothing and there won't be any raveling.

Sew bodice front to back at shoulders and sides catching the ribbon in the side seams. Finish the seams.

On to the sleeves. Sew a basting stitch 1/4" from the bottom of the sleeve.  Pull up the gathers very slightly. This will help you turn the hem up along the curves.  Press.

Fold the hem and additional 1/4" to hide the raw edge.  Pin.  (I know, crazy amount of pins here)

Stitch close to the edge.

Fold one side over another, creating two opposites.  Make sure to double check this, trust me.  (I'm here to make mistakes so you don't have to, right?)

*Edit* Here is where you insert the sleeves into the bodice.They are the same size as the the armhole opening. You will not need to gather the sleeve.

Insert the sleeve inside the bodice, right sides together, matching notches.  This is a great time to use the free arm on your sewing machine, if you have one.  Sew the seam and finish the edge.

Repeat for the other sleeve.

Turn the bodice right side out and set aside.

Prepare your collar next. Sew the long outside edges, right sides together.

Trim the seam and clip the corners and edges.

Turn right side out, press and baste the inside edges closed 1/8" from the edge.

Pin your collar to the neck edge matching the front edges of the collar to the notch in the center neck. Stitch with a 1/4" seam. The collar edges will not meet in the back.

Open one of the folded edges.  Match the edge of the bias tape with the raw edge of your neckline.  Stitch in the fold. Fold the tape up and press.

Stitch very close to the collar on the inside of the neckline at the edge of the bias tape.

Pin the bias tape down to cover raw edges of the neckline and stitch.  This part can be a little finicky  so take your time and use lots of pins.  The stitching will be covered by the collar on the outside.

Press the collar down and sew the collar down at the back edges. This will help the collar lay down.  On a people-sized garment you'd tack this down by hand but the machine stitching will be much more durable.

Fold the back edges of the bodice 1/4" to the wrong side and press.

Get the skirt ready. Finish the two short edges of the skirt.  Fold up one of  the long edges to the inside 1/4" and another 1/4".  Stitch close to the edge on the inside.

Right sides together, stitch the seam in the skirt. Mark your stop line (Bitty Baby size mark 2" from bottom) (American Girl size mark 4" from bottom).  Starting at the hem, sew until you hit your stop line.  Backstitch here several times. Iron your seam open. Fold under the rest of the edge 1/4" and press.

Run two rows of gathering across the long edge of the rectangle 1/4" and 1/2" from the edge. Pull up the gathering stitches and pin to the bodice edge, right sides together. Match the opening edges carefully.  Adjust the gathers to fit.  Sew with a 1/4" seam and finish the seam.

Remove any basting stitches you can see.

Using 1/2" velcro, sew the hook side to the right side of the dress.

Pin the loop (soft) side to the inside left edge. 

Sew carefully because this will show on the outside of the dress.

Just for fun, here is a picture of Ev wearing her matching dress!

Thanks again to Amy from Nap Time Crafters for the Feature!  Make sure to check back for other Dressing up Dolly posts!

Please note: I'm not affiliated with Oliver+S in any way, just a huge admirer of their patterns. Please go here to the Oliver+S website to see (and possibly purchase) the Fairy Tale Dress Pattern.


  1. So cute! I'm planning to make this and was wondering when you attach the sleeves. After you sew the bodice side seams together, I'm assuming? Thanks!

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  4. My son loves the dolls. I will teach it sew dresses for dolls


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