Knowing a few simple tips and tricks for sewing Barbie doll clothes will make the difference between a well dressed doll and a fashion disaster. When working with much smaller pieces, it doesn’t take much to make huge mistakes and the mistakes are then exaggerated due to the scale of the finished pieces. Sewing your own doll clothes also gives you the opportunity to show off Barbies’ new belly button style body.
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Patterns abound on the internet for Barbie and doll sized clothes, some free and others for a charge. The patterns can be resized and printed out to make sizing the clothing much easier and eliminating wasted fabric and efforts if the garment doesn’t fit the doll. When cutting the pattern, plan for additional seam allowance for sewing and to trim away bulky areas that will be much more evident on a Barbie doll than they would on larger objects or people.
Types of Seams
While fashionable on real clothes, many seams will not work well on Barbie doll clothes. Any seam that creates or adds bulk to the garment, such as a flat felled or mock French seam, will create an unpleasant look on the finished doll clothing. Due to the scale of the garment, the seams will look hideous and exaggerated on the doll clothes and can cause the clothes not to fit correctly. When recycling your old fabrics into doll clothes, cut around these seams and do not try to use them as part of the design in your fashions. It is also important not to back stitch too far at the beginning or end of the seams when making doll clothes as this too will create too much bulk in the garment.
Sewing the Seams
As with the scale of the garment itself, the seams in Barbie doll clothes must also be much smaller. This can pose a problem for some seamstresses in getting the seams under the needle, keeping them straight and not running off the fabric. There are several tips that will assist you in sewing these tiny seams. One solution is to cut a generous seam allowance and trim it away after sewing the piece. Another option is gluing the seam first with fabric glue. If neither of those is possible or feasible; pin a piece of machine embroidery stabilizer around the seam allowing enough overlap to make up for the missing seam allowance. Then trim the excess away after sewing.
Hard to Sew Areas
Some seams are not possible to sew using a sewing machine on Barbie doll clothes. When this happens, sew as much as possible around the area using the machine and then use fabric glue to hold the remainder of the seam together. Once you have completed as much of the garment as you can, hand sew the areas that you glued together previously. Use a blanket stitch or running stitch as applicable or to make the pieces decorative. Another option is to use a small or miniature sized, hand-held hemming machine. These allow a little more flexibility with how close the seam can get to the edge of the garment.
Most embellishments will require hand sewing due to their size. Buttons, zippers and tiny bows are available for doll clothes and require so few stitches that it is also less difficult to sew them by hand. When making a two piece outfit, cut an embellishment from one piece to be used on the second piece. One example would be cutting pockets for the pants from the shirt fabric or a flower from the pants fabric to be sewn or glued onto the shirt.