PrillyCharmin's Basic Dress
Pattern Instructions
Designed by PrillyCharmin
Copyright 1999, 2001, 2009 Cynthia Stevens

Instructions for the
Baby Face Pattern, Nicole Pattern, Holly Pattern,
and our new MAGIC-10 Dresses Patterns

Basic Dress with Full Skirt

  • Dress, with Full Skirt
  • Dress, Full Skirt with Contrast Border
  • Dress, with drop waist and full skirt
  • Sleeve Variations
  • Baby Face Diapers (bottom of this page.)



READ THIS ENTIRE PAGE. Look over this entire instruction page before you start. Instructions on how to cut the skirt are further down the page. Instructions for Baby Face Diapers (part of our Baby Face Pattern) are at the bottom of the page.

TRACE YOUR PATTERN onto the Fabric. I like to trace the pattern onto the fabric with pencil, lightly, and cut on the pencil lines. (On an old video on YouTube, I saw the seamstresses at Ideal doing the same thing as they assembled clothing for the 1950's Betsy Wetsy.)

Dolly clothes are so small that it's easier to cut out the pieces when they're traced, rather than try to cut around the paper pattern pieces. And, it's more accurate.

You don't want to accidentally make the pieces larger because even a little bit of extra fabric can affect how it fits the doll. Tracing the pieces helps you avoid enlarging the pattern inadvertantly.

BODICE PIECES MUST BE ON THE FOLD. Make sure your bodice pieces are snug up on the fold of the fabric when you cut them out. Otherwise your bodice may end up a lot wider than you expected (or smaller.) I've had dresses that were 1 or 2 sizes larger because they were off the fold by a little bit. Baby Face dolls are especially hard to fit with their narrow shoulders, so this makes a big difference. Any of the smaller sizes will be affected by how accurately the bodice pattern is placed on the fold.

SEAM WIDTH. We use a seam width of approx. 3/16 inch (less than inch) for small dolly dresses. For our larger dolls, the seam width is inch.

MAKE A PRACTICE DRESS FIRST. It is advisable to make a practice outfit first to see how the pattern works for you. If your fabric is something special, then don't risk it. Make a cotton print dress first so you can see how the pattern works on your doll. There are thousands of dolls in thousands of individual shapes, so the pattern will most likely need a little tweaking in order to be perfect.



As with all my dresses and shirts for dolls, I make the top or bodice with double fabric so it is fully lined front and back (no messing with facings or interfacings this way.)

Stitch the front pieces to the back pieces at the shoulders. All four pieces will be connected at the shoulders (front, back, front, back alternating) and then press the shoulder seams flat.

Next, bring the right sides of the fronts together. As you do this, the back pieces will naturally need to fold in half. The bodice opens in the back.

Stitch all the way around the neck. Clip the curves.

Then turn the pieces right side out and press the bodice flat.

ADJUSTMENTS: TRY THE BODICE ON THE DOLL TO SEE IF THE NECK FITS PROPERLY. This is the time to adjust the neckline if necessary. Some dolls have a very fat neck (infant dolls), so if you need to enlarge the neck hole it needs to be done now. If the neck is too small, turn the bodice inside out again and adjust the neck hole as needed to make it larger.

You won't be able to adjust the neckline after this point.

VARIATIONS. You may insert lace, rickrack, ruffles or a collar in the neck to dress it up. This should be done while stitching the neck hole. This photo shows rickrack edging, for an old fashioned look.


Choose which sleeve you want. Puffed sleeve, butterfly cap sleeve, plain short sleeve or vintage style bubble sleeve.

You may add some rickrack or other trim to the sleeves.

All of the sleeves need to be gathered at the top, including the plain sleeve. The plain sleeve doesn't need to be gathered much but you do need to draw some of the fullness in.

No matter which sleeve you use, try to arrange most of the gathers near the top. The sleeve will look better that way.

Gather the top edge of the sleeves and attach to bodice armholes. Be sure to match the center top of the sleeve with the shoulder seam.


The butterfly sleeve is a cap sleeve. Does not need hemming: it is a double fabric sleeve and is sort of like a ruffle. No elastic on the butterfly sleeve. You may add lace and trims to the sleeve as desired.


Here are four photos of our unique Bubble sleeve (in various sizes.) The Bubble sleeve was inspired by antique doll clothing. This is a puffed sleeve that does not require elastic: it fits smoothly around the arm of the doll, while the top of it is gathered into a puff sleeve. Elastic tends to stretch out, so we highly recommend using this bubble sleeve pattern on doll dresses instead of the puffed sleeves that need elastic.

You may finish the lower edge of the bubble sleeve with bias tape, lace, rickrack or other trims. You can also decorate the sleeve with rosettes or ribbons.

Gather the top (rounded) edge of the bubble sleeve, making note where the center is so you can match it to the shoulder seam. Then sew the sleeves to the bodice.

If you want the Bubble Sleeve to be more poofy (or less poofy), you may use a larger (or smaller) sleeve pattern. The MAGIC-10 pattern has 10 sizes, so you can use a larger sleeve if you want more volume.

The Bubble Sleeve is included with our MAGIC-10 doll dress pattern.


Before you stitch the side seams, you can add lace or trims to the front of it. What you do with the front of your dress is what will (most likely) make it very special and cute. Here are some examples:

Left: rickrack and eyelet lace.
Right: two rows of pintucks.

Left: rounded faux cummerbund with fancy lace and trims.
Right: rounded faux cummerbund with matching bias tape on sleeves.

After you have decorated the front, it is time to stitch the side seams of the bodice. You will sew the side seam on the sleeve at the same time.

Next, put the bodice on the doll to see how it fits. THIS IS THE TIME TO ADJUST IT. If the bodice fits properly, the dress will look more professional and less like a homemade gown.

It's very easy to make adjustments to our Dress patterns, because the side seams are the key to good fit. So check the FIT now. It's easy to adjust the side seam at this point. After the skirt is attached, it's too late.

When you are satisfied with how the bodice fits, then finish the seam edges.

Sew velcro or snaps to the back opening. Or, you could make tiny buttonholes with buttons if there is enough overlap. (Some people may prefer to add the velcro last, after the skirt is attached.)

The bodice is finished.

VARIATIONS. This dress was originally made to fit our 18 inch Gotz American Girl type doll, but the bodice was way too long for this Marx First Love babydoll. The babies do look better with a short bodice.

So we shortened it up by stitching two rows of 1/4 inch pintucks. We folded the bodice all the way across (front and back), ironed it and stitched it at 1/4 inch. Then folded it again, ironed it flat and stitched the second row of pintucks. Then ironed the pintucks flat again, when finished.

Not only do the pintucks look cute, but the bodice is much shorter now. Of course, we could have cut the bodice shorter, but pintucks was more fun.

Also, notice that the right side sleeve is too big around the arm. The lace gaps. The bubble sleeve is very easy to adjust. Just take it in a little under the arm. Only be careful to leave enough room for the hand to fit through.


Our pattern gives a general guide for cutting the skirt piece but the length is up to you, and depends on 1.) the height of the doll 2.) whether you want a long skirt or a short skirt. 3.) whether you intend to finish the hem with lace edging or you plan to turn back the fabric and hem it. So these are decisions and adjustments you need to make.

WIDTH of the skirt fabric... If I'm using cotton prints, I use the entire width of the fabric, which is 45 inches most of the time. For small dolls, there will be some leftover but it's not that much. For tall dolls such as the 18 inch American Girl or Magic Attic dolls, the full width of the fabric is just about right because you don't want as much fullness for the pre-teen dolls.

The large sitting babydolls need more fabric in their skirt, so it will fan out around them. I use TWO pieces, the full width of the fabric. Cut one piece in half and use it for the back of the skirt: you don't want the front of the skirt to have any seams. Seams should be at the sides and center back, as shown in this drawing:

Adjust for thin fabrics. If your fabric is very thin, you may need to double the amount of fabric in the skirt. We tested our dress patterns using medium weight quilter's cotton print fabrics. But if your fabric is lightweight, such as cotton voile, you will need approximately twice as much fabric in the skirt width, in order to get the appropriate fullness.

If you are using very lightweight fabric such as batiste, you may need to triple the width of fabric in the skirt.


Add lace and ribbon trims to the full skirt, if desired.

With larger dolls, you may want to stitch the skirt closed part of the way in back, so the dress is STEP-IN style.

For smaller dolls, we prefer to leave the back open because it's easier to put the dress on. The full skirt overlaps so it is still very modest and doesn't need to be stitched shut. Turn and stitch both ends of the skirt for a neat edge on both ends.

Gather the top edge of the skirt and attach to bodice.

Fold and stitch the hem of the skirt or add lace to edge it.

Dress is Finished.


Contrast Border. Fold the contrast border in half lengthwise and press it. Stitch to the upper skirt piece lengthwise. Press. (Lace and ribbon trims may be added as desired.

Diapers for Baby Face Dolls
Designed by PrillyCharmin for Baby Face Dolls
Copyright 1999, 2001 Cynthia Stevens

1 - Unpadded Cloth Diaper with Velcro

  • Cut 2 Pieces

  • The lining fabric can be of white flannel or flannel knit if desired.

  • Stitch right sides together leaving approximately two inches at the back waist open.

  • Clip to the seam all the way around the diaper so the seams will lay flat when turned.

  • Turn right side out and topstitch the opening closed. Press with iron.

  • Stitch velcro where indicated.

2 - Vinyl Diaper with Velcro

  • Use flannel backed vinyl tablecloth fabric

  • Cut 1 Piece

  • ZigZag or Serge around the entire edge

  • Stitch velcro where indicated

Copyright (c) 2002, 2012 Cynthia Stevens All Rights Reserved