Adams-Harris Pattern Company

Designer Clothing for Fashionable Dolls

This is my help page. I especially wanted to talk about fabrics and sewing techniques. Sewing instructions don't always cover the what if’s. So much depends on what type of fabric you are using so we will look at that first.



I use a lot of inexpensive T-shirts that I buy just for the fabric. I usually find great deals at Walmart. I shop the girls department as well at the women’s. I always buy the largest size so I can make a few garments from the same shirt. I look for T’s that have Lycra content or good stretch and return. The best thing about using T's is that you can use the matching rib and sometimes the artwork in your design.

I also use lightweight French terry, micro-polar fleece, and nylon matte jersey. Some swimwear fabrics and novelty knits that look like hand knits. I usually don't use rib knits as they are hard to hem without stretching. 1×1 rib that is used on T-shirts is good for collars and bands on doll size clothing.

I don’t use polyester jersey. I also find that interlock whether it be cotton or manmade fibers don’t work very well for me so I just don’t use them. I usually find them too stretchy and bulky for dolls.


I love this textile, especially rayon challis and broadcloth. It drapes well and makes beautiful dresses and blouses. It is harder to find rayon prints that are the right size. I see mostly Hawaiian prints in the shops these days, but if you look in the thrift stores you can find some nice old dresses with the small floral prints.


I love sewing with wool and usually use summer weight suiting. Wool crepe is also nice if you can find it. If you can’t find summer weight suiting look in the thrift store at men's pants.


Speaking of thrift stores, this is where I usually find the leather I use. I found a great 1980’s men’s small jacket made of wonderful light weight leather for $24.00 and I have been using the leather off it for 3 years now. I also like Ultra Suede, it is so expensive and hard to find in stores around here so most of what I use I found at thrift stores. I got some from the sewing department there. It was cut already but the pieces where huge and I got it for $4.00. Tandy is also a good source for small pieces of leather and you can find it in hobby stores. Again look for very lightweight.


I love all kinds, but my choices are limited here. I use mostly quilting cottons looking for small prints and fine quality fabric; I usually buy this in fat quarters. I also like batiste, but the kind I buy is the inexpensive stuff and not as sheer as Swiss batiste. Lawn and lightweight linen are some of my other favorites.

For bottom weight cottons I like shirt weight denim, cotton twill or China twill.


I like these for guys pants, shorts and vests. Some of the mircofibers work well in jeans.

Blends: So this is where it gets iffy for me. I find these all the time and ’ know what the heck is in them. You will have to be the judge here. That said....

Poly/cotton blends are ok when the content is more cotton. Because it ’ wrinkle as much it doesn’t seem to work as well for doll clothes. I usually think it looks to stiff on dolls.


Polyester as in crepe, chiffon, crepe Georgette and Crepe de Chine work well. I have also sewn with some of the bonded poly's and some double knits that had a blend.

Although I’d like to sew with polyester, I do when the weight and texture is right for the garment. I always look for fabrics that don't fray easily.

Stretch Woven Fabrics:

I just don’t use these for my work, as with knits there are so many variables that making a pattern using a stretch woven fabric would only be good if everyone was using the same fabric. I also find that the waistline on pants stretches out and looks bad. That being said, I think the stretch fabric are nice for pants as it allows you to get a good skinny jean fit that the dolls can still sit in. It is just really tricky to make it all work.

Lining Fabrics

I use Bemberg for lining and garments. I love the soft sheen and sheerness of this lining fabric. I tend to use batiste, tulle and thin polyester for my linings. Tulle is the best for skirts. I started using tulle because I noticed that many of my old Barbie clothes were lined this way. Don't use it in sleeves. I absolutely don't use acetate for linings, it water stains and frays way too much.

Findings & Trims

I use tiny zippers from Tiny Zippers. I always set these by hand with a small back stitch in dresses and skirts. Single fold bias binding is my favorite for pant and skirt facings. Lace hem tape works great when doing full circle skirts; it makes it much easier to hem them.

As for snaps I use 0/5 on my smaller clothes and front opening blouses. You ’ buy them here in the stores anymore, but you can find them on cards in thrift stores. I order these in bulk from Habby World, on the internet. They are UK based and so shipping and VAT adds to the cost but if you are using lots of snaps it is worth it. They really are smaller and look nicer.I have nickel and black.

I also use gripper snaps in size 12. So far it is the smallest I can find. You can get them with ring tops or button tops and they come in colors and well as metal finishes. I get these from here in the U.S.A. from the Snap Store.

Buckles are also available from Tiny Zippers, and Rio Rondo. I have found small army style buckles at Good Stuff to Go they come in tan and black. They also sell the small gross grain ribbon that matches them.You will find them under supplies.

Check your shoes and old watch bands before getting rid of them for small buckles..

Buttons are easy to find these days, I use le petite buttons from the fabric store, and the craft buttons available in the scrapbook area of most hobby stores. Tiny Zippers also has them. Beads also work, and I keep small pearl beads in several sizes.

I also use the small snap tops, press on jewels, and jewelry parts from my hobby store which I find in the scrapbook section.

Lace can make a look. I was lucky enough to have acquired a lot of small lace from a friend several years ago. It is hard to find small lace with delicate details. Good heirloom sewing shops have nice lace but it is very expensive. I have found lace in thrift stores, and on old clothes and at flea markets. You can sometimes find it on import linens.

Sewing Knits

This is always a challenge! I usually only use knits with Lycra and check the stretch making sure I can stretch 6-inches to at least 9-inches on the cross grain fold. I also like to make sure the length wise grain has some stretch. I never find two knits that work the same in pattern, so be prepared to do some fitting.

I will note in the pattern what type I of knit I used.

I also use a bigger stitch length. This provides a little more stretch to the seam. I don’t serge knits for the most part because they don’t fray and because the foot of my serger is usually too big to serge small seams. On the bigger dolls I will serge if I can.

I also have a cover stitch machine, and use it for hems. If you have one, use it to hem the sleeves and bottoms of garments. I don’t put this in my instructions as I know lots of people don’t have this option or it is too much trouble to set up the serger to do this.

I like to use my serger as a finish on knits, for this I kept it set to the smallest width and next to smallest stitch length.

When sewing collars or bands on a knit you must make the collar band shorter to make it fit the neck and lay flat. I usually make my collar bands about ½-inch shorter at the front neck. I make waistbands about 1-inch shorter around the body. This helps pull in the top so the hem doesn’t look stretched out.

The amount that need to be shorten will vary depending on what size doll you are working with and the amount of stretch your fabric has. Cutting the collar and testing it on the doll can help you determine how much you need to shorten it.

General Sewing Tips for Woven Garments


These little garments can be a real challenge for even the seasoned seamstress/tailor. Setting the sleeves by hand and in the round gives the best look for small dolls. Sewing the sleeve in first works best when the garment ’ as fitted or when you are sewing for larger dolls. I like to try and make doll clothing as I would human clothing but it ’ always possible and can make the garments bulky.

Whether you sew in the round or set your sleeves flat it is always best to sew in the sleeve lining first. Attach the sleeve lining and sleeve at the sleeve hem. If setting the sleeve flat sew the sleeve into the armhole then sew the side seam. If you are setting the sleeve in the round, sew up the sleeve and lining at the side seam, then set the sleeve into the armhole. Pull the lining back into the sleeve after you have set it and then hand stitch the lining to the armhole.

I don’t use interfacing with tiny jackets. Although I do use it on silk. I use the very lightest weight I can get. I find that the lightweight fusible that come in packages works well for me.

I also don’t use snaps on jackets, I use the small hook under the button, and hand sew a bar on the other side in matching thread so it doesn’t show as much when the jacket is open.


The thing that makes sewing pants hard is the order in which to sew them. You always want the crotch seam to follow the body. Check out your own pants and you will see that the crotch is one continues seam. Thus the general sewing order is front + back inseam, then right and left crotch, pant leg hem and then the side seams. Using this method becomes habit and makes sewing pants faster.

Since my serger foot is too big to serge the crotch before or after sewing them together on all but my biggest doll patterns, I don&’t serge them. I use fray check on the crotch seams when needed. I do sometimes just serge the front placket edge. I serge the rest of the pant as I work.

For pants without waistbands I use single fold bias tape. I press out the fold on one side and use the fold line as a guide as I sew it on to the waist. The other edge will still be folded and on the same side as you are sewing. Once you under stitch or top stitch the bias the folded edge will clean finish the waistline. You can top stitch the fold but I don’t.

Shirts & Blouses:

Depending on the fabric, I sometimes use fusible on collars and cuffs. Quilting cotton rarely needs fusible, but Bemberg can use some interfacing.

I almost always set the sleeves flat in the armhole before sewing up the side seams. If I need to put a placket in the sleeves and I ’ use the seam allowance, I use a 1-inch strip of self fabric cut on the bias , pressed in half and sew it to the opening, I don’t try to clean finish this as it will get to thick. I just trim and press the seam allowance.

I usually, just serge/roll hem the bottom of blouses that are meant to be tucked into a skirt or pants. Turning the hem makes the bottom to thick and it won’t look good tucked in.


Dresses have the least sewing issues. Most sleeves can be set flat. I prefer to use zippers in dresses as this gives a smoother look to fitted styles. If the style is not fitted then I use snaps. I like to line the bodice as this makes collars lay flatter but can also add bulk. When I don’t line the dress I use bias to finish the neck seam.I also like to use bias for cuffs on short sleeves. This will allow you to make the sleeve just fit over the hand as it will have a little stretch.

Gathered skirts can also be tricky if you are using a heavy fabric like satin, if you find the skirt is just too bulky you can trim off a few inches at the top side seam to nothing at the hem. This will still give the bottom fullness lessen the gathers at the top. I avoid satin for this reason, silk is a better fit for doll clothes.

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