Today I’m using a 1989 Simplicity Craft doll clothes pattern (number 9144) to discuss the many uses of ribbons when making doll clothes.
If you take a closer look at the outfits offered in Simplicity Craft Pattern 9144, you’ll see that 5 of the 7 outfits suggested on the cover include ribbon, and these patterns are for large baby dolls:
I love that the pattern comes with little booties too, and if you look at the back of the pattern, it suggests that you can use ribbon with the booties as well, although it says this is optional.
On the back of the pattern, it says that the doll you’ll be sewing for with my version of this pattern will need to be 17 to 18 inches tall. That’s a pretty large baby doll!
But does that mean you need a wider ribbon?
Not necessarily. Ribbons come in a variety of widths, for a variety of uses.
On this Simplicity Craft pattern, we see the ribbon being used as a closure (the “kimono” or jacket in View 6), as a hat fastener for the bonnets, as a decorative trim for the pinafore in View 2, and as a neck-tie in views 1 and 2.
The neck-tie feature is a nice touch. I love how a ribbon and bow add just a little extra femininity to a garment. Have a look at the way I used a similar concept for my Crissy doll’s sailor-style collar, for example:
For most of these purposes, the 1/8 inch ribbon is recommended. With dolls of all sizes, 1/8 inch ribbon looks very nice because it appears to suit the scale of the doll. But from time to time a 1/4 inch width or even larger can be useful.
For example, when making this Halloween dress, I used 1/2 inch ribbon for the neck trim and at the bottom of the skirt (with rickrack running along it):
The neck trim uses a ribbon folded over, like one would do with bias tape, to close off the raw edge of the fabric. This is an unusual use of ribbon, but I do like the way it looks sometimes as a trim.
For the cuffs on the candy corn dress, I used bias tape instead. This gives it more of a crisp, tailored appearance whereas the ribbon edging is softer at the neckline.
Another way to use a ribbon is to create straps, like you see me doing with many of my sundresses:
Now, with a tiny little doll like the toddler version of the Strawberry Shortcake doll, I would definitely use the 1/8 inch ribbon for a strap because anything else would just look bulky, but a bigger doll like Barbie can look good in either a 1/8 inch strap or a wider 1/4 inch strap:
It’s not that one looks better than the other; both sizes serve a purpose, providing a little bit different look to the garment.
Now take a look at the purple and burgundy nightgown below:
The “bodice” of this nightgown is actually made of either 5/8 inch pre-folded bias tape or (in the case of the white and pink pajama shown below) a 2 inch Offray ribbon folded in half, with a swatch of lace over it. This creates a wonderfully simple bodice that doesn’t require darts!
So there are suggestions found on the back of patterns like the Simplicity doll clothes Craft pattern number 9144, but there are no hard and fast rules about what size ribbon goes where.
I experiment with different sizes and types of ribbons all the time. Sometimes I like the way it looks; sometimes I don’t. It’s always fun to try new things, though.
Have a look at the way one of my followers added some ribbon to her Strawberry Shortcake dress… Clever, isn’t it?!
When buying ribbon, I always choose Offray ribbon. You may wonder why. It’s long lasting, sturdy, and doesn’t come apart while you sew it.
Cheaper ribbons can split while you sew them — especially when you sew by hand, like I often do. It’s so annoying to be almost done sewing a ribbon on a dress and the thing starts to split! Ugh!
Have you ever used ribbon in an unusual way for your doll clothes? Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom offering your creative ideas about how to use ribbon!
To learn more about ribbons, you might want to watch this video:
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Chelly Wood and the ChellyWood.com website are not affiliated with the pattern company or companies mentioned in this blog post, but Chelly finds inspiration in the doll clothes designed by these pattern companies. To purchase patterns from Simplicity, McCall’s, Butterick, or other pattern companies shown and discussed in this blog post, please click on the links provided here. These links below the “Disclaimer” section do not help raise money for this free pattern website; they are only offered to give credit to the company that made these patterns.