How to choose ribbons for doll clothes #OffrayRibbon #DollClothes

In this image, we see the Chelly Wood doll holding up Simplicity doll clothes craft pattern #9144 for baby dolls. It says on the outside of the pattern that this is a craft pattern for large baby dolls. There's a discussion about the use of ribbons with this pattern at

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:

In this close up image of Simplicity Craft Pattern number 9144, we see the different doll clothes that are offered: view 1 is a dress or nightgown with booties (and there's a ribbon tied at the neck). View 2 is a dress with pinafore, and the lace collar has a ribbon and bow. view 3 is a sundress with bonnet and booties (the bonnet is tied with a ribbon). View 4 is a romper with bonnet and booties; the bonnet is tied with a ribbon. view 5 is an overalls-style romper. View 6 is a fleece jacket tied with ribbons. View 7 is a pajama with booties and tiny buttons. This pattern will fit large baby dolls. The watermark tells us that the discussion about this doll clothes pattern (published by Simplicity in 1989) takes place at
Please visit for free printable sewing patterns for making clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

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.

This is the back view of Simplicity Craft Pattern 9144, published by Simplicity in 1989. The image shows the specs for ribbon lengths and widths among other facts (like what type of fabric to use and how much you will need).
Please visit for free printable sewing patterns for making clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

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:

This photograph shows a Crissy doll wearing a handmade shift dress and blue plastic shoes in front of a turquoise mottled background screen. The watermark reminds us to visit for the free pattern to make this "sailor-style" shift dress with a round collar trimmed in ribbon. Click on the link in the caption to find the free printable PDF sewing pattern for this short shift dress.

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 image shows a vintage Francie doll with bangs wearing a handmade Halloween party dress. The dress uses a patterned fabric decorated with tiny candy corns for the bodice front and back plus the skirt. The sleeves are made of solid orange fabric. The skirt is trimmed in orange ribbon with a layer of rickrack over the top. The sleeves have a bias tape cuff at the doll's hands. The collar is made of an orange ribbon. If you'd like to download the free printable PDF sewing pattern for making this Halloween party dress to fit your vintage Francie doll (also fits other dolls too), please click on the link in the caption.

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:

From the Strawberry Shortcake vintage dolls collection of the 1970's, here we see Butter Cream wearing a very tiny sun dress for baby-sized miniature Strawberry Shortcake dolls. (She stands 3.5 inches or 9 cm tall.) Do you have a very tiny doll you need to make some doll clothes for? Click on the link in the caption, and it will take you to a page where you can download and print all the free printable sewing patterns for making these doll clothes, along with links to tutorial videos that show you how to make this outfit.

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:

The image shows a short, above-the-knee-length gingham dress in red and white check with red ribbon straps. The doll appears to stand before the Château de Versailles.

The straps above on the red checkered dress are made of 1/8 inch Offray ribbon. The one below is made of 1/4 inch Offray ribbon:

If you're here to download the free printable PDF sewing patterns and to watch the tutorial videos for making this outfit of doll clothes for your Tall Barbie, please click on the link in the description. The photograph is of a Tall Barbie (by Mattel) modeling a handmade set of doll clothes, including an elastic-waist skirt with glittery purple ruffle and a handmade tank top with ribbon straps. The doll appears to be leaning with her weight on her left foot, and the watermark on this image says where you can download this and other free printable doll clothes sewing patterns for making a wardrobe for your tall Barbie dolls:

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:

Two made to move Barbies sit on a quilt-covered bed with pillows and stuffed animals all around them. There's a window on one wall of this dollhouse or diorama, and in the distance, we see a dresser filled with fabrics of many colors. One of the Made-to-move Barbie dolls wears a baby-doll-style pajama in purple and wine-colored trims. The other girl wears a pair of blue elastic-waist shorts with a flannel sleeveless shirt that's decorated in multi-colored snowflakes. The two dolls appear to be having a fun sleepover. They chat with their legs hanging over the bed, feet crossed at the ankles.
Visit for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

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!

Here we see a vintage Francie doll walking in pajamas and handmade slippers. She's walking on a hardwood floor with unicorn-and-rainbow wallpaper behind her. The cotton fabric of her short nightgown is decorated with tiny cupcakes. The bodice of her nightgown is white lace, and the nightgown also has little ribbon straps.

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.

The image shows a 9-inch Strawberry Shortcake doll wearing a handmade dress that consists of green striped skirting with a lace trim and a bodice made of ribbon.
Strawberry Shortcake dress designed and sewn by Sheri-Lyn S.

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:

Today’s blog post is a re-post. To understand why Chelly Wood is taking some time off, reposting older blog topics, revisit the end-of-March blog post entitled, “There’s a cat in my sewing room!

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Chelly Wood and the 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.

4 thoughts on “How to choose ribbons for doll clothes #OffrayRibbon #DollClothes

  1. Do you, by any chance, have a pattern for overalls for the bear Corduroy? The one made by YTTY? I’m making overalls for the granddaughter who has a different bear (her favorite, found at a garage sale!) for whom Corudory’s overalls do fit. I gave the YTTY Corduroy to my other two grandchildren so have overalls to use to make a pattern, so I’m not desperate, but thought I’d ask. The Minneapolis Children’s Theater wrote and presented the play again this spring, for a longer run. Very popular!

    1. If your Corduroy bear’s body is about 8 inches tall, you can try making my 8 inch baby doll overalls out of felt or muslin, just to do a quick prototype. If it fits, then you can try making overalls from a cotton fabric that will look nicer and last longer.

  2. I’ve just learned a new idea for ribbon that I never would have thought of on my own: the bodice! Thank you.

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