As far as fabrics go, felt is relatively cheap, it’s available in most people’s stashes, and it’s easy to sew by hand or on a sewing machine. But is it okay to use for doll clothes?
That’s what today’s blog post is going to address.
I really love felt for making doll coats and hats, as you can see in previous blog posts I’ve written about both McCall’s Crafts 2686 (shown above) and Simplicity 7601 doll clothes patterns (scroll down to see this one).
But I have to admit that as a child, my felt doll clothes didn’t last very long. The felt people used back then was made of wool, though, and today’s felt (especially craft felt) is usually made of synthetic fibers like polyester. So felt actually lasts a lot longer than it used to.
Back when I was a kid, wool felt easily ripped if you didn’t unsnap your doll’s coat carefully, but that’s less likely to happen with today’s felt. I mean, yes, with lots of play, eventually those snaps are going to pop off the felt, but polyester is a much hardier fiber than the old wool felt of yesteryear.
And when you’re teaching a child to sew, felt is both durable and fun to sew with. It feels soft to a child’s touch, it comes in bright colors, and the child can easily push a hand-stitching needle through the fibers to make their first stitches.
They don’t have to worry about the fabric’s nap when they’re cutting out their pattern pieces either, which is a plus, when you’re trying to keep it simple for a kid who’s learning to sew.
That’s why I use felt in the bodice section of many of my easy-to-sew doll dresses.
Just by encouraging people to make the bodice out of felt will make the whole project even easier for children and beginners. And… they don’t have to worry about sewing a hem on the bodice because the felt doesn’t fray like other fabrics do.
Recently a co-worker of mine asked which doll dress patterns I recommended for teaching children how to sew. Whenever I’m asked this question, I always suggest the Barbie/Skipper sundress you see above. (Click that link to jump to the pattern page.)
The felt bodice requires only two stitched areas: the darts! And Mom can hem the bottom of the skirt with her sewing machine, allowing the young sewist-in-training to do the skirt’s gathers. Then either mom or the child who’s learning to sew can attach the cotton skirt to the bodice with a simple straight stitch.
And felt is sort of stretchy, so the final product can fit a number of different sized dolls in the Barbie lineup:
Furthermore, this felt bodice sundress can be attached to skirts of different lengths for totally different effects.
Here’s a short skirt version on Petite Barbie, for example:
And here’s the same “dress” worn as a shirt by tall Barbie:
You can use felt to make purses, hats, shoes, and other accessories as well.
Here are some shoes I made for my Crissy dolls out of felt. How cute are these?
But be wary of “Dollar Store” felt. I’ve bought that stuff before, and it’s paper thin! Using el-cheap-o felt is worse than going back in time to use the less-sturdy wool felt of a bygone era.
But I sometimes use cheap, thin felt for temporary projects, like when I’m building a prototype pattern, and I want to try it out with super cheap felt because I know it may or may not turn out okay.
I also use felt as a surface for embroidery, which can make a lovely final product. Take a look at the little pink felt coat I made for my vintage Strawberry Shortcake below. Isn’t it sweet with the little embroidered flowers on the felt?
Do you have any vintage doll clothes made from felt? And how well did they survive the test of time? Feel free to leave comments below today’s post.
Have you done much sewing with felt? Do you like to sew with it or not? Let us know your thoughts on sewing with felt.
To end today’s blog post, I’m going to add a photo of my dear little 18 inch Madame Alexander, wearing a super-easy-to-sew felt sleeveless “crop top” shirt with an elastic-waist skirt. So easy to make! And the patterns are free, right here.
For my free doll clothes sewing tutorials, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel, ChellyWood1.
Look, I know you’ve probably already heard about it, but my “How to Alter Doll Clothes Patterns” course on the Creative Spark online learning platform will teach you how to alter pants, skirts, dresses, and shirts too. If you haven’t looked into it yet, you can click here to learn more.
I also have a new course on the Creative Spark Online Learning platform which teaches you how to design your own doll pants patterns from scratch, including leggings, overalls, and fly-front jeans. Click here to check out that new course, which is only $19.99!
For any class on Creative Spark, you don’t have to follow a schedule. Just sign up when you’re ready.
It’s a one-time fee for the course, and there’s no specific time limit to finish your course. You can just take your time and learn at the pace that suits you. So go check out my paid courses on Creative Spark, using this link.
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Disclaimer/Credit/Affiliate Marketing Link:
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, Vogue, 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.