Introduction: Action Figure Outfits From Cloth & Balloons

About: I play with light

A few weeks ago, I was dog-sitting for a friend's puppy and somehow, he managed to get his cute little puppy paws (and teeth) on a certain action figure and his tunic top. While Luke survived relatively unscathed, his shirt was way to gross to recover and use. This presented the perfect opportunity to learn how to make clothing for action figures.

So I pieced together the puppy chow-ed tunic and made the best template I could from the pieces. I borrowed my mum's sewing machine and learned to use it (well, sort of).

If, like me, you are afraid to try this, don't be. Just go for it. This project was just the third time that I have ever used a sewing machine. The first two times, where last week when I edged cloth napkins. So, if I can do this, with almost no experience anyone can.

The cloth for the top isn't perfect. I didn't have anything lightweight and off-white and due to the shelter in place/lockldown order in California, I can't just go pick it up. So I used the sleeves from an old soft t-shirt. I will make another tunic when I order some lighter fabric.

Since I work with all kinds of action figures and with kids, I thought I'd include a no-sew section on making outfits for a Barbie-sized doll or action figure. For this part, you just need balloons and scissors. -Again, apologies for the color selection, these are the materials I had on-hand. It felt inappropriate and irresponsible to go shopping just for craft materials.



Sewing machine (or sewing needle )



Cloth (or old t-shirt)



Step 1: Template Prep

Cut out the templates.

NOTE: I will update the graph paper drawing with a PDF soon.

Scale on graph paper:

Large squares = 1 inch.

Small squares = 1/10 of an inch

Step 2: Pin to Fabric

Take a few pins and secure the template to the fabric

Step 3: Trace Templates

Trace the templates on the fabric.

I used a gel pen because it's all I had. It's ugly but it works. Ideally, use tailor's chalk.

Step 4: Fabric Orientation

The shapes are a unrecognizable as a shirt, so take a minute and become familiar with what goes where (see image)

Step 5: Prep for Pinning

  • Orient your cut fabric as in the first image above
  • Fold along the sleeve fold line

Hey, it almost looks like a shirt now!

Step 6: Pin Edges

Pin along the bottom of the sleeves and along the sides of the shirt body.

NOTE: I decided I wanted the other side of the fabric to be on the outside so I just folded the pieces in the opposite direction. That's why the pieces are backward

Step 7: Sew

Run a little stitch along the pinned edges of the bottom of the sleeves and the sides of the shirt for both parts of the tunic.

You can do this by hand, but I needed an excuse to learn to machine sew.

Step 8: Pin the Back

  • Fold the two pieces of the Front of the shirt out of the way so you don't sew them shut
  • Stack the two sides with the front of both pieces facing each other (with the flaps folded out of the way as above)
  • Line up the edges of the sleeves and back
  • Pin in place
  • The pin on the sleeves will help keep everything in place

Step 9: Sew Back

  • Sew the back together
  • Remove the pin as you go along

Step 10: Remove Pins

  • Remove the extra pin and unfold
  • Trim any excess thread or fabric

Step 11: Flip the Fabric

Flip the fabric right-side-out

Don't worry if it looks like the above image. It looks strange until it's on the figure.

Step 12: Dress the Figure

Step 13: No-Sew Outfits

For the little ones that can't or shouldn't use a sewing machine try using balloon.

The doll is about 12 inches tall (Barbie-sized). The balloons used are 9 and 12 inches.

Step 14: Leggings

Take 2 balloons of the same color and cut them where the neck meets the rounded part.

Step 15: Top #1

Take a balloon of a different color and cut off the rolled up rim and cut at the base where the neck meets the round body of the ballon

Step 16: Dress the Doll

Take the blue ring of ballon and slide it up the legs to the top - it is easier from the legs than over the arms

Take the yellow balloons and slide one up each leg until the joint.

Step 17: Prep the Fringe

  • Take the round body of the balloon left over from the top and cut off the round bottom
    • It should be open on both ends
  • From the larger end of the ballon, cut little strips about half way up the plastic

Step 18: Prep Skirt

  • Take one of the round parts left over from a yellow balloon from the leggings and cut off the edge of the round bottom
  • Slide the yellow balloon bit over the legs to the waist
  • Slide the blue bit of balloon with the fringe over the yellow skirt

Step 19: Leggings #2

If you do not like the rolled edge at the knees of the yellow leggings, just cut off both ends of the neck of the ballon before putting them on the doll

Step 20: Top #2

  • Take the round part of a ballon left over from the leggings and fold it in half
  • Cut the tip of (keep it small)
  • Keep the balloon folded
    • Cut off a small edge on one side
    • Cut through all layers
    • This will be where the arms pass through
  • When dressing the doll it may be easier to pop the head off.

Step 21: Dress

  • Take a black balloon and cut off the rolled opened end
  • Fold the round body and cut off a small slice of the end
    • Slide it up the body of the doll
  • Take a pink balloon and cut off 2 thin sections
    • Take one piece and place it at the the top edge of the dress
    • Take the second piece and place it around the waist.

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