How to Make a Simple Dress for a Doll or Teddy Bear


Introduction: How to Make a Simple Dress for a Doll or Teddy Bear

About: Inventor and Emergency Doctor.

I am holiday with some creative friends who suggested we have a competition where everyone gets a piece of fabric from a broken umbrella and has to make something out of it. The others give points out of 10 for aesthetics, inventiveness and craftsmanship. I teamed up with Flora, my 10 year old daughter who suggested we make some clothes for her beloved Pink Teddy.

After some thought I decided I could make a simple dress and realised it would make a great Instructable!

The style is a simple rectangular apron dress. You could make it a-line by making the bottom slightly wider than the top, if you wanted to.

I love making things in my spare time and writing an Instructable is a great excuse! My love of making things led me to invent my ZenPlugs Moulded Earphones and Earplugs. I decided to try moulding my own ear plugs at home and found them so comfortable that I decided to market them as a product. Developing the process I realised that no-one had done it before and have successfully applied for a patent. You can see them here;


As I am holiday in a rented flat I was limited on kit and to use stuff which was lying about. You might have some better materials you could use.

Scrap fabric
Matching cotton thread
Sewing needle
Piece of scrap paper and sellotape (you might get away without these, see later)
Embroidery thread in complementary colours
2 buttons (or coloured card or matchstick/bamboo skewer to make toggles)
Adhesive tape or pins
Something button sized to draw round (if you are making your own buttons)

Step 1: Making a Template

I had previously cut a jam-jar cover from the fabric we were going to use and struggled to cut it neatly as it was thin and flimsy so I decided it would need stiffening if I was going to cut a neat edge. I decided to use paper and adhesive tape which worked really well. You could pin it instead if you like.

Making a template means you can check you haven't made a mistake in measuring before you cut the fabric.

Wrap the paper round the doll/bear under the arms, allowing slight looseness for a comfortable fit. Allowing an extra 5mm for the seam, mark a line with a pencil or pen.

Next, flatten the paper out again and make a mark part-way down the legs, where you want the bottom of the dress to be. Remove the doll/bear and extend the lines to the edges of the paper by drawing along the edge of a book/ruler/magazine.

Cut out the template and wrap it round to check it fits.

Step 2: Cutting Out the Fabric

Tape the template to the fabric all the way round then cut it out with the scissors. Remove the paper backing.

Step 3: Stitching the Dress

Fold in half and stitch down one side about 2.5mm from the edge, either by hand or using a sewing machine. I used a running stitch and then reversed over the top as I didn't have colour-matched thread and thought this would be the most hidden. Make sure it doesn't gather by pulling it flat before reversing direction. Tie off the end.

Step 4: Buttons

We didn't have any buttons so I made some out of card. Draw round something circular about 8-10mm across. I used the inside of the handle on this key I found in the drawer. Make one or two holes in the middle with a sharp pencil. Mind your fingers and the table!

Step 5: Making the Straps

The straps are made using plaited embroidery thread. Roughly measure the distance from the back of the dress to the front, over the shoulder. Times it by 2 (for two straps) then add 5cm (for knots and contingency) then cut three lengths of thread. Tie them together, as close as you can get to the end then tape the end to the table or get a friend to hold it. Flora told be she can hold it between her feet whilst plaiting it but I don't think I can manage this! Plait, trying to get the pattern even all the way along.

We made a belt for the dress using this method also, except we used three different coloured threads.

You could make the straps from strips of fabric if you wanted.

Thread the buttons onto a piece of cotton as shown. Push the needle through both buttons with them facing away from each other, then pass the thread around the plaited embroidery thread then pass the needle back through the buttons. Pull the cotton gently to pull the strap through the buttons.

Tie two knots in the middle of the thread, a few mm apart, then cut in the middle to make two straps.

Step 6: Attaching the Straps

The straps were too thick to pass through the eyes of the needles I had so I stitched them on using matching thread. Repeat on both sides. (See tips on photos.)

Happy bear!

Be the First to Share


    • Big and Small Contest

      Big and Small Contest
    • Game Design: Student Design Challenge

      Game Design: Student Design Challenge
    • Make It Bridge

      Make It Bridge