Translate a Clothing Pattern to Doll Proportions




Introduction: Translate a Clothing Pattern to Doll Proportions

Here's how you can take an ordinary sewing pattern and translate it to doll size proportions

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Step 1: Materials and Tools

the desired pattern.  I found several at Goodwill for 99 cents each.  Try to choose one that's not too complicated.  Sewing at 1:6 scale can be challenging.

fabric remnants.  Try to choose a fabric that doesn't come unraveled easily at the places it is cut.  A fabric with a slight stretch to it might be better.  The fabric should be thin, not too thick or it will be more difficult to sew.
an iron
fusible interfacing
a sewing machine
a camera

sketchup software
make the cut software
a craft cutter

Step 2: Our Customer

Our customer complains that the only clothes available in her size are either for Military Ops, Fetish Nightclub wear or a combination of the two.  She'd really prefer something a little more 'day to day'.

She has tried Ebay, but contrary to the advertisements, the clothes just really don't fit her particular physique.

And she doesn't want to spend too many doll hairs either.

Step 3: Taking Measurements

Start by taking measurements in all the usual places.  Especially along the lines that will correspond with the pattern you have chosen.

Her measurements are: 

chest: 5.75"
bust: 5.9"
waist: 4.25"
hips: 5.5"
backwaist: 2.25"
neck: 2.16"
nape to shoulder: 0.75"
arm length: 4.25"
upper arm circumference: 1.5"
nape to floor: 9.5"
nape to waist: 2.25"
across shoulders: 3"
inseam: 5.5"
upper thigh circumference: 3 3/8"
calf circumference: 2.25"

Step 4: Photograph the Pattern

Lay the pieces of the pattern out on the floor and photograph them.

Make sure to keep your camera at the same height for each photo.

Step 5: Import the Pattern to Sketchup

Update:  Thank you Pcoleman2 for pointing out that this step isn't really clear, especially since the free version of Sketchup doesn't let you print things out to precise measurements.

It's a bit arbitrary that I used Sketchup.  The real point of this step was to retrace the pattern into a simple outline that would be easier for the Make the Cut software to import.  I find that Sketchup is a fairly easy tool to use to make symmetrical shapes quickly.  Since the free version won't let you print things to scale, I exported the drawings from Sketchup to a 2D graphic JPEG format and then used Make the Cut software Pixel Trace to cut them to precise measurements.

Import the photographs into Sketchup and trace them with the curve and line tools.

You can save a few sewing steps by rotating and merging pieces that are supposed to be cut along the fold.

Step 6: Cut the Resized Pattern

Update: If you don't have a craft cutter and Make the Cut software, you might be able to print your pattern out on paper, though it may take some experimentation to get the printer to print the image to a precise size.

I'm using the technique described here to cut the resized pattern out with a craft cutter.

I imported the cleaned up graphic from Sketchup into Make the Cut with Pixel Trace.

Stretch the pattern so that things like the bust line, waist and hip measurements will measure up to those of the doll with allowances for small seams and darts.

When using a craft cutter with fabric, it's usually better if you line the fabric with fusible interfacing before attaching it to the cutting mat.  This will help keep it from bunching up under the cutting blade.

Step 7: Sew

Follow the directions associated with the pattern for assembling the garment.  I ignored most of the advice concerning clipping seams at corners and stuff like that.  I also had trouble getting the darts in the right place.

I used 1/8" seams instead of the usual 5/8" size ones recommended for normal size clothing.

Be careful going around corners, it's easy to miss the corner with such small seams. 

Step 8: Fittings and Adjustments

Periodically check and see how the sizing is going. 

It's better to make it a little too big and then take it in in places.

Also, it helps if you leave a little extra in the back to allow for velcro and/or snap closures.

Step 9: Final Results

It looks pretty good.

She still has some Oscar night level cleavage going on, but I could work that out in another iteration.

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    10 Discussions


    Question 6 months ago on Step 2

    Hello , would you draw up patterns to sell ? i have the phican dolls male and female and i would love some patterns ?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    what doll is that ? She is so cute, much nicer than unrealistic barbies!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Clever! If I understand correctly, for those of us who DON'T have a Cricut, the only reason for Make the Cut is to reduce and then print/cut the pattern pieces, but in any case, you'd first want to edit each pattern piece in SketchUp to fit your doll's measurements, since human clothing patterns are made for the proportions of a "typical" (hah! certainly not mine!) human figure and most dolls are proportioned nothing like that! So, in SketchUp, once you've imported and traced over the photographed pattern pieces, you can adjust the outlines of each piece to fit the doll's measurements, just as you would adjust the full-size pattern pieces for your own body measurements. That will effectively re-shape the pattern pieces to fit the doll better and virtually eliminate the need for alterations while sewing. I don't remember if SketchUp will allow you to include line lengths with the printed drawing, but that would help for checking the scale in the actual print-out, and then you could enlarge/reduce by a few percent until a known dimensioned guide line (maybe 4 inches or 10 cm) on the printout measures the right length. You've presented a really good idea in a well-made Instructable. Thanks for sharing!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, you can use the tape measure tool in sketchup to create callouts showing the size and dimensions of things, which you could then print out in some way which would allow you to match the callouts. I used MakeTheCut because it will cut accurately according to the inches on the grid of the cutting board. by the way, you can use that software with other types of craft cutters besides the Cricut.

    I'm not at all familiar with how to make alterations for a doll, but it sounds like you are, so you are way ahead of me!

    Anyway, thank you again for the feedback.



    8 years ago on Step 6

    I tried to use your procedure to make a doll pattern for an 11" baby doll from that of a 2 toddler size. My daughter had asked me to make a matching dress for the baby doll when I made one for my 2-year old granddaughter. I had never used SketchUp before and had problems getting the pattern right to start with. But my biggest problem was getting it the size I wanted. Did you do that in SketchUp, and if so how? Or was the sizing done with Make the Cut with Pixel Trace (a program I did not have)? Here's my blog post about making the doll dress, if you'd like to see it.

    Thanks, Patsy


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 6

    You're right. I should mention this more. The free version of Sketchup doesn't print things out to the precise sizes. So, basically I used Sketchup to trace the pattern into a clean format that would be accepted by Make the Cut. I used Sketchup because I find it really easy to use for making symmetric shapes. Since you don't have Make the Cut, I guess what you could do is print the pattern out on paper if you have a printer. I have seen some printers that have guidelines in their print options to help you estimate the output size of the thing you are printing.

    Sorry you had so much frustration with my approach. It looks like you did a wonderful job on the dress doing it your own way.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    What style of body is that? She looks great!
    Mostly wanted to say thank you sharing this; I have a similar doll, and at first I was very gun-ho about sewing clothes for her myself. After many failed attempts to make even one shirt that fit right, (not to mention similar crappy luck making pants..) I kinda gave up on the whole thing. But after reading your instructable, I'm feeling inspired again; thanks for that :) I love the idea of shrinking down human sized patterns to doll sized! It was something I had actually thought about, but couldn't think of a good way to do it. Now to find my camera... and my doll!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Cool! Share the pictures when you are done. She is a Hot Toys True Type doll. Glad you liked the idea!

    You put soooooooo much thought into your excellent Instructable. You are very talented! Love your sense of humour too!
    I would be thrilled to do this, but I don't have the programs you mentioned (or the technological savy.) It seems to me that there was a way to reduce sizes with graph paper (ancient method from my teen age years.) I just don't know how to do that. Any thoughts?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you!

    Maybe what you could do is simply print the Sketchup graphic out on plain paper. Then you could use various things to tack the paper to the fabric and just cut it out with scissors. It would probably take a few experiments to get the printout to the right size, but I think it could work.