Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Dolly's Dungarees / Playsuit

One of the outfits I made for Dolly, my grand-daughter's beloved baby doll, was a pair of dungarees, similar to a pair of Jane's own dungarees. I had originally planned to make a short legged playsuit, as all my grand-daughters have been having playsuits for summer (you can read about them in these posts here and here.) However, we are nearing the end of summer as I write this, so I decided to make the legs of Dolly's a little longer for winter. But the pattern I devised will make either.

This will fit a doll approximately 15"-16" tall, about 38-40 cm.

You can find a free pdf pattern and detailed tutorial after the jump.

First, print out the free PDF pattern It should open up as a pdf which you can download and print. Make sure you print it actual size, not fit to scale or anything else. However, it is drawn on half inch graph paper, so if it doesn't look the right size (on A4 paper) it would be easy to redraw square by square onto a new piece of graph paper. It includes all seam allowances, 3/8" except where stated.

Other than the pattern, here are the materials you will need.

  • piece of fabric for the legs part, band, and shoulder straps - I used just less less than a fat quarter, but the shape is not critical. You could also use material about 10" long by about 35" wide (25cm x 90cm approximately).
  • small piece of contrasting fabric for the yoke - this was just a scrap less than 8" x 6" (15cm x 20cm).
  • some broderie anglaise or lace to trim the shoulder straps - I used less than a metre (just over a yard) of yellow cotton lace about 0.5" wide (1.25cm)
  • sewing thread
  • narrow elastic - I used 6mm. If you want the shorties playsuit version, you could also use some 3mm elastic to make them frilly at the bottom.
  • optional - a little strip of the main fabric to make 'piping' - I cut this on the cross. You COULD inset very, very thin piping cord if you wanted, but I didn't bother on the scale of these doll's dungarees. The fabric alone looked enough without the cord.
  • optional - a tiny appliqué to decorate the yoke. I didn't use one, as I thought they were already decorative enough.

Here are the materials I used.

Next, cut out the pattern pieces:

  • Decide whether you want the shorties playsuit version of the dungarees, and if so cut the folded fabric on the marked cutting line. Otherwise, use the solid line at the bottom for the longer dungarees. Cut 2 of the dungarees bottoms on the fold.
  • Cut 2 yokes on the fold using the solid line as the cutting line.  (Note that the dotted line on the yoke indicates the line which will be used a a seam line or to incorporate piping, it's not a cutting line.) 
  • You will also need a narrow strip 1" wide, or 2.5cm, for the band. This will be the doll's chest measurement plus enough for turning in a small hem each end and overlapping. Mine was about 11" long or 28 cm. However, I recommend you measure, and add about 1 1/2" - 2". I used the main fabric for this.
  • You also need two shoulder straps, which go from the marked points on the yoke, to join the band at the back. I didn't cut these until ready to use them, by which time I could measure pretty much how long they should be. I also slightly elasticated mine to give a close fit. But they measured about 6" long by 1" wide (15cm x 2.5cm) if you want a rough idea. 
  • And finally I cut a piece on the cross (this is an optional extra) about 1" wide (2.5cm) which was about 8" long. It needs to be long enough, when folded along its length, to form piping round the yoke. I suggest you make it a little longer then trim it down. 

Here's how to proceed. In all the following, by 'Finish the seam', I mean finish in your normal way - serger if you have one, zigzag if you don't, or you can button hole stitch, use zigzag scissors or just leave a raw edge - whatever you want. I usually zigzag on my sewing machine, or sometimes with doll's clothes I don't bother as they don't get as hard wear as children's clothes.

1 For the shorties playsuit version, turn up a tiny double hem on the bottom of the legs and press. I mean really tiny - as tiny as you can make really. See picture below.

2 For this version, sew elastic 2-3mm wide to bottom of legs about half an inch above this hem, stretching a little as you go so it will gather them (but not too tight). If you can't get hold of the width of elastic I suggest, you could use something a bit wider or narrower - even shirring elastic would probably just about work. Fasten off the elastic firmly at the ends.

This is what you are aiming for.

3 Alternative to 1 and 2 for long legs dungarees - sew wider hems at the bottom of the legs, say 1/4" then 3/8", and insert 1/4" elastic, into the hems.

I'm suggesting it's easier to do this before doing the leg seams. However, if you can cope with fiddling little circle hems, you could do this the way I'd normally do hems on a larger pair of trousers, i.e. sew up all the side seams first and then do the hems and elastic.  It is a bit neater. But you will have a very tiny circle to sew round.

4 Sew up front crutch seams right sides together using a half inch seam allowance, and press; trim front crutch seam only to 1/4", finish this seam. Sew back crutch seam using half inch seam allowance from the crutch to about 3 - 3 1/2" from the top.  Press back crutch seam on both sides away from the seam. Finish edges separately. Bring the sides of the seam back together and sew across the seam allowance from the seam to the edges and press to one side above this seam.  This will form a half inch facing above the gap. This will overlap at the top.

5 Join the inner leg seams using 3/8" seam allowance, attaching front to back right sides together, and finish inner leg seams and press. 

6 Make the straps: gather trim, if not already gathered. Pin right sides together to one side of strap and sew 1/4" from edge. Press with the trim outwards and the seams pressed inwards to the main part of the strap. Press under 1/4" seam allowance on other side of strap. Fold strap length ways wrong sides together so the edge you just pressed meets the seam allowance on the other side (trapping the raw edge of the trim inside the strap) and oversew the lengths right at the edge. NB if you prefer, you can slightly elasticate these straps to make a snugger fit - you'd need to make them slightly longer. I did do this. You could either thread thin elastic (6mm or less) through with a bodkin (a safety pin will be too big) or stitch elastic on the wrong side stretching it slightly as you go.

7 If you want to decorate the yoke (e.g. if you have used a plain fabric) you could add a little appliqué to the right side of the outer yoke piece. 

8. If you do want to add a piped edge to the yoke, take a little strip of material cut on the bias, fold it in half lengthways, and tack it round on the right side of the outer layer of the yoke, with the raw edges together. You'll need to ease it round the curve. Your tacking line is the dotted line from the pattern, but it's about 1/4" - 3/8" from the edge. You can see the tacking on the picture below. Note that the fold on the bias strip is on the inside of the curve.
9 Pin the straps in place with the untrimmed edge to the centre (they should be at a slight diagonal) on the right side of the outer yoke piece, with the ends to the edge of the yoke and the straps laying diagonally down the yoke. You can tack these in place as well if you like.

The diagrams below illustrate this, though they don't show any piping.
10. Then pin the inner yoke piece wrong side up on top, so the straps (and piping if used) are in between. Sew round the curved edge, catching in the straps,  and reinforce where the ends of the straps are joined, with another small line or two of stitching. Do NOT sew up the bottom!

Here's the picture again a a reminder - you can see I've just started to lay the inner layer of the yoke on top - it's the dangly bit at the left bottom which has just got one pin holding it to the outer layer and piping.I had started pinning when I realised I hadn't taken a photo of this step, so I folded it back on itself.  It will be folded back over the outer layer and pinned all round. 

Clip the curves and turn right side out. Press. The straps should now be attached to the top of the yoke. And if you've used 'piping', it should also now be on the outside.
You can see what the finished yoke looks like below. See how the 'piping' has turned out?

Set the yoke aside for now.

11 Make the band. Use a piece 1" wide folded and pressed to half an inch, wrong sides together.

11 Gather the top edge of the dungaree bottoms to fit the length of the band. Keep the very ends not too gathered, i.e. keep most of the gathers round the front and sides of the dungarees.

12 Pin the yoke centrally on the front, right sides together with the now gathered bottoms. You can tack it if you like. Next pin the band, right sides together, and folded edge down, from the very end of the half inch facing on one side of the centre back, round the front and over the yoke, to the very end of the half inch facing on the other side of the centre back. Sew all the way round this seam, 1/4" from the edge, and finish the seam. Press the band and yoke upwards away from the bottoms. Only about 1/4" of the band will show.You are nearly done!

13 Press the ends of the band inwards (like the facing they are attached to) and stitch down. Attach the free end of the straps firmly in place at the back. On my sizing, these were 1 1/4"-1 1/2" from the finished centre back. Finally, add a couple of small pieces of Velcro to the top of the centre back to close it. 

And that's it! Done!


  1. Very great post with excellent and insightful information. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. Hope you've seen the other doll's clothes patterns.