Sew Simple Removable Jeans for Any Size or Scale Doll

  • 01 of 11

    Sew Simple Removable Jeans for Any Size or Scale of Doll

    Custom fitted removable doll jeans on a Brenda Breyer doll
    Lesley Shepherd

    Using a Custom Pants Sloper made to custom fit your chosen doll, you can easily make a pattern for simple removable jeans and sew them from the instructions which follow. The materials will depend on the size of the doll you are working with. For the instructions which follow, I made a pair of jeans for a 1:8 scale Brenda Breyer doll from lightweight denim fabric from a worn denim shirt, destined for the rag pile. In the scale for miniature dolls, shirt or dress weight denim fabric is a good choice. For larger dolls, you may find regular denim recovered from a worn pair of jeans works well.

    The jeans shown here are a good first test for a custom pants sloper designed for your doll. These jeans do not have any details and rely on the fabric to suggest the pant style. As you become more familiar with making fitted pants for your doll, you can modify your basic sloper pattern to add traditional jean pockets, elastic waists, belt holders or other details to your basic jeans.

    Materials Needed to Make Simple Removable Custom Jeans for a Doll:

    • Denim Fabric choose lightweight or well-worn denim for doll clothes. Look for worn denim shirts, or quilting fabric designed to resemble denim to make clothing for smaller dolls. Second-Hand Stores are a good source of clothing suitable to cut up for doll clothes.
    • Sewing Machine and appropriate thread - or hand sewing materials.
    • Fine Ribbon - for backing waistbands for fashion and miniature dolls where a waistband made from a double thickness of fabric would add too much bulk. For my 1:8 scale doll I used a fine silk embroidery ribbon, 1/4 inch (7mm) wide.
    • Small Snap Closure - or bits of lightweight hook and loop closure suitable for your doll.
    • Sharp Scissors - to cut fabric, ribbon, and thread.
    • Paper or Lightweight Non-Woven Interfacing - to make the jeans pattern.
    • Custom Fitted Pants Sloper Pattern - Made to fit your particular doll, see the link to instructions at the top of the page.
    • PVA Glue or Fray Check to hold fine seams
    • Sewing Needle and Thread - to finish interior waistband edge and baste waistband if necessary.
    • Elastic Thread or Narrow Bathing Suit Elastic - if you want your doll jeans to have an elastic waist. An elastic waist will only work for dolls where the difference between the waist and hips can accommodate the extra fabric and elastic.

    Also useful, especially if you don't sew, is fusible hemming tape or fusible webbing cut to small strips. This can be used to glue hems, waistbands, facings and other small edges to each other, using a steam iron.

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  • 02 of 11

    Make a Basic Pattern for Doll Jeans From a Basic Pant Sloper Fitted to Your Doll

    Front and back leg pieces and pattern for doll jeans
    Lesley Shepherd

    To begin sewing a pair of doll jeans for any size or scale of the doll, first, make a Basic Pant Sloper for a Doll to fit your particular doll. The sloper should be made from lightweight interfacing and will give you the appropriate information you need to make a basic jean pattern.

    When you have the sloper pattern completed, analyze the fit which will work best for your doll. Will you be able to point the doll's foot to put on the jeans, or will the jean leg need to fit an extended nonmoveable foot? Will you be able to give the doll a back opening large enough to pull the jeans on with a back closure, or will your jeans need to have an elastic waist to fit a doll with a very small waist compared to its hips. How much stretch will your doll jeans need? Should you try to find lightweight stretch denim so that the jeans can be fitted tighter than would be possible with the woven material?

    When you have decided what pattern adaptations you need to make for your doll's jeans to fit on and off easily, lay out your basic sloper pattern on a larger piece of interfacing or paper and trace around the sloper, tracing the lines of the waist darts as well. If you are making jeans with an elastic waist, you will not need to sew the darts, but you will need to add the extra material at the top of the dart into the waistband. If your doll has ball joints at the ankle, adjust your pattern by adding a minimum 1/8 inch seam line around your basic sloper, on the top and sides of both the front and the back sloper patterns. If your doll has fixed feet or shoes in place, you will need to make the bottom of the jean legs wide enough to fit over the doll feet.

    Leave at least 1/4 inch hem at the base of the legs, unless you will be working with already finished seams on your fabric. (I used the hem on the shirttail of my denim shirt as a finished hem for the base of my pant legs.) Mark a line down the center of your pant leg patterns from the point of the sloper dart. This will give you the line for the fabric grain.

    Add a slightly wider seam line to the back center seam edges of your basic pattern. You will need to turn the edge of the back center seam into a narrow hem to make a pair of back opening jeans.

    At their most basic, you will have a pattern which is very similar to your sloper pattern, perhaps with a wider leg at the base of the leg, and a marked 1/8 inch (or larger depending on your doll size) seam allowance all the way around the pattern, except for the base of the leg, where you will need a slightly wider hem.

    When you have pattern pieces drawn on paper, cut them out and check them against your doll or an existing pair of pants which fit your doll, to check your pattern. The first pair of pants you sew will be a test for your pattern, so don't expect it to be perfect the first time!

    When you have a pattern you think will work, label the pieces with front and back and the doll's name. You can reuse these pattern pieces many times for many basic pant styles.

    Cut out two front pieces and two back pieces for your jeans, laying your pattern on the fabric, so the grain line on the pattern matches the grain (direction of the fabric lines) for the fabric. In the photo above you can see that one leg (on the left of the photo) has been correctly cut with the grain, while the front of the leg on the right has been cut off grain. See how the lines of the threads do not run straight up and down the fabric. I did this intentionally so you can see how the difference appears as you sew the jeans. Cutting fabric off grain will cause seamlines to stretch and fabric drape to be off grain when the pants are fitted. In this size of doll, we were working with it wasn't too noticeable, but it is a good idea to keep fabric grain lines straight whenever you are making pants.

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  • 03 of 11

    Sew The Back and Front Legs of the Doll Jeans Together at the Sides

    Test fitting custom doll jeans on the doll's leg
    Lesley Shepherd

    Using a fairly small stitch and the correct tension for your sewing machine, stitch the darts on your front and back leg pieces if you are using darts to fit your jeans to your doll's waist. When sewing small pieces of fabric, it is sometimes easier to stitch them on top of a sheet of paper, catching the paper in the stitching as you sew the fabric pieces together. This helps prevent the fabric from getting tangled in the feed dogs on your sewing machine.

    If you want to see the stitching on the base of the legs of your jeans, turn over the hem at the bottom of the jean legs and stitch it on the right side of the jean. If you prefer, you can stitch both hems on a single leg at one time after sewing the outer seam of the jean leg together, then open out the fabric, turning up the hem, and sew the hem on the front and back leg in one process. After sewing the leg hem, you can stitch the inner leg seam.

    With the darts sewn, lay one front leg jean piece on top of a back leg piece, so the right sides are in the middle touching each other. Sew the inner leg seam from the top of the leg down to the bottom, keeping the center seams free. (stitch the leg hem now if you want) Sew the outer leg seam from the waist to the bottom of the leg.

    Tie off any loose threads, trim the seams to 1/8 inch and treat them with fray check. Test fit the jean leg, the wrong side out, to your doll to make sure you can fit the leg over the doll's foot. Check to see that you have enough material for the center seam and the back seam for your doll's jeans. If you will be making an elastic waist, turn the excess fabric at the waist over and mark where the waist will turn as shown in the photo. (you can mark the turn with a bit of chalk or hard bar soap. Remove the jean leg from the doll.

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  • 04 of 11

    Test Fit A Jean Leg On Your Posing Doll

    Test fit the jean leg onto the doll
    Lesley Shepherd

    Turn one jean leg right side out (so the seams are on the inside). Test fit the jean to the leg of a posing doll, bending the doll leg into several positions with the jean leg on, to make sure the fit of the jeans doesn't prevent the doll from bending at the joints. If everything works correctly, continue to sew the simple jeans for your doll. If the jeans are too tight, make adjustments on your master jean pattern, cut new pieces and sew them together to get a better fit.

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  • 05 of 11

    Fit the Legs Together to Sew the Front Center Seam

    One leg of a pair of doll jeans in another
    Lesley Shepherd

    For most dolls above 1:24 scale, you can use the traditional method of fitting one leg inside the other to sew the center front and crotch seam. For smaller dolls, you may have to sew the center seam by hand as the fabric may not be flexible enough to sew under the sewing machine.

    To fit the legs together to sew the seam by machine, take one leg which has been turned, so it is right side out (seams on the inside) and fit it inside the other leg which has the seams facing out. This will put the right side of one leg against the right side of the other leg.

    The same method lines up the center seams for hand sewing if you are working with smaller doll scales or very tight fitting jeans which will not sew easily on your sewing machine. Make sure you line up the inner and outer seam lines on the legs, pinning them in place if possible or basting them if pinning will not work.

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  • 06 of 11

    Sew the Center Front and Back Seams on Your Doll Jeans

    Matching the center front and back seams for jeans
    Lesley Shepherd

    To sew the center front seam on your simple doll jeans, position your sewing machine needle on the leg seam where it meets the center front of the doll jeans. If you are sewing lightweight fabric, position the seam over a piece of paper and insert the legs of the jeans and the paper into the machine.

    Stitch the center front seam of the doll jeans from the inner leg seam to the waist of the jean. Tie off the loose threads and reposition the needle in the center seam, this time preparing to sew the back seam of the doll jeans. For back opening doll jeans, sew the center back seam only as far as the end of the crotch curve. Leave the back seam open above this point to allow you to fit the jeans on the doll. If you are making an elastic waist for your doll jeans, sew the seam to the waist. Tie off the threads and turn the jeans right side out. Test fit them on your doll.

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  • 07 of 11

    Trim the Waist of the Doll Jeans for a Fitted or Elastic Waistband

    A doll wearing custom fitted jeans
    Lesley Shepherd

    Test fit your jeans on your doll, checking that you will be able to get the jeans on the doll and that you have enough fabric at the back of the jeans to make an overlap closure for the jeans. If you are adding a waistband, trim the jeans at the doll's waist to a point 1/8 above where you want the waistband to start.

    If you are making an elastic waistband, turn over the fabric at the top edge of where your waistband will be. Baste the edge with a running stitch to mark the top of your folded waistband. Make sure the fold you allow will leave space for the width of your elastic. Elastic thread works well for small dolls; narrow bathing suit elastic works well for larger dolls.

    Remove the jeans from the doll, and turn over the waistband to create the tunnel for the elastic if you are using it. Sew the hem for the elastic by hand, leaving an opening to insert the elastic. Thread the elastic into the waistband hem and fit the jeans back on the doll. Adjust the elastic to fit the doll's waist and check that you can easily remove the jeans. Stitch the elastic together on the ends, or tie an inelastic knot thread. Finish sewing the opening in the waistband hem once the elastic has been fitted inside.

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  • 08 of 11

    Fit and Make a Sewn Waist Band for Front or Back Opening Doll Jeans

    Waistband for a pair of custom fitted doll jeans
    Lesley Shepherd

    Depending on the size of your doll you can make a front or back opening waistband for doll jeans. For smaller miniature dolls it is often easier and less obvious if the waistband closes at the back. To make the waistband for your doll jeans, cut a narrow piece of fabric with the grain line running along the length of the fabric. The fabric should be cut to the width you want for the waistband, plus at least 1/4 inch (seam allowance for two seams). For larger dolls, you can cut the waistband twice the width you want plus two seam allowances. On larger dolls, the waistband can be made from a single piece of folded fabric. For smaller dolls, use fine ribbon for one side of the waistband to reduce the amount of heavy fabric at the doll's waist.

    With the unfinished jeans in place on the doll, fold your waistband fabric in half or along one seamline, and fit it around your doll's waist, leaving an overlap of at least 1/4 inch for the end seams, plus any overlap you want for closing the waistband with hook and eye closures, hook and loop closures or snaps. Cut the waistband to length, making sure you have allowed enough fabric for end seams plus an overlap.

    Use the length you cut to create a waistband pattern from paper or underlining for future pants for your doll.

    For dolls 1:6 scale (playscale, fashion doll scale) and smaller, cut a piece of fine ribbon the same length as your waistband fabric.

    Lay the waistband fabric and the ribbon with the fabric and ribbon right sides together, and sew a fine seam along the length of one edge of the waistband. Sew the ribbon to the waistband on both ends. (See photo above)

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  • 09 of 11

    Sew the Waistband to the Doll Jeans

    Waistband lined with ribbon in sewn custom fitted doll jeans
    Lesley Shepherd

    Fold the prepared waistband in half lengthwise and pin the center of the waistband to the center front seam of the doll jeans, so that the right side of the waistband is against the right side of the jeans (see photo above). Baste the waistband to the jeans, keeping the ribbon facing (or inside of the waistband) free. If you have to gather the jeans slightly to fit the waistband, then do it with your basting stitches.

    When you have the waistband correctly positioned on the waist seam of the jeans, sew the waistband to the doll jeans, stitching from the center front to the back, then you must stitch from the center front to the back on the other side. Tie off the stitches and turn the ribbon side of the waist band to the inside of the jeans, trimming the fabric (but not the ribbon seam, which is a finished edge) if necessary.

    Use a pin or a toothpick to push the corners of the waistband out, so they are square. Cover the inside seam of the jeans with the free edge of the ribbon side of the waistband and stitch the ribbon edge over carefully over the waistband seam, covering the seam.

    If you are making a waistband for a larger doll, turn the inside of the waistband seamline up as a hem and stitch the inside of the waistband over the seam to cover it.

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  • 10 of 11

    Fit the Waist Closure on the Doll Jeans

    Hook and loop tabs on doll jeans
    Lesley Shepherd

    To finish the back opening of the doll jeans (or front opening if you designed them that way), turn under the top, overlapping edge of the jeans and stitch, hem or glue it down on the underside. (iron-on hemming tape is good for this ). Finish the underlapping edge of the back (or front) center seam as well, or stitch over it to hold the edges from fraying.

    Take your choice of closure, snap, hook and loop or hook and eye, and sew it to the overlap and the underlap of the jean waistband. In the photo above, I used a narrow strip of hook tape attached to the underlapping edge of the waistband, and extending past it. I sewed a small tab of loop tape to the overlap side of the back opening. This method means the fit of jeans can be adjusted to the type of shirt the doll is wearing. For larger dolls snaps or buttons are suitable. For very small dolls you may need to use a bead and a thread loop which fits over the bead.

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  • 11 of 11

    Test Fit the Jeans On the Doll in a Variety of Poses

    Rider doll on model horse showing fit of custom jeans
    Lesley Shepherd

    When your first custom doll jeans are completed, test fit them on the doll and position the doll in regular poses to make sure the jeans do not bind the doll's joints. If your doll has particular poses which will not work with your first pair of jeans, you may need to adapt your pattern for more ease, (draw the seam lines further outside of your sloper lines) or use fabric which has more stretch. If you like the effect of the fabric you are using, but need slightly more stretch; you can cut the fabric pieces at a 45-degree angle to the grain to take advantage of 'bias' grain stretch. This will change how your fabric hangs, however.

    With your first pair of jeans finished, make notes for yourself about how you will modify the pattern for different fabrics, or to cut different styles (pockets or jeans with a back yoke and no darts?) Examine real jeans, and other doll's clothes to see which ideas and designs will work best for your sewing skills and your doll. This particular design is very easy to modify to different materials (lightweight linens, fine Italian summer wool suiting, silk, cotton lawn, and other fabrics). For miniature dolls, check specialty fabric suppliers for suitably sized pieces of small-scale fabrics, and keep notes for yourself on which fabrics work best for particular clothing styles.

    Have fun! And remember, you get better the more practice you have!

    Note: Brenda Breyer, at 1:8 scale is out of scale on this Breyer Classic Scale Horse Model at 1:12, but you can still check the pose!