Doll Clothes Patterns-WARNING: All 18-Inch Dolls Are NOT the Same Size

Doll clothes patterns can be confusing when it comes to achieving a proper fit. The first thing I discovered when I started sewing for my American Girl dolls is that not all 18-inch doll bodies are the same size. That means your doll clothes patterns require small adjustments and alterations to fit each doll. So, lets look at several different dolls and compare their body sizes.



The dolls shown in the photo above are (left to right):

  1. Lindsey, a Springfield Collection doll
  2. Julie, an American Girl doll made in 2008
  3. Girlz, a Madame Alexander doll
  4. A German doll made by Heidi Ott
  5. Kaya, an American Girl doll made in 2002


As a group, these dolls appear to be very similar. However, there are slight differences, even among American Girl dolls that will affect the fit of the doll clothes patterns. Because the 18-inch dolls have cloth bodies that are made by humans in sewing factories, quality control is sometimes an issue. I had to return my first Julie doll to the American Girl store. Her head was not attached halfway between her shoulders, but was mounted closer to one of her arms. Her body looked distorted, especially in a short-sleeved top. My point is… Even among the dolls made by one manufacturer, there are variations in body size. Sometimes seamstresses take larger seams, causing the bodies to be smaller. They may use more or less stuffing, which will change the size of the doll’s waistline. If the doll is not stuffed tightly enough, it will be difficult for her to stand on her own. She’ll need a doll stand, like the one shown in the photo above.


I have two American Girl dolls: Julie, made in 2008 and Kaya, made in 2002. Kaya, the older doll, is shorter. Much of this height difference is because the 2002 doll’s neck is considerably shorter than the 2008 doll’s neck. Although they’re different heights, it isn’t much of a fitting problem because the length of the neck doesn’t really affect the fit of the doll clothes patterns.



But, if you look closer at the photo, you’ll notice Kaya’s thighs are larger than Julie’s. This can be frustrating when they’re sharing doll clothes, like tight pants.

So, if you’re sewing for more than one doll, or you’re making doll clothes to sell, consider how the doll clothes will fit the different body types. Before you start sewing, you need to know how to adjust your doll clothes patterns to fit a variety of 18-inch dolls.

In the next blog post, we’ll look at three of the most popular 18-inch play dolls:

  1. American Girl dolls
  2. Gotz ‘Precious Day Collection’
  3. Madame Alexander ‘Girlz’


I’ll compare their exact body measurements to give you the information you’ll need to start adjusting your doll clothes patterns for a perfect fit.

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31 Responses

  1. Doll Clothes Gal Says:

    First time on your site. I love the posts and the patterns – they are so cute.

  2. Penny Says:

    Would love to try and make 18″ doll clothes for my granddaughter for Christmas. I see you may have some free patterns. Would like to try first, not used to making “small” clothes. If I can do okay, would like to get your book or books. Anything I can try from your website or blog?

    Thanks, Penny

  3. Holly Says:

    Hey! I saw your patterns and I really like them! Cute! But do you have any online that I could look at? Thanks!

    P.S. Email me at i8chocolate3@live.com. Thanks! :)

  4. admin Says:

    The hobo bag will be on the site soon. Watch the homepage for a sign up form. When you sign up, I’ll email it to you as a FREE gift.

    I’ll also be adding patterns of complete outfits, for sale soon, including accessories; like boots, hats, purses, etc.

    Peggy

  5. Debbie Galbraith Says:

    I would like to know where you are getting the Madame Alexander dolls. We got one at Costco last Christmas and I’m unable to find a retailer in the Coeur’d Alene, ID, area. We have a Madame Alexander and another 18″ doll from ShopKo “Our Generation” and yes the clothes are a little tighter on the ShopKo doll. Thank you for the info!

  6. admin Says:

    Hi Debbie,
    I got my three Madame Alexander dolls at Costco too. I’ve seen both Madame Alexander and Gotz dolls at Tuesday Morning. They have a store on Appleway Ave. near you. They used to sell beautiful dolls on a website, but I don’t remember the web address. If you phone the store, they can probably help you. Have you searched Google for Madame Alexander?
    Peggy

  7. Sarah Says:

    Hi

    I’m interested to know what the measurements are for the Springfield Collection Dolls. I’m having a replica of my wedding dress made to fit. I don’t have the doll yet, so I can’t get her measured. Thanks!

  8. avery Says:

    i want an american girl doll and i was wondering if there were any in good condition that was around 50 dollars since we cant afford one for 100 dollars i like emily, kit, and julie but any would be fine i hope i find one

    bye

  9. admin Says:

    Avery,
    I purchased an American Girl doll on Ebay for under $50 last year. The doll was in excellent condition, but her wig required lots of work. It still doesn’t look like a new doll.

    Madame Alexander Girlz (the doll with brown hair in the “headband” blog post) and Gotz dolls are both around $30-40. They’re very pretty too.
    Peggy

  10. janet Says:

    there is a madam alexander store in 131 and 12th ave in manhattan ny their 18″ dolls cost only $25 and in my opinion the dolls look just as good or better than a pricey american girl doll the store sells whole sale it is in a factory so it is not retail pricing

  11. minshopper Says:

    Madame Alexander now has an 18″ vinyl doll for sale at Walmart. Haven’t purchased one yet, but want to.

  12. anna banana Says:

    I love the free hobo bag pattern. I made one out of light weight denim jeans.It turned out really cute especially after I ironed on some stones. The money is such a kick. :o )Thanks for your generosity. I’m anxious for you to have a pattern for the crochet slippers.

  13. GENOA Says:

    The Madame Alexander dolls at Walmart were $24.99 before Christmas and then on 50% clearance for $12.50 the day after Christmas. Luckily I was gift shopping the day after and purchased a beautiful African American version as a little girl’s gift. Quality was excellent and I heard that she was thrilled with her (8 yo).

    I went back several days later to purchase two for myself to add to my 18″ dolls and they were all gone (were app 20 of them several days earlier). All of the collectible Barbie’s were also 50% off. Wanted the one where Barbie has the 60’s barbie print gown and they were gone also — couldn’t afford to buy for myself the day after Christmas — under estimated how quick they would disappear from the shelf :)

  14. Debbie Reynolds Says:

    Springfield girls use to come with a choice of hair and eye color. Is it still possible to get a girl with blue eyes and brown hair? My granddaughter has big blue eyes and brown hair. My other granddaughter is hispanic. I have used the Friend2Friend line but they aren’t as nice as the 18″ dolls in this blog. Any suggestions?

  15. admin Says:

    Debbie,
    The last time I looked the at Michael’s/MJ Designs retail stores, they had a nice selection of different hair and eye colors. If there’s no store near you, try their website. You can probably order online.
    Peggy

  16. Deanna Says:

    Thank you for the info. Just found this article. I’ve been making clothes for my two niece’s American Girl dolls for a couple of months and have had trouble with some not fitting properly. Nice to have this info confirmed! It’s not just me! ;)

  17. Gloria Mott Says:

    Springfield dolls are a lot smaller, arms, legs and body than an American Girl doll. I ended up buying one just for fitting as I sell doll clothes.

  18. Grandma Ellen Says:

    I just bought a Toys R Us “Journey Girl” 18″ doll for my granddaughter’s 5th birthday next week. I plan to make matching outfits for her for Christmas. I couldn’t find a pattern that includes both the girl and the doll. Are such patterns available? For now, I bought 2 different patterns that are similar and will have to adapt them. Love your site!

  19. admin Says:

    Grandma Ellen,
    I’ve seen a few look-alike patterns, but they’re hard to find.
    Peggy

  20. Debbie Says:

    I have been making doll clothes for my granddaughters American Girl and Madame Alexander dolls. The clothes are fairly easy to make, it’s the sizing that gets a little tricky. Thanks for the pic that clearly shows where the adjustments need to be made. I took measurements of the dolls and the pic gives me a visual view of the differences in these dolls.

  21. Colleen Says:

    Just found this site. Was looking for patterns for 18′ handmade dolls. These patterns are so cute. I’ll have to see how well they can be adapted for the dolls I make. I’ll keep you posted.

  22. Grandma Says:

    Thanks for the hobo bag pattern but I’m unable to print it at this time because I’m having difficulty with pdf files.
    In the meantime I tried to use a McCall’s pattern for 18′ doll clothes and found the patterns too small for my m Alexander Favorite Friends doll. Any suggestions/

  23. admin Says:

    Grandma,
    If you’re having difficulty with PDF files, your Adobe Reader is probably too old. You can download the most recent version for your computer for free at http://adobe.com/

    18-inch patterns fit M. Alexander Girlz. I don’t know how large the Favorite Friends are. Maybe one of the readers will know.
    Peggy

  24. Shelly Says:

    Love the site! I am hoping to find the items needed to make the doll bed, even though garden season is ending. I also loved the headbands. Gonna try my hand at sewing too. Haven’t had much of any experience with that. Thanks for the great patterns.

  25. stampcos Says:

    LOVE the hobo bag – so easy to make. Made two for granddaughters who were delighted to find ‘real’
    money inside. Hubby worried that the money looks so real I might be arrested for counterfeiting! What fun for Nana! Thanks.

  26. Jada Says:

    I so love this article! My daughter really likes them. Another doll is BFC ink. They can move and bend their arms,legs and hands, And they’re really cheap! I use the patterns for my girls. Thanks for doing what you do! :)

  27. joy Says:

    Kaya is so cute. I’m getting her with my 100 dollars from christmas.

  28. Shania Says:

    I wish I had an American Girl doll.

  29. Karin Says:

    Just a beginner in sewing doll clothes. Hope to improve. My husband said Molly has a great wardrobe. Love your website. It’s nice to sew for Dolls. They don’t complain.

  30. Janell Says:

    WOW, just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for Marc Jacobs.

  31. Deandre Says:

    Love the info here.

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