How to sew a gorgeous Maxi Dress for Barbie Dolls

by Claire
Barbie dolls

Are you dreaming of warm sunny days, music festivals, holidays in the sunshine, picnics on beaches? I know I am! After months of winter, spring showers, lockdown and restrictions we all need to relax in the sun. Inspired by the thought of sunny days ahead, I decided to design a tiered maxi dress for dolls. Download the free Barbie doll sewing pattern and follow the instructions to make your own Barbie or Sindy Maxi Dress ready for the sunshine. The Maxi Dress sewing pattern includes both Made to Move Barbie size with a halter neck and Made to Move Curvy Barbie size with spaghetti straps. The Made to Move size also fits Sindy dolls.

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What you need:

  • Dress fabric – 25 cm (10″) length of lightweight cotton fabric – I used Liberty Print Tana Lawn from Clothkits. Tana Lawn is a lovely lightweight cotton which makes it perfect for doll dressmaking. Liberty prints are often small scale which works well for dolls.
  • For the spaghetti straps – 20 cm (8″) length of 1mm diameter nylon knotting cord to coordinate with your fabric
  • Back fastening – 7 cm zip or small snap fastenings or hook and loop tape. If you want a tiny zip you can buy them from CharleneluDesign on Etsy – she stocks lots of zippers, buttons, fastenings, lace and ribbon in tiny sizes perfect for doll sewing!
  • Trimmings – 1m length of 0.5 cm wide lace or similar trim if using (the lace on the Curvy Barbie dress was from CharleneluDesign).
  • Optional but useful – Fray stop glue
  • Maxi Dress FREE Pattern – click the download button below.

General tips before you start

The easiest way of stopping edges from fraying is to apply fray stop glue to the edges before you sew. Mark the lines for the darts onto your fabric. The bra top is small and you may struggle if you use a sewing machine. I find it easier to hand stitch smaller pieces using backstitch. If you want to use a machine, place a piece of tissue paper under the fabric – this stops it being chewed up.

Step 1: Bra top and waistband

Cut the bra cup and waistband pieces, taking care to make sure you have a left and right cup.

Fold the fabric in half, right sides together and stitch along the lines to form the dart (which gives the bra cup it’s shape). Trim the excess fabric inside and press the seam to one side.

For the spaghetti strap dress – turn under the left and right sides of each bra cup, as shown below, and press. Topstitch. For the halter neck dress, fold all the way along each side of the bra cup and straps, press and topstitch.

image of bra top

Fold the waistband in half and mark the centre. Line up the bra cups with the centre top of the waistband, pin and tack near the top of the waistband to hold in place.

Fold and press the top of the waistband over and the bra cups up. Topstitch along the top of the waistband to secure the bra cups in place. They should meet in the middle.

Step 2: Tiered skirt

Cut three rectangles using the measurements on the pattern.

Stitch two rows of gathering stitches at the top of the first tier rectangle. Gather to the size of the waistband by pulling the bottom threads. Distribute the gathers evenly. Pin to the bottom of the waistband, right sides together. Stitch.

Press the seam towards the bodice and top stitch the bottom of the waistband.

Repeat the steps with the second tier – gathering and stitching to the bottom of the first tier. Press the seam up.  If you are adding lace or other trim, change your top thread to match the trim and stitch it in place.  Otherwise, topstitch the lower edge of the first tier. To make a knee length dress, miss off the third tier.

Repeat the steps with the third tier.

Finishing the dress

Pin the back seam, right sides together from 1/4″ below the top of the first tier to the bottom edge of the dress. Stitch. Press the seam open.

Press each side of the back opening under 1/4″ on each side. If inserting a zip – tack the remaining back opening closed.

Centre the zip in the middle of the back seam and pin, then tack in place.

On the right side, hand stitch around the zip.  Remove tacking.

Knot one end of the cord and sew in place at the top inside of the bra. Repeat for the other side.

Measure how long the straps need to be on your doll and knot the other ends of the cord.

Sew in place at the back of the dress, inside.

Press a single fold hem and sew the lace from the right side to finish.

If not using a zip – topstitch around the back opening and sew on snaps.

If you want a knee length dress, miss off the last tier.

I’d love to see your dresses made using this pattern – share on Instagram using #galaxiadolls and tag @galaxiadolls. If you want to make more outfits for your Barbie or Sindy, check out this post:

Happy doll sewing!

Claire x

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