Turn Old Children’s Clothes into Doll Clothes

Hello, lovely Friends! I am pretty excited about today’s post.

Here is the sneak peek of this project I shared on Thursday:


I know you were probably wondering what on earth I was going to do with them.

My sweet niece, Eva, had a birthday a couple of weeks ago and my Mom bought her an American Girl Doll. I decided I would buy her a few outfits to go with it…that is until I saw how much they were. Are they kidding? $35 for a doll outfit?? Ohhhhhh NO. Not happening. But then I remembered I can sew!

The next day was Wednesday and the Salvation Army Thrift Store, at least in my area, has all clothes 50% off on Wednesdays. I decided I would try to find some children’s clothing that I could cut down into a wardrobe for Grace (Eva’s doll).

I have two boys so I can’t tell you how excited I was to get to sew doll clothes, and I saved a ton of money making them myself!

Up first is this purple sweater:


I paired it with these jeggings:


To create this outfit:

Turn old children's clothes into doll clothes from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

Oh and those boots? They were this vest:


Cute right?? Total for this outfit, including the boots: $4. I am not kidding!

That doesn’t include thread, elastic, or Velcro, just what I paid for the clothes at 50% off. I tell ya, searching the thrift store for pieces to use is way more fun than walking the fabric aisles at the fabric store!

Next up is this girl’s skirt that I paired with a women’s tank:


To create this cute outfit:
Turn old children's clothes into doll clothes from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

I tried to take advantage of pretty finished edges wherever I could. These two pieces cost $3.

For most of these pieces, including the boots, I used one pattern by McCall’s. I found mine at JoAnns, but it’s actually cheaper on amazon HERE.

McCalls doll clothing pattern

Grace needs a Christmas dress, right? I thought this one would be perfect:


And it was…

Turn old children's clothes into doll clothes from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

The original dress had some stains on the bow, but I was able to cut it down. This dress was only $1.50!

And what about those shoes?

Yep. Made those too. I modified the boot pattern and added bows…

Turn old children's clothes into doll clothes from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

And here’s how they started out:

This is a leather skirt originally from the Gap in a size zero.  I don’t ever remember being a size zero, but for $2.50 it was perfect for a few accessories. (You’ll see what else I made with it coming up.)

Next up is this women’s jacket and girl’s skirt I paired together at the thrift store:


They turned into this preppy little number:

Turn old kid's clothes into doll clothes from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

I made another top with short sleeves out of the women’s tank I used earlier, to create a top to go under this jacket. Total cost for this jacket and skirt: $4.

I love this next one.  I paired this girl’s shirt with a pair of toddler leggings:


They became this comfy get-up:

Turn old kid's clothes into American Girl doll clothes from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

SO cute! All of these shirts are easy to get on and off with a strip of Velcro at the back. I varied this shirt pattern on the length at the bottom, and for the sleeves on a couple, but I used it for most of the tops in these outfits. The leggings were super easy.  I paid $2 for these two pieces. (The little stones on the shirt are the stones on the little ballet flats. )
Here’s another simple one…I found this cute girl’s shirt and paired it with these leggings, that actually had a hole in the knee, but that made no difference!


And here is how they turned out:

DIY AMerican Girl Doll Clothes from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

Total cost, minus the boots (that came from the leather skirt): $1.50!

The boots really make it though! Aren’t they the coolest?? They were included in the pattern!


How about some jammies for Grace?

I found this Cuddl Duds women’s shirt that still had the original tags on it:


I knew it would make great fleecy jammies:

Turn old kid's clothes into American Girl doll clothes from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

I added the pocket detail to make it a little different, but again I used the shirt and legging patterns.


Total cost: $3.

The doll I used as my model came from Target. It has a prettier face than the American Girl dolls in my opinion and was a fraction of the cost, but her hair was very thin when it was hanging straight. (You can see that in the jammies photo above.) Still a good alternative if the real deal is out of your price range.

Here’s one just to show the vest I made out of the leather skirt. I mixed it with pieces from other outfits:


I saved my favorite for last. I matched this girl’s sweater and skirt:


To create this one-of-a-kind outfit:

Turn old children's clothes into doll clothes from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

My favorite! Using the original hems in the sweaters helped to make them both look authentic. This did require a little pattern modification as well. I added some of the hem detail to the neck for this one just as I did for the first one. You also have to be sure to seal the seams with a zig zag stitch to prevent unraveling when using sweaters.

It’s the boots and hat that totally make it though. This hat was in the pattern as well, but I added the rosette detail:

Turn old kid's clothes into doll clothes from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com


So chic! Total cost for this outfit, even with the boots and hat: $5.00. That includes the leggings as well. You just can’t beat that!

I hope you enjoyed these transformations! I spent a total of $26.50 on the clothes I used, and about $10 more for thread, elastic, and velcro. That’s eight individual outfits for just a little more than the cost of one American Girl Doll outfit I looked at.  If you can sew and have a special little girl in your life who would love some doll clothes, this is the way to go!

Turn old children's clothes into doll clothes from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

I bought several warm-weather pieces of clothing as well, but decided to save them for a few Spring-Summer additions to her wardrobe.

I truly had too much fun with these, and spent way too much time on them, but I loved every minute. I may be a boy mom, but the girly girl in me was like a kid again. 🙂

I’ll be back on Thursday sharing how I updated this huge basket I found:


I’ll see ya’ll then! 🙂

UPDATE: Boom! Check out what I did to this basket HERE!



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  1. Mary Kaiser says

    You totally AMAZE me. Your list of talents must go on forever! You are a great Aunt, your niece is so lucky! Great job!

    • Thank you so much, Mary! I used to make and sell dolls years ago, so I got pretty handy with a machine…it’s great for times like this! I had a ball! 🙂

  2. What the…heck!!!???!!! YOU kill me!!!! These are adorable!!!! I love them all!!!!
    You and the Mustard Lady have taken all the talent…could you save some for us. Seriously these are way cuter then any of the store bought ones. You have a very lucky niece.
    Now stop slacken and go re-roof the house!!!!
    God Bless~

    • Ha ha NO WAY will you ever see me up on the roof lol. Super scared of heights yikes!! But I do love to create and I am so lucky I get to share it with some pretty amazing people. Thank you!! XOXO

    • Rita Spittler says

      Hahaha, GREAT post, Addie. And you name is an American Doll, too.

  3. Janie Hayes says

    Your niece is the luckiest little girl to have such a talented Aunt. Those are amazing! And to think that you had such a good time doing it for her is nothing less than pure love!

    • Aww thanks, Janie! I really did enjoy every second, and then I kinda wanted to keep them all for myself lol. 🙂

  4. What little girl wouldn’t be thrilled to pieces to get those outfits for her doll. Awesome job and I love that you “beat the system of greed”. Doll clothes do not need to be $35 a wack. Good for you!!!

    • Thanks, Barb! My Grandma did that for me with my Barbies when I was young and I know how thrilled I was to get them…endless hours of fun! And yes, those prices were insane! XO

  5. Wow, wonderful!! I so wish I could sew, you did a fantastic job!!

  6. How adorable. IWay back when I sewed and knitted all of my doll clothes. You certainly brought back some nice memories. I bet your niece is thrilled and the doll is the best dressed doll on the block.

    • Thanks, Debra! I know you must have enjoyed it as well…it was so fun, especially since it was something different for me. XOXO

  7. Marcie Lovett says

    That is one stylin’ AG doll! Your niece is going to flip for those outfits. My mother popped for the doll and I sewed clothes because I was horrified at the prices. Do I need to start on how Barbie clothes were $1.25 when I was your age, young lady, and I paid with my own allowance? Yeah, nobody wants to hear that.

    It looks like you had so much fun coming up with all the separates. Truly, they look like they came from the store!

    • Thanks so much, Marcie! I remember I could get an outfit for $1 at Kmart! We always got a dollar to spend and I would head straight for the Barbie aisle! They are outrageously priced these days. I really did have a blast making them…I didn’t want to stop lol. 🙂

      • Don’t stop! You could sell those adorable outfits. I have three boys (21,20 and 17 1/2) so look forward to DIL’s and hopefully some grand daughters … some day.

  8. Linda Southworth says

    I have seen the makeovers of clothing to suit your style, shape, etc. but I have not seen a makeover for doll clothing making strategic use of the existing hems and sewn decor of the item. LOVE IT! I have one grown daughter that still loves the American Girl series and has a few. I am going to get with her to build her little prissy girls a set of adorable clothing. Christy, you have such a good eye and talent!

    • Thank you so much, Linda!! You will have a ball! I think I enjoyed shopping for the clothes to use almost as much! XO

  9. Candy Walsh says

    Very impressive! I wish I would’ve know how to sew back when my daughter, who’s now 26, was going thru her American Girl AND Bitty Baby stage! I would get her an outfit for special occasions like birthdays, Christmas, Easter, etc. and no, they weren’t cheap! But she loved them! (And secretly, so did I, lol). Now her small fortune is neatly sealed and tucked away in the attic for when she has a daughter one day.
    She had my first grandchild ten months ago, but he prefers trucks and balls, lol!

    • Thank you, Candy! No they aren’t cheap at all! Good thing you saved them…maybe the next one will love dolls! And between you and me, I secretly wanted to keep these for myself to play with lol. XO

  10. Oh my gosh, those doll clothes are amazing! You are very talented.

  11. Great Job Christie, How do you cut the knits down so they don’t fray before you resew them?

  12. These are too cute and I know that Eva will spend hours and hours playing with her doll and these outfits.

    • Thanks, Paula! I think she will too. My Grandma used to send me Barbie outfits that she made and I treasured them! XO

  13. Oh my! This is over the top goodness! I can’t believe how you transformed those items! I can tell you had so much fun with this. As a mom to two boys, I know I would have!

    Great post.


    • Thank you, Nancy! I really did enjoy taking a break from super heroes and video games to make these!! Hoping for granddaughters in the future ha ha! XOXO

  14. Well, I am very impressed! You never cease to amaze me! I would have loved all of these when I was a little girl! I love reading your posts and seeing your projects! Keep them coming!

    • Thank you so much, Candice!! My Grandma would make clothes for my Barbies and I loved them. Thanks for following along with me! XO

  15. What fun! That brought back memories of sewing doll clothes for my daughter and niece! Love how you used real clothes to make the doll ones – they look great. The shoes, boots and hat are fantastic! I think there will be one little girl who will love her new doll outfits!

    • Thanks, Cecilia! As a little girl, I remember my Grandma sewing clothes for my Barbies, and I treasured them! I bet your daughter and niece did also! XO

  16. You are truly amazing Christy; so talented! I think your doll model looks like you also!

  17. Those outfits are all sooo cute! I too only have boys but now I have a granddaughter and I love to sew! She’s too young for an American Girl doll now but as soon as she is old enough I’ll make sure she gets one. And I am totally stealing your idea for fabric to make doll clothes.

    • Thank you, Diane! I am crossing my fingers for granddaughters! Girls toys are just so much more fun! XO

  18. Heather Morgan says

    Wow I continue to be impressed by your skills! Great job!!!

  19. Love them all! Wish I had someone to sew some for because it looks so fun! Hmm, maybe I will make some to donate with a doll. There’s so many local places that look for Christmas toy donations! Thanks for the inspiration!

  20. You never cease to amaze me with your talents! That is going to be one stylish American Girl doll, and one very happy little lady.

  21. ADORABLE!!! I cannot believe you made all those clothes. And the shoes!!! Your niece is one lucky girl.

    • Thank you, Sue!! The shoes kill me…who knew you could make the shoes too? I enjoyed every minute! 🙂

  22. Project Runway here you come! You’ve got some serious sewing skills!

  23. Very clever!
    I love AG dolls and am sorry my granddaughter has out grown them. To make up for the lack my daughter and I have been outfitting a doll to donate at C’mas. 😉

    • Thank you, Mrs. SW! What a great idea to make some to donate. You will make some little girl very happy this Christmas! XO

  24. the doll clothes you made are just wonderful. I think you may have stumbled on to a new business!

    • Thanks, Patricia! It would be so fun to create doll clothes all day, but my house would be a mess ha ha! XO

  25. OMG those are amazing!

  26. Adorable, so resourceful, I love it when people repurpose items, but you create such wonderful things. You are so talented, is there anything you can’t do? The thing is everything you do, you do so well. These doll clothes are just beautiful, and the shoes and boot are just amazing.

    • Thank you SO much, Patty! I truly appreciate your kind words! I do love to create, except in the kitchen. There’s a reason I don’t share recipes ha ha! XOXO

  27. Christy, You just made my day…and it’s still early morning (!) With 2 daughters, our home is American Girl West…I know how crazy high the clothes are and we’ve even done matching girl/doll outfits. I never thought to make the clothes….your choices, designs and fabrics are the best ever…and the shoes, boots and hats…WoW! Great Job!

    • Thank you, Jeanne!! These were so much fun to make! Probably a good thing I don’t have daughters, I wouldn’t get anything done because I think I would want to play too! XO

  28. DeAnna Moore says

    Oh my goodness girl… is there nothing you can’t do?? You simply amaze me!

  29. Christy, you are a creative genius!!! Your doll clothes are so adorable and such an inspiring way to upcycle children’s clothing. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Absolute genius idea to make doll clothes from thrift store clothing! Your creations are so beautiful.

  31. Wow, well done Christy! Those outfits are amazing! Your truly are a gifted artist! Thanks for sharing

  32. Gina Keysor says

    Impressed is the first word that comes to mind but doesn’t do you justice!! My daughter had a American girl doll when she was little and they were expensive then (20 years ago).
    You should seriously do some for sale, they are SOOO cute and original.

    I love them all but agree on your favorite with the pink and little leather hat and boots. What a fortunate little girl to have such a sweet, thoughtful and generous Aunt.

    • Aww thank you so much, Gina!! You are so kind! I thought it would be a great idea to make outfits to sell, but then it might start to feel like work. I think I’ll keep it fun for now and stick to outfits for my niece’s doll. I really enjoyed making these for her! And yes, those dolls (and clothes) are still crazy expensive. My boys’ toys are much cheaper! XO

  33. Wow, these are just incredible! Your are so very talented! What a lucky niece!

  34. Those are beautiful, but the thing that struck me the minute I saw the doll was how much it looked just like you!! 😀 I have no girls, but hoping I get some grand daughters soon! I’ll have to save this and come back for inspiration then.

    • Thanks, Amy! I naturally picked the blonde doll lol. I too am crossing my fingers for granddaughters!! XOXO

  35. You have totally blown my mind. Those look amazing and so creative with the boots and hat!! Makes me wish my girls were young again! At first I thought you were doing them without a pattern! LOL

    • Thanks, Julie! I could not have done this with out a pattern ha ha, at least they wouldn’t have turned out nearly as cute! 🙂

  36. Kristi Bell says

    OMG, you should have had girls!!! But then, maybe your niece wouldn’t have felt quite so special having an aunt like YOU! I always enjoy your posts, and you really rocked this one! You have an endless supply of talent, I want to be you when I grow up 🙂

    • Aww you are so sweet, Kristi! Thank you! SO true though…I think I enjoyed making these so much because I haven’t had the chance to until now. Thanks for following along with me!! XO

  37. I still have the clothes my mom made for my Barbie in much the same way you did, using other clothes to remodel. I’m 61 and think of my mom fondly when I open the cases and look in. My favourite outfit was a jacket with a mink collar. Your niece will treasure these for a long time to come.

    • I too still have the clothes my Grandma made for my Barbie when I was younger, and I treasure them. Sounds like yours was very well-dressed! 🙂

  38. I loved this post! I am 71 years old but I would like to come play dolls with you and your niece. I have a daughter who wouldn’t play with dolls, instead putting her pet chicken in the dolls stroller! I now have a seven year old granddaughter who doesn’t play dolls either! Those dolls’ clothes are just wonderful!

    • Thank you, Turly!! You can come play with us any time ha ha. I bet stories about chickens in strollers are pretty fun to retell though. 🙂

  39. You completely killed me¡¡¡ I knew you were one of the most talented woman I had known but after that…no words…
    Not only because of the talent to sew the clothes, but for the taste you have to make all that SUPER COOL outfits¡¡¡, incredible…….
    kisses from Spain

  40. Annie (Canada) says

    Christy your talents are boundless! I’m amazed what you can do with some used clothing and a sewing machine 🙂 Your niece is a lucky girl!

  41. Unbelievably cute!!!! Absolutely love every outfit. My girls are too old for dolls. Can’t wait till I have a grandaughter to make these for !! Thanks for sharing

    • Thank you, Mary! I wouldn’t mind having a few of these to fit me ha ha! Hoping for granddaughters here too! XO

  42. Sherry Stuifbergen says

    You are a great seamstress! I remember your slip covers on your sectional sofa! THAT would have scared anyone…and it looked perfect when done. She is going to love these doll clothes, cuter than ready-made!

    • Thank you, Sherry! These clothes were way more fun than the sectional cover ha ha! I enjoyed every minute! XO

  43. Marilyn Stein says

    My God, woman, is there anything you can’t do???? I have the sewing machine, but with one son and two young grandsons, I just don’t see this in my future. However, I am always amazed by (and envious of) your vision!

    • Ha ha you are so sweet!! Thank you, Marilyn! I used to make and sell dolls for about 15 years, so I’ve had lots of practice! I have two boys and my sister has three boys, so when my brother finally had a daughter, we were so excited! Hoping for granddaughters! XO

  44. try eBay for the same kind of patterns-just bought the same one for $4.00! you’ve inspired me-and i so enjoy your wonderful makeovers..thanks.

  45. Christy are you kidding me? you’re amazing, my granddaughter has these dolls but I can’t sew 🙁 They turned out so cool I wish I had that precious gift.

    • Thank you, Rose!! The basic pieces really weren’t hard at all. I just followed the pattern. But it was fun to get creative on some of them too! XOXO

  46. This is the best thing I’ve seen in a long time! Love Love Love. I’ve tried to cut up sweaters before to make legwarmers but my machine kept getting jammed on the yarns. Any tricks other than what you’ve listed already? Thanks

  47. I love these. Planning ahead for my granddaughters. They will be old enough for these things soon.

  48. Sherry Pelle says

    Christy! This post is out of this world to die for AWESOME! I can’t wait to do this for my granddaughter!!! Thank You!!!

    • Thank you, Sherry!! I know she will love them and I think you will enjoy making them just as much…have fun! XOXO

  49. i love them all! your niece will have these for many years to hand town to her kids and grandkids. hand made are the best! my daughther had several of the dolls as we live close to the company and i would buy them in the summer at the clearance sales for way less than the catalog price. your outfits rock!

    • Thank you, Lori!! I still have the Barbie clothes my Grandma made for me when I was young. Unfortunately no daughters to pass them on to, but I still treasure them so I think you are right! Hoping these will be enjoyed for years to come! Lucky that you live close to the company! XO

  50. Desi Wilson says

    Soo talented. Thanks for sharing your darling creations!

  51. Sandra B Haynie says

    You’re the woman! Amazing what you did with the thrift store clothes. I’m so impressed with your creative talents and appreciate so much that you share them with us. You are so, so, inspiring!

    • Thank you, Sandra, I really appreciate that!! I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I had a blast making all those clothes! XO

  52. I just totally, totally enjoyed looking at this MAGIC sewing trick you performed! Your taste showed through in the thrift store clothes you picked out. Your skill showed in the finished projects. Thanks for a lovely post. WOW, you made a happy feeling in my world today!

    • I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your very thoughtful comment, Marjorie! Thank you! I enjoyed this project more than I ever thought I would! XO

  53. Christy, you do realize how freak’n talented you are, right! Your niece was probably squealing with joy when she opened Aunty Christy’s gift. I bet your diy outfits blow those expensive store bought ones out of the water!!! ADORABLE ????????????????

    • You are too good to me, Marie thank you, sweet friend! This was a labor of love for sure and I enjoyed every minute of it!! XOXO

  54. Oh my GOODNESS!!! These are SO CUTE!!! My girls would love these! You are guaranteed to be the hit of the birthday party! : ) I’m passing this on to my poor mom (teaching sewing IS her thing, doll clothes are not!) who keeps ending up helping granddaughters (and their friends, as if that wasn’t enough) sew AG doll clothes. They’ve burned through her fabric stash (they take a sizable chunk of fabric!), and I can see her getting a kick out of clothing remakes. She does them all the time for herself, so why not?! Shoot, I’m wondering if it wrong that I’m getting wardrobe ideas for my girls out of this!? : ) Amazing amazing work. You are the QUEEN of perfecting the little details.

    • I’m so glad you like them, Becky! They seem to be a big hit…who knew? I had an absolute blast making them and using children’s old clothes gives you so many cool options! And yes…they do take a lot of fabric…you wouldn’t think so looking at the end product! As always, thank you SO much for your sweet words, my friend! XOXO

  55. Gloria Lewis says

    AWESOME job!! These look better than any outfit you could buy!! WOW!!!

    • Thank you, Gloria! The ones at the store were just too pricey. SO glad this worked out! 🙂

  56. Rita Spittler says

    Absolutely amazing. I think you should ETSY these. I think there are many mouths watering out there. You’re talent is a true gift that we ALL see. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us! Just WOW!

    • Aww you are the sweetest, Rita thank you!! I don’t have a dedicated sewing space in this house, but we are in the market to find something with an extra room or two. When that happens, I would love to be able to make these to sell. 🙂

  57. Martha Rekni says

    Unbelievable! And just to think – I refused to take home economics and sewing in high school. I sure regret it now after seeing this cute stuff. But I have two boys too so that probably my small saving grace…

  58. :O So stinkin’ CUTE!!! You’re so talented and creative!

  59. Those are the cutest doll clothes I’ve ever seen. You have such an eye to redesign anything into something creative, beautiful and new. I LOVE your blog. Thanks for the great ideas. Now, I just need a grand daughter to sew for…

    • Thank you SO much, Marty! And thanks for following along with me! With two boys, I am crossing my fingers for a granddaughter or two in the future! XO

  60. I love this! You are very talented! I am new to sewing, and would like to try and make some outfits for our neighbors, who love AG dolls and Bitty babies. Are you just laying the pattern on the thrifted clothes and cutting them out? Same as if you were working with fabric? Are you laying the pattern sleeves on the thrifted sleeves or just anywhere there’s space? Do you match up pieces anywhere else (hem, collar, etc?) Thank you so much!

    • Hi Tiffany! I used the children’s clothing just as if I were laying the pattern pieces out on fabric. I did try to use the original hems where possible to save a step. The sweaters and dress were a little more complicated, but the leggings and basic shirt were super simple. I did make the shirt pattern about an inch or so longer as I liked the look better a bit longer. I had SO much fun with these! Have fun! 🙂