Are you ready for the final lesson in our sewing doll clothes with knits class? Today it’s time to put all we’ve learned into practice and make something adorable for our dolls. We’re going to sew the Lacy Kimono Tee, which is a boat neck, dropped shoulder kimono-style top designed for American Girl dolls or other similar 18 inch doll. It’s a quick and easy beginner level project, with tons of potential for variation.
A few general notes about this project:
- It’s designed to be sewn with stretchy, knit fabric. Practice with fabric from an old t-shirt!
- Since most knit fabrics do not unravel or fray, I don’t both finishing the seams.
- I also leave the openings of the sleeves unfinished.
- To make this top easy to sew for beginners, I have drafted a 1/2″ seam allowance into the pattern.
Cut the Pieces
Cut three rectangles from knit fabric with the following dimensions:
- 1 rectangle measuring 8″ x 13″
- 2 rectangles measuring 5.5″ x 4.5″
- 14.5″ Lace [Optional – you can omit if you don’t want lace on the bottom of your tee]
To make the neck opening, measure 1.5″ along the top starting from the folded corner and 1/2″ down the side from the folded corner. Cut out the neck opening with a gentle curve. Don’t worry if this isn’t exact, it won’t matter! You can vary the look of the neck opening by changing the shape (depth and width) of this cut.
Sewing the Lacy Kimono Tee
1) We are going to begin by finishing the raw edge of the neckline. To do this, fold the fabric along the neck opening to the wrong side, making an approximately 1/4″ wide hem, and sew around. Don’t get crazy and stress out about making it *precisely* 1/4″ all the way around. It doesn’t need to be exact!
I “wing” this step and fold the fabric back as I sew. As mentioned in lesson three of our sewing with knits class, I sew from the back side of the shirt, wrong side up. Since I used a very light weight fabric for my Lacy Kimono Tee, I used the tissue paper trick (also in lesson three) to stabilize the neckline as I sewed.
2) Next, we’ll attach the sleeves. Pin the smaller rectangles to the body of the tee, right sides of the fabric together, centering the smaller rectangles along the sides of the top. Be sure that it is the longer 5.5″ side of the rectangle that is pinned to the side of the top, otherwise your sleeves will be too long and too skinny!
4) Now that you’ve attached the sleeves, fold your tee in half, aligning the bottoms of the sleeves and sides of the shirt. Sew along the bottoms of the sleeves, pivoting at the arm pit, and down the side seams. You can take up to a 1/2″ seam allowance.
5) With sharp scissors, trim the seam allowance to approximately 1/4″ along the side seams and under the bottom of the sleeves. Next, carefully clip the corner junction where the sleeves are attached. Take care NOT to cut into your stitching!
6) To hem the bottom of your tee, fold back the fabric approximately 3/8″ to the wrong side and stitch in place. Again, you don’t need to get crazy about this measurement. If you want a more narrow hem, 1/4″ is just fine. Just do your best to make the fold as even as possible. You can also skip the hemming altogether and leave the bottom edge unfinished, if you’d like!
7) Sew lace to the bottom of your tee. No special instructions required, just align the lace with your hem and sew it on. For different looks, sew on pre-made ruffle trim, solid colored or printed ribbon, or multiple layers of lace. Be creative and adventurous!
8) Finally, sew a closure onto the back of your Kimono Tee. You can use sew on snaps or velcro.
When I’m using velcro, I sew a wide strip of the soft section of the velcro with half of the velcro underneath the fabric, leaving the other half exposed.
Then on the other side of the top, I press the fabric 1/4″ back to the wrong side, and sew the scratchy “hook” side of the velcro to this section of pressed back fabric.
This method creates a neat back closure that doesn’t have a lot of the extra bulk that often results from multiple layers of fabric and velcro.
Congratulations, you done! I hope you like this simple pattern for knit fabrics You can make lots of different looks by varying the fabric you choose and embellishments. Here are a few different Kimono Tees I made..
Please let me know if you have any questions about this pattern or about sewing with knit fabrics! I hope you’ve found this “sewing doll clothes with knits” series useful and fun. 🙂