Sew the Lacy Kimono Tee – Sewing with Knits Tutorial

Free Sewing Pattern for American Girl Doll Lacy Kimono Tee

This post is lesson four in our class: Sewing Doll Clothes with Knits. 
Link to previous lessons: [One :: Two :: Three ]

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]

Easy to sew Lacy tee for American Girl DollsFold the 8″ x 13″ rectangle in half, bringing the shorter 8 inch sides together.  Fold in half again, bringing the folded (6.5 inch) sides together.

Free sewing pattern for American Girl Doll or other 18 inch doll - Lacy TeeTo 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.

Free sewing pattern and tutorial to make a t-shirt top for American Girl DollOpen your folded fabric and cut a slit through the middle of one side, from the center of the neckline to the bottom.  This is the back opening for your Lacy Kimono Tee.

Make and easy to sew top for 18 inch dolls like American Girl Free Pattern

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.

sewlacyteefor18inchdollsfreesewingpattern2If you find that your neckline looks a little wavy or misshapen after sewing, spritz it with a water and press it back into proper shape.

presstheneckline2) 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!

sewlacyteefor18inchdollsfreesewingpattern3) Sew the sleeve rectangles to the body of your tee (along the red dashed lines) with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

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!

freesewingpatternforamericangirldoll6) 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!

Fold under the hem - sewing the lacy kimono top for american girl dolls7)  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!

addlacetoyourkimonotopfor18inchdollsYou can also omit the lace or trim and leave the hem unadorned, if you prefer.

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.

How to sew velcro on the back of a doll shirt american girl sewing pattern

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.


neat back closure using velcro sewing for 18 inch dolls

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..

Free sewing pattern kimono style top for 18 inch american girl doll

I used sweatshirt fleece and sewed the seams “inside out” on the sleeves and neckline. I left the bottom hem unfinished.

Kimono T-shirt pattern - Free Sewing Pattern from Many Small Friends for 18 inch dolls

I upcycled an old t-shirt for this top. I omitted the lace and hemmed the bottom.

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. 🙂


  1. Flo says:

    Heads up in case you don’t have a t-shirt to sacrifice for this-I’ve noticed lately adult sized t-shirts at Dollar Tree, they seem to be decent quality, can’t lose for $1 for something to cut up!

  2. Jan says:

    Thanks, this shirt is adorable as are the leggings. I then couldn’t find th instructions. I searched until peasant bts and then this morning Inwas so happy to find this again 4 pairs of Jeggings and one top I found this a while back and cut out the pieces and couldn’t find the directions again until today. Thanks so much for sharing. Janice

    • Steph says:

      Hey Susan! I found the little tags in the jewelry making section at Joann craft store. I’ve seen similar at all the big craft stores in the jewelry making (beads/charms) section. Thanks for asking!!

  3. Molly says:

    This top is really cute! I’m going to try to adjust the size so it fits Barbie dolls, since the “pattern” is just rectangles. I love your website!

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