Saturday, 20 April 2013

Quest for doll fabric

I don't know what other people are making doll clothes from.

Someone, somewhere, is sewing doll clothes right now and I have no idea where they find that perfect fabric. Whatever they use, it's always so perfectly in scale. Me, I have a bag of fabric scraps and a box of lace trims and ribbon. Everywhere I go, I keep an eye out for stuff that could work for dolls but still my stash is missing many crucial items that other people seem to find with ease. Stuff like small prints and tiny lace. This is getting really frustrating, so I decided to do a serious check on all the fabric sources in my city before I head to ebay...

On Thursday I combed a market near my house. I was hoping to find baby socks with small patterns. Instead, I got two pairs of women's socks with incredibly thin stripes.

Black/white and pink/brown

The fabric is really cheap, coarse and messy, but the stripes are just two knit rows each! That's... almost too small. The thickness of the fabric is rather sweater-y for dolls, but then again - super thin stripes! At a little over a dollar for both, I'd say it's a pretty good bargain.

In the evening I organized my ebay sewing list. I wanted to make sure to only buy what I can't find around here (long story short, I can't use ebay whenever I want).
I grabbed a friend for courage and went to one of the two fabric stores that I know of.
This is yesterday's loot:

I still wanted more stripes, but on thinner fabric, like for quality socks or T-shirts. I found my stripes on a pair of knickers. I got grey ones. All my way home I regretted not buying the red. I cheered up a little when one of the other items revealed a pleasant surprise...

At the store, I browsed through a mountain of lace swatches. The best stuff, of course, was sold out, and the sales ladies had no idea when it would be restocked. I wanted some lace similar to the crimson one above, but thinner, and they didn't have any good colours :( Aside from that I looked for soft lace with small details that could be cut out for cuffs and bodice appliques. The closest thing to this that was still in stock was a layered gathered lace:

I figured parts of the edges looked usable enough. What I didn't know was that they stitched this baby from perfectly good double sided trims. Seriously, as soon as the stitches came undone (extremely easy), I was left with this:

In the order they were stacked on top of each other

Bottom to front:
- a soft net
- a semi-soft lace with a tiny scalloped edge hidden under the seam

- satin ribbon (one can never have too much)
- and my favourite, double sided small lace

Now we can talk lacy cuffs and collars!

The fabric section didn't have what I was looking for. I don't even know what to ask there. I'm completely clueless about the names and properties of fabrics. It doesn't help that our stores often label fabrics with badly transliterated foreign names or enigmatic numbers and descriptions like "for dress". I saw what was definitely fake leather; it read simply: "for suit" -_- Joy...

I found some knit fabric, like for T-shirts (I think it's called jersey?). It will be more reasonable to get it from cheap lingerie though. There was also some pretty striped shiny lining (but lining is terrible to control), soft holographic fabric (pleasant to touch, but not exactly my style), and finally I bought soft net in black and purple. Last time there was only white and I'm glad they have most colours now.

I compared this net with the one I retrieved from the gathered lace:

Lace on the left, net on the right

The lace piece is darker, thinner and less stretchy. Both will be very useful.

I concluded that single coloured stiff fabrics, tulle, stretchy net, velvet, leather, ribbons and cotton knits are things I can find here.
I will have to buy these types of fabric online:
- thin cotton for doll shirts. I think "crinkled cotton gauze" is what I need
- some interfacing for leather, it has to be very thin and not iron-on. Any advice?
- more types and colours of lace

Last but not least, I got a pair of socks for myself.

A small prize for my effort. Shopping drains the life out of me.

Tell me, what fabrics do you prefer for doll clothes? Where do you buy them?

Love, BlackKitty (^^)~


  1. Getting fabric is pretty hit-or-miss for me too, especially if I want printed patterns on them. I occasionally get really nice scraps from the alterations department of a local bridal and formalwear shop that I occasionally work for, so you could try asking around?

    1. I have thought of that. My experience with sewing workshops is that they don't even return my fabric scraps from the clothes I order >:[ But I should persevere!
      I found some cotton/linen scarves on ebay that look soft and sheer, I'll see what I can do with them when they arrive.

      Thanks for being my first follower!

    2. hmm, that's strange. In my last two sewing workshop sessions I've got my scraps back.

      maybe you should ask them ahead of time to return the fabric? No harm in doing that. The default position is that no one needs the stuff, that's why they don't even try.

  2. Look for baby clothes. It sounds weird but it has been a good stripe size soft cotton knit fabric find for me. Usually they are found as one piece outfit that has snaps between the legs. Also tiny prints can usually be found on baby girl outfits. Right now I have several tiny prints thanks to a run at a local second hand shop. Sometimes you can even find stuff with tiny lacy that either stretches or doesn't but is usually a good size for doll clothes.

    Most of the time baby clothes are made of thinner material that is suitable for doll clothes.

    For thin cotton cloth (non-knit) second hand, thrift, or stores that sell vintage clothes are a good source. I have one one in my area at the moment, but I have found several wonderful things there.

    Uh, lets see... That's all the sources I can think of at the moment. Good luck.

  3. I like socks too. I also buy fat quarters of print fabric made for quilting - some of these have tiny, intricate patterns and they can be picked up quite cheaply.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I've seen quilting bits on ebay, they are lovely! I wish quilting was a thing here so I could pick them up in person.

  4. I love the lace and things you can sometimes find in stores. Isn't funny how sometimes the lace looks like only part of it will work and when you take it apart you end up with more than you thought? I've done that sometimes.

    Most often than not I am looking for lace with a bit of stretch to it for making undies.

    A good source of tiny stripes in a good thin fabric is in women's shirts. I have found some extremely small stripes lately at thrift stores and the like.

    Also, look for fabric that has a pattern but is mostly made of spandex in thrift stores. They are usually thin fabrics and make great socks and tights.


  5. Very impressed with the stockings you made! is a site you may find interesting.

  6. Do you have thrift stores out there?

    1. I wish! We have flea markets but it's very rare to find something worthy there.

  7. d ollar trees toddler socks. stained ripped clothes from your own closet and family


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