Have your kids shown an interest in sewing, but are too young to be trusted with the sewing machine?! They can start to learn basic hand sewing techniques with these easy to make paper dolls! Perfect for hand-eye coordination skills, and gets them on the road to understanding basic threading. Get the how to with Melissa of the Sewing Rabbit Team for this perfect Summer craft!

Kids can Learn to Sew – Paper doll DIY

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

To be honest, I cannot even remember learning how to sew. My mom taught me around 4 or 5 with big fat plastic needles and yarn. I want to be able to pass that along to my niece, Lexi, who just turned 2. While she may still be a bit young to master these skills, I wanted to make her a present that will teach her fine motor skills. And maybe inspire her to sew like her Auntie M! So, I came up with a quick paperdoll system that is a great scrap stash buster as well! I opted to laminate everything so that it will stand the wear and tear of young children.

What you’ll need:

  • Cardstock
  • Plain white printer paper
  • Pencil and fine sharpie marker
  • Colored markers or pencils
  • Small hole punch
  • Plastic lanyard
  • Scrap pieces of fabric (lighter weight is best)
  • Laminating machine
  • Laminating sheets
  • Wooden craft box with hinge
  • Dowel rod
  • Binder clips
  • About an hour of your time

**Please use the laminating machine with adult supervision; while the product of this tutorial is meant for kids, the laminating process uses high heat so please be careful.

On the cardstock, start by drawing your paperdoll shape and coloring it in. I chose to make mine in my niece’s likeness and gave her a simple light blue swimsuit as the base. Once you’ve completed the doll, cut out around the edges.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

Next, trace out some shapes for the apparel types that you want to create for your doll: tops, shorts, skirts, dresses, pants and of course, a hair bow. While you are creating your designs, go ahead and turn on your laminating machine and let it be warming up.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

Here’s the 2014 collection for Lexi’s doll.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

Trace the shapes with the fine black marker; this will make it easier to see the outlines of the shapes from the backside of the fabric when we go to cut out the fabric.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

Apply double-sided tape liberally to your shapes. This will help keep the fabric scraps secure while we cut them out.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

Next, add your fabric scraps to your shapes.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

Cut out the garment shapes from your scrap fabric. Remove the paper and tape once cut out.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

Like any good seamstress, you should always check the fit of the garment before any finishing steps.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

Prepare your paperdoll and garment pieces inside the laminating sheets and send it through your laminating machine, following your specific model’s instructions.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

*Note: thicker fabrics, like denim and twill, don’t work as well and may need to be sent through the laminator several times. I cut my pieces out after the first pass and sent them back through, but rotated them and turned them upside down to hit the weak spots with heat from a different angle.

Once you’ve laminated all of your pieces, cut them out. Leave enough space around the edges so that the laminating seal doesn’t come loose.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

Next, decide the layout for your stitch holes. I found it easier to work on the body of the paperdoll first. Punch holes once you’ve created your layout.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

Transfer the hole layout onto the garments and then punch those holes.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

Test the stitches to pick out your lanyard lengths. While you could use other types of string here, I chose lanyard because it doesn’t fray and because the ends of it are sturdy enough to act like a needle.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

And bingo, we have several outfits to mix and match!

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

Last, but not least, I felt Lexi’s doll deserved her own piece of furniture. I bought a wooden craft box with a hinge and closure at Joann’s along with a thin dowel rod. Begin by marking the length of the dowel rod. Then, cut the dowel rod to your desired length.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

Mark where the dowel rod will get inserted and then drill holes. Insert the dowel rod, adding your binder clips before you insert the final end into the hole. I left one of the sides of the binder clip loose so that it would be easier to pinch.

Learn to Sew Paperdoll DIY - EcoArmoire

This was so easy I am going to have to make some more outfits before I ship this to Lexi!

Thanks so much for stopping by, until next time…

Happy Sewing!

Kids can learn how to sew with these easy to make dolls!