Make a Little Black Dress for a Doll

Dolls aren’t just for little girls. I enjoy making doll outfits for my vintage Toni doll. In a previous post, I showed how to make the hat (a fascinator). Now, we’ll make the little black dress to wear with that.
2012-01-18 toni doll 009
Toni doll in a little black dress made from a discarded sports bra.

As I declutter my clothes closet and dresser drawers, I find items that aren’t suitable for donating to charity. The clothing might be faded, had stains or the elastic lost its stretch.

Some of these can find new life as doll clothes. Think of it as free fabric and one less trip to the store for material to make outfits for the doll.

For the project today, I’m converting a sports bra into a dress for my vintage Toni doll. The instructions for the fascinator hat and for the purse are shown below too.

Project Summary

Time required: 30 minutes

Difficulty: medium

Cost: Free


  • Sports bra of any color/fabric (for the dress)
  • Black netting (for the hat and tote)
  • Miniature silk rose (to decorate the hat)


  • Scissors
  • Glue Gun
  • Clamp or Clothespin

Fabric from a Sports Bra Gets Turned into a Doll Dress


This sports bra lost the stretch in its elastic. Since it is useless for wearing as a bra, it’s going to become a short dress for the doll.

I do hate to throw anything away, so repurposing the fabric like this keeps me from being a hoarder or from contributing to overflowing landfills.

Visualize the Dress and the Part to Use for It

This shows the part of the bra used for the front of the dress. Allow extra fabric when cutting, so you have enough to wrap around the back of the doll. 

The Sports Bra for Converting into a Doll Dress

Champion Women's Absolute Workout Sports Bra, Black, X-Small

Champion Women’s Workout Sports Bra, Black

You probably have some of these tucked away in a drawer. Check the elastic. After a number of years, they lose their stretch and aren’t very useful as a bra.

Then you can convert it into a doll dress or a doll swimming suit or something. You can also find them at a thrift shop.

Arrange the material around the doll in various ways to see how it drapes. for this dress, I decide on an off-the-shoulder look that will use about 1/2 of the bra. I cut away the part that I don’t need. The size of the doll determines how much material is needed.

Use hot glue to overlap the material for the hemline. I held it together while it sealed using clamps from my husband’s workbench. You could use clothespins or hold it together by hand if you have the patience.

Handy Things to Have for This Project

Surebonder HE-750 High Temperature Professional Glue Gun - 80 Watts

Surebonder High Temperature Professional Glue Gun

Regular glue just doesn’t hold up for doll clothes that will get played with. So, I use a hot glue gun.

If you are doing this project with a child, supervise this part carefully. It’s easy to burn yourself with the tip of the glue gun or if you drip the hot glue on your skin. Also, it is important not to drip glue onto the doll.


Since the sports bra is stretchy, I’m gluing it together right on the doll. It will stretch for removal later. Be careful not to glue the dress to the doll.

Here I hot-glued the shoulder strap to the back of the dress.

Here I’ve applied the glue up the back of the dress. Then I pressed it to the other part and held it until it sealed. (Alternate method: sew some small snaps onto the pieces to fasten it)

This project isn’t very fancy. It provides a dress for the doll for play or for display. Hopefully, no one will examine the seams and critique my work.

For play purposes, it needs to be sturdy enough to put on and take off. For display purposes, I only care about how it looks from the front.

Here’s the doll in her finished dress. The netting came from a fruit bag and I used it for creating the hat and also a purse for the doll.

black dress table toni

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