N is for Nightgown for a Doll

I’ve been looking at vintage clothing styles for inspiration for the Toni doll. She needed some night attire and here is what I finally made for her.
Toni nightgown

I found a catalog of nightgowns, robes, and underwear from the time of World War I. Ladies were dressing in a slimmer silhouette at that time. Quite different from the full skirts of the 1800s.

ladies nightwear 1918
Page from a 1918 John Wanamaker catalog of ladies wear. (from my ephemera collection)

I really liked all the lace and the way the nightgowns flowed. I wasn’t ready to tackle making sleeves since I really don’t like to sew. When I rummaged through my stash of discarded clothing, I found a pair of nylon undies that I’d never liked and wouldn’t wear. You could use an old slip for a project like this.

The lace waistband became the hem of the nightgown and the narrower lace at the leg of the original panties became the top. In the graphic below, the lace at the leg and waist are the same width, so it doesn’t matter.

Steps for Making the 1918 Nightgown for a Toni Doll

  • Measure the material around the doll’s torso to see how much fabric you need. Allow some extra to overlap.
  • Cut from the waist to the leg opening in 2 places to end up with a square of nylon with lace at the top and bottom.
  • Glue or stitch the lace together at the back (at top and bottom). I used hot glue. Since the lace was stretchy, it will slide onto the doll easily.
  • Add straps of ribbon by gluing them to the front of the gown. Leave the other ends loose to tie behind the doll’s neck.
  • Glue or sew on embellishments like a bow to the front.

QOVOQ Women s Underwear into nightgown

Children Learn a Lot Making Doll Clothes

Save money by making doll clothes with your child or grandchild. They learn some valuable lessons at the same time, while you have fun together.

Making outfits for a doll provides some teachable moments. The child learns how to improvise, learns about recycling and repurposing, and gets introduced to fashion design. Making doll clothes is a good opportunity to slip in some history, cultural, and literary lessons too, as you make doll clothing from different eras or get inspirations from clothing around the world or from books and movies. Along the way, if you want to teach them a little about sewing, go ahead.

You don’t even need to go to the fabric store and buy material. I suspect you have some worn or outgrown clothing on hand. Before putting it in the rag-bag, use some of the material for a new dress for your Toni doll. In future posts, I’ll show a variety of outfits that you can make for a Toni doll using worn out shirts, a slip, some scarves, and other odds and ends.

Even this shoulder pad from a dress has enough material to make a blouse for a Toni doll.