Toni’s Cousin

My Toni doll was ecstatic to get a gift and a card in the mail. “How long does Christmas last?” she asked. She is probably hoping presents will keep coming every week. I explained to her why the mail got overwhelmed this year due to the pandemic, so this was probably the last of her holiday gifts.

It was from her cousin, Belinda, in Missouri. Belinda even included some photos of herself since she and Toni have not yet met in person.

Belinda (my sister’s Ideal Toni doll)

I know some doll collectors with multiple vintage Toni dolls as everyone loves a Toni. I only have the one that I found on eBay a few years ago. My sister also has one, her doll from the 1950s.

Belinda (Toni’s cousin who lives in Missouri)

Inside the pretty present were a pair of shoes and a slip. Both were items that Toni really needed. The slip had lace at the neck and hem and it fit Toni just fine. She refused to put a dress on over it. Since we weren’t expecting any visitors, I was fine with her just wearing the slip.

The shoes fit “like a glove” as the saying goes. They had a tiny snap to hold the strap in place. She is used to going barefooted around the house, but now she has shoes for dress-up times.

Toni (who lives in Florida)

The ribbons from the package were so pretty that Toni wanted to wear them in her hair. We took some photos to send to her cousin. Toni asked if she could have bangs like her cousin, Belinda. I told her her hair was fine the way it was and then I hid all the scissors so she couldn’t find them.

M is for Making Gifts

I can’t let Toni see this post, as I’m writing about making some Christmas gifts for her. After getting a peek at her Christmas wish list yesterday, I realized that I’d better get busy. Only 10 days left before Christmas!

Last month, I’d found on Amazon a used copy of The Dolls’ Dressmaker: The Complete Pattern Book on the recommendation of a doll collector. Here’s what one reviewer said about it,

“I own many books about dressing dolls, but this one is the only one I would vote as the ‘Ultimate’. Everything you need to know to make that perfect doll outfit or wardrobe is covered, with well written directions and patterns that are simple to understand and well drawn. A wide range of styles are included and not only clothing but accessories, hats and shoes as well.”

Amazon Review

I enjoyed browsing through it when it arrived, but put off starting any sewing projects. I’m a great procrastinator. Now, I must get busy and actually make something. Since “shoes” were on Toni’s list, I’ll start with the basic low shoe.

She also wanted some old-fashioned shoes to complete some of her vintage outfits. Jeanne Schneider had some shoes for sale. I should inquire if she still has these and if they are the right size.

Antique style doll shoes.

For the modern doll shoes as shown in the Dolls’ Dressmaker book, I must rummage in my bits and pieces to see if I have any lightweight vinyl or leather that could be turned into nice shoes for Toni. She specified white, but it depends on what I have on hand. The pattern shoes a tie-shoe, but it can be adjust to be a slip-on shoe. I sneakily measured Toni’s feet while she was taking a nap.

Promise that you won’t tell Toni. I want her to be surprised on Christmas Day.

Make a No-Sew Doll’s Sundress

Easy Craft – Making Doll Clothes without Sewing

I bet you have all the supplies on hand to make this easy doll’s sundress. No need to get out the sewing machine or even the needle and thread.

If you have scissors, glue, an old short-sleeved shirt, and some double-stick tape, then you are ready to start making a doll dress. Some rickrack or trim adds a nice touch or some paint but those are optional.


This outfit is perfect for your doll to wear around the patio this summer or use for a cover-up for her swimsuit at the beach.

Steps for Making a No-Sew Sundress – for a Doll

For this project, you are repurposing the sleeve from a short-sleeved shirt.

  1. Find a shirt that you don’t mind cutting up. This one was stained, so it was headed for the rag-bag. This is a cotton-poly blend that shouldn’t fray much. That’s good as we don’t plan to do any hemming.
  2. Cut the sleeve off a short-sleeved shirt. Do this by cutting outside the seam where it was attached to the body of the shirt. Trim closely to the seam. Cut along the seam under the arm to end up with a flat piece like this.

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  3. Position the doll in the sleeve with the longer part in front. Wrap the material around the back of the doll. You want some overlap (1/2 inch or 1 inch). Cut off the excess. Since this is a sundress, it is backless.
  4. Add any trim and decoration that you want for the dress. Here I thought about making it with a sailor theme to use an odd piece I’d been saving. It would have looked good with blue rickrack trim.IMG_7671_edited-1
  5. Using a good craft or fabric glue, secure the decorations in place on the doll’s sundress. Most glues dry clear, so don’t worry about excess glue.
  6. I used a strip of velcro to hold the back of the doll’s sundress in place. The velcro had the sticky back so I just applied it firmly to the fabric.

    PROBLEM: the velcro is bulky so doesn’t look the way I wanted. I’m going to replace it with some double-sided carpet tape that I have. It is heavy enough to stick firmly and can be unstuck to change the doll’s dress. The carpet tape is much thinner and will not look lumpy. You could sew some small snaps to hold the back together.

  7. Cut some rickrack to use at the top of the dress. It needs to be long enough to easily tie behind the doll’s neck. Glue the tie to the dress. Make sure the glue is quite dry before the dress is worn.IMG_7683

Add a Special Touch to the Doll Dress

with a Painted Design

I chose to add a sun graphic to the sundress for the doll. First I practiced on a scrap of fabric to see what my design might look like. You can search online for ideas for your design. I just used my imagination.

The paints I used are leftover paint-by-number oil paints. You can often find these cheaply at yard sales. Special paints just for fabric are available too. Put a sheet of newspaper under the fabric before you paint. Sometimes the paint soaks through and could stain your work table or counter.

Lots of Choices for Fabric Paints

Use these to make summer designs on the doll’s dress. You can paint flowers or starfish or rainbows. Use your imagination.

Fabric Paint 3D Permanent 24 Colors Set Marker Pens Style vibrant color textile paints dye for Fabric and other usesFabric Paint 3D Permanent 24 Colors Set Marker Pens Style vibrant color textile paints dye for Fabric and other usesView DetailsBest Fabric Markers (PACK OF 24 PENS) Non-Toxic - Machine Washable Paint - Perfect for Writing on Clothes, Clothing, Jeans, Pants, and ShirtsBest Fabric Markers (PACK OF 24 PENS) Non-Toxic – Machine Washable Paint – Perfect for Writing on Clothes, Clothing, Jeans, Pants, and ShirtsView DetailsAdd dimension to your paint - Tulip 35148 Party Dimensional Fabric Paint (20 Pack)Add dimension to your paint – Tulip 35148 Party Dimensional Fabric Paint (20 Pack)View Details

Here’s How I Made the Doll Sandals

The doll wears flip-flops with her sundress.

Find a scrap of packing foam. Cut it to fit the shape of the doll’s foot. I painted it with the oil paint to match the decoration on the doll’s sundress. You could also glue the matching rickrack around the base of the sandal and across the strap. These don’t stay on very well, so not very practical for an active doll. The straps can be glued to the base or attached with straight pins (if only for display or for an older child who won’t be sticking themselves).

Toni doll in sundress

Would You Like a Doll Like Mine? – She’s a Toni doll from the 1950s

These can be pretty pricey on eBay but keep checking and you can find one at a good price. I was really lucky and found mine for just $30. Usually, they go for more than that.

Best of luck with your bidding. Toni dolls come in several sizes and with blonde, brunette and other colors of hair.