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Top for Irish Dance Costume for 18-inch Dolls
This top is designed to fit 18-inch dolls with a soft body, such as American Girl, Our Generation, My Life As and similar dolls.

We usedembroidery designs from the Shamrock Border Set.

We offer the patterns and instructions for the top only. You will have to find a separate pattern for the skirt. There are many skirt patterns available online, including free ones. We recommend this one from
A doll in finished embroidered top for an Irish dance costume

You will need :
  • embroidery thread, either polyester or rayon ,
  • 1 fat quarter of solid cotton fabric for the top,
  • small amount of lighter weight fabric (we used batiste) for the lining,
  • a scrap of sheer fabric for the wing sleeves,
  • light-weight cut-away embroidery stabilizer,
  • either sew-on snaps or ultra thin Velcro tape,
  • chalk or graph pencil,
  • small rotary cutter or scissors,
  • sewing pins,
  • iron,
  • #12 universal needle,
  • printer and paper.
Download the template file for the stomacher, bodice and sleeve. To open and print the template, which is a PDF file, you will need Adobe Reader or a similar program. Adobe Reader is free to download and install.

Template Download (PDF file)
Print out the templates and cut them out.
Note: Seam allowance of 1/4" is included in the templates.
For the dress we used 2 single designs from the Shamrock Border Set.

On the fabric, trace the template of the front with a chalk pencil. Mark the position of the design on the front. Stabilize the fabric and make the embroidery.

Repeat for the peplum parts. You will need 5 parts for the peplum. Stabilize the fabric and make the embroidery.
Press the stitch-outs. Cut away the excess stabilizer. Using the paper templates, cut out all needed parts. On the bodice front and back armholes, transfer the markings of the sleeve placement.
Cut out parts of the top.

With right sides together, pin and sew the shoulder seams. Press them open. Repeat for the lining.
Bodice with sewn shoulder seams.

Fold the wing sleeves in half lengthwise, pin. Top-stitch 2 rows of gathering lines (length of the stitch 3-4 mm).
Sleeves with gathering threads

Pull the gathering threads. Pin the sleeve between the marks on the right side of the bodice.
Sleeve pined to the armhole.

Topstitch the sleeve in place. Seam allowance a bit less than 1/4". Remove the gathering threads.
Sleeve stitched to the armhole

Repeat for the second sleeve.
Both sleeves stitched to the armhole
Cover the working piece with the lining, face to face. Align shoulder seams and pin along the neckline, back opening and armholes. Topstitch. Take care not to catch the sleeves in the seams.
Bodice with the lining attached. Wrong side.

Bodice with the lining attached. Wrong side.

Cut the corners, clip the curves. Trim seam allowance a little bit if necessary.
Clipped curves.

Through the front part turn the working piece right side out. Take your time to straighten all corners and lines. Press.
Bodice with lining attached. Right side.

Working with each side at a time, align the lining and and the front parts and sew them together. Open and press the seam. Repeat from the other side.
Side seams of the bodice stitched.

Fold the peplum parts in half widthwise. Align the edges. Sew together along the sides.
Five part of the peplum. Wrong side.

Trim fabric near the corners.
A part of the peplum with cut-away corners. Wrong side.

Turn the right side out and press.
A part of the peplum, right side.

Lay out the peplum parts side to side. You'll get a curved line.
Peplum parts laid out in a curved row.

Stitch together along the upper edge.
Parts stitched together in a peplum.

Fold the lining of the bodice out of way, pin the peplum to the bodice, right side to right side. Align the center of the middle / third part of the peplum with the center of the bodice front and pin to each side. The peplum is shorter than the bodice's edge and will leave some room at each end.
Peplum pinned to the bodice.

Stitch the peplum in place.
Peplum stitched to the bodice.

Fold the raw edge of the lining 1/4", baste. Slip stitch in place.
Lower edge of the lining slip-stitched in place.

Put the top on your doll and mark the position of the closure. Sew the snaps or Velcro tape to the back opening for closure.
Velcro tape stitched to the top.

The finished top. Right side.

Finished top on a doll.

Have fun!
FInished top on the doll.

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