Tutorial: Make a Sleeping Bag and Tent for an American Girl Doll!

Did anyone get an American Girl doll for Christmas? Or any other 18″ doll? I made my twin 8-year-old daughters sleeping bags and a tent for their dolls this year.

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I did not use a pattern, I made it up as I went along. The sleeping bag was easy, I made 2 in an hour. I used double-sided quilted fabric that I found at Joanns. This stuff is pricey ($20 a yard normally) but it was on sale and you only need 1/2 yard to make a bag and pillow. you will also need a 18″ zipper, some bias tape, fiberfill and a sewing machine.

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To make the bag cut 2 rectangles of material 13″x20″. Insert the zipper then top stitch it down on the front side before you sew up the bag. Then sew up the bag and sew bias tape over the raw top edge. I like to use bias tape here rather than hemming it because it looks neater and has less bulk. For the pillows I simply cut two rectangles out of the leftover scraps, sewed them on 3 sides, stuffed it with fiberfill and sewed up the open side, easy as pie!

Tip: Rub the zipper with a bar of soap so it will be easy to open and close!

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For the tent I bought 1 and a half yards of two cotton fabrics from the clearance bin, cut it down to 27″ wide, pinned them right sides together and sewed it up on 3 sides (both short sides and one long side is sewn). Tip: If you sew it so the selvage edge is the un-sewn edge you won’t need to hem it! Turn it right side out, it will look like a huge, unruly pillowcase. Cut two 20″x26″ pieces of cardboard or foamcore and one 16″x26″ piece. These are the tent wall and floor supports. Now with the fabric right side out you need to sew 2 dividers in the fabric. I placed one of the large boards in the fabric and marked along the edge to get a line to sew on. You want the material to be tight against the boards.

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The flaps are tricky, after I made the tent I assembled it and traced the end onto newspaper and used it as a template to make the flaps then I sewed each flap to the front end. I kept the back-end open because I wanted to be able to remove the foamcore piece and replace it if it got bent or if I needed to wash the tent.

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Best of all the tent is reversible and can be folded up and tucked in a closet or under a bed when not in use!  You will need ribbons (or velcro) at each end of the tent as well as on each side of the flaps to keep the tent up and to tie the flaps back. It is probably better to catch the ribbon in the seams as you work but you can just as well sew them on afterward. It is up to you!

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This was a fun project and the sleeping bag and pillow would make a great sewing project for your child! thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

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18 Responses

  1. Very nice! I know your girls loved these! I used to make things for the American Girl dolls…I enjoyed designing for them. The girls in my classes looked forward to seeing what was new that I made…fun!

  2. This is ridiculously CUTE!!

  3. Great idea!! wonderful project!! Chris


  4. Awesome Lindsay! Happy New Year! ~Diane

  5. [...] The Frugal Crafter tells how she  created a tent and a sleeping bag for an 18″ doll.   Go to her blog for the how-to. [...]

  6. Totally adorable!!!
    Paper Hugs,

  7. Never thought of a tent. How clever. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks.

  8. Beautiful fabric combinations!

  9. I am so excited to make this for my niece’s birthday! I think I’ve got it figured out how to recreate what you made, but I’m curious how you sewed on the flaps after you’d assembled the main body of the tent. Is there just a rough edge showing to the inside of the tent? Thanks!

    • no there is no rough edge, I pressed the raw edges to the inside of the flaps and sewed the flaps (inset the tent body) to each side of the opening. Probably not the best way but no raw edges to fray and it is reversible! Good luck and share a photo of you can!

      • Really cute idea! I am a little confused on the yardage/form core boards…if 2 are 26×20 and one is 16×20 (the height of the tent side is 26″ – the floor is 16″ across – and the tent is 20″ deep.- wouldn’t I need 26 + 26 + 16 = 68″ total for fabric length? Closer to 2 yards of each side of fabric?

      • oops Valerie! I had a typo! The tent is 26″ deep and 20″ tall. so the full length of fabric is 20+20+16 because you use 2-20″x26″ and 1-20″x16″ sorry about that:)

  10. Did you have atuall patterns
    If you did could you send it to me

    • No, I figured it out as I went along:) I think if you cut your cardboard and lay it out on the cloth for the tent it will make sense:)

  11. Wow! My granddaughter finally got her American Girl doll this month. Can’t wait to try to make this for her for Christmas! Thanks for posting.

  12. For the tent, I pre-shrunk the material and used 5/8 inch seam allowance so the yardage for the floor of the tent came up short. I am having to reduce the tent walls by 1 inch and then figure out the width of the floor. Besides that, a yard and a half is 54 inches and the
    20 plus 20 plus 16 is equal to 56 inches. Am I figuring something wrong?

    • You know what, I bet they cut my fabric generously at the fabric store, I love mardens because they never undercut LOL! I used it as I bought it, I asked for a yard and a half but must not have measured. It won’t be a big deal to reduce the sides by an inch, sorry for any trouble it caused. I hope you have fun with the tent!

  13. Thanks so much for the adorable patterns. My granddaughters all have the 18″ dolls so I started making doll clothes and accessories for them, I made several things for Christmas and they were the hit of the day. I am going to try this tent and sleeping bag, I think they will love to take them when we go camping, how fun, thanks so much!!

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