"NOT" just for Bears

BUILD-A-BEAR clothes
for American Girl doll

I love American Girl dolls but their prices for clothing can really put a strain on my budget.  I've worked at BUILD-A-BEAR for many years (recently retired) and love the bear clothes.   Build-A-Bear offers trendy, high quality clothes at a very affordable price.   If you can sew even a little,  you can alter BAB clothes to fit AG dolls quickly and save lots of money in the process.  The picture above shows several outfits that I modified to fit my dolls (Kiki and Almut). 

My hubby asked me a question:  Is it worth the time it takes to alter BAB clothes?
My response:  "For some yes for others no".

If your children have moved from Bears to Dolls (AG) and you have a pile of
bear clothes that are just gathering dust in a drawer somewhere, then this is
a good way to re purpose them.

If you're on BAB's  mailing list and a member of their Stuff Fur Stuff Club 
 you're most likely receiving coupons.   Redeeming a $3.00 or $5.00 off
coupon on a $5.00 to $7.50 top or skirt makes my day. : >)
Redeem a $10.00 Stuff Fur Stuff certificate on a $13.50 outfit you get
an outfit for only $3.50

I love shirts with a design element on the front.  The stars on the shirt in my
example is something I would be challenged to duplicate so altering an
existing shirt with the design on it works for me.

AG prices are not budget friendly.   They do offer a few separates (tops and
bottoms) that you can mix and match.....but ends up costing $20.00 - $24.00.
for 2 pieces.   
How to alter a Build-A-Bear "shirt" to fit
an American Girl doll

Now that I am retired, I have more time to sew.  Today, I am working on altering several "tops"
that I purchased at Build-A-Bear to fit my American Girl Doll.  The shirt's cost between
$5.00 - $7.50.  You can purchase them for less if you have a coupon.
Use one of their $3.00 off coupons and the shirt featured would cost $2.00.

A little information about BUILD-A-BEAR (BAB). If you're not a member of their Stuff Fur Stuff club, I highly recommend that you join.  IT'S FREE!!!  Follow the link below and see how this program can benefit you.  You'll also be on their mailing list to get coupons and special offers.


It begins with selecting the right top to alter.

Selection tips:
* If there's a design on the front make sure it's centered.
* No sleeve, flutter sleeve or very short sleeve tops are easier to work with.
*  Sleeve band:  choose a shirt with no sleeve bands just a single layer fold over hem
* The back of the shirt should have no or minimal design elements on it.

Why I choose this top
Design centered.
Single layer fold over hem.
Sleeve:   slightly gathered set in sleeve that has ruched gathering
stitches running vertically from the sleeve hem to the shoulder seam

After alterations

The next picture shows the top with the Velcro attached.
I hope to post instructions for attaching Velcro soon.
If you need them use "google" and you will find
dozens of tutorials on how to do it.

Final step - side seams

Close back opening.  Lay top inside out, face side down
on a flat surface.  Smooth the shirt as flat as you can. 
Match and pin the underarm seams even.  Note that the
front of the shirt extends further out.  Pin the side seams 1/4"
in on the narrower back section.  Stitch line shown in pink.

Just as a precaution I machine baste the side seams and then
do a final fit check.   If all is well, I then stitch, trim & finish the seams.   

2 tops down and 4 to go.   I have a list of 6 dolls that
I make clothes for. 

How about skirts!
 You get a lot of  style for minimal effort.
Skirts cost between $6.00 and $7.00 at BAB.

Selection tips:
Elastic waist with no side seams or
Wrap around style with Velcro closure with
no side seams

Try the skirt on the doll inside out.
Pin excess fabric along the back center of
the skirt.   Machine baste seam then try on
again to check fit.   If all is well
stitch, trim and finish the seam.

Skirt is part of a $13.50  BAB outfit.  I still need to alter
the top.   I made this top using a LibertyJane pattern and I
purchased a  size 3x  Crofts & Barrow top on sale at Kohl's
and used the fabric to make lots of separates.

Skirt $6.00 from BAB.  Purse is also from BAB.
Pink knit top made using LibertyJane pattern. 
Silver necklace made from jewelry supplies purchased
at Michael's Crafts.




  1. Good to know! I bought a batch of doll clothes that were mostly AG but included the cheer leading outfit from BAB. Probably more challenging to alter but now I know that I'm not the only one in the alteration biz!

  2. Thanks so much for the BAB tips!!! I've recently sewn a LOT of AG outfits using Liberty Jane (free and purchased) patterns. I LOVE the idea of altering the BAB clothing. Great instructions and pictures!!!

  3. So very cute! You have great skills!

  4. Could you show us how to adjust an American Girl pattern to fit a BAB?

    1. Have not done it in reverse: As I work for BAB and can purchase the clothes at discount. If I did have a need to do that. I would probably enlarge the doll clothes pattern pieces by 1/2 inch all around using pattern paper and taping the enlarged pattern pieces together at the seams and try the paper garment on the bear and based on that make additional adjustments.