Home » DIY Tutorials » DIY Crafting » Crafting: No-Sew » Turn a shelf into a Doll Bed with Clothing Storage (for 18 inch dolls)

Turn a shelf into a Doll Bed with Clothing Storage (for 18 inch dolls)


Do you remember how Christmas wasn’t that long ago?  Doesn’t it feel like it was months ago?  Wow. 


 Well, our 5 year old got a big girl doll from Santa.  (Nope, not an American Girl doll……..but a cheaper version.  Madame Alexander.)  Anyway, Santa brought some clothes and some hangers but his elves must have run out of wood because they didn’t bring her a bed or an armoire (or even a bag) to store her clothing.  Not a bit of worry here little elves, I completely understand you must have been busy. And my daughter didn’t wonder why there was nothing to hang her hangers on.  No biggee.  (And don’t worry, doll furniture wasn’t part of her list to Santa.  I didn’t ruin any dreams here.)


By the way, have you seen the price of doll furniture?  It’s robbery.  I couldn’t stomach the thought of buying an armoire with a few drawers for close to $80 and then a bed for another $40-$50.  Really?  But because I didn’t have time to make her anything before Christmas, her doll just hasn’t had anywhere to sleep or store her clothes (which is important to a 5 year old).  Until now. 


Because I bought this bare wooden shelf (for $5 at Hobby Lobby), added a dowel, painted it, and turned it into a bed/clothing storage for her doll Ella.  (Yeah, my daughter’s name is Elli and her doll’s name is Ella.  Go figure.)



And because it was originally a shelf, it hangs on the wall…….nice and out of the way. 

(It actually sits right above my daughter’s bed.  She loves having her close.)



Ella can sit from her little perch during the day while not being played with……..and then be layed down to sleep at night.



And with a few scraps from the stash, Ella has a little blanket and pillow to sleep with.  Lucky thing

Just don’t go asking for a mattress pad or anything……..because that’s where your luck runs out. ;) 

(The blanket is just a mini version of this one.)



After adding the hanger rod (the dowel), I added fabric covered buttons to each end, to keep any of the doll accessories from sliding off.  (And to help polish off each end of the dowel.)



Oh my word, I thought human baby hangers were cute……until I got baby doll hangers.

These things are itty-bitty mini.  And perfect.  (found hangers here.)



The outcome?  A dolly success. 

My little girl loves it and she already told me that Ella loves it too.  Oh good.



Now just think, you could hang one of these anywhere.  Above a bookshelf, by the toy bins, in a toy room, near the closet, anywhere.  And if you have a doll that lives in your house that comes with even 2 or 3 extra outfits, you totally understand the crazy mess of doll clothes strewn everywhere.  So make it fun and let your little girl keep her doll things all together and organized.  And off the stinkin’ floor.


Ready to make one?



Supplies Needed:

  • A wooden shelf that is big enough to fit your doll that also has two vertical supports underneath.
  • A wooden dowel, thick enough to hold your doll hangers.
  • Doll hangers (I found mine here. 10 for $5.95.)
  • Hot glue
  • Power Drill
  • Sand Paper
  • Paint
  • Fabric Button Cover Kit, 2 bigger than your dowel circumference are needed (just like these here)
  • a piece of scrap fabric to cover the button covers



First of all, there are probably many shelves that would work for this project.  I found this bare wooden shelf at Hobby Lobby.  They always have things on sale for 50% off.  If they don’t have what you want on sale, wait a week or two.  So this shelf was originally $10 but I got it on sale for $5.  It measures about 20 inches long and about 7 inches deep.  Perfect for the standard 18 inch dolls (American Girl Dolls and the knock offs).


First, I cut my dowel to be slightly shorter than the width of the shelf.


Then I used a large drill bit and drilled holes in the vertical supports underneath the shelf top.  Be sure that you drill them in a good spot so that your hanger can fit up and over the dowel.  And also that the hole isn’t too far back so that the hanger hits the wall and can’t hang straight.  (Hold your hanger up and measure before drilling.)


Then, with a smaller drill bit, Idrilled out little holes on both ends of the dowel for my button cover backs to fit into.


Then I slid the dowel through the holes in the shelf, used a bit of hot glue to secure the dowel in place (wood glue would work great too) and then sanded the entire shelf to smooth down the rough spots.  (If your shelf wasn’t a bare raw shelf to begin with, you won’t need to sand it.)  Then I pained the entire shelf white, with some leftover interior paint from this project. 


Then I let the shelf completely dry for a day.

(Spray paint would work too.  And would dry faster.)


Next, I covered 2 button covers with some fabric.  (Same as the ones used here.)


And then inserted the back nub (with a little hot glue) into the holes I made at each end of the dowel.



And then hung the whole shelf/bed on the wall.



And that’s it.


A quick and simple bed/clothing storage for my daughter’s 18 inch doll.


Yay for finally finishing something that was meant for Christmas.  Blame it on the elves. ;)




. . . . . . . . . . .
This post is sponsored by:


Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. Bekah says:

    I love this! My niece is also an Ellie but 8 and got her first AG doll this Xmas. Her first name idea was Ella too. Lol. I ended up making the suggestion that since the doll was a TrulyMe that looked like her how about we name the doll Ellie’s middle name. Just an idea if you’re daughter or anyone who reads this has a girl looking for a name and wants it to be very much like her own.
    I will be passing this along to her grandfather since she does have a birthday coming up. And also a little sister who loves seeing what she can find while her older sister is at school. This is the perfect solution to keep the little one away and keep Ellie from worrying about her sister getting her toddler hands on the doll. Thanks for this idea!!

  2. Jessica says:

    Thank you for this! I am looking for inexpensive Christmas ideas and this is perfect. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  3. Julie Snow says:

    I love this and I am going to make one for my sewing studio where I hang my samples of doll clothing – I teach little girls how to make doll clothes for their dolls (and some matching girl-size stuff too). I love this idea – have to get some hangers too – but a big question: can you hang up the pants with those hangers?????

  4. Kristen Earl says:

    If you use your smart phone while you are at Hobby Lobby, go on the internet to the Hobby Lobby website. Click on the link for ‘View Weekly Coupon.’ Read the 4 digit coupon code to the cashier and she will take 40% off one item. I did this EVERY DAY in December for two weeks while I was finishing Christmas projects and bought one item each day and used the coupon every day! Little known secret! PS I LOVE your blog!

  5. Jill says:

    Very creative!

  6. Nancy says:

    I am making this for my Chihuahua’s clothes and hanging it on the wall in my closet! I’ve been looking for a way to store his clothes. I don’t have a daughter. I dress the chihuahua. My son is a teenager. :-) Great Idea. Thank you for sharing!!

  7. Rachael says:

    We got our daughter a Corelle doll last year (they’re smaller).

    She desperately needs a place for clothes!!

  8. Melissa says:

    I will be making one of these to hold/drape my Taekwondo belts on! So much better than $100 for custom cases! Thanks!

  9. Kristi Lease says:

    Hi. I am a first time reader of your blog. I think this doll bed idea is cute. I have three daughters, 2, 6, & 9) who all have American Girl Dolls and other brand 18 inch dolls. This past Christmas I started making them furniture for their dolls by re-purposing items, up-cycling, and using boxes and duck tape. I have a blog @ where I explain how to make doll furniture from these materials. I hope you will check it out!

  10. Lindsey says:

    I absolutely love this idea! My oldest daughter also got an 18 in. doll for Christmas and would love a place for her doll to sleep and hold her clothes. Plus it would help in keeping the doll safe from little sister!! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Jennifer says:

    My daughter also just got her first 18 in knockoff doll with clothes and this shelf is perfect! She also turned five right before your daughter, so I love that I don’t have to adjust the sizing when I make her your ideas (like re-purposed skirts from shirts). Same goes for my little man. Very convenient for me. : ) I don’t do doll clothes though, so grandma still gets to shine in that arena.

  12. Rachel says:

    Thank you, thank you for this! My little girl also got a big girl doll at Christmas, and it us so important to her that she have a bed, but there really is no place for one in her room. This is a perfect solution!

  13. Jen says:

    Well I don’t need one of these at my house yet but my friends with girls have a couple of these size dolls. We got together and made 3 sets of these bunk beds ( ) and let the girls paint them with acrylic paint and them went over them with a sealer. One of the Dad’s made the armoire also. Don’t need super woodworking skills and the directions are easy….Love your shelf makeover.

  14. Melissa @ twolittleredbobbins says:

    What a cute idea, I’m going to remember this for when my baby is a big girl :)

  15. Amanda Jean says:

    G’day from Australia.

    This is a fantastic idea.
    I think I might also use this idea for my 3 year olds dress-up clothes – they are in a box at the moment and she pulls the lot out onto her bedroom floor – a huge mess it makes ;-)

    Love your blog, thanks for all the inspiring ideas.

  16. Natalie says:

    What a great idea! I don’t have any little girls, so it wouldn’t work at my house, but still! Great idea! I would have loved something like that when I was little.

    P.S. I featured you on our blog today. I hope you don’t mind! It was SUCH a great idea, I had to share how it worked out for me! :)

  17. Nicole says:

    This is such an awesome idea! I am going to make one for my little Ellie for sure. I love how when I ‘need’ something, you have already come up with a solution! I have a just-turned-5-yr old Ellie also and she also just got a knock-off American Girl doll (she doesn’t know it’s not the real thing!) for Christmas and we are always picking her up of the floor and looking for her clothes and shoes etc. Btw, where do you store the doll’s shoes? :) Thanks for a great project!

  18. Lisa says:

    Ooh I love this, but my little girl isn’t old enough for dolls yet, but it did give me a great idea for a bow and headband holder!

  19. Angie says:

    cute and clever!

  20. Lisa says:

    Love this idea my little ones got dolls for christmas I think I have a new project to work on….Thanks for sharing!

  21. Sabrina says:

    So cute! Very creative!

    Our little girl also got a doll from Santa. However, I repurposed the cradle my dad had built me when I was little, even made bedding for it. Then my Dad made our little girl a changing table that I had saw for $60, his cost was alot less. I made a changing pad for it. It has a shelf under it for the baskets with diapers and clothes. It has been a hit.

  22. Laura says:

    My name is Laura and when I was little, my first “big doll” was named Dora. She was only a little shorter than me and amazingly, I slept with her in my bed for ages, you know, despite the fact she took up half of it!

  23. Paige says:

    I,too, have been trying to figure out how to organize my daughter’s doll clothes…what a GREAT idea! Plus the hangers are EXCELLENT. As I was reading the post, I was thinking, “I wonder where she got the hangers?” About then I saw the link! Cool cool! I just may have to try this out! :)

  24. Amanda @ The Little Giggler says:

    I LOVE this! Such an awesome idea!!

  25. Louise says:

    I made 18in dolls clothes for my grand niece, Also made a matching night gown for my grand niece and her doll. I only have grandsons so sewing doll clothes in enjoyable for me.
    I have purchased some patterns online from Liberty Jane She has a good pattern for t-shirts with several variations.
    Really enjoy your blog.

  26. Dilla Maulina says:

    You always have agreat idea!!!
    I always love your tutorial!!

  27. Cheryl says:

    I love that idea. I hope you do some clothes tutorials. My DD got a Big doll too and is always asking for a new outfit your here.

  28. katie says:

    hahahaa! Awesome my first thought was ‘its like bunk beds with your dolls!’ my daughter would love this!

  29. Alison Martin says:

    Hobby Lobby has McCall patterns for 99 cents this week. I went and bought 6 patterns to make doll clothes out of my scraps. The most exciting was a mermaid costume for dolls. I can use the scraps from my daughters halloween costme i made and they can match!

  30. Jennifer says:

    Brilliant! I wish I’d thought of something like this when my daughter was younger. Keeping in mind for a granddaughter one day.

  31. gilda says:

    My daughter just said, WOW!!!” :D She also got a doll and without furniture. She sleeps on a book shelf right now. But this is wayyyyy cooler. thanks!

  32. Kati says:

    So cute!! Great idea, especially for people who don’t have a lot of space for a doll bed/house. :)

  33. Natalie says:

    We got my daughter a doll for christmas, too. GREAT idea for a bed – Love it! I’m so glad your little one loves her doll. Mine desperately wanted one but now that she’s got her she says the doll creeps her out. Bahaha! That whole blinking eyes thing. I believe the doll has now been adopted by my youngest daughter.
    I’ll be sure to copy this idea for a bed for “Sophia”. Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Nicole says:

      This is funny! My daughter is a little weirded out by the blinking eye thing too! :)

  34. Winter says:

    Adorable! Our daughter is named Ella and her first “big girl doll” was named Elli. :)
    Ella is 8 now and wants a house for her AG dolls. I’m looking for an old tv cabinet (1980’s entertainment center) I can repurpose. The drawers will offer storage for all the tiny clothes and accessories. The shelves can house books and baskets for more stuff. The tv space can be the dolls home, these beds would make great bunks!

  35. lynn says:

    Oh,my! I am in love with this idea. Maybe this will end the great doll bed debate in our house!

  36. Katie says:

    Where did you find the hangers? We looked all over. I made some out of pipe cleaners, but they are not cutting it.

  37. Kristin says:

    I love this idea! I need dolly bunk beds lol. You are so so creative! I adore your blog and wait in anticipation for every new post!

  38. marta says:

    My daughter’s baby doll’s clothes are EVERYWHERE!!! She’s got quite the collection these days. I put them in a bin… then one day she lugged the bin down the stairs… so that has got to go… i thought about hanging them up, but this… this is PERFECT.

  39. Becki says:

    That is fabulous! I’ll have to do that for my little one.

  40. Mrs. Knitters says:

    It’s really great idea. I think I will have to make sth like this one day :)

    Greetings form Poland :))

    PS. I love your blog, although I don’t comment frequently, I’m with you with every post. :)

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh yay, and welcome!!! Glad you popped in to say hello! :)

  41. Angela says:

    Seriously one of the best ideas ever. We also have an almost 5 year old in the house who received a big doll for Christmas. I agree with Allison, you must tire from being so Awesome!

    1. Ashley says:

      Haha……you’re just as funny as she is! ;)

  42. aubrey crookston says:

    Did you make the doll clothes? Do you have some go to’s for patterns? I bought a pattern book to go with our new American Girl doll but didn’t love the jammies I made from it…

    1. Ashley says:

      No, I haven’t made any for the blog yet…..but I do have a few simple ideas in the works. A doll can never have too many clothes, right? ;)

  43. MeganL says:

    Cute! I’m off to make one!

  44. Polly @ Helping Little Hands says:

    That is awesome! My girls don’t have “nice” dolls yet, but I LOVE this. We have a pretty sturdy doll bed that was about $10 from Ikea, but this is even better because it doesn’t take up floor space!

  45. Allison A says:

    What a darling idea– as always.

    Do you ever tire of being so awesome all the time?

    1. Ashley says:

      Haha……..thanks for making me laugh right out loud! I sure wouldn’t impress you with me spreadsheet skills though. Or my bread making techniques. Ha! :)

    2. Maree says:

      You need a bread maker Ashley! Makes it really easy!

      Great idea! Will have to keep that in mind if we have a little girl or when our nieces start with dolls!

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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