Harriet the Spy – Spy Clothes

dsc_0488Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh is another classic in children’s literature. Harriet is very much flawed and provides great discussion with your child about honesty, friendship,  ambition, and exclusion. She reminds me of my best friend at this age – appearance, personality… even stories she wrote about our teachers. And, of course, I think everyone can relate to Harriet on a certain level – who didn’t go through a phase of wanting to be a secret agent? Who hasn’t felt like an outsider at some point in life?

As I was listening to the audio version of Harriet the Spy as I sewed her sweatshirt, my daughter told me that her first grade teacher’s favorite book is Harriet the Spy. She even dressed as Harriet on storybook character day! So glad my daughter is getting exposed to the various stories available to her once she has become a solid reader.

Today we’ll be making Harriet’s “spy clothes” Yes, she has specific clothes she changes into when spying. From there we’ll be working on tennis shoes and her handy tool belt with spy tools!



  • Simplicity pattern 4297
  • Sweatshirt fleece or even polar fleece in red or dark blue (See note below)
  • matching thread

Note: I went with red to match the iconic jacket cover seen on many Harriet the Spy  books. However, at the end of chapter 2, there’s a detailed description of her spy clothes – including her “old dark-blue sweatshirt with a hood.” Inconsistencies in the book and illustrations drove me crazy as a kid and a big part of me feels I should be true to the author’s original description. It pains me, but I opted to side with the illustrator in this case. Red stands against blue jeans much better than dark blue. You can cast your vote either way on this matter when you choose your material – or even recreate a movie Harriet look instead.

There are no modifications needed to make the sweatshirt. Just follow the pattern directions and you’re set. I recommend using a stretch stitch or a triple stretch stitch to keep your stitches from popping out since you’ll be using stetchy material. It’s heartbreaking to have straight stitches pop out when you pull the sweatshirt over your doll’s head.



Harriets’s “spy clothes consisted first of all of an ancient pair of blue jeans, so old that her mother had forbidden her to wear them.” This is a great time to reuse an old, ratty pair of jeans that can’t be salvaged and cut them up into doll clothes…unless, you’re still using them for your own spy route.

In the picture on the book jacket, Harriet’s jeans are dark and rolled with a large cuff. I cut up an old pair of maternity capris that were hopelessly out of style when I inherited them thru the cousin pipeline of passed on clothing. I used the same jeans hack I used for Fern’s jeans, but I made the legs much longer – so that we could roll up those high cuffs. I didn’t bother with keeping the original hem because we’re rolling the pants so high – it won’t be seen anyway (and the maternity capris didn’t have a normal hem anyway.)


Since I talked way too much about those maternity capris, I now feel obligated to show them to you.

Now you know why they are now doll jeans instead of being passed on to the next expecting friend.


Set the pattern up the same way we did for Fern, but extend the legs an extra 2″


Sew according to the directions, roll up the legs and you’ve got it!dsc_0456




Harriet “finished by donning a pair of black-rimmed spectacles with no glass in them. She had found these once in her father’s desk and now sometimes wore them even to school, because she thought they made her look smarter.”

I’m on the watch for a pair of reasonably priced black, doll glasses. (The ones I found in stores were expensive and the wrong color.) Even a pair of sunglasses will work because you can pop out the lenses like Harriet does. Until then, I will be content with my homely foam pair. If you’re being frugal like me, I’ll show you how I made them.


I started by tracing out a pair of glasses on regular paper to get the general size. From there, I cut them out of craft foam. I cut the centers out with an x-acto knife.



To get the ear pieces to stay back, I put a dot of hot glue at the corner where I want the bend. Hold the piece at a 90 degree angle to the lenses. You might need to work it back and forth a bit to get the glue to stick in the right spot.





They aren’t ideal, but they’ll do the trick. Just remind yourself that Harriet is wearing her father’s glasses, so they’re supposed to look big and wonky, right?

Our next post will be a pair of high top tennis shoes. Wish me luck!





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