Rag Doll Adventures

IMG_9925What’s an adventure? According to dictionary.com “An adventure is an exciting or unusual experience. It may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome.” In my Rag Doll Adventures, my first steps were to locate the exact pattern and wait patiently for it to arrive. Finally, “The Making of a Rag Doll” by Jess Brown was waiting in the mailbox.IMG_9890After reading it from cover to cover, I proceeded to copy the enclosed patterns and start on my bold and risky undertaking. The dolls that she makes and sells are 22 inches long, but the doll pattern that she shares in her book is 19 inches long. This reduced size makes turning and stuffing the arms and legs a challenge. I figured out an easier way to turn the second doll’s arms and legs using a spaghetti strap turner. It does take some time and quite a bit of finger, thumb, and chopstick work to stuff those tiny limbs!

IMG_9904I wanted to make the doll out of upcycled materials as much as possible so I did my fabric shopping at our local senior center thrift store. It was a great day to shop because I hit the jack pot! I found new and vintage cuts of the cutest cotton prints and heavy weight muslin for making the dolls’ bodies.

IMG_9907 I bought a men’s wool suit jacket for making hair. I deconstructed the whole jacket, saving only the wool. Then I threw it in the washing machine and washed it in hot water, rinsed it in cold, and then dried it in the dryer. It felted up a little, creating a soft fuzzy texture.  I attached the stuffed legs to the bottom with a couple of rows of stitching and then stuffed the rest of the body. After stitching up the back opening the doll was ready to be dressed. Jess Brown includes several garments for the dolls to wear. I chose the dress and bloomers for my girls. I added 1/8 inch elastic to the top of the bloomers, turned under the neck, sleeves, and hem edges and sewed up the seams. That was the easiest part of the adventure.IMG_9910Now to tackle the hair. There are suggestions in the book for adding the hair, but no real photos of just how to do it, especially on the back of the head. I cut 1 inch strips about 12 inches long from my felted wool. Then I sewed them to the head with embroidery thread of a coordinating color. It took four strips. I layered them starting with the one around the face and then layered the other ones one on top of the other and sewed them together with a whip stitch. I used my pinking shears to cut the strips in half. It was exciting to see how well it turned out!

IMG_9918I did the faces last. I lightly penciled in the Jess Brown “star eyes” and then embroidered them with black. I decided to change Jess Brown’s signature felt heart mouth to a small embroidered mouth sewn with 3 strands of coordinating embroidery thread.

IMG_9915To make the dolls gift ready for Valentines Day, I made red felt hearts, sewn together with pink embroidery thread. I stuffed a bit of polyfill inside, added a ribbon, and tied them around their little necks.

IMG_9929This is what I will do differently next time: enlarge the pattern so that stuffing is easier. I have ordered some organic cotton stuffing, so the next ones will be all cotton and wool.

IMG_9924Let’s see how far my adventure into doll making goes. So far I’m excited about the journey and curious to see what the future may bring, in the Rag Doll Adventure.

Thank you, friends, for following my blog! I may hit five hundred this year and I will certainly celebrate with some awesome handmade gifts for several lucky followers.

Happy Sewing!

About SeamQueen

Seamstress, Sewist, Artist, Fashionista, Quilter, Upcycler, Textile Obsessed!
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9 Responses to Rag Doll Adventures

  1. cadderly2 says:

    I am so impressed. I love that you used recycled materials and really enjoyed reading about you deconstructing and partially felting a man’s suit. What a fun post!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. zibergirl says:

    Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it.


  3. Ebi Poweigha says:

    Who are these for? I love that you upcycled materials to make them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Barbara says:

    They are lovely. I love the idea of using scaps to make dolls.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Aisha M says:

    Love these little dolls! I find the legs a bit scarily thin though and I can relate with the trouble you had stuffing them…


  6. That’s an interesting method of making hair (never seen it done like that before), and I love the lace trimmed pantaloons.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. zibergirl says:

    Thank you, it was an experiment. I originally was scouting the thrift stores for a wool or cashmere sweater, but there weren’t any, so I opted for the wool suit. It took a little time to deconstruct it, but I liked how it worked for me.


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