Baby Doll For My Baby Girl

Oh my goodness, why are dolls so expensive?!?

In my never-ending must-make list, rag doll moved up to the top of the list this week out of sheer sticker shock.  What do you think of this little lady? 

I know she needs better clothes, (that’s a project for another hour) and a rag doll 2.0 may be in order after learning a trick or two the first time around, but I think she looks happy to be here. :)

My daughter’s idea of “playing” is still just drooling on stuffed appendages, but I like the idea that this is something she can look back on as her first doll.  Apparently mommyhood has made me all sentimental. :) My husband finds this newfound soft spot particularly endearing, which embarrasses me to no end.

Ahem.

Anyway, he takes in interest in everything I make, but particularly things for Raya.  Because my normal Tuesday night crafting was to be disrupted by a GI scope yesterday afternoon (bleh) I worked on this little lady over the weekend, when my husband was at home.  Do you craft with a man in the house?  I love my husband’s interest in what I’m doing, but the questions make me a little crazy – not annoyed, just totally scatterbrained.  I was busy explaining to him and forgot I was also explaining to you mamas.  Oops.  So you will find that things may change from photo to photo as he made suggestions, and also that some things didn’t get photographed at all.  While I have to apologize in advance to anyone trying to follow along, I will grudgingly admit – I actually really had fun explaining to my jersey-clad husband exactly how I was going to make doll hair.

Ok, back to task.  (Hope that’s easier in your household than mine.)

Rag Doll

Time: One hour for the doll.  Possibly several more, if you get into making doll clothes.  Oy.

Supplies:

  • Basic sewing supplies (scissors, sewing machine, pins, etc.)
  • 1/4 yard of sturdy cotton, canvas, twill, etc.  If you don’t have anything suitable, check your donation pile and consider upcycling an old pair of khakis or twill pants.
  • Stuffing – I recommend PolyFil.  I used around 6-8 oz.
  • Embellishment for face and hair.  Depending on your style, you may need an embroidery hoop and floss, felt, yarn, etc.

Start with the face before you begin cutting if you intend to embroider it.  You’ll need the extra fabric in your hoop to keep things tight.  Your head pieces will be about 5″ circles, so I used my 5″ embroidery hoop.

I don’t know if this is “correct” but it’s a method that works for me.  I drew the face on in pencil.  Naturally, I didn’t get it quite right the first time.  Which means I can’t just stitch over my pencil line to cover it up.  So I actually drew this on the wrong side of the fabric, so I had lots of leeway in perfecting the face on the underside.  It gave me a good guide for my stitch lines, but ensured that that actual face was a clean slate.

I had planned to add little circles for felt cheeks, anime-style, but I decided simpler was more to my taste.  I don’t know, she looks happy to me! 

I also opted to use felt for the hair – less to be pulled off later, I thought.  But feel free to experiment, google some ideas, make some sketches until you settle on your style!  Just bear in mind that if the little mama (or mister) to have this doll is under age 3, you should avoid buttons and other such items that may eventually come loose, because they are a choking hazard.  I do not have a picture of hair.  I’m sorry.  But what I did in the back was to cut another 5″ circle of brown felt, and in the front, I cut some bangs like this shape.  Ish.  I machine-stitched it onto my head pieces with coordinating thread.

Once your face is done, you can cut all your pieces.  There’s a lot of flexibility here for size and shape, but here’s an estimate of what I used:

Head – 2 – 5″ circles (I just traced around a bowl about 5″)
Body – 2 – 5″x7″ rectangular pieces with rounded corners
Arms – 4 – 2″x4″ pieces, rounded at the hands
Legs – 4 – 2″x6″ pieces, rounded at the feet

If you cut this from a 9″ x 36″ piece of fabric, you should be just fine.  I’m not sure if you can *quite* make it from a fat quarter, but maybe with some adjustment?  I also thought originally that I would make the body from a different fabric – you know, built-in underwear.  But after measuring it too small with the arms and legs too long (grr, twice – the measurements I gave you are the ones that I finally settled on) I ran out of the polka-dot scraps I had been planning to use, so I finally settled for more twill instead.

All right, first step is to stitch around the arms and legs.  If your fabric has a right side, make sure the right sides are facing.  I use the edge of my presser foot as my seam allowance, and for stuffies, I add a second line of stitching over the first.  Seams need to stay stitched!  Especially for these rounded edges – you will need to trim them down, otherwise you’ll find your corners aren’t smooth.  You’ll see later what happens when you don’t trim your seams well enough. :) So reinforce now!

Turn the arms and legs through the open end, and fill them with stuffing.  It takes surprisingly more stuffing than you would think.  But you should stuff them fairly firmly.  I have heard of mamas using chopsticks to accomplish turning and stuffing, but things I can’t do by hand, I usually use a butterknife for.  Hey, whatever you have!

I like to stitch the arms and legs closed to keep the stuffing in while I pin, though this step is totally optional. 
Next, attach the head to the body on both the front and back.  In retrospect, I would have made a slight “neck” in the body piece.  It still worked, but turning was more difficult than I envisioned.  You may notice a little tag on the butt, and that’s just my personal touch, I like to add personalized labels when I make things for my daughter and for all my other babies.  This one says “Just for Raya”. 

Once that’s done, it’s time to position and pin the arms and legs on.  Position the legs where you want them on the bottom, legs pointing up.  Same for the arms, pointing in.  Also in my next version, I will position these closer to the shoulder.  Your doll will look like it’s holding up her (or his) legs. 

Secure the legs to one side of the body, and then pin the other side on.  You should end up with a limb sandwich.  Leave a gap between one leg and arm.  You will use this hole for turning the doll and stuffing it.

Now, stitch from one arm or leg where you left the gap, around the head and body, to the other end of your gap.  Backstitch on each end.  If you have never done this, there should be some sort of button or lever that reverses the stitching direction on your machine.  Go in reverse for a few stitches.  The opening will take some abuse, so you want your stitches to be secure instead of unraveling.  Once again, I add a whole second line of stitching to really secure everything.

Trim all the rounded corners, and don’t be like me and overlook the neck area.  D’oh.

Now for the scary part where you wonder if you’ve done everything right because it seems all wrong: turning.  I’ve included a couple photos here so you can see it going from weird to normal. 

Pull out the legs and arms through your turning hole one at a time.  

You’ll probably need to push your fingers up through the inside of the head to get it turned completely. 

While I hate calling out my mistakes for all to see, take note of how the neck of my doll is puckered.  This is what happens if you don’t trim down your inner seams properly.  If you find a lot of this in your own doll, you may want to turn it back to inside-out and trim a little more before continuing. 

Now to stuff.  Start with the head, and all corners that are farthest from your hole.  Once it’s firmly stuffed, add a little more for good measure. 

Almost done!  Now, use a whipstitch, or blindstitch/slipstitch to close your stuffing hole.  A whipstitch is easiest and it’s what I do.  A blindstitch or slipstitch will look better, but I have not yet mastered it.  So just use whatever keeps you from swearing, and keeps your stuffing inside. :) Once again, no photo.  Sorry.  But my husband fully understands this step now.
And the baby doll is all done!!  You can stop here, or you can do what I did – I whipped up a 5-minute shift dress so that she wasn’t naked.  My husband wanted to know, didn’t I have any leftover Indianapolis Colts fabric?  Perhaps.  I will have to think on appropriate doll clothes, but that’s a job for my next happy hour. :)

And what to name her?  Any ideas?  My daughter doesn’t talk yet, so she’s no help for a while, and my husband’s suggestion was Agatha.  I’m just not feeling it…

Comments

  1. Kelly says

    She's pretty cute! Thanks for the tutorial! A little doll is on my list for my future little girl, I think I have a little time yet though. ;)

  2. Tiaras & Bow Ties - Think Smink says

    what a cute little doll! Sure to be a family heirloom. Yes, I too have the hubby who is full of the most annoying questions…to me anyhow. He is supportive though, and after 16 years togeather he is starting to understand that if given the choice I'd rather be crafting than cleaning the toilet and he's kinda getting used to that. Anyway, thanks for stopping by tiarasandbowties.blogspot.com and becoming a follower. I can't wait to see what's coming up next here on your blog!
    Best Wishes,
    Kim

  3. Nicole says

    She is adorable!! I love how you made her face! Thanks so much for linking to Thrifty Thursday! I'm going to post this on my FB page tonight!

  4. Ellie says

    You are so cool! I would have never even thought to make a rag doll, and you make it sound easy! Great job!

  5. Ladybird Ln says

    So sweet, your daughter will love that, and it means so much more that you made it!

    Carlee

  6. Poppy says

    Wow! I love this tutorial! You are incredibly talented and it is so sweet of your husband to be interested in your projects… your rag doll is simply adorable and your daughter will have so much fun. Thanks for sharing and for your sweet comment on my burlap runner. Happily following you back. Have a great weekend!~Poppy

    http://withadashofcolor.blogspot.com/

  7. BluBabesCreate says

    I just made one of these for my daughter and will be showcasing it soon! I used a tutorial similar to this already on the internet. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Nicole says

    I love this! Too bad my baby girl already has her first doll. Great tutorial-but I'm still intimidated. Sewing and me don't get along at all. Boo.
    Thanks for the sweet comment and follow! I'm following you too. I love how you think.

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