How to Make Homemade Rag Dolls of the 1930's

Written by jennifer terry
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Homemade rag dolls of the 1930s are some of the most sought after dolls by collectors. They are loved for their character and charm. You can make a reproduction rag doll reminiscent of the 1930s that will add charm to your own home. They can be used for display or they can be given as a gift to a special child in your life. Homemade rag dolls of this era were often made from materials left over from other household crafts.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • 1/2 yard unbleached muslin fabric
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Polyfil stuffing
  • Black and red embroidery floss
  • Embroidery needle
  • Hand needle

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    Make the Pattern

  1. 1

    Draw a 4-inch diameter circle on a piece of paper. At the left side of the circle place your pencil as far down on the circle as possible without leaving the side area.

  2. 2

    Draw a diagonal mark from the circle to the left. Draw the line about 1 inch long. Repeat on the other side of the circle. This forms the slight shoulders.

  3. 3

    Draw a 4-nch straight line from the end of the shoulder line downward. Repeat for the other side.

  4. 4

    Connect the two lines. You will now have a head and a body sketched as one piece.

  5. 5

    Draw an 8-inch line. Measure 1 1/2 inches over and draw a parallel line that is also 8 inches long. Join these two lines at one end with a curved line. This forms one arm. Repeat for the second arm.

  6. 6

    Draw a 10-inch line. Measure 2 inches over and draw a parallel line that is also 10 inches long. Join these two lines at one end with a curved line. This forms one leg. Repeat for the second leg.

    Make the Doll

  1. 1

    Trace the pattern onto two layers of muslin.

  2. 2

    Sew around all lines with your sewing machine. Leave the flat edge of the arms and legs open.

  3. 3

    Clip curves, trim seams. Make a short slit in the back of the doll body. Turn all pieces.

  4. 4

    Stuff the doll parts with polyfil stuffing. Stuff until the pieces are full but still soft. This is up to your own personal preference.

  5. 5

    Use a hand needle and thread to attach the open end of the arms to the shoulder area. Attach the legs to the hip area. Sew up the slit in the dolls body.

    Stitch the face

  1. 1

    Divide the face into fourths. In the cross line stitch a nose with black embroidery thread.

  2. 2

    Stitch the black eyes on either side of the nose but elevate them about 1/2 inch higher on the face.

  3. 3

    Stitch the mouth about 1/4 inch under the nose with red embroidery thread.

Tips and warnings

  • Hair is optional on a 1930s rag doll. If you wish to add hair, use cotton yarn or rag strips. You may also make a bonnet for your doll.
  • Do not overstuff the doll head or there will be puckers around the edges.

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