How do you make adult men and women life-size cloth dolls?

Updated February 21, 2017

Making life-size cloth dolls of adult men and women can be as simple as tracing around an adult and then creating a pattern. Because you want a realistic appearance to your life-size doll instead of the one-piece look of a rag doll, it's desirable to work with stretchy fabrics. Your life-size doll will finish slightly smaller than the adult you base your pattern on, so if you want a larger doll, compensate by making your tracing longer than the pattern subject.

Get an adult to lie on paper. Using a marker, trace around the person. Get the adult to move. Place tissue paper over each arm outline and trace the outline on it. Do the same for the leg outlines, taping two pieces of tissue paper together lengthwise to get a sufficiently long piece.

Cut out the outline, cutting off the arms and legs to create a rectangular torso with shoulders, neck and head (this is the head/torso pattern). Cut arms/legs from tissue paper (arm/leg patterns).

Fold fabric, forming two layers. Pin the head/torso and arm/leg patterns to both fabric layers. Cut out. Remove the patterns, pin the edges of the head/torso, arms and legs.

Place the right bottom corner of the torso under the machine's pressure foot. Sew, using a 6 mm (1/4 inch) seam allowance and straight stitch, along the torso side, shoulder, neck, around the head, down the neck and shoulder and down the left torso side until you reach the left bottom torso corner. Sew across the torso bottom, leaving a 12.5 cm (5 inch) opening near the right bottom corner. Remove the pins. Turn it right side out. Stuff. Turn the fabric edges around the stuffing hole in 6 mm (1/4 inch) and whipstitch it closed.

Sew the edges of the arms and legs, using a 6 mm (1/4 inch) seam allowance and straight stitch, leaving the ends open (upper arm/thigh). Turn right side out. Stuff. Turn the fabric edges of the opening inside. Sew closed except for a 5 cm (2 inch) opening in the centre of each arm/leg end to accommodate a button joint.

Thread a 25 cm (10 inch) upholstery needle with 3 metres (3 yards) of button thread, knotting the ends of the thread together. Sew three stitches through holes in a button. Insert the button into centre hole at the top of an arm. Holding the button inside the arm, sew a running stitch around the fabric opening. Pull thread tight, closing the button inside the arm. Place the arm against the torso side. Squeezing the torso narrow, work the needle through to the other side. Do not cut the thread. Thread the needle and thread through another button. Insert the button into the other arm hole. Sew a running stitch around the fabric, enclosing the button. Squeezing the torso again, work the needle through the torso, through the arm, back through the torso, through the other arm, until you run out of thread. Sew to lock. Repeat for the legs.

Hand-sew four lines to separate fingers/thumb/toes on the hands and feet. Glue fingernails onto the fingers with a glue gun.

Paint or embroider eyes, nose, mouth and eyebrows onto the face. Glue on eyelashes. Place a wig on head. Dress the doll.


You can stitch a separation between buttocks. Create a belly button by gathering a penny-sized section of fabric, sewing a running stitch in a circle, tightening the thread and locking the stitch.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Marker
  • Tissue paper
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Flesh-toned cotton jersey fabric -- 1.8 m (6 foot) doll requires about 4 metres (4 yards)
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Polyester fiberfill - about 4.5 kg to 6.8 kg (10 to 15 lb)
  • Needle -- 25 cm (10 inch) upholstery
  • 4 buttons, 5 cm (2 inch) diameter, two-holed
  • Button thread
  • Artificial fingernails
  • Glue gun
  • Wig
  • Acrylic paints or embroidery floss
  • Artificial eyelashes
  • Clothes
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About the Author

Louise Harding holds a B.A. in English language arts and is a licensed teacher. Harding is a professional fiction writer. She is mother to four children, two adopted internationally, and has had small businesses involving sewing and crafting for children and the home. Harding's frugal domestic skills help readers save money around the home.