Small rag dolls are fun for babies and are handy for older children to carry in a pocket. Their size presents some special problems for the doll-maker. Little dolls lend themselves to imaginative play in ways that larger dolls cannot. They can also be made from small scraps that are useful for little else.
Draw simple shapes to create the doll figure: A flat circle for the head, a rectangle with a neck protuberance for the body, right and left arms; right and left legs. If the doll is cut from felt, you will not need to turn the fabric; but with other fabrics, you must remember to make the arms and legs thick enough to turn right side out; be sure to leave at least a 1/8-inch seam allowance around the pieces. Cut out the pattern.
Fold the fabric for making the doll in half, with right sides together. Pin the pattern to the cloth. Cut around the pattern, creating two pieces of each item. With right sides still together, stitch around the pattern shapes, using a tiny backstitch. Leave the neck open, as well as leaving an opening in the head and the ends of the arms and legs open.
Turn the pieces right side out. The body and head should give no problems, but you may find it necessary to use a knitting needle to turn the arms and legs. Hold each piece (in turn) gently and press the point of the needle against the hand or foot end of the tube. Pull the tube over the knitting needle as if you were putting on a pair of nylons that had got turned wrong-side out. (If you have used felt, do not turn the fabric. Stitch the seams together using a backstitch, then double secure with a whip stitch.)
Stuff the head and body firmly, but not too tight. Pin the neck tab into the slot where you stuffed the head, turning under any rough edges. Stitch the two pieces together. Stitch up the side slot where the body was stuffed.
Cut the chenille stems just a little longer than the arms and legs. Slide a stem into each appendage, then stuff around the stem. A thin knitting needle is helpful for poking the bits of stuffing into place.
Double over the stem at the end, so no sharp point will stick out. Stitch the ends of the arms and legs closed, then sew onto the body at the appropriate points, using a quilting stitch.
Lay the doll on a piece of graph paper. Trace around it, making a separate tracing for each garment you wish to create. Sketch the clothing parts over the tracing. Cut out the patterns. Remember to keep the pieces very simple. A-line dresses, gathered skirts, drawstring trousers and vests are all fairly easy to devise.
Cut out the clothing patterns. Remember to leave a 1/8-inch seam allowance around the outside of each pattern.
Cut pattern pieces from selected fabrics. Felt or light cottons are best for this. Denim (unless very thin or worn) will be very difficult to work in at this size.
Stitch the garments together and dress the doll. If extra clothing is made, a match box or small jeweller's box makes a good doll trunk or suitcase.
Things you need
- Scraps of flesh-toned fabric: pink, tan, brown
- Scraps of print or brightly coloured fabric
- Chenille pipe cleaners
- Fibre fill or cotton stuffing
- Graph paper