How to Create African Dolls

Written by jophiel aurora
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How to Create African Dolls
African dolls can be a unique addition to any doll collection. (Three rag-dolls from Swaziland image by Elzbieta Sekowska from

Doll collectors often search for decorative, multicultural dolls to add to their growing collection. African dolls are becoming one of the "must-haves" on doll lovers' list. These beautiful, ethnic dolls are usually dressed in colourful African fabrics, beads, bangles and other traditional African accessories. Find them at some local gift shops, decor stores and online African stores. If you want to save money, create an authentic-looking African doll yourself such as the African Wrap doll. Doll maker Angela Briggs explained in an HGTV interview that she is dedicated to recycling and incorporates things from nature into the doll's clothing.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Pillow batting or lint stuffing
  • Yarn
  • 5-inch fabric square
  • 236ml. recycled juice bottle
  • 20-inch fabric square
  • Scissors
  • Wire (same length as the bottle)
  • Wire cutters
  • 18-inch fabric square
  • Tacky Glue or glue gun
  • Beads and shells
  • Seeds
  • Buttons
  • Twigs
  • Pine needles
  • Basket (optional)
  • Synthetic hair
  • Hot glue gun
  • Fabric trim

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  1. 1

    Place a ball of pillow batting or lint about the size of a golf ball (the cotton is soft and will compress to a small round head for the doll), in the centre of the 5-inch square fabric. Make the head of the doll by gathering the corners of the fabric together, pressing the cotton into a small ball and tying yarn around the fabric corners. Keep the excess hanging fabric.

  2. 2

    Make the body of the doll. Wrap the 20-inch piece of fabric around the 236ml. bottle. You might want to use African fabric or a pattern similar to textile designs from Africa. Do not cut the excess fabric.

  3. 3

    Insert a piece of wire through the excess fabric. Push it through the body to the other side until you have enough length on both sides of the body to make the arms. Cut any excess wire with cutters. Wrap a small piece of lint or cotton around each wire arm; and wrap the excess fabric around it.

  4. 4

    Connect the body to the head. Put the head of the doll on top of the body and secure them together by wrapping the doll in yarn. Begin by crisscrossing a long piece of yarn over the shoulders of the doll and around the waist. Continue wrapping the doll until no more fabric is visible.

  5. 5

    Take another piece of yarn and tie it around the left shoulder of the doll. Wrap the yarn down the entire length of the arm, leaving a small piece to form the hand. Then, wrap the yarn back up the arm to the shoulder, wrap it around the doll's waist, and tuck the remaining yarn into the body. Repeat this step for the right arm and shoulder.

  6. 6

    Squeeze glue in the corner of the 18-inch square piece of fabric. Press the fabric onto the chest area of the body and wrap it around the chest and underneath both arms, while leaving folds of fabric for a draped garment look.

  7. 7

    Add accessories. Use a hot glue gun or tacky glue to attach beads, shells, pine needles, twigs and buttons anywhere on the doll's clothing or body. You may also choose to use pine needles or other natural items to create facial features such as the mouth and eyebrows.

  8. 8

    Bend the doll's arms inward, as if they are holding something. You may choose to glue a small basket into the arms.

  9. 9

    Glue on hair. Cut synthetic hair into three 8-inch pieces. Braid the three pieces together. Rub glue on one side of the braid. Wrap the braid around the head, pressing it to secure it in place. Allow it to dry. You might glue on beads or a piece of fabric trim as a head wrap.

Tips and warnings

  • You can use an old garment, instead of buying fabric, to make the clothing for the doll.

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