How to Sew a Rag Doll

Written by jewel johnson
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How to Sew a Rag Doll
Rag dolls can't resist hugs! (I love my doll. image by Renata Osinska from

Rag dolls have been a treasured toy for little girls as far back as 300 B.C., evidenced by a rag doll that was found in a girl's grave. The doll is now preserved in the British Museum. Rag dolls have been created from wood, corn husks and fabrics. In the old days, they were not sewn but held together with twine or whatever was handy, and most dolls did not have faces. Many families made the dolls for their children because they didn't have money to buy toys. In addition, rag dolls could endure the hugs of little girls without breaking, and the dolls wouldn't make noise if dropped while in church or school. Interestingly enough, rag dolls are still among the most loved dolls of small children. You can create your very own doll in a matter of minutes, and you can give it a personality exclusively designed by you.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pattern
  • Scissors
  • Material for doll
  • Straight pins
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • Cotton stuffing
  • Scrap material

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  1. 1

    Cut your pattern out for the doll body, arms and legs. You can choose a very simple pattern or a more detailed one. Follow the cutting line on all pieces.

  2. 2

    Pin the pattern pieces onto the material that you will be using for your doll body. Muslin is a very popular choice for many doll makers because of the colour and because it's easy to work with. Any material you choose will work.

  3. 3

    Cut along the edge of your doll pattern, allowing a 1/4 inch seam on all parts. The pattern line will be your sewing line, and cutting 1/4 inch away from the line will help secure your stitches.

  4. 4

    Turn the body parts inside out with right sides facing each other. This will allow your sewing stitches to be on the inside of your doll.

  5. 5

    Sew your doll's body parts together, starting with the body. Continue with both arms and legs. You can hand sew the stitches or use a sewing machine. Sew around all pieces, leaving an inch open so you can stuff the pieces.

  6. 6

    Turn each piece right side out. Check your stitches to make sure they are secure.

  7. 7

    Hold the open part of the seam of the body and stuff firmly. Do the same for both arms and legs.

  8. 8

    Sew the open seams closed and fasten off the thread. Use a thread that closely matches the material so the stitches will not show.

  9. 9

    Sew each arm to the body evenly with the shoulder of the doll. Attach the legs at the bottom of the body.

  10. 10

    Personalise your doll with scrap material. You can make a simple rectangular dress and add scrap lace, ribbon or buttons.

Tips and warnings

  • You can paint or stitch a face for your doll to give it more character. Add doll hair with yarn, jute string, or whatever you may have on hand.
  • If your doll is for a child, don't use buttons or small items that can be swallowed on the doll.

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