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How to make Victorian clothespeg dolls

Updated March 23, 2017

Clothespeg dolls are an old-fashioned handicraft that's never quite gone out of style. Children can make and play with these simply constructed toys, and in the hands of an adult, a simple clothespin can become a sophisticated fashion doll or heirloom holiday ornament. Not much has changed since the Victorians first made these dolls at their parlour tables. You can design and create your own clothespin doll in an afternoon.

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  1. Hold a wooden clothespeg so the round head is toward the top and the forked bottom is toward the bottom. The top will be the head and face of the doll, and each fork is a leg.

  2. Paint the clothespeg to form the doll's body. Paint the body a flesh colour, paint the top back of the head a colour that matches the yarn choice for hair and paint the bottom of each fork to form Victorian-style boots. Allow the paint to dry.

  3. Draw facial features onto the doll using permanent markers.

  4. Snip lengths of yarn for the hair, then tie in the centre to make a bundle with a "part." Glue the hair to the top back of the doll's head and tie or trim it in a Victorian style. For women, high topknots were popular, while men often wore short, parted hair.

  5. Cut fabric scraps and glue to the doll body, wrapping the fabric around the doll to form Victorian style clothing. Fashion for women in the late Victorian era included ornate, corseted silhouettes with full skirts, while men tended towards sack suit jackets with high collars.

  6. Allow the glue to to dry, and clip off any extra fabric.

  7. Liven up the doll's outfit by gluing trimmings such as lace, ribbon or buttons onto the clothing. Decorative elements were very popular during the Victorian era. Use trimmings to create a hat for the clothespin doll; Victorian fashions often included matching, showy hats for women or top hats for men.

  8. Cut two strips of felt about 10 cm (4 inches) long and 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide to form the doll's arms. Fold them in half and secure with fabric glue.

  9. Attach the arms to the doll by securing each with a dab of fabric glue at the shoulder area.

  10. Tip

    Feel free to explore Victorian trends when costuming your dolls instead of creating period style outfits. During the Victorian era, there was an interest in ancient Greco-Roman and Egyptian styling, as well as a trend towards Art Nouveau.

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Things You'll Need

  • Wooden craft clothespin
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Permanent markers
  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Fabric craft glue
  • Scraps of fabric and trimmings
  • Piece of matching felt

About the Author

A writer and professional lab assistant based in Seattle, Kate Bruscke has been writing professionally about health care and technology since 1998. Her freelance clients include "The Seattle Times," KGB.com, Reading Local: Seattle, Nordstrom and MSN/Microsoft. Bruscke holds a Master of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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