What’s an adventure? According to dictionary.com “An adventure is an exciting or unusual experience. It may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome.” In my Rag Doll Adventures, my first steps were to locate the exact pattern and wait patiently for it to arrive. Finally, “The Making of a Rag Doll” by Jess Brown was waiting in the mailbox.After reading it from cover to cover, I proceeded to copy the enclosed patterns and start on my bold and risky undertaking. The dolls that she makes and sells are 22 inches long, but the doll pattern that she shares in her book is 19 inches long. This reduced size makes turning and stuffing the arms and legs a challenge. I figured out an easier way to turn the second doll’s arms and legs using a spaghetti strap turner. It does take some time and quite a bit of finger, thumb, and chopstick work to stuff those tiny limbs!
I wanted to make the doll out of upcycled materials as much as possible so I did my fabric shopping at our local senior center thrift store. It was a great day to shop because I hit the jack pot! I found new and vintage cuts of the cutest cotton prints and heavy weight muslin for making the dolls’ bodies.
I bought a men’s wool suit jacket for making hair. I deconstructed the whole jacket, saving only the wool. Then I threw it in the washing machine and washed it in hot water, rinsed it in cold, and then dried it in the dryer. It felted up a little, creating a soft fuzzy texture. I attached the stuffed legs to the bottom with a couple of rows of stitching and then stuffed the rest of the body. After stitching up the back opening the doll was ready to be dressed. Jess Brown includes several garments for the dolls to wear. I chose the dress and bloomers for my girls. I added 1/8 inch elastic to the top of the bloomers, turned under the neck, sleeves, and hem edges and sewed up the seams. That was the easiest part of the adventure.Visit my blog for details on how I did the hair. Zibergirl.com
I did the faces last. I lightly penciled in the Jess Brown “star eyes” and then embroidered them with black. I decided to change Jess Brown’s signature felt heart mouth to a small embroidered mouth sewn with 3 strands of coordinating embroidery thread.
To make the dolls gift ready for Valentines Day, I made red felt hearts, sewn together with pink embroidery thread. I stuffed a bit of polyfill inside, added a ribbon, and tied them around their little necks.
This is what I will do differently next time: enlarge the pattern so that stuffing is easier. I have ordered some organic cotton stuffing, so the next ones will be all cotton and wool.
Let’s see how far my adventure into doll making goes. So far I’m excited about the journey and curious to see what the future may bring, in the Rag Doll Adventure.
Thank you! Yes it is quite fiddly, I have to take a non-sewing day just to recooperate!
Aww these look brilliant! It sounds like fiddly work though. I’d love to try making a doll for my wee boy, will need to see if my local library has any books. Well done on the thrift store fabrics too!