How to Make Rag or Fabric Dolls

By Emilia Richter
Rag dolls are an easy project, requiring only needle, thread and some fabric.
Rag dolls are an easy project, requiring only needle, thread and some fabric.

Nothing says childhood comfort like a rag doll. Though these handmade fabric dolls are simple to make, if you are handy with a needle and thread, they can become a much loved toy for your child. The beauty of making your own rag doll is that you are free to personalise the doll and design it exactly as you please, adding as much or as little detail as you want.

Create a template to use for your rag doll, or download a template from the Internet. Your template will need to include a pattern for the arms, legs, head and body.

Fold your fabric in half, then trace your template onto the fabric. This way, you will have two of each piece. Be sure to trace your arms and legs twice, reversing them, the second time. When you are finished, you should have two heads, two bodies, four arms and four legs.

Cut out all the pieces for your rag doll, carefully.

Sew together the two sides of each of your pieces. Be sure to leave openings at the ends of the arms and legs. Also, leave openings on the body, where you will later attach the arms and legs.

Turn all of your pieces inside out. If you are having trouble with this, particularly with the long arm and leg pieces, try sticking a pencil into the fabric to push out the edges of the fabric.

Stuff the arms, legs and head of your rag doll. Use less stuffing if you want a floppy rag doll, or more stuffing if you want a firmer doll.

Pin the arms and legs in place onto the doll's body. Do this by overlapping the fabric of one piece, an arm for example, with the opening fabric of the body. The overlap should be about 3/8 of an inch. Stitch across each opening to secure the doll's limb in place.

Attach the doll's head to the body, using a running slip stitch. Use small stitches to create a clean seam. You have now completed the doll's body.

Cut the yarn to the length you would like the length of the doll's hair to be. Cut about 20 to 30 pieces of the same length.

Sew the yarn to one side of the doll's head from front to back, creating a part down the centre of the doll's head. Repeat with the other side of the doll's head. Finish by tying the hair into pigtails.

Paint a face onto your doll, by using fabric paint. Practice on a scrap of fabric first, so you know exactly what you want the doll's face to look like.

Tip

If you do not feel comfortable creating your own rag doll pattern, look around online for one that you like. Be creative. There are no restrictions dictating what a rag doll should or should not look like. You can create clothing for your doll by finding and utilising doll clothes patterns online.

Warning

As with all sharp instruments, keep pins and needles away from small children.

About the Author

Emilia Richter began her writing career in 2004 when she entered Longwood University to pursue a B.A. in English and creative writing. She graduated summa cum laude in 2008 and now endeavors to spread her love and understanding of writing and literature as an English teacher in Richmond, Va.