How Do You Make Adult Men & Women Life-Size Cloth Dolls?

By Louise Harding
Cotton jersey is often used as T-shirt fabric.
Cotton jersey is often used as T-shirt fabric.

Making life-size cloth dolls of adult men and women can be as simple as tracing around an adult and then creating a pattern. Because you want a realistic appearance to your life-size doll instead of the one-piece look of a rag doll, it’s desirable to work with stretchy fabrics. Your life-size doll will finish slightly smaller than the adult you base your pattern on, so if you want a larger doll, compensate by making your tracing longer than the pattern subject.

Have an adult lie on paper. Using a marker, trace around the person. Have the adult move. Place tissue paper over each arm outline and trace the outline on it. Do the same for the leg outlines, taping two pieces of tissue paper together length-wise to get a sufficiently long piece.

Use tissue paper to make patterns for the arms and legs.
Use tissue paper to make patterns for the arms and legs.

Cut out the outline, cutting off the arms and legs to create a rectangular torso with shoulders, neck and head (this is the head/torso pattern). Cut arms/legs from tissue paper (arm/leg patterns).

Fold fabric, forming two layers. Pin head/torso and arm/leg patterns to both fabric layers. Cut out. Remove patterns, pin edges of head/torso, arms and legs.

Sew the body sections using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
Sew the body sections using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

Place the right bottom corner of the torso under the machine’s pressure foot. Sew, using a ¼-inch seam allowance and straight stitch, along torso side, shoulder, neck, around head, down neck and shoulder and down the left torso side until you reach the left bottom torso corner. Sew across the torso bottom, leaving a 5-inch opening near the right bottom corner. Remove pins. Turn right side out. Stuff. Turn fabric edges around the stuffing hole in ¼ inch and whip-stitch closed.

Sew the edges of the arms and legs, using a 1/4-inch seam allowance and straight stitch, leaving the ends open (upper arm/thigh). Turn right side out. Stuff. Turn the fabric edges of the opening inside. Sew closed except for a 2-inch opening in the center of each arm/leg end to accommodate a button joint.

Use a two-holed button to create a button joint.
Use a two-holed button to create a button joint.

Thread a 10-inch upholstery needle with 3 yards of button thread, knotting the ends of the thread together. Sew three stitches through holes in a button. Insert button into center hole at the top of an arm. Holding the button inside the arm, sew a running stitch around the fabric opening. Pull thread tight, closing the button inside the arm. Place arm against the torso side. Squeezing the torso to narrow, work the needle through to the other side. Do NOT cut thread. Thread needle/thread through another button. Insert button into the other arm hole. Sew a running stitch around the fabric, enclosing the button. Squeezing the torso again, work the needle through the torso, through the arm, back through the torso, through the other arm, until you run out of thread. Sew to lock. Repeat for legs.

Hand-sew four lines to separate fingers/thumb/toes on hands and feet. Glue fingernails onto fingers with glue gun.

Paint or embroider eyes, nose, mouth and eyebrows onto face. Glue on eyelashes. Place wig on head. Dress the doll.

Things You Will Need

  • Paper
  • Marker
  • Tissue paper
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Flesh-toned cotton jersey fabric - 6-foot doll requires about 4 yards
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Polyester fiberfill - about 10-15 pounds
  • Needle - 10-inch upholstery
  • 4 buttons, 2-inch diameter, two-holed
  • Button thread
  • Artificial fingernails
  • Glue gun
  • Wig
  • Acrylic paints or embroidery floss
  • Artificial eyelashes
  • Clothes

Tip

You can stitch a separation between buttocks. Create a belly button by gathering a penny-sized section of fabric, sewing a running stitch in a circle, tightening thread and locking the stitch.

About the Author

Louise Harding holds a B.A. in English language arts and is a licensed teacher. Harding is a professional fiction writer. She is mother to four children, two adopted internationally, and has had small businesses involving sewing and crafting for children and the home. Harding's frugal domestic skills help readers save money around the home.