Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rags to dolls

The history of rag dolls is interesting, most of them are made with cloth, spare scraps and are even stuffed with the same.  One was even found buried with a child in Rome, dating back to 300 BC.  Today you can find rag dolls on Etsy, or other such sites for sale, most made with old materials or vintage findings.  These dolls can be expensive (to say the least) and some are too precious for every day loving.

One one of my many trips to the library here in town I found a book on how to make rag dolls.  The book is The Making of a Rag Doll: Design & Sew Modern Heirlooms and can be found on amazon by using the link.  I think the book is a great idea, but I did find after reading the book, and tracing the patterns, that the pattern that is provided in the back of the book is TOTALLY different than the dolls she shows in the pictures.  I created one such doll, and ended up altering the pattern  as provided, and still wasn't sold on the results...don't get me wrong, my doll is SUPER cute and I will make more of these, but after doing more research I see where the differences lie.


To start, the body pattern is all wrong,  Jess' dolls have a wider neck, and the arms are attached separately.  Secondly and what I think is MOST important is the book pattern shows the back piece in two pieces...but her dolls are made with matching front and back pieces and are stuffed a different way.  I will be altering my patterns to be more like the Jess dolls.  The knickers are a lot longer in pattern than in pictures, but the dress and apron I made match well.  I did add the crocheted shawl to my doll, just to add that touch of me. And used yarn for hair instead of the strips of fabric Jess suggested.  I don't want to sound ungrateful for the pattern, but if I had purchased this book thinking I was going to get the pattern that she used and found out afterwords that it is a totally different pattern, I would be taking the book back for a refund.

I started a new doll, based on the pattern from Jess Brown.  I altered the pieces on the back of the body/head.  I did remake the patterns, this time using something that will hold up to repeated pinning, Card stock works well for this pattern.  You can pin it multiple times and make a lot of dolls!  Start by gathering the tools you need; patterns, good fabric scissors, iron, fabric, needle and thread for the hand work, the yarn or other fiber for the hair, some frey stop (or you can just sew the edges) and some liquid stitches.



Iron the fabric and pin the pattern according to directions.



Then cut everything out.  I was working like a dervish because I am me, and that is what I do.  Head down and forget to take pictures!  But I can say that I will alter the above pattern even more because I ended up trimming the back of the head quite a bit before I liked the way it looked.  After everything is stitched and turned right side out I decided to tea stain the fabric.



I didn't leave it in very long, just long enough that it wasn't bright white anymore! Wring the pieces out, and if you want you can toss them into the dryer to speed things up, otherwise lay them out and let them air dry.  In the meantime you can begin making the clothes.  I am in love with the sundress pattern that Jess provides so I went with that



After the dress was cut out, embelished and stitched up I turned my attention to stuffing the legs and arms (while watching Game 4 of the World Series) and getting the legs attached to the body, and the body stuffed.  After stuffing the body it's time to close up the hole in the back.



I chose to use dark thread, and as soon as my bobbin is empty I will be using the dark brown to sew the doll too.  Again because I was watching baseball I did not stop to take any pictures of sewing the face, or the arms, or the hair.   But I'm sure if you read the book you can figure out how to put the pieces together.  For this doll I did not use buttons on the shoulders like I did on the first one.  And the dress straps are actual bias tape straps made out of the fabric of the dress.  I still need to make bloomers and a messenger bag for her, and if I have time a small book full of uplifting educational phrases.  This doll is being donated to P.E.O. Chapter NI for the annual auction next month.