Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Christmas Doll, Pt. 1 - The Doll

I was up late last night finishing the body of a cloth dolly I am making Anne for Christmas. I have wanted to make one for her since before she was born but lacked the time and/or motivation to actually get to work. But now! Christmas is coming! Any other type of dolly would possibly be hazardous in the hands of an avid chewer so a cloth one seemed to be the ideal kind. 

It has been a few years since I have made any dolls and I am always surprised by the personalities they take on. This one turned out with a rather smug expression. Since Anne cannot currently name her, I will take on that responsibility for myself. Right now I am mulling over two possibilities. Agnes? Or Frances? (to be called "Frankie")

She is made in the same way I have made my past dollies, with separate arms and legs sewn to the body. I made the legs with shaped feet this time since an antique cloth doll I found pictures of had similar style feet. While this doll is meant to be historically-inspired-by, I don't know if the shape of the body and method of construction are really accurate to the 1860's period. I just went for the general look. I cut her out of an old embroidered linen pillowcase by great-aunt gave to me when she moved from her home to a retirement facility. I saved the embroidery for a different project and the rest of the case had plenty of fabric for this doll (and indeed even one or two more).

Instead of a painted face and hair I decided to stick with materials that can, theoretically, remain intact through persistent chewing. The hair took a surprising amount of brown wool yarn, which I stitched securely to the head. 

The back of the head was covered by a very long braid of wool yarn, coiled and stitched into place. 

Since I didn't have embroidery floss on hand I used regular cotton sewing thread to embroider the mouth and eyes. It was all freehand so that is why the two sides are not exactly symmetrical but hey, I don't think a 5 month old baby is going to notice or mind. ;)

I am really excited about making the little doll clothes. I want to make a whole wardrobe of 1860's garments for her and will be starting with, of course, the undergarments, including a little corset and a corded petticoat. I really hate sewing tiny things so I made the doll rather large, just so it won't be so frustrating making the little clothes!

In the meantime she sits in unashamed nudity atop the sewing room shelf. I need to get those clothes made rather quickly. 



  1. Maybe the first thing she needs is a dressing gown to wear to keep her warm while waiting for her new troussau. ;)

  2. Pretty, love her hair! Such a fun project, I bet her clothes will be perfect :)

    I made a cloth doll in late 14th century dress (a real surprise,right?) earlier this year, but I have still to make her some shoes....

  3. I can't WAIT to see her wardrobe! That's a lovely dolly Sarah. I'm feeling inspired.

  4. Sara Jane,
    A little dress gown or underwear would be perfect to cover her temporarily. On naming the dolly, I like the name Agnes, but Frances or Frankie would be much easier for baby Anne to pick up and start repeating the name, I think. You have made a truly a beautiful doll. Baby Anne is going to treasure it.


  5. That is very nice! Can we look forward to post of her wardrobe??

  6. You know what?? I think this kind of thing will be perfect for Victoria! It's an awesome idea. Whether or not I'll get it all done by Christmas, well...who knows, but I think it sounds like fun. I hope you don't mind me being a copycat. :)

  7. Dear Sarah,

    Whatever her name might end of being, she is darling, and just truly beautiful! Her face has such character, and her hair! Anne is one lucky baby to have such a love to love.

    Are you going to embroider your name, and Anne's name and the year somewhere on her? For I hope she will go through some generations...



  8. Nadia, yes, I will certainly post about her clothes as I get them made. I draped the pattern for her stays last night (decided to go with an earlier-19th-century style with shoulder straps) and can't wait to get those made up.

    Amy, of course I don't mind!! I cannot wait to see what you come up with!

    Natalie, that is a good idea. I may embroider the year and Anne's name on the doll somewhere.

    Still undecided about the name. . .am currently thinking of Frances Jean? Or what about Eloise?

  9. How cute! I think her face turned out great and she definitely looks like an "Agnes" to me. Her hair turned out awesome. Can't wait to see her clothes!

  10. What about 'Louise' for a name?
    I remember as a child there used to be a kids tv character that was a ragdoll called 'Peggy Patch'.

  11. Do you have a pattern for this doll? It is exactly the type of doll I want to make for my baby girl (2 mo). I love old-fashioned rag dolls, and prefer a colonial look. Anyway would love it if you would share or suggest a pattern.

  12. Hi Caitlin!

    I made up my own pattern for the doll. The pieces fit on standard size printer paper. I could scan and post them if that would work?

    A little colonial dollie would be so adorable! I'm dressing this one in mid-19th century fashion but it would be fun to make wardrobes for dollies of other eras as well.

  13. Scan would work great. While I am capable of following a pattern, I lack the artistic skill to draw one myself. Thanks for being willing to share!


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!