When I was about nine or ten, I can remember making little rag dolls and soft toys for my cousin Rachel. At the time I thought they were pretty good, but it’s probably just as well I don’t have any photos of them as they were almost definitely terrible, given that they were made by a small child. But I loved making them. My girls always had plenty of homemade dolls and a pink furry flamingo with very long pink felt legs, as I recall! But I’m not sure they would appreciate them now. I do miss doing things like that, and in the absence of grand children (despite plenty of not-so-subtle hints), I decided to make some rag doll patterns to put in my shop and I shall give the finished dolls away.
The first one is a French style rag doll, so I have given her a French name, Élodie. I have made her from calico which is a traditional fabric to use for doll making. It is natural, cheap, quite firm and can be dyed with tea and coffee to the desired skin tone. I left mine in its original colour as I wanted a very pale, neutral colour scheme.
In keeping with my use of natural products, I created the hair from cotton yarn (although embroidery silk would also have been good to use) and I used wool for the stuffing. It is tempting to go into the local fabric shop and buy their toy stuffing off the shelf but I prefer to purchase either scoured wool or kapok as they’re much healthier and won’t melt if it comes into contact with a flame. It does mean waiting a few days for my order to arrive but that’s the trade off.
This really is a very easy pattern to sew and you can be really creative with fabric use, facial characteristics (mine are simple and not very realistic, which is the way I like it) and decorations.
I have included patterns for two outfits.