Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Simple Rag Doll Tutorial

 Happy Tuesday Morning! How are you doing this morning? I hope you are good. I have a little pattern for you to try out today. I want to offer more PDF patterns, so I want you to try this simple rag doll out and let me know what you think.

These dolls are totally inspired on the wonderful ones that Jess Brown makes. Hers are ever so much Bigger and better than mine. After seeing the article about her in Martha Stewart I went searching for rag doll patterns, but I didn't like any of the patterns I found. So I made this one.


  •  Rag Doll Pattern print off pattern and cut out pieces.
  • a fat quarter size of skin colored fabric (I used muslin from some of the quilts I have been doing lately)
  • Wool or polyester stuffing (I used polyester since that is what I had on hand)
  • Something to add a bit of weight (beans or polyester beads)
  • a scrap of cotton jersey for the hair (I used part of an old red t-shirt)
  • Eye color cotton thread for the eyes and hair color cotton thread to sew on the hair.
  • 2 buttons to attach the arms
  • tiny heart cut out of wool felt for the lips
  • A scrap of fabric for the dress
** Seam allowance is 1/4 inch and included in the pattern

So this is truly a rag doll, just use the scraps of fabric you have on hand. I did not go out and buy anything, I have just been using what I have out in my scrap baskets.

 You will need 2 body pieces, 4 arm pieces, 4 leg pieces.

Stack pieces so you have 2 arms, 2 legs and 1 body.

Sew around the pieces leaving open the tops of the legs and arms and the bottom of the body. Make sure you back stitch your start and end places so the stitches will be strong enough to turn right side out and then stuff.

 If you have pinking shears, snip carefully around the rounded parts so the pieces aren't bulky and distorted when you flip and stuff them. If you don't have pinking shears, just carefully clip around the rounded bits.

*** Be very careful NOT to clip into your stitching. That causes internal injury to your doll and she will spill her stuffing. It is very sad when that happens.

 Now flip the pieces right side out. I made the pattern large enough that this is not a massive pain in the butt. Use a knitting needle or a chop stick to make this even easier.

 Next step is to stuff. When I make dolls, I like to make them a bit heavy. So I like to add dry beans or polyester pellets (you can find the pellets right beside the stuffing at most craft shops). Obviously the beans are cheaper and you probably have them on hand, but make sure whoever you give this doll to does not get the doll wet. It would be alarming maybe for a child to have a stinky, sprouting doll to love on. Just go with the pellets if you are going to give the doll to a child.

**I bet if you roast the dry beans they won't sprout....give that a go if you want to and have the time.

You will not need much of the pellets. The doll will be mostly stuffed with stuffing, but just a bit of weight added towards the end of the torso stuffing ( the butt of the doll ).  I like to add just a touch more stuffing after the pellets/beans have been added because that keeps them inside while you sew on the legs.

 Go Stuff

 I leave my torso bottom as a raw edge. I think the fray looks like a slip. Shove the legs up in the torso and pin them in place. I pin this way so all the beans don't come out. My sewing machines do not like to sew over beans.

If some of the beans try to come out, just poke them back up inside the body.

 I make a quick straight stitch and then come back and make a zig zag.

Now your doll has a body and legs. That was easy right?

 This step is for the arms. I turn in the open end and make a straight stitch across the top. I don't think the shoulders will look good if they are raw.

 Now you will need your buttons. I like to use my old mismatched ones.

 Double up your thread and sew the arms on.

pull needle all the way through the torso of the doll and through the button holes about 4 times. At this stage you can just go ahead and make 2 French knots for nipples, if you want your doll to have them. I know some folks are freaked out about nipples, so this close up is still nipple-less but the doll below has nipples. I am not offended by nipples.

 Are you still with me? I hope so. Now you are going to cut the hair piece. I didn't include a pattern piece because I think the hair can be so very many awesome ways. This is how I did it for this girl. Just lay the bald doll on the scrap of cotton jersey.

 Then cut around the head leaving about 3/4 inch so you can wrap the hair towards the face and fold the bangs down.

 Maybe this is a better picture?

 Pin the hair in place, but don't stitch it on yet. We are going to hide the knots under the hair. Smart, huh?

 Now, sew on the face. The eyes are little cross stitches with a longer horizontal straight stitch across. My daughter thought the dolls I make with only a cross stitch for eyes look like they are dead. I guess some kids don't want to play with dead rag dolls.
For the lips, just do a couple back stitches, or maybe a cross stitch would look good. I will try that with the next one I make.

 Stitch the hair on. All the knots from the face sewing should be tied off on the back of the head, hidden by the hair.

See, little stitches to secure the hair to the head. After you have finished your doll, you will need to dress her. Doll dresses are much easier than people dresses.
 I added a bit more stitching to the hair, and I secured the base of the head to the hair, so no one can pull the hair up and see the ugly knots that are left over from the face sewing.

See...all finished. We need to dress her now. Go ahead and get stated on your doll and I will finish the tutorial on making the dress tomorrow or maybe later today, it depends if I can get to it or not.

Now, please let me know what you think about this tutorial. I will answer questions in the comment section. I would love to see pictures of your doll if you feel inspired to make any.



Karen said...

Thank you Tia for sharing the pattern. They look like great rag dolls.

Tal said...

Any suggestions for the rag doll clothing?

Auntie M said...

Thank you for sharing this pattern! I look forward to making several of the dolls. They are simply lovely!

Stacy said...

This is really, really cute. Thanks for posting the pattern. I'm going to make one today! <3

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Great pattern! I made one last night and one this morning!

Unknown said...


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