Sunday, 15 January 2012

Dolly daydreams

Hello dear ladies! I hope you are enjoying your weekend. We are having a really cold spell here in Yorkshire and I awoke this morning to a very thick frost covering the whole garden. Magical.

Thank you so much for your lovely comments about the pooches. I do hope some of you decide to make them. With some help, it is a good project for children.

I wish I could do this!!!

It is my great niece Jemimah's first birthday soon (where does the time go????) and I thought about what to make her. She's had lots of blankets and my sister made her a quilt....then it came to me. A doll! So then I started looking online for cloth dolls and found an absolute treasure trove of  dolls ranging from exquisite to, frankly, creepy.

Children have played with dolls since ancient times. Dolls found in ancient Greek and Egyptian tombs are very crude affairs, made from wood, and sometimes clay or even bone and ivory. However, it seems that the cloth doll or rag doll has always existed. Due to it's fragile nature there aren't many examples but some have survived. This Roman doll is over 2000 years old and now lives in the British Museum! I'm sure it was more attractive when new!

So long before dolls were made commercially, enterprising parents or older siblings would craft soft dolls for the infant members of the family, invariably from scraps of cloth left over from dress making, or reusing worn out items of clothing. Even sackcloth was used.

Here are some early examples of cloth dolls...
Beautiful African American twin dolls from the late 1800s (courtesy of Hatch Collection)

An entirely hand made American doll from around 1890-1900

A Russian doll from the early 1900s

A French cloth doll from around 1920s
I do love these old dolls but I have been completely bowled over by the masses of amazing dolls being made now. I couldn't possibly post on all of the gorgeous dolls I have found so here is a little taster...

Firstly, there is a whole world of stunning, artist created dolls that are definitely not toys but are works of art to be treasured. This one is a Frida Khalo doll by artist Cyra R Cancel. I LOVE it!

This beautiful girl is called Raggedy Red and is by Black-Eyed Suzie whose blog can be found here...

The very pretty Madeline has been made by Tessa whose blog is here

And I adore little Lucy made by Jen at the Fabled Needle.

The following dolls are more child-friendly but are no less beautiful. 

These cuties are from Dolly Donations and a free pattern can be found here! There is so much generosity online!

This very colourful doll is by Jenny B Harris at Allsorts.....I love the fabric!

Another free pattern here for these gorgeous Lucy Dolls by Wendi Gratz....

These are made from a free pattern from Emily Martin and have inspired so many beautiful variations. Just google Black Apple doll and you will see!


Now we have Rosie, who is a more traditional rag doll - with yarn hair. A free pattern can be found here . I do love the yarn hair but I think for babies and very young children who will probably chew/suck it, it is probably not a good idea.

Seriously, there are just so many truly gorgeous dolls around. I am so inspired! I have a stash of vintage fabrics and also some Amy Butler. All I need now is the body fabric, although some doll makers recommend using a white pillowcase (if you want a white doll). I suppose at one time they really were rag dolls and were made from whatever scraps of fabric were around.

I will post on my dolly progress! Have a good week xxx


  1. Dolls are wonderful aren't they? I love those you have shown. Romi and Bob is a lovely blog but the writer also makes the prettiest dolls, sometimes based on fairy stories or sometimes fairy dolls. They are lovely and she has recently started to sell them. Some I think are toys, and others more collectors items. Anyway here is the link if you are interested. It's an interesting blog in any case!

  2. What a fun post. I enjoyed reading a bit of doll history and checking out the patterns you've linked to. Looking forward to seeing your progress on the doll you are making for Jemimah.

  3. Thanks! And thanks for the link to Romi and Bob Anon - I wish you would leave your name :)

  4. Thanks for sharing all the dolly free patterns on the web and showing some old dolls too.

    I love the Frida Khalo doll.

    Leah x

  5. wy dont you get a pillow case from a carity shop for the body

  6. I've always loved Lord and Lady Clapham in the V&A

    Also Clothkits do wonderful doll kits, happy sewing. If you wanted a knitted one "Poppy" by Ysolda Teague is a great knit

  7. What a great idea! Also what about a knitted or crocheted doll. Two blogs that make beautiful dolls are and
    Whatever you choose and make I know it will be very precious to your great niece :)

  8. wow, thank you for sharing article! here are just so many truly gorgeous dolls around. I am so inspired!Anyway here is the link if you are interested. It's an interesting blog in any case!

  9. Thank you for sharing this article, this is nice one.
    Chiffon Dress


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