How To Sew A Rag Doll
In this tutorial, you will learn how to make a rag doll step-by-step.
This easy rag doll pattern is one for a handmade cloth doll. This rag doll tutorial is a great starting point to be creative. Once you get the basics, make it your own!
This is our finished rag doll...floppy and fabulous!
- Cloth fabric for the rag doll body - you will need about 1/2 - 3/4 yards skin colored flannel fabric
- A needle and thread (and a sewing machine if you have one - speeds this project along considerably!)
- Yarn for the Hair
- Fabric to make clothes and accessories for the rag doll
- Down or soft stuffing (softer the better - this will give your finished rag doll a relaxed, whimsical look)
- Fabric Paint for the details of the face
- Stitch Witch or other fabric glue for the hair
- (optional) I used a zipper foot on my sewing machine to allow for better maneuverability
Before You Begin: Before you begin make your own template by sketching the shape of the arms and legs you would like. You can also download a free template on some of the links at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Constructing the body of the rag doll Trace your template: Fold your fabric (nubby side in) so you can cut all the pieces two at a time. Trace the arms, legs, body, and head -- you will need to trace both your arm and leg piece twice, reversing the placement.
Cut and sew your pieces: Sew the two sides of each of your pieces together...still nubby side down. You need to leave openings in the tops of the arms and legs, the leg and arm holes of the body, and the bottom of the head. Turn your sewn pieces inside out. If you want to sew fingers into the hands this is where you do that. Stuff the pieces: Stuff the arms, legs and head (you will stuff the body a little later.) Stuff enough to give a little stiffness and shape to the arms and legs but not so much that they are hard.
Smooth the stuffing as you go so there are no lumps or bumps.
Step 2: Assembling the pieces of your rag doll
Sew the arms and legs on to the body: Tuck the top fabric under about 3/8 inch and pin the stuffed arms and legs into place. You will run a flat stitch across each opening to secure the arms and legs to the body -- this will allow your dolly to sit up and flop around. Stuff the body and get ready to attach the head by hand.
Step 3: Attaching the head to your rag doll
You will attach the head all the way around using a running slip stitch. Put the open neck piece inside of the head and tuck the edge of the head under to ensure a clean seam. Stitch all the way around the bottom of the head using your needle to pick up a little of the neck underneath as you go. Use small, careful stitches and be sure to knot off. You now have finished the body of your doll!
Step 4: Adding hair to your rag doll
You will create two groups of looped yarn to give your dolly a full head of hair. The first will be attached at the crown of the head along the seam and lapped over. The second will be the front piece and will be attached at the "part." Lay your yarn flat and loop the pieces back and forth so they are even lengths. When you have several rows of loops, take your needle and thread and stitch through the center of the grouping of yarn to attach it loosely together. Do this two times -- the piece for the front should be pulled more tightly in the center (center should be about 1 1/2 inches long), the piece you create for the back should have a center that is about 4 inches long. Sew the sections of hair to your doll's head using a stitch that is similar to the one you used to attach the head. Once you have sewn these pieces on and made sure they are secured, run a little fabric glue under where you attached the hair pieces to the doll head. You can also use the fabric glue to create a natural hairline and stick some of the fabric to it so your dolly has more natural looking hair.
Here is the hair for the rag doll separated - note there are two total pieces sewn into to sections each -- the section in the back folds over itself after you attach it to the doll's head.
Step 5: Painting or sewing the face of your rag doll.
Use more natural colors like pinks and browns to paint facial features on your doll. Practice on scrap first so you know exactly what you want to paint and how your fabric paint will appear. I chose a matte "velvet" finish for my paint.
Step 6: Make custom clothes for your rag doll.
Clothes are very easy to make and don't really require zippers or complicated closures since the ragdolls can be squished into their outfits. Use your doll's body template as a guide to making clothes.