Monday, February 16, 2015

Making Another Rag Doll

Some while ago I made a rag doll for my granddaughter which you can read about here.  This is Goldilocks and her bear. Perhaps she's a cloth doll rather than a rag doll?

Sylvia, the lady who comes to help me clean our house, saw it one day and her eyes sparkled. She loved it. As I originally bought enough fabric for two dolls, I thought I'd make up the second doll for her little girl. And a whole year passed by...

Recently with my foot recovering from surgery and some time on my hands it was time to make the second doll. Still lying on my back, I started cutting out the pieces, just one or two at a time. I found it a nice break from reading. It is awkward though lying on your back and trying to work. I don't know how my friend Tricia managed to do some serious embroidery in a similar situation and go on to win an international embroidery competition.

Later, still taking things easy, I reasoned I could sit at my sewing table for ten minutes at a time - with foot propped up inelegantly on a stool next to me and use my left foot to work the sewing machine pedal.

It turned out that my left foot is not quite as clever as my right foot. I'd press down on the pedal. Nothing happened. Check the switch, press a bit more. Still nothing. Press a bit more. Oooooh! This time the sewing machine would spring to life, roar threateningly and sew at top speed. Lucky I got my fingers out of the way.

Not being familiar with the making of rag dolls I found the construction method interesting. Below you can see Goldilocks and her bear almost finished. I made some adjustments this time to the arms and legs. They are a bit narrower and in better proportion to the body.

A nice thing about this doll is that the arms and legs all move. Attaching the legs was easy. Tuck them into the lower seam of the body and machine stitch all the way across.

 The diagram in the instructions for attaching the arms looked straightforward.

I found it rather tricky. Eventually Sylvia had to help pull the needle all the way through the arm, across the body and out through the second arm while I squeezed the whole lot together and kept it in place. Rod and his pliers came in handy then too. I couldn't get a photo of that manoeuvre as all three of us were occupied.

It seems an unusual way to construct a doll because the top half of the doll can't be undressed. The arms are slipped into the sleeves and then attached to the body.  But I do like the final effect once everything is in place.

Goldilocks and her bear are already in the train and on their way to their new little owner.

There's another week to go before I can start physio for my foot. In the meantime I have trained my left foot well and can now sew on the machine at a fairly steady and predictable speed. Also, the doll fabric has been in my cupboard for a long, long time and its good to see it sewn up and on its way to someone who will enjoy it. Incidentally, it always surprises me how working at something in seemingly insignificant segments of time - like ten minutes - does get the task done.

I hope to get back to some embroidery again soon.


  1. I think you are amazing! This is a great achievement - much harder, I'd have thought, than embroidering while laid up. It isn't just using your left foo that is hard, but doing it with the other leg elevated.

    The doll looks great and will make a child very happy. Well done you - beautiful product, therapy, and stash reduced!

    1. Hi Jillian. Thanks for your very kind comment. When I told my stepmom how I was trying to do the sewing, she very quietly said "And how is that left foot working?". After telling her about how the machine would suddenly roar into life, we laughed until we had tears in our eyes at the whole ridiculous situation. She has a great sense of humour and now that she is on her own its wonderful to be able to make her laugh again. That sewing was worth doing if only for that.