Sewing dolls for beginners

Sewing dolls for beginners

The doll has been a human companion since ancient times. It was used both for performing rituals and for entertaining children. In some cultures, the doll is still identified with its owner or a certain deity, because it has a sacred meaning.

​Sewing dolls is a large–scale and very interesting direction in needlework. Indeed, many dolls are made truly masterfully, so much effort has been invested in their creation that it seems that the eyelashes on the little face are about to tremble, and it will come to life. The masters say: “And they also have a soul.” Yes, and remember your old doll, a faithful friend of children’s games. True, it seemed that she was completely alive and understood everything?!​

A handmade product does not always become a child’s toy. Its main purpose is to decorate the interior or collection.​ ​

What are textile dolls?​

They are beautiful because each has its own character. Before we get to work, let’s figure out which one you want to sew.



The “tildusha” doll was invented by Norwegian Tonya Finnanger, so it is not surprising that the toy is distinguished by its purely Scandinavian simplicity and conciseness. It is characterized by long arms and legs, a schematic face, on which the eyes and nose are depicted with beads or dots. The mouth is usually not indicated in any way. Tilde is sewn dresses in vintage style from natural fabrics of muted and pastel shades, trimmed with lace and sewing. This is how they dress not only dolls, but also various animals and angels.

Snow Girl (Snowball)

Snow Girl

The doll, invented by the Russian needlewoman Tatiana Kone, owes its name to the large size of the foot, resembling the feet of the legendary bigfoot. Thanks to such a reliable support, snowballs can confidently stand without support. Another distinctive feature is long beautiful hair. Their highlight is outfits and shoes. Snow girls, like Tilda, have a schematic face: only beady eyes and blush. They are very stylish, bright, diverse in style and materials, it is a pleasure to sew them.

Pumpkinhead and Reggedy Ann

Pumpkinhead and Reggedy Ann

These dolls have a large head, which resembles the shape of a pumpkin, because it is sewn from several elements, while one of the vertical seams runs in the middle of the face. All the details are carefully worked out: expressive wide-set eyes, an elegant mouth and a sharp nose. Therefore, the master can give each pumpkin head a unique character.

It is generally believed that the ancestor of pumpkin heads is a doll named Reggedy Ann, invented by American artist John Barton Greuel more than a hundred years ago. Legend has it that his daughter Marcela found an old rag doll in the attic that once belonged to her grandmother. Her face was erased, and the artist painted funny eyes, a funny nose in the form of a red triangle and a laughing mouth. Marcela named her Reggady Ann, sewed her a dress and an apron with a red heart from old scraps. John Barton Greuel wrote several stories about her adventures, illustrated them, and since then she has found friends all over the world.

Attic Dolls

Attic Dolls

These handmade items really look like they’ve just been found in an old dusty attic. They also come from America and belong to the times when the first settlers made dolls for their children from improvised materials – burlap, old clothes, straw, etc. That’s why they look quite primitive.​

Now attic dolls are sewn from natural fabrics – cotton and calico, and artificially aged, give a shabby look. And they are specially impregnated with vanilla, coffee or cocoa flavors.

Rag dolls-amulets

Rag dolls-amulets

They began to be sewn in pagan times, so they do not have a face. Scissors are not used to create them (it is believed that iron neutralizes magic power). Usually beregin is sewn for desire – prosperity, strengthening relationships, the birth of a child, or to protect the house and its inhabitants. The doll is made entirely of twisted rags, without patterns and decorative seams. If a separate flap is needed, it is torn off by hands from the canvas.

Waldorf Dolls

Waldorf Dolls

This is a special educational doll created by German teachers for kindergartens and primary schools. The essence of the idea is that it gives children a real idea of the world and grows up with them.​

The body of the doll is created in accordance with the proportions of the child’s body. It is distinguished by smooth lines. The face is not worked out in detail so that the child can “draw” it in his imagination, only the eyes, nose and mouth are conventionally designated. As he grows up, the shape of the doll becomes more complicated. If for kids they are sewn with a primitive body and a ball-head, then for older children they create dolls with embroidered faces, movable arms and legs, button-down clothes, etc.

​Usually, soft natural flesh–colored fabrics are taken for Waldorf dolls, yarn for hair. Most often they are sewn by hand, without a sewing machine. The patterns are very simple, understandable even to a child.

Rags (rag barbies)

Rags (rag barbies)

These are surprisingly delicate and elegant dolls, reminiscent of both the famous Barbie and anime heroines. They were invented by Korean Jung Hee Young. In her products, she embodied a childhood dream of Barbie, which her parents could not buy because of the too high price. That is why the second name of the rags is Dream Doll.​

The distinctive features of the rags are long legs and thin arms, an elegant figure, luxurious outfits and hairstyles, height 40-50 cm, expressive half–closed eyes. Each dream doll is a complete, well-thought–out image. To create it, expensive fabrics and lace, beads, floss, mini accessories – umbrellas, handbags, fans, hats are used. Sewing a rag barbie is not easy, but the result is worth it.

Materials and tools for sewing dolls

In order to sew a textile doll, you will need:

Materials and tools for sewing dolls

the fabric for the torso and head is dense cotton knitwear, linen, calico, fleece, thin felt. It is desirable that the fabric be flesh-colored;
sewing threads to match the fabric;
colored floss for face embroidery or acrylic paints on fabric;
fabric for doll clothes;
hair tresses (artificial strands), they can be replaced with cotton or wool yarn;
sharp scissors, sewing machine (optional), needles, pins, iron;
tailor’s crayon or disappearing marker for fabric;
filler – sintepuh, holofiber in balls or cotton wool;
decorative elements for clothes and the doll itself – wings made of feathers, beads, braid, lace, etc.;
patterns for the trunk and clothes – they can be found on the Internet or purchased together with a master class from doll designers.

We make the first rag doll with our own hands

Let’s try to sew a tilde.

Let's try to sew a tilde

Print and cut out the patterns. Place them on the fabric (it is better to take dense flesh-colored cotton), secure with pins, circle with a marker and cut out, leaving an allowance of 0.5 cm.

Sew the individual parts of the doll’s body – legs, arms, torso and head. Leave a hole. It is best to sew by hand, with small neat stitches.

Carefully turn out every detail, straightening it from the inside with the blunt end of scissors or pencil.

Fill all the parts with filler, trying to place it evenly inside. Leave voids in the elbows and knees so that the doll can bend the arms and legs. The torso and head should be filled as tightly and evenly as possible.

Sew all the details together.

Now you can work on the face. Sew two black beads as eyes – embroider two large French knots. If it doesn’t work out, paint them with black acrylic paint. If desired, you can outline bright rosy cheeks. The mouth is not drawn.

Tildes usually wear short or medium length hair made of tress or yarn. In extreme cases, they can also be drawn.

In conclusion, the doll is dressed up. You can buy clothes or sew them yourself according to patterns. An unspoken rule: tildushi prefer dresses of a simple cut and in calm tones. The image should be elegant and gentle.

It is even easier to make a folklore amulet doll.

It is even easier to make a folklore amulet doll

Take a square piece of white cloth, about 20 x 20 cm.

From above and to the right, fold in the edge about 2 cm wide . Lay a strip of cotton wool or sintepon at the bottom. Twist the sausage tightly. This will be the torso.

Tie the trunk tightly with two pieces of white thread, marking the doll’s neck and waist.

Prepare another square piece of white cloth, about 20 x 20 cm. Put a cotton ball in its center. Place the trunk diagonally across the flap.

Fold the fabric along the trunk and rewind the thread around the neck – this will be the head. Remove excess folds by straightening the fabric.

From the free ends of the flap on the right and left, make hands. To do this, bend their edges inward and tie them with threads to make palms. What is left, tie the threads to the belt.

An outfit for a doll can be cut out of bright scraps. Cut out a circle with a diameter of about 20 cm, make a hole in the middle for the head, and on the sides for the handles. Put the resulting sundress on the doll. Make a handkerchief out of a triangular flap. The hair and face of the ritual doll are not needed.

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