“Only the children know what they’re look for,” said the little prince. “They spend their lives on a rag doll and it becomes very important, and if it’s taken away from them, they cry…”
I’m not sure I ever had a rag doll that I loved. My teddy – a present at birth – still sleeps in my arms at night. I wonder how many modern toys would last 30-odd years of cuddles? I do know, though, that LittleBigSis has a ragdoll she has loved since childhood. To me, it is a hideous, knitted, ghastly thing. To LittleBigSis, it is her Daisy-May. Daisy-May was a present, if I remember rightly, from a speaker at a Christian Holiday Retreat we went to. I don’t know if this speaker knitted her herself, although I suspect so. Perhaps it was the unexpected gift that made Daisy-May so special. Or maybe it was something else, something about her little raggedy face.
I have four (4!?) nieces now. They are beautiful things, and it has been a fabulous year getting to know them all. LL can hold a conversation now, whilst the youngest, TH, is still just a baby (although a very smiley one). For LL’s third birthday, I wanted to make her a doll. Easy enough, I thought. But it had to be the perfect doll.
I know nothing about sewing. Technically, that’s not true, but I certainly don’t know very much. LittleBigSis was always the sewer. I just didn’t have the patience. So, I knew I was going to have to start from the beginning.
The first doll I tried, I ordered blank – pre sewn – from eBay. The seller, 9evgeniva, designed the doll herself, before sewing it together. I liked the weight, and the chunkiness of the doll, this was the sort of thing I was looking for.
She was a little pale, though, so I used that age-old technique of boiling her in tea. Tea actually stains and dyes a fabric really well, and is far cheaper than fabric dye. I imagine you can do similar dyes using other natural plants (nettles, maybe?). The process is, of course, a great deal easier before the doll is stuffed. This little dolly to an age to dry out, and has a funny smell about her now…
I added hair, but found, again, that it would have been easier to add the facial features before she’d been sewed together. And, when it came to dressing her, I realised that I had no idea how to make clothes. It was starting to look a lot more complicated than I had thought.
This little dolly is still unfinished. I *love* the feel of her, but she’s just a bit too tough right now.
I needed to have a rethink. The internet is full of free patterns for rag dolls. In the end, a rag doll can be as simple as you like and I found a number of examples I could give a go. A basic head, torso, arms, legs – sew them together, stuff them. Simples. One of the main things I was looking for in those early attempts, was a doll who I didn’t need to make clothes for. Some of these patterns were great for that. I learnt a lot about sewing, putting together my first rag doll, and a lot about patience. There’s something beautiful about creating something from a bunch of nothing. We should all spend time doing that.
This aunty ain’t doll making!
I have, however, just got myself a jewellery soldering iron and magnifying glass and am going to have a go at making steampunk stuff… or burning myself, whichever.