Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rag Doll Tutorial - Body

Welcome to Quaint and Quirky's rag doll tutorial!  This tutorial is a mixture of tips and techniques I found and acquired when attempting to make a rag doll for my baby girl a few months ago.  It will be posted in three parts: body, head, and clothing (just because one post would have been overwhelming!)  It is an easy project and you could still whip up a few for Christmas if you wanted!

On with the show!

Supplies needed:
  • Large scraps of muslin (or similar cotton fabric) in your desired flesh tone
  • Medium scraps of desired leg fabric (I use a different fabric for the legs so she has some built in tights)
  • Stuffing (fiberfill)
  • Pattern - I had to set up a site to host the pdf, so the link is here:  Rag Doll Pattern
  • Fabric scissors
  • Paper scissors (No, they cannot be the same.  Yes, you need different scissors for fabric and paper.  No, I don’t follow every single sewing rule.  Yes, I follow this one)
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle and thread
(This list is for the body only, for the hair and face you will also need embroidery floss, a large-eyed needle, yarn, tissue paper, and a DVD case.  For the dress you will need thin elastic and large fabric scraps)

1.     1. Using your PAPER SCISSORS, cut out the rag doll pattern.
2.       2. Lay your pattern out on your muslin and pin in place.  You need to cut two of the head/body,  and four of the arms. Cut.
3.       3.  Cut four leg pieces from muslin OR other fabric (my doll will have gray striped tights on her entire life).
4. With right sides together,  sew one arm together using about a ¼” seam, leaving the bottom open.
  Repeat for the other arm.  Clip notches in the curved area and clip the thumb/hand valley close to the stitching.

[Note:  You can see my mutant finger in this shot.  The Pioneer Woman always talks about her mutant hands in her cooking pictures, but I actually have a mutant finger.  It has to do with a quilting accident I had several years ago.  A story definitely worth telling another day]
5.  Sew the legs, right sides together using a 1/4" seam, leaving the top (flat side) open. Clip curves as you did for the arms.
(legs and arms sewn, clipped, and waiting to be turned and stuffed!)
6.  Turn the legs and arms outside in and use something long and skinny to push out the thumb and hand.  
Stuff the arms to your desired squishability. I don't stuff it too hard because I like some squeeze to the doll, but if you don't stuff enough, it will be too floppy!
7.  For the legs, stuff halfway, then sew back and forth across the leg a few times to make knees.  Stuff the rest of the leg.
(stuffed arms and legs)
8.  Lining up dots on arm and body, pin one arm to the right side of ONE body piece (see picture for placement).  Make sure the thumb is facing up!  Sew arm onto body.  Repeat with the other arm.
(arms when both attached)
9.  Matching leg and body dots, pin legs onto the body, right sides together (feet should be near the head - ouch!).  Sew back and forth several times.
(one body piece with arms and legs sewn on to it)
10. Next, you will be sewing the body and head in two stages   Admittedly this is the trickiest part of the process.  Flip ONE arm into the body of the doll and place the other body piece over (Right sides together), making a doll arm sandwich.   Pin along the side of that arm, around the head, to the shoulder of the other arm (see picture below).
Sew where you have pinned, from the bottom of the doll, up the side, around the head, to the shoulder of the unpinned arm, using a 3/8" seam allowance. Backstich or secure the end of your sewing as you see fit.    Check to make sure that all layers got stitched, especially where the head and body connect.  Now fold the other arm into the center and pin the remaining side of the doll. 

Since that first arm is already sewn, it is easier to manipulate it inside the body to make room for the second arm.  Trust me, I know this from experience.  Sew the remaining side of the body, leaving the bottom of the doll unsewn. Phew!  You made it through the tricky part!

11.  Clip all curves. Turn the doll inside out and stuff to your desired fluffiness. 

(doll stuffed and waiting to be sewn!)

12.  Turn the unsewn bottom edges under and whip stitch closed.  If you don't know how to whip stitch, there is a video tutorial here:  Whip Stitch Video

13.  Your doll is sewn!  She's bald and cold, but she's sewn!  I will be back with the tutorial for hair and clothing later this week.


  1. Genius tip on sewing the first side/arm before putting the other in!!! I've made many rag dolls and I always end up with a crooked arm because I try to pin them all in at once:( But now I know:):):)

  2. Thanks for the great tutorial! You make it look so easy I'm thinking I just may have to try to make one! ;)

  3. Thank you for the pattern and tutorial! These would make great gifts - I hope to try one soon!

  4. This is great! I love it!!


  5. I am SO excited about this pattern/tutorial, I have already printed and begun to cut things out! I was LOL about having PAPER scissors and SEWING scissors. I get the difference and use 2 pair, unfortunately, my husband refuses to see the difference and I have to hide my scissors when he is home. Ugh! Can't wait to get a couple of these oh-so-cute rag dolls done for my nieces! They are perfect for the quilt/pillow sets I made. :o)

  6. I need to try this with my youngest daughter! Thanks for the tutorial.

  7. Thanks for posting this! We have a lot in common, btw, plus I live in NE, too. Near Boston.

  8. This is the best ragdoll tutorial out there! Thank you so much for posting.

    I am so glad I found this in time to make three for Christmas. I know my little girls will be so delighted!

  9. very beautiful

  10. This is so cute! I can't wait to make one for my daughter for Christmas. Thank you for the pattern/tutorial!

  11. Thanks so much for the patterns! I made 2 for Christmas. You can check them out here:

  12. How big does this doll come out? She is super cute!

  13. I've been trying to find a rag doll pattern for my little granddaughters and so I was so happy to find you at pintrest!

  14. I love this tutorial, I wanted to make something a bit special for my friends little girl and this tutorial helped me make this...

    Thank you!!

  15. Great tutorial - thanks! Here's what I came up with:

  16. Thanks for your tutorial, I looked through a few before I settled on your one! Check out my blog for a photo of the finished doll. My daughter has found her new best friend!!
    Zealous Girl

  17. Oops I mean't silly me, too many blogs ;-)

  18. Thank you so much for a fantastic rag doll pattern and tutorial. I was looking for one, and this is perfect! I just made a rag doll for my daughter for Christmas. Now I just need to give her hair, a face and a dress!

  19. This is such a cute doll for a small child. Thank you for your detailed instructions.



Related Posts with Thumbnails