How to Make Rag Dolls

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The Irresistibly Ugly


rag doll rag dolls

The beauty of making rag dolls it that there are no rules.

You can make anything you want, any way you can, safe in the knowledge that your handiwork will be adored by the audience of at least one: your toddler.

Be warned, though: she or he may get so attached to the doll that you’ll have trouble trying to “accidentally” lose what you see as your hideous first attempt.

To avoid such pitfalls, we’ll give you a few tips on how to make a (reasonably) decent rag doll.

You Will Need

  • White cotton fabric for the body plus patterned one for the clothes. Wash, dry and iron all fabric before cutting it (if you don’t, your rag doll will most probably shrink and look most pitiful after her first bath.)
  • Toy or cushion polyester stuffing.
  • Cotton thread in corresponding colour for sawing the pieces together and yarn for hair.
  • As for tools, you will need scissors (perfectionist will have one pair for cutting the paper template and another for cutting the fabric), pins, needles, safety pins and a sewing machine (although it’s quite acceptable to sew your doll by hand too).

Step by Step

  1. Start by drawing your own pattern, or find one on the internet. Rag doll patterns are a simple affair. Don’t use a pattern where the head, body, arms and legs come in one piece. Rather go for a pattern that has separate templates for arms and legs. Your rag doll will look more convincing when made from several parts. Some makers like to fashion the head and the body separately.
  2. Get sewing. First sew together (from the wrong side of the fabric) the arms and legs pieces and turn the right side out with the help of a pencil or a chopstick. Stuff them so that they remain squishable, but not too floppy.
  3. Position one stuffed arm between the two cut pieces of fabric representing the body, at about 60 degrees angle downwards, and sew through all layers to attach the arm to the shoulder. Repeat for the other arm, the legs and the (already stuffed) head, if the head is separate from the body. Remember to leave an opening at the bottom of the body.
  4. Turn the body inside out through the opening; if you did the previous step correctly, the arms and the legs will be in the correct position. Stuff the body.
  5. Give your doll some hair. Wool yarn works best for this. If you think it’s too much work sewing all that yarn on the doll’s head, solve the hair problem by avoiding it: give your rag doll a hat, with only a few strands of yarn as fringe, plus a plait on each side.
  6. Draw or embroider facial features, or glue some felt onto the doll’s face for eyes and lips.
  7. Make some clothes for your doll.

Notes and Shortcuts

If step 3 (attaching the stuffed extremities to the fabric of the body) seems too complicated to you, just forget about it. Stuff all the parts and then attach them to each other. The seams where the extremities meet the body will be covered by the doll’s clothes anyway. As for the neck (in case you did the head separately)… well, give your rag doll a scarf to cover the seem!

Stuff the head rather firmly; you want the doll’s face to be nice and firm, and not squished and wrinkly.





 how to make rag dolls  


Scenario One:

In spite of everything laid out above, you still can’t make a rag doll with your own hands? Do not despair. Buy a rag doll on bidorbuy.

Scenario Two:

The rag doll you made after reading our how-to got ahhhs and ohhhs from everybody who saw it? What’s more, your fingers are itching to make another one, and another one…? Go right ahead, and sell your collection on bidorbuy!

Sell Rag Dolls Online

Here are some types of rag dolls you can make for sale on bidorbuy:

Stump dolls are easy to make (no legs).

Raggedy Ann dolls have red yarn for hair and a triangle for nose. They are always popular; lately, the primitive or country versions are “in”.

Fantasy dolls include mermaids, witches, fairies, gothic dolls, monster dolls, bride dolls, historical dolls, mythical dolls, miniature dolls… in short, anything you can dream of (and your hands can fashion).

Some of these rag dolls are all the rage among adults who collect them. In this game, it’s often – the uglier the doll, the better! Do note, however: “ugly” does not mean badly made. On the contrary; craftsmanship has to impeccable if you are to make a name for yourself in the rag doll business.


 sell rag dolls online

Egyptian rag doll

A Museum Rag Doll

Dolls were probably as popular in the ancient world as they are today, but only a few have survived through the centuries.

This rag doll, now in British Museum, was made in Egypt between 1st and 5th century AD out of  coarse linen and stuffed with rags and pieces of papyrus. Note how the arms are made from a long roll of linen attached at the back (there’s an idea for you).

 Raggedy Ann and Andy


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