Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Finding the perfect (free) Rag Doll Pattern.

I found a doll that I love.  They're Baby Be Blessed dolls...  you should check them out here.  They are super cute, but I knew I could never justify spending $50+ on a new doll here at back to school time.  So... I began to hunt for the perfect dolly pattern.

I pinned tons of inspiration photos and links on Pinterest.  I trolled Etsy and Craftsy. My criteria:  I wanted a nicely proportioned, floppy doll with a similar look to the Baby Be Blessed dolls.  And finally, after a week of "research,"  (read: Driving my husband crazy obsessing over fabric swatches and hand drawn patterns)  I was ready to gather my supplies:

You'll need:
- Muslin in the 'skin' tone of your choice
- Safety eyes
- Craft paint for the mouth
- Two scraps of coordinating fabric, for the body and legs
- Minky, flannel, or felt material for the hair.
- Polyfill

I tested 3 patterns, and am sharing the pros and cons of each.  My pinterest board is here...  it's a combination of simple rag doll ideas and Waldorf doll inspiration... I went through a phase where I experimented with Waldorf dolls too.

1.  First pattern, from Martha Stewart's website.  Emily Martin, owner of the etsy shop Black Apple, shares a free video tutorial and pattern for her version of dolls.   The only things I did differently - I used flannel for the hair and added pigtails. I also made the arms and legs double the width on the pattern.  I got lazy and used a square end on the legs, instead of the curved version on the pattern.

Pros:  FREE.  The pattern printed easily and the video tutorial was perfect.
Cons:  The double ruffle bangs are really hard to sew around.  If you fail to sew them to the face, they flip up, like in the photo.  The arms and legs on the pattern are super skinny and hard to stuff. I gave up trying to stuff them with polyfill and sewed thicker arms and legs.

And here is the result.  Not bad, but not great either.  Those pigtails kind of make her look like a basset hound.  I'm also not a fan of my ability to paint on a face.
 
 

2.  Second pattern, from the blog Make it Love it.  This pattern comes along with a blog post with step by step instructions.  The only things I did differently:  I used minky material for the hair, instead of felt.  And I added pigtails.  I also used safety eyes, instead of felt.

Pros: FREE.  The pattern printed easily, and the picture tutorial was great.  I also loved all the extras included in the pattern:  Clothing, ties for the boy, sleeves, shoes, etc.
Cons: This pattern requires that you be a little more advanced in sewing skills.  It also takes longer to sew, because of the added details.  I also felt that the resulting doll looked a bit like an alien, although my 1 year old loves to cuddle it.

And here is the result.  Cute, but not at all like my inspiration dolls.  The head is too large, the legs too long and spindly.  Plus, the hands remind me of lobster claws.

3.  Third pattern, from the blog I'm so Crafty, I Sweat Glitter.  I have to admit - I wasn't so sure that this was the pattern for me.  And honestly, the only reason I gave it a try was because the blog name made me laugh.  But I have to say, it was perfection.  The only things I did differently:   I used minky for hair.  And I did two pigtails instead of the one (I had to iron the minky to some fusible interfacing before I could do the little pigtails like the directions called for).  I also opted for safety eyes for this one too.

Pros: FREE.  The pattern printed really grainy, but worked great.  The photo tutorial was nice, and the tip for putting in rice to weight the arms and legs made a HUGE difference in the final product.
Cons:  The curved neckline makes for trickier sewing, but I'm glad I didn't cut out that step.  It really makes her head stand up better, and defines a neck for the doll.

And here is the result.  She's exactly what I was looking for!
 

Isn't she cute??  She took a few hours to sew, and I opted for pricier details, like eyes, hair, and designer fabric.  But I love her.

And I think my daughter does too.... especially since the doll matches her back-to-school outfit.
 
Edited: I made a few more, and thought I would share fabric combos and hair colors with you guys.  Each doll has its own unique personality, which I love.
 
 

3 comments:

  1. Thank you so much! I was in the same boat. I LOVE the Baby Be Blessed doll but could not pay that. I was frantically searching when I found your post! Thanks for doing the hard part! I would love to find a way to add the scripture too. What size safety eyes did you do?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Michelle! I used safety eyes from the doll making section of Hobby Lobby stores. I believe they were 10mm. I ordered 6mm eyes from Etsy and felt they were too small. As far as scripture - hem a 1in x 2in square of 'skin' fabric and then use this product: http://tinyurl.com/q892cet. Or, you can print the scripture, lay a piece of 'skin' fabric on top, and trace using a fabric marker.

      Good luck! You'll have to let me know how the doll turns out.

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  2. awesome! thanks for the review, I'm still looking for the perfect doll, my dd is turning 3 next weekend and I want something cute and fun for her

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