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How to Make Ragdoll Toys

Updated on December 18, 2017
viryabo profile image

I made my first ragdoll when I was 10. It was a class project for my school's jumble sale for charity. Ever since, it became a hobby I love.

Ragdoll toys also known as raggedy dolls are made from cloth fashioned into a doll. Hundreds of years ago, and even today, rag doll toys were usually home-made from spare pieces of material and stuffed with fabric scraps.

They are one of the most ancient children's toys ever made, as rag dolls have been found in a child's grave dating as far back as 300 BC.

Making rag doll toys is very easy and so much fun. One needs not be creative or talented to create great raggedy dolls. And they make wonderful toys for children because they are soft and cuddly, and if the right fabric scraps are used, they can be washable.

Have you considered making a collection of rag doll toys for children in orphanages this Christmas or other seasonal and festive celebrations?

Rag Doll Toy
Rag Doll Toy

Great Gift Idea for Kids in Orphanages

The adorable children of orphanages the world over deserve as much as we can give and it doesn’t have to be monetary. Crafting of toys created with love means so much more, and the pleasure derived from giving them something handmade, in the spirit of the season makes it the more worthwhile and fulfilling.

Give them something soft and cuddly, something personal to them that they can hug and love. Something bright and cheery like rag doll toys that can come in any character or size you can ever imagine.

To make a collection of rag doll toys to give to very young children at any orphanage, or in areas of the world where children have been displaced due to adverse weather conditions or war, you can work as a group, with your family or individually.

If you are the charitable type, as many people of today are, you can engage your children in this fun art of making rag doll toys while at the same time teach them to imbibe the spirit of giving to those less privileged than them.

Let them be aware that the fun task is for the less privileged kids who have no mums and dads to open presents with on Christmas day.

Characters for rag doll toys that you can choose from abounding in your subconscious minds (believe it or not!), children's books, comics, the internet illustrations, and so many other places.

If it seems difficult to craft one after illustrations of popular characters, then a simple and plain old fashioned rag doll will do just fine.

And while making these beautiful soft toys, 'fill' them with some love. Imagine the transfer of your love into this toy you are lovingly and peacefully making. Visualise their bright 'toothy' smiles of appreciation whilst they hug their new raggedy doll toy.

How to Make a Rag Doll

Deciding on what rag doll toys bodies will look like, and choosing the appropriate colours - that's if one wants to choose skin colours such as cream, brown, tan, white or pink - is simple but the body must be a plain solid colour without and pattern or texture.

If you have old pillowcases, bed sheets or old shirts in any of these colours, recycle them. Wash them and use to make the body of the doll. It’s preferable to use cotton.

Ragdolls head and body patterns are easy to make with a sketch and simple measurements. You can practice the rag doll's outline on paper until you get it right. Practice with making the head large with a round or oval shape.

Once you are okay with your sketch, you can move on to using your cloth. If you find this a challenge (probably not), there are rag doll toys patterns for sale at many online art and craft stores.

  1. On your cloth, draw out the outline for your rag doll.
  2. Include a seam allowance of at least 1 inch. It’s important to start off by making rag doll toys shapes a little larger than you want the finished doll to be. There must be ample allowance for stuffing.
  3. Double the piece of cloth with another piece of the same size. Remember to keep the right sides of the fabric together and on the inside. Cut out your pattern along the outermost line.
  4. Stitch around the outline and leave ample opening for the stuffing. You should relieve the seams around all curves and corners by cutting triangular notches in the seam allowance, i.e. the arm joints, between the legs, the corner of the neck and shoulders, etc...
  5. Now after hand stitching or machine sewing (a small hand sewing machine will suffice), turn the rag doll toy inside out.
  6. Stuff the rag doll with any scrap fibre or any other soft stuffing you choose. Again, it is preferable to use cotton material scraps.
  7. Once the rag doll is well stuffed and firm to the feel, seal up the opening you left for stuffing by turning the edges under and towards the inside, then stitch it closed by hand or machine.

You now have your rag doll toys body. If you desire - and it's recommended - stitch straight across the arms at the shoulder points, and the legs at the hip point to form flexible joints.

This way the rag doll toys are easier to manipulate by kids, and also comfy and warm to hug and hold.

Sourcing for Materials to Use

If you can't find old clothes to recycle or the ones available don’t look cheery enough to make and dress up the rag dolls, you can source for fabrics to use in other ways.

Ask friends or family. They may have what you need and decide to join in the fun of rag doll toys making too.

You can always find scrap fabric at local fabric stores or at arts & crafts shops around your locality. You will also find arts & crafts shops online that have special prints, vintage children prints and seasonal prints that will make unique modern or classic rag doll toys.


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The Exciting Part of Ragdoll Making

Now for the really exciting and fun part of making rag doll toys. Decorating the cloth dolls.

The face can be embroidered or alternatively stitching on old lovely and bright buttons for the eyes and the nose is very effective.

You can sew pretty and even chic doll clothes for rag doll toys, using leftover or recycled textile materials.

And for rag doll hair, you can stitch on knitting wool or add yarn hair, cutting it into a beautiful hairstyle. The hairstyle can be the popular 'Goldilocks' waist length hair and if you want crazy colors or crazy hair, simply make the doll that way.

Ragdoll toys can also be made with no doll clothes on. However, they look prettier when adorned, and when they are made prettily dressed up, they will make better Christmas gifts to some wonderful but deprived children out there.

Raggedy Toys
Raggedy Toys

Creating the Doll's Hairstyle

You may have learned how to make rag doll toys because it’s quite simple to make one, but making rag dolls hair, giving them a personality, is a simple art on its own.

Making rag doll toys hair is very exciting and it's the most rewarding aspect of rag doll making. Your newly made rag doll needs to have a personality and what better way to achieve this than with the hairstyle. - Read further...

A beautiful painting of rag doll toys
A beautiful painting of rag doll toys

© 2009 viryabo

Your Views Are Welcome

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    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      I want to make a rag doll too

    • Molly Layton profile image

      Molly Layton 2 years ago from Alberta

      This is so adorable. I want to make them just because.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 2 years ago

      So glad you found it useful @Stevegideons.

      I'm sure she'll love it.

    • Stevegideons profile image

      Stevegideons 2 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this insightful post. I've learn t so much and should be able to surprise my little angel with a handmade rag doll.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 4 years ago

      Thanks newby.

    • profile image

      newby 4 years ago

      your ideas totally rock

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 5 years ago

      Thanks Enlydia.

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 5 years ago from trailer in the country

      Very nice...glad I found this today.

    • profile image

      chels 6 years ago

      thankyou so much you saved my day you are awsome

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 6 years ago

      Hi this is a good idea and well explained too, they are cute and look like good fun to make.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      Hi Becky,

      Thank you so much for your nice comments.

      Rag dolls are so simple and such fun to make that they make such wonderful gifts for the underprivileged young ones. All it requires is some love, pieces of fabrics, and a couple of hours.

      Thanks for adding a link to your Vintage pattern hub. I so appreciate it and its also an inspiration to me in the sense of its being appreciated.

      I read your profile and i see that you have a great interest in antique arts and collections as you've worked in that field for many years. I absolutely love topics on vintage and collectibles as well.

      I shall be following you and your articles, because you have topics of interest to me.

      Thanks and GodBless

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      Crazy zebra, Thanks for visiting and for finding time to leave a comment.

      Hope to see you again.


    • Becky Puetz profile image

      Becky 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      This is such a wonderful Hub, full of ideas, plans and instructions on how to make adorable rag doll toys. I love the idea of making the rag dolls for children in orphanages. I have a Hub about Vintage Pattern Preservation and will add a link to your Hub. Thanks for an awesome Hub.

    • crazy-zebra profile image

      crazy-zebra 7 years ago from Midwest

      very interesting. I did not have time to read all of it but I will come back to it. thanks for sharing.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      That is so fantastic and very thoughtful of you craftybegonia.

      The children do deserve as much as we can give, and items crafted with love make better gifts for them IMO.

      Thanks for your nice comments and for your visit.


    • craftybegonia profile image

      craftybegonia 7 years ago from Southwestern, United States

      You're right! There is nothing like giving to get some joy into you for the Holidays! We just made a boxful of my Funmigurumi toys for an orphanage and feel really good about it. I recommend to anyone!

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      Thanks for your nice comments KC. Glad you find this useful.


    • K.Craig profile image

      K.Craig 7 years ago from Waterbury, CT

      I'm always trying to find new dolls to make for my daughters.

      Great Article, from a very giving person!

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 8 years ago

      I know Keira, and so cuddly too! The good thing is that one need not spend money to achieve this. Lets hope this is a great Xmas for these wonderful kids.

    • keira7 profile image

      keira7 8 years ago

      They are so cut. I love dolls even if I am not a kid anymore. Viryabo this is a very great hub, I do hope that a lot of peoples will give donation this year, because after all Xmas its for others first, specially the Orphanage. Great thinking, my dear. You certainly are so generous. God Bless you my dear.:)