Ruby’s Dolly

I had so much fun making Ruby’s birthday doll and love all the questions you’ve had about her. Happily, I’ll dedicate a post to this little stuffed doll Ruby calls Dolly.

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I don’t know how it goes around your home but here, our second born comes in second concerning mama-mades. While Ruby gets to play with and wear everything I made Margot, it is indeed different to give her something she gets to share.

I used a tightly woven muslin for the head, hands and legs; wool felt for the shoes; flannel for the dress; embroidery floss for the face details; yarn for the hair; poly batting for stuffing.

I didn’t take process photos but will list my steps. I kind of suck at tutorials. If you’d like more detail or have questions, please ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer there!

CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE PATTERN. It is scaled down to fit 8.5 x 11 so scale it up to your desired size.

  1. Cut out fabric pieces. Two each of head and body/dress. Four each of shoe, leg, arm and hand.Photobucket
  2. Attach hands to arms and shoes to legs. With fabric right sides together, stitch along wrist of each arm-hand. You will have four. Then place the stitched arm-hand pieces right side together and stitch around, leaving armpit open. Turn. Do same for leg-shoe, leaving top of leg open.
  3. Stuff the arms and legs with batting
  4. With fabric right sides together, place one head piece with one dress piece, aligned at neck. Stitch along neck. Repeat for other dress-head.
  5. With one dress-head piece facing up, place arms and legs where you’d like them to be. Flip the appendages so they cross the fabric and pin and place. It will look like this: arms crossing in front and legs straight up in front of face. Stitch arms and legs in place.
  6. Place other head-dress piece atop so the right sides are together and the mess of legs and arms are on the inside. Pin the puhjesus out of the perimeter and stitch around, leaving an opening between the legs. Turn.
  7. Stuff the head-dress.
  8. Close the opening using a whip stitch.
  9. Embroider face from back of head using a long, sharp needle. Don’t pull too tight or the doll’s face will look sunken.
  10. Decide on hair length and double that measurement. Each strand of hair is one piece of yarn that travels from one end, up and over doll’s head to other end. Cut a ton of yarn to this length.
  11. To position hair, place doll face up and make a rainbow over her head with the pile of cut yarn. Take one long piece of cut yarn, tie a knot in the end and thread a needle. Make one big stitch from nape of neck (where bottom of hair part will be) to hairline. Pull tight and repeat the other direction. Make four stitches total and tie off at nape of neck. Your doll will now have a mess of loose hair with a center part.
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  12. Rake the yarn with fingers to position pigtails and, using same yarn, tie the pigtails super tight.
  13. Use similarly-colored embroidery thread and stitch rows and rows and rows of small stitches, running parallel to the part. I used dark brown floss. Pull the stitches tight and go over and under the hair strands. Your fingers will ache. This will conceal the stitches. Do the same at the pigtails, securing them tightly to the head.
  14. Trim pig tails.

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Her arms were a little too Keith Haring so I held them against the torso and added a few stitches. Because I don’t have pics, I asked Margot to demonstrate before and after:

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*this* is the plight of blogger’s child.

She really did shape up quickly and was a lot of fun to make. Although, not without hiccups, as is expected with my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sewing. I had her completely finished and the night before we were to leave for our Thanksgiving-birthday cabin getaway, I redid her hair and her face. I KNOW. I had pulled the stitches in her face too taut and she looked geriatric. Also her head/torso needed more stuffing. See photo evidence:

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My husband, his dad and stepmom assured me that I was the only one who would ever think such a thing but I wanted her the way I imagined and I will be looking at her for a long time and didn’t want to always think man, I wish…so I just grabbed a seam ripper and went to town.

I stared at the blank, hairless doll at 11pm and regretted my choice. But only for a bit. I poured a glass of wine, cranked some Kid Cudi and began. The second time was so much faster than the first and the improvement was well worth it. The one bummer being that the hair wasn’t as long or even (because the individual strand placement was different, of course).

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The best part of all? Ruby’s love for this doll. A mama never really knows what a kid’s favorite toy will be and being that my kids often become attached to things like a heart-shaped rock or a pillowcase…anyway, Ruby loves Dolly. And I love that.

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28 Responses to Ruby’s Dolly

  1. Ellie says:

    she is perfect! what a great doll – and i love the pictures of margo demonstrating arm positioning…:) hope you all didn’t go too crazy-cabin-fever this weekend with the cold temps- we all survived!!

  2. Jorie says:

    Your kids are absolutely adorable! And what a good sport Margot is! That last picture of Ruby is angelic! I wish I could sew and make a doll for my girls. I love homemade things but not very good with the needle in thread. It’s not in my genes I guess…my mom either taped or hot glued things that were broken when we were kids ;)

    • dig dig says:

      Hot glue is one of the greatest inventions ever!

      If you are wanting to try something easy, this really could be it! Lots of straight lines and it works up quickly. :)

  3. Kathleen says:

    I love that the hair wasn’t even on the finished Dolly. Looks more like real kid hair. Shall we expect to see similar dolls on Etsy anytime soon? (For the craftily challenged who appreciate handmade.)

  4. Jennifer says:

    Oh how I loved this post/story/birth of Dolly. I read it once for pleasure and then twice more for technical content. :)

    You know sewing would never be as much fun unless a seam ripper was involved. Did I mention it better be a sharp mother effing ripper too?

    Dolly is a beauty, but only second to Ruby’s glow.

  5. stephany says:

    LOVE dolly!
    my mom used to sew things for my sister and I…dolls, homecoming dresses, blankets, dust ruffles, curtains, pillows, etc. I never really appreciated it until I wanted to give my kids the same kind of homemade by mom goodness. I learned to sew 1-1/2 years ago and couldn’t be happier! some of my favorites are the first dolls that I sewed for my kids.
    thanks for sharing!!

  6. rebecca says:

    ,,,OH my!…she’s beautiful! both Ruby and “Dolly”,,,

  7. Lynn Bynum says:

    I loved this post, she is so beautiful. I remember her great aunts when I think of her. D enjoy your writing, and photos. Makes me feel closer to you all, not just every 4 years!

  8. Thelma Pickles says:

    I’m 46 and I want one!

  9. Nothing, nothing feels as good as the love our children give to the things we create with them. Lucky girl, lucky doll. I love this doll, but even more the girl and the amazing mama who created it all. xoxo

  10. Claire says:

    What a beautiful dolly! And Margot’s arm demo is priceless – what a wee cutie!

  11. Maggie Lambert says:

    Hello,
    I can’t even remember how I happened upon your blog, but I love it. I am well beyond my child rearing days. My kids are 24 and 27( but I am going to be a grandma in July.) Reading your blog make me wish I could do it all over again. I admire the way you are raising your children to enjoy the simple pleasures in life to really just be children. They are absolutely beautiful little girls.
    Keep up the good work.
    Sincerely,
    Maggie Lambert

  12. Trbholt says:

    “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sewing” this is your genes….so sorry! Sometimes my shortcuts work BUT…I cannot tell you how many times I have looked at a pattern and thought…’why do I have to do that, I’ll just do this’ only to realize I should have done THAT not THIS! ….thank goodness for the seam ripper!….the most recent “that/this” experience was making the apron I gave you!

    When Ruby woke me up at 4:30, when we had our latest slumber party, I thought I had her settled quietly in my arms only to hear, in her sweet-on-the verge-of- tears voice, “Grandma, I want my Dolly”…I quickly found her and all was well…Dolly will be well loved!
    The name Dolly has such a double meaning of her name too!
    xoxo, Mom/Gram

  13. stephany says:

    My mom used to sew things for my sister and I…dolls, blankets, homecoming dresses, dust ruffles, pillow covers, duvets, curtains, etc. I never fully appreciated all that she did until I wanted to give my kids some of the same handmade goodness. I got a sewing machine for my birthday 2 years ago and it was the best birthday present ever.
    I love creating for my kids, my nieces, my friends, and look forward to many more years of sewing not so perfect things for all of them.

  14. Ashley says:

    She is wonderful! My daughter is swooning over the pictures with me and begging for one.

  15. Lisa says:

    I loved this doll when I saw her on IG, and I’m putting this tutorial in my back pocket for when I have a minute (okay, more than that…this will be guarenteed to take me at least twice as long). What a special gift for Ruby. Both are adorable. :)

    Thank you for posting this!
    ~Lisa (Seattle)

  16. Sierra Hampl says:

    What a wonderful gift! That is so special that it has become one of Ruby’s favorites.

  17. Allison says:

    so so cute. my daughters toy of choice is the bath plug (im hoping its short lived!) you do know that dolly looks like you right?!…im sure there has been a pic here on your blog of you in pigtails…..im tellin you, its a mini you!
    Allison x

  18. Kelly Cach says:

    Ruby…such a beautiful child. She looks SO much like Margot stretched out straight next to Dolly, and then like a tiny Ruby again in the last photo all curled up fetal like.
    Love Dolly soooo much! If mom-in-law is unable, I may be brave enough to give it a go…eeeek!
    Thank you for the steps and pattern!

  19. This is such a sweet little dolly, I’m sure it will be a treasured item for many, many years. I love your blog, I just came across it via Instagram, it was all the snow that made me love your photos! What a beautiful part of the world to live in. So just wanted to say I’m enjoying reading your posts, they are very genuine and you have a wonderful family. x Dara

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