By Katja Magus
“I truly believe that anyone who has basic hand and machine sewing skills can successfully complete this doll with these detailed and photo-rich instructions. If you feel you’re not up to the challenge right now, you can reach out to a family member or friend who sews and offer to do an exchange of skills. Every child deserves a beautiful doll to cherish for years to come! ”
Katja Majus, author of these patterns, our doll pattern and tutorial available here, and the article “A Doll for Every Child” in the Living Crafts Winter 2012 issue
- Small pieces/scraps of knit fabric for clothing/diapers/etc. (can be from recycled clothing or there are beautiful cotton velours from the listed sources) *
- Optional ¼ inch elastic for doll gown and pants
- 2 closures for each diaper (sew on snaps, hook and loop tape fasteners, etc.)
- Sewing machine (or lots of time and patience!)
- Living Crafts “A Doll for Every Child Doll” Clothing Patterns:
Sewing the diapers and clothing:
You can use recycled children’s clothing or scraps from your sewing stash to make the diapers and clothes. All of the patterns are designed for cotton knit (stretchy) fabrics; they DO NOT include seam allowances. I didn’t need to add elastic to the bottom of the gown or to the waistband of the pants due to the stretchiness of the fabrics (skipping the elastic makes the clothes easier for little ones to take on and off), but if you do, use 1/4” elastic and look for directions on the package or online.
Making the diapers: Doll Diaper Pattern
1. Using the diaper pattern, cut out two diaper shapes from a light colored cotton knit fabric with the stretch going across the diaper. With right sides together, pin and sew around the diaper, starting at the back notch/line and going all the way around, topping at the next notch/line to leave room for turning.
2. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam. Clip/trim seams as described in the doll making instructions, turn diaper right side out. Blind or whipstitch the back opening closed or leave open to have a “pocket” diaper and make inserts for it. Add fasteners to the flaps and the front section.
Making the shirt/gown: Doll Shirt Pattern and Doll Gown Pattern
1. Fold under the seam allowance on the top curved edge across the shoulder flaps and neck, and sew with a narrow seam. Then lay the front and back pieces end to end with the shoulder flaps overlapping (matching notches/lines). Make sure both flaps are going the same way before sewing.
2. Baste this armhole seam using a longer stitch, 1/8” from the edge, to make sure the flaps don’t slip as you add the sleeve. Fit the curved edge of the sleeve to the armhole along your basting line, matching up the center of the sleeve with the notch for the shoulder flaps. Sew a ¼” seam for the armhole.
3. Fold up seam allowance at sleeve edges and sew. Lay the gown/shirt out flat with right sides together and match the underarm and body seams. Sew a continuous seam from the sleeve edge to the bottom of the garment. Turn up the bottom hem and sew.
Making the pants: Doll Pants Pattern
1. With right sides together, first sew both crotch seams.
Then hem both leg bottoms.
2. Next, lay the pants out flat and sew one continuous seam up the inside of one leg and down the other.
Fold under top edge and sew, adding elastic if needed.
Making the hat: Doll Hat Pattern
1. Place two hat pieces right sides together and sew along the curved edge. Try the hat on your doll before sewing a hem along the straight edge. You may need to snip the seam, as mentioned before, along the curved edge.
Time savers and other tips:
I can complete a doll in 4 uninterrupted hours or in many small bits of time over a few days, but give yourself much more than that if this is your first doll.
To save time, skip the hair and add a hat, the doll can “grow up” over the next year and be presented later with a full head of hair. Also to save time, skip the face embroidery. Many cultures have created faceless dolls for their play and I think this would be especially suitable for a young toddler.
Present a finished doll without clothes, wrapped in a blanket or play silk and let the child know that making clothes will be your special project together.
For the younger child, loosely sew on the cap and gown to avoid dolly being left naked all the time, these can be unsewn later as the child matures.
Treat the doll as if it were real and your child will follow your example, make sure it is rocked, clothed, and carried gently. When picking up toys, treat the doll with reverence and make sure it has a special place to sleep.
Making accessories for the doll, such as, scarves, sleeping bags, rugs, hats, and blankets are wonderful ways for an older child to relate to a doll, while practicing their hand crafting skills at the same time. Older siblings can also be involved in helping to ready a doll for a younger sibling.
Most dolls only need to be washed about 1–2 times per year. The general rule of thumb is to wash a waldorf doll as you would wash a real baby. Run a sinkful of warm water and place the doll in the water, gently surface wash using mild soap, dunk the doll a few times to rinse (no squeezing, rubbing, etc.) and wrap in towels to dry. The drying may take 24–48 hours so you might need to do it “on the sly” so your child won’t be too anxious about it. A doll that has been washed can have new “cheeks” applied and a new outfit. Then, presented again to a grateful child – rather than giving a new doll each year!