60 Minute Make: The simplest dolly in the world

February 25, 2011

A while ago I was lent a copy of Creative Play for Your Baby, and the first project in the book is the simplest of simple dolls made out of a muslin cloth. A perfect project, I thought, to get me back in to the making groove.

There is something so satisfying about creating something in less than an hour: you can squeeze this project in to baby’s nap and (s)he will be greeted by a new toy when they wake up!

Best of all, being made out of a muslin cloth, this dolly can double up as emergency spillage cleaner when you’re out and about on the move; it can be thrown in the washing machine (as long as you use washable wool for the hair); and, should your baby become really attached to it and then lose it, you can rustle up a replacement hopefully before they even notice it’s gone.

The simplest dolly in the world. Anyone can make this!

You will need:

  • A muslin cloth – mine was 55cm square
  • Toy stuffing
  • Wool for the hair (I used machine washable wool)
  • Embroidery thread for the eyes, mouth, and tying off the head
  • Normal machine thread for sewing the hair
  • Small piece of tissue paper or newspaper

First of all, fold the muslin in to a triangle and find the centre point of the cloth, i.e. where the head will be. Stuff the toy stuffing in to this spot, bunch up the fabric and secure the ‘neck’ really firmly with a neutral shade of embroidery thread (you could use normal thread here but I thought embroidery thread might make it more secure).

Dolly's Head

Now, decide which side is the face and give the dolly some simple eyes and a mouth using embroidery thread. I did this by tying a knot in one end of the embroidery thread and then going in to the head from underneath, through the inside of the neck (that sounds so brutal), where the fabric is all bunched up. This is also where I exited when I was finished, and tied off the threads so the knot was hidden underneath (in this photo you can see how I entered the head to sew on the hair):


Tie off your threads by entering and exiting the head from underneath, through the neck

Once you’ve sewn on the facial features, next comes the hair. First, lay out your piece of tissue paper and then lay individual strands of wool on top, like so:

My strands were approximately 20cm long, and the distance from front to back was about 10cm

Then sew the strands of wool on to the tissue paper using a sewing machine.

You can then remove the tissue paper and you’ll be left with a dolly wig, with the individual strands of wool sewn together (it is possible to skip this step and sew the hair directly on to the dolly but I think it would take a lot longer).

Final step, sew the hair on to the dolly’s head and, hey presto, there’s your new toy! Can’t get much easier than that, can you? You can also knot two of the corners of the muslin to create ‘hands’.

I was a bit sceptical that Eva would be fooled in to thinking that this dressed up muslin was a toy, but she loves it: especially when I shake the dolly’s head and make her hair fly around.

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