Quilting, Farming, Variety

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

When Are You Too Old for Dolls?

I'm wondering, when are you too old to play with dolls? Twelve, or maybe eighty? Before my daddy passed away and we visited the nursing home, we met a little old lady, I'm assuming she would be in her mid-eighties, who carried a doll with her all the time. She had it wrapped in a blanket, dressed in real baby clothes, and gave it all the love one would expect to give to a real child. I won't say I go that far, just yet, but I do like to pose my dolls in settings to pretend they are living a happy life.

I guess I've always liked dolls. The first ones I can remember were not very pretty ones. Their heads were made from some sort of pressed sawdust, their bodies were stuffed cloth, and I don't remember what their legs and arms were made of. I only know, from experience, that they didn't hold up very well when wet. Around the age of nine, I got a big vinyl doll for Christmas. Vinyl was fairly new then and the doll gradually got soft and sticky. I had a sock doll when I was in the fifth grade; he became the origin of a craze for rag dolls and soon most of the girls in my class had to have a rag doll. The last doll I had was given to me by my sister one year for Christmas and by then I was almost too big to play with her much. I still have some of her clothes.

When my girls were little I made cloth dolls for them one Christmas, sitting up at night after they were in bed, sewing and stuffing. When they got big enough to sew they made dolls too. Some of those dolls are still around, dirty and well-loved.

A few years ago my interest in dolls made its way back into my life. Since I had never had but one or two pretty dolls, I decided to bid on a porcelain doll on eBay. I won the bid but she never really filled my need for that pretty doll. So I made my own doll(s), a topsy-turvy, and then went on to make Fannie (the quilting buddy). Now I was finding patterns and instructions online for making cloth dolls (no longer called rag dolls) with painted faces. I tried it, and although I never mastered the art of painting faces, it was so much fun!

There are many good books on doll making. Two of my favorites are Cloth Dolls, by Brenda Brightmore, and Prairie People, by Marji Hadley and Dianne Ridgley. I have other books with instructions for sculpting faces and using paperclay, but I haven't started that yet. SO much to do and SO little time.

Left: This is Charlotte Emily, made by a pattern from Prairie People. She's the studious one of the group.
Below: Willow, painted brown with paper mache hair, was made by a "Holly Hobbie" pattern except I used cloth for her head instead of a sock. The little prairie quilt (older post) was made for her and she's the character in the story I wrote to go with the quilt. She's the gardener of the group.

Left: These are the topsy-turvy girls, Estelle and Maria. I had wondered and wondered how to put one of these together so I ordered a pattern with instructions. It's really quite simple, but not simple enough for me to tell you here. lol

Left: This poor little doll has been waiting a l-o-n-g time for a body. But at least she has pretty hair! I bought a doll wig on eBay and really liked it.

Left: Now this doll immediately made me think of Whoopi when I finished her face. She looks very little like the doll in the book, but I like her. Those glasses do it all for her, don't you think? This pattern was from Cloth Dolls. I gave her to Lily and she named her "Dollie".

Two of my favorite sites to visit for viewing cloth dolls are http://www.littlejennywren.blogspot.com/ and http://www.ohsewdollin.com/. The dolls featured here are suitable for children to play with; the dolls with painted faces are really just display dolls.

Maybe this could inspire you to make a cloth doll for some little girl to go with that quilt you're going to make. Someday soon I hope to make another doll; more quilting needs to get done first though. No playing today for sure; we worked heifers and calves this afternoon and may work more tomorrow while the weather is so nice, for one day soon, the cold wind will be blowing and then it becomes a "not so fun" job.

Have a good day, friends.


  1. Your dolls are so wonderful, and part of why is because they all have personalities.

    I'm glad Lily's favorite dolls have always been the rag dolls, even the one I made once that I thought was just terribly ugly!

  2. This is a really nice post, but you should know I would think so! You are getting to be quite the photographer; great dollie photos!