Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Scrap Bag Doll Tutorial Part One

Meet Chantal and Annette. They're made from all kinds of scraps that I just can't bear to discard.Some have been around for a long time. Although it might seem like there are many steps to making this doll, just take them one by one and you'll have your own Scrap Bag Doll in no time. She's 20 inches tall and would make a perfect companion for a little girl.

Here's what you need to get started:

Fabric - naturally! You can use any size or shape of scraps for this project. Piecing the fabric in squares or rectangles will result in a different, but charming look than using strips as I did. I used strips because that's what I had most of in my scrap bag, and I supplemented them with larger rectangles.

When choosing fabrics, go bright or subdued. I collected pieces that went together, but a truly scrap doll could be made by just pulling fabrics without thinking.

Sewing machine
handsewing needle
measuring tape
scotch tape
fibrefill stuffing
acrylic paints for face
yarn for hair
hook and loop fastening, one (1/2 - 3/4 inch)

patterns - The patterns are in JPeg format and if you click on the patterns they will open and can be printed on an 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet of paper. A 1/4 inch seam allowance is included on all pattern pieces. They are full sized. Make sure to follow the instructions for putting together the head/body pattern piece. It won't fit on one page, so you'll have to tape it together.

arm pattern

leg pattern

boot/top of head pattern

body/head pattern

Okay, let's get sewing!

Step 1 - Prepare your fabric for cutting.

You will construct separate pieces of fabric for each pattern piece as follows:

For the arm pattern, piece a rectangle 12 inches wide by 8 1/2 inches tall. The bottom 2 inches of the rectangle will be the doll's hands, so you choose whatever skin colour you want.

For the leg pattern, piece a rectangle 12 inches wide by 9 inches tall.

The boot can be solid or pieced. You need about a 9 inch square.

For the head/body construct a square 14 inches wide by 14 inches tall. The top 5 inches will be the head, so again, choose your fabric accordingly. I used wider strips for the body, but narrower ones would work here as well.

To piece your rectangles, place right sides together and stitch a 1/4 inch seam. Keep adding strips until you have the required size. After stitching, press the pieces flat, then fold them in half in preparation for cutting.

Step 2 - Cut the fabric pieces from the patterns.

Cut two of each pattern piece given. Align the hands on the arm piece, and the head on the head/body piece to fit where you want the skin colour to show.

Step 3 - Stitch the arms.

1.  Fold the arms in half, right sides together.

2.  Pin together and stitch, leaving the top of the arm open. Tack or backstitch the beginning and end of the seam.

3.  Clip the curves of the seam allowance in the hand section. Take care not to clip into the seam itself. Clipping allows for a smoother curve.

4.  Turn right side out.

Step 4 - Stuff the arms.

1.  Begin stuffing the arms, pushing the stuffing firmly into the hand section. Use a pencil or other long object to make sure the stuffing gets into all the curves. Stuff up to the line indicated on the pattern, about halfway up the arm.

2.  Stitch across the arm with the sewing machine, backstitching to fasten threads securely at beginning and end. This stitching will be visible. You will stitch from the seam to the opposite fold.

3.  Continue to stuff the arms, leaving about 1/2 inch unstuffed at the top.

4.  I like to take a small pleat at the top of the arm. It makes the arm rounder and less splayed at the shoulder. This is an optional step. I pleated the center about 3/8 inch. Pin and then stitch the arm closed.

Set the arms aside.

Step 5 - Stitch the boot to the leg.

Right sides together, stitch the boot to the leg rectangle.

Step 6 - Stitch the legs.

1.  Fold the leg and boot piece right sides together and pin.

2.  Stitch, leaving the top leg open. Backstitch to secure threads.

3.  Clip the curves around the boots, and then turn right side out.

Step 7 - Stuff the legs.

1. Stuff the leg as you did the arms, using a long tool to ensure that the boot portion is firmly stuffed. Stuff to the knee line indicated on the pattern.

2.  When you stitch across the knee-line, make sure that the boot toes are pointed upwards. The leg seam will be in the center front of the leg, unlike the arm, which has the seam on one side. This ensures that the doll's toes point forwards and not sideways. I've done it both ways and while the doll with outward pointing toes has her own charm, I prefer forward pointing toes. You can choose.

3.  Continue to stuff the legs as you did the arms, leaving about 1/2 inch unstuffed at the top. Form a small pleat and stitch the leg closed.

Set the legs aside.

Step 8 - Stitch the head and body.

1.  Pin the head/body pieces right sides together.

2.  Stitch, leaving open between Xs as indicated on the pattern. Clip the curves, particularly around the neck.

3.  Turn right side out.

Step 9 - Attach the arms to the doll body.

1.  Insert the arms into the openings. Pin carefully, making sure that the edges of the body openings are turned under.

2. Stitch closed. This stitching will be visible. I found it helpful to stitch once from each side of the doll. This ensures that all seams will be firmly stitched closed. Clip threads.

Step 10 - Stuff the head and body.

1.  Begin stuffing the head. Again, use a long tool to very firmly stuff the had, particularly in the neck area. This will make the neck firm and less wobbly.

2.  Stuff the body, leaving about 1/2 inch at the bottom unstuffed.

Step 11 - Attach the legs to the doll's body.

1. Insert the legs into the body openings. If you have chosen one side of the body to be the front, make certain that the legs point in the correct direction. Pin the legs to the body carefully, ensuring that the edges of the body openings are turned under.

2.  Stitch closed. This stitching will be visible. As with the arms, I find it helpful to stitch once from the front and once from the back side. Clip threads.

VoilĂ ! You have a completed doll body.

Now to add the finishing touches. Instructions are found in this post for the hair, face and pinafore.

SewMamaSew has many great scrap buster projects being featured this month. Visit their site for a way to lower the piles of fabrics you have stashed away.


  1. Another 'clip and save' item here. Your instructions are very clear - I'll let you know if I get one done.

  2. How cute AND such a great idea for using material scrap pieces!

    Have a great day Lorrie!

  3. Thanks for sharing. Love the pacthwork so cute.

  4. I'm hoping to do this for my 1 year old for Christmas. Great tutorial. Thanks!

  5. Thank you for the "scrap doll" tutorial. . .
    But most of all, thank you for the ideas and philosophy that you have expressed so well. . . best of a beautiful day,

  6. Anonymous1:43 PM

    This looks like a doll I used to have when I was a little girl. My Mom made it for me. I am now 69 years old so that was a while ago. Thanks for the memories.. I am going to make one from my many scraps. Judy

  7. I like your dolls Lorrie and will think of making some this winter. One of my projects is to make use of some of my fabric scraps. I have a doll's body I could use. She even has the face embroidered on. thanks!


Thank you for your comment. I read and value each one, cherishing the connections we can make although far apart. Usually, I visit your blog in return, although if you ask a question I try to contact you directly.

Days Not at Home

  Last Wednesday morning we boarded a plane for The Netherlands, landing midday on Thursday, Amsterdam time. After figuring out our e-sims a...