world, meet Sally. Sally; world.

DSC_2629Hello there.  I’m Sally  🙂

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve indulged in making something like a doll and doll’s clothes but omigosh, this was SO MUCH FUN.  Honestly I think I’m just about to explode with the exquisite fun-ness of it all!  I’m still on a bit of a high.  All those cute teeny little bits and pieces.  Quick as a snap, with barely any fussy finishing details.  My inner child has been squealing fit to burst, here.

DSC_2650So, my Mum took me to to Calico and Ivy for my belated birthday present; and we chose this book The Making of a Rag Doll, by Jess Brown, and a little stack of fat quarters.  I know, right? I’m so lucky:  FABULOUS birthday present!  This was on Thursday and I finished this lot last night, so obviously I just could not wait to immediately get stuck into making my doll.



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So I’ve named her Sally, and she has a complete summer and winter wardrobe.  I’ve made for her everything from the book, bar the patchwork quilt.  I might make the patchwork quilt too, well… everyone needs a little bed on which to rest our weary red head, non?!!!  but in the meantime I want to do something else with the leftover pieces of fat quarters and I’ll wait until I’ve finished that before assessing my scraps for the quilt.

WARNING: NSFW, the following picture depicts nudity, do not proceed if a naked body causes offence to your eyes… bwahahahaha!  I’ve always wanted to say that in a blog post! gawd so juvenile. *eyeroll at self*



I made my doll as per the book, but did my own face and hair design.  I liked the face in the book but Craig reckoned it was a bit creepy … apologies to Jess Brown!  Anyway I tried to make a face as sweet as possible, a fairly unsophisticated and simple design.  I left her hair until last because I thought it would be the hardest bit and I was a little unsure about how to do it.  The book has you just sew a piece of felt along the top, but I knew I wanted really thick woolly hair.  As it turned out, doing the hair was lots of fun too, and I enjoyed every minute!  I sewed strands of wool, two at a time, all over her scalp, so there is actually complete coverage of her scalp.  I know from when I played with dolls as a child, my favourite dolls had complete hair coverage so that I could leave out or put up into pigtails or a pony tail, or do plaits… whatever I wanted.  Even though I’m probably past the age of wanting to do my doll’s hair – or maybe NOT?!  Anyway I still wanted proper hair.  I absolutely love her wild shaggy mane of hair and decided to leave it untrimmed and just as is.

this first picture is the closest match to her actual hair colour

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She has:

a summer wardrobe, comprising knickerbockers, a sundress, a pompom necklace, and a newspaper hat,

and; a winter wardrobe, comprising a long sleeved dress, an overcoat and a beanie.  She also has an apron, for housework, and a little tote bag.  A tote bag!  eeeee the cuteness!



This whole project was heaps of fun.  I know I keep repeating that, but honestly, the whole time I was playing about with this I just kept thinking “Omigod, so. Much. Fun!” you know, one of those projects where you cannot bear to put it down but you just want to keep doing a little bit more.  Then a little bit more.  Some, if not most of her clothes took a mere handful of minutes each; SO zippy and super super easy.  And fun.  Did I mention it was fun?

yup, she’s standing in a soup ladle.  She has trouble standing up by herself


My materials; Sally herself is unbleached calico, stuffed with Australian-made Hobby-fill from Spotlight, pom pom for her necklace also from Spotlight.  Hair is Morris Empire Superwash merino 4ply, in colour 441, Rust Twist, from my sock wool stash.  Fabric for clothing; a bundle of fat quarters from Calico and Ivy, the ribbon for the tote bag handle was cut from the ribbon holding the fat quarters together.  Also some scrap ribbons, yarn, embroidery thread, button, and other small bits and bobs from my stash.


My only slight regret is that the ends of the embroidery yarns show up a little bit behind her face… I tried to hide them in the stuffing as I went but evidently my calico is wide-weave and a little see-through, and as I stuffed her head, compressing the stuffing has forced the thread ends forward a bit.  Well, we live and learn, I’ll know to be more careful about this next time.

don’t want to wear your beanie, Sally? Just stuff it in your TOTE BAG!

DSC_2663Quickie review:

The Making of a Rag Doll, Jess Brown

Hardcover book, 136 pages, high quality paper, beautifully photographed and all over a very attractive presentation.  Would be equally nice as a coffee table book actually!

The book contains patterns and full instructions for making the 41cm doll, plus clothing and accessories; knickerbockers, a sundress, overcoat, long-sleeved dress, beanie, apron, tote bag, quilt and a newspaper hat.

The patterns are full size, printed on both sides of two sheets of sturdy thick brown paper, kept in a slotted page in the back of the book, and are clear and easy to trace.

Contents; introduction is a nice summary of the author’s journey in doll making, then the next 20 pages or so are devoted to explanation of basic sewing terms and notes on sourcing supplies of fabric, haberdashery and sewing tools. All the explanations are extremely detailed, starting from the absolute basics and aimed at the complete beginner to sewing.  As in this could be an excellent first sewing gift for a child.  Instructions are exhaustively thorough, well laid out, and most are also accompanied by simple illustrations.  All measurements are helpfully given in both imperial and metric.

Summary; excellent for a beginner to sewing, but really anyone could enjoy this book too, I certainly did!  I was initially attracted to it because of the cuteness of the doll and her clothes and found it all to be a super easy as well as an incredibly fun project.  Highly recommended!

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59 Thoughts on “world, meet Sally. Sally; world.

  1. Rianna Brown on 09/01/2016 at 2:32 pm said:

    Very cute. Love what you did with Sally’s hair.

  2. OMG, she is adorable! Funny thing; I’ve just started collecting vintage doll and toy making books, but none of them have anything as cute as Sally. I love the fact that she has a whole wardrobe!

  3. Oh she is just so cute!! I love all the clothes you’ve made too. I’d love to male one for my wee boy, I guess it’d be easy enough to make it into a boy doll? I think Sally’s face is very cute!

    • Carolyn on 10/01/2016 at 11:07 am said:

      thanks Kathryn! Yes, I think it would be easy to make it as a boy; just give it a boyish hairstyle and I would suggest narrowing its hips a bit too. The knickerbockers could be lengthened or shortened to make shorts and “jeans” and the dress and coat patterns could be shortened to make shirts, Tshirts, and hip length coats like boys wear 🙂

  4. Philippa on 09/01/2016 at 3:39 pm said:

    I love her! Everything. So beautifully made and choosen.

  5. Gah, super cute! Next project make a mini version of all your makes so she can outfits posts for you during mmmay..

  6. Sally is beautiful including all her little pieces! It was a great success congratulations! I need that book!

  7. So cute! Sounds like a lot of fun!

  8. she’s adorable! So love and admire Jess Brown’s dolls x

  9. Too cute for words! Jo x

  10. I cannot resist miniatures anyway, and Sally & her clothes are adorable. Now I want to make tiny things…

  11. So super cute – she’s like a mini you.

    • Darci on 09/01/2016 at 11:40 pm said:

      I was thinking the same thing! She’s a wee, adorable Carolyn. I love how much fun you had with this project. I can imagine you making more dolls!

      • Carolyn on 10/01/2016 at 11:10 am said:

        Haha! I didn’t do it intentionally but you’re right! her hair is a bit like mine and I gave her greeny brown eyes too!

  12. she’s adorable! and quite stylish too

  13. Adorable! and I know what you mean about the fun – I love making dolls and dressing them. I admit I use colored pencils to do the faces – when done I spray them lightly with a clear matte acrylic spray so that the color is fixed. Love her hair! I do it the way you did – it’s relaxing, yes? So, I’m going to take a look at this book, the doll is so cute and I love her wardrobe! Thks for sharing.

  14. How adorable 🙂

  15. This is just the most adorable doll ever (and I say that as someone who has had no interest in dolls her entire life and who has spawned a daughter who absolutely despises dolls!) – I would totally want to make one! And honestly, the tote bag just totally nails the whole project.

  16. ZOMG She looks just like you!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The hair and the clothes!
    Love the tote bag too.
    Love your enthusiasm for the project too!!

    • Carolyn on 10/01/2016 at 11:13 am said:

      Haha! thank you Kyle! it wasn’t on purpose but I can see now I did give her eye colour and hair like mine a bit. Well, maybe more like the hair I’d love to have 😉

  17. Oh this sounds like a very fun project. I love her sweet facial expression.

  18. Beyond adorable! But, did you have FUN? haha. Sally’s expression is so cute (nicer than the cover). jenmiller

  19. This is the cutest thing ever!!! What a fun project.

  20. Erin on 09/01/2016 at 10:01 pm said:

    I just found your blog! This little doll is so cute. You really breathed life into her!

  21. Steph on 09/01/2016 at 10:28 pm said:

    Beautiful, I love the sweet quizzical expression she has. I agree with Greg, I’ve always found the original dolls a bit creepy due to the eyes. What a great way to use up some small bits of fabric too.

  22. Dawn on 09/01/2016 at 10:39 pm said:

    I adore Sally! I like Jess Brown’s dolls, but I love the way you made this doll your own. I have to agree, doll making is fun. Your fabric choices were spot on. In all, this is just a delightful doll and wardrobe.

  23. Hélène on 09/01/2016 at 11:07 pm said:

    Your Sally is lovely. You’re right about the hair: a real doll does need real massive woolen hair. Plus, the superwash wool you’ve chosen will allow for a good shampoo! 😉

    Have you heard about a rag doll kit named Mademoiselle Angèle by C’est dimanche? This French indie sewing designer has a huge success with it. The doll is adorable and I would certainly make as a birthday present for a little one.

    • Carolyn on 10/01/2016 at 11:18 am said:

      thank you Helene! I hadn’t heard of c’est dimanche before, and that doll is super cute. I love the little knitted jumpers and cardigans!

  24. I love your doll! I find doll making a fun thing to do with my six year old or even just by myself. It’s a nice stress reliever after working on something challenging, like a tailored garment. Does the book show how you sewed her hair at all or was that your own design. I love how the hair looks.

    • Carolyn on 10/01/2016 at 11:25 am said:

      thank you very much Justine! The book doesn’t show you how to do the hair like I did, that was my own thing. The author Jess Brown does encourage you to give your doll its own personality and make it “yours” by thinking up your own hair and face designs. 🙂

  25. OMG, she’s adorable! I can see why it was hard to put her down. I will have to check out this book. I like the fact that the book offers you a whole wardrobe to sew along with the doll. Nicely made too, Carolyn!

  26. Barb on 10/01/2016 at 12:39 am said:

    She looks wonderful! If could try a very fine metal crotchet hook to tease away the threads. It works on quilt blocks that have the same issue.

  27. very cute, the dream of every little girl that we have been

  28. Amanda S. on 10/01/2016 at 12:48 am said:

    Wow! Adorable doll!

  29. What a fabulous, fun project. Sometimes it’s good to get away from garments and make something reckless. Sally is a keeper

  30. I can see why you had so much fun making Sally. She and her clothing wardrobe are adorable.

  31. Oh, this is sooo cute! I remember making dolls and a lot of little outfits when my daughters were little. It was such fun. All of it is nicely stored at the attic waiting for need one day? Sally is adorable, her outfits so cute!

  32. I’m not sure whether the pompom necklace or tote bag is my favourite but it’s all gorgeous.

  33. Sally is so cute! It’s a special story how it came as a gift from your Mum. 🙂

  34. ooooohhhhhh she’s absolutely adorable!

    I love making dolls! Every little kid in my extended family has been given a dollie made by me. I may also have one gorgeous one of my very own that I made as the prototype for these dollies 😉 They’re the ones my mum and I made for my daughter and niece when they were 4.

    My granny, according to my mum, said that when you get a dollie for a little kid, get one with lots of clothes to take on and off to practise buttons and tying laces and so forth. So all my dollies have had a full wardrobe too.

    Since then I’ve overcome my allergy to embroidering dolly faces, and also had similar thoughts on how to do the hair as you. My latest was for my 4 yr old nephew – a little boy doll with a shock of brown hair done in a manner similar to yours, dressed in trousers and shirt, with a tool belt, that just so happened to match the tool belt mum made for my nephew himself, the same birthday I gave him the dolly.

    My next dollie adventure is to make a (Fully dressed again) cat using my dolly pattern with cat-like adjustments. It’s going to be the ‘Audience’ for my ballet students to perform for in the classes I’m teaching come February. (Good excuse to make a doll, isn’t it!)

    And I’d also like to make something like this for the next child I make a doll for.

    They’re such fun! and sooooooo cuddly 🙂

  35. So cute!

    I made dolls for my girls when they were younger. Might have to dig out the pattern sometime and make one for myself. I have so many scraps to make her clothes now.

  36. Terrific project – she turned out great and I can just imagine how much fun she was to make. Of course you had to make all the clothes and accessories!

  37. Whaaa what a great post! And doll! I totally understand your excitement. I recently made a knitted doll from the Arne and Carlos book (and called it Gunilla!) and it was so much fun making it! So incredibly much fun that I didn’t dare to talk to anyone about it, because I feared that I would creep everyone out! But as you already did that I now dare to say that DOLLMAKING IS SO MUCH FUN!!!! 🙂 Hehehehe
    And don’t get me started on outfit-making for the doll! Totally loved it!
    I like your doll’s face a LOT better than the one of the doll on the cover, you’re totally right, it is creepy and there is nothing that scares me more in this world than creepy dolls, ugh!
    And btw Sally and her outfit are totally adorable!

  38. Adele on 11/01/2016 at 3:45 pm said:

    Squeeee! I love this project, adorable entirely! I love her hair and all her wee outfits, she is a mini you, perhaps you could make her matching outfits when you have scraps left over from your wonderful makes, she could come along when you model them!

    • Carolyn on 12/01/2016 at 8:46 pm said:

      thanks so much Adele! That’s a fun idea and would be pretty cute, I’m going to give it some thought!

      • Dawn on 13/01/2016 at 9:23 am said:

        I love this idea. If not every outfit, at least some of them. I would love to see Sally some more in the future. I’ve had to come back and see what everyone has to say about her. And also to get a peek at Miss Awesome again.

  39. Oh, Sally is gorgeous!

  40. It’s nice to meet you Sally! What an enchanting little person you have made. She oozes personality in a sweet fun way. Your enthusiasm is contagious! 🙂

  41. Claudia on 12/01/2016 at 4:22 am said:

    Sally is very cute! She looks like you. Thank you for the post, I will give it a try.
    The hair looks much nicer like you did it, it looks more natural.

  42. Claudia on 12/01/2016 at 5:15 am said:

    Hi, Carolyn, I read your beautiful and inspirationAl blog last year. Thank you for sharing your love for seeing and handcrafts with us! LOVE YOU.
    I found today, by accident that you are in in Top 50 Blogs for Fashion Sewers.
    Greetings from Germany.

    • Claudia on 12/01/2016 at 5:17 am said:

      Hi, Carolyn, I read your beautiful and inspirational blog last year. Thank you for sharing your love for sewing and handcrafts with us! LOVE YOU.
      I found today, by accident, that you are in in Top 50 Blogs for Fashion Sewers.
      Greetings from Germany.

  43. Pingback: Wednesday Weekly #21 | Helen's ClosetHelen's Closet

  44. Oh she’s adorable! I love how you did the hair, and her face really is a lot cuter than the illustration on the book. I’m wondering if you’ll soon have matching outfits?

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