In my childhood, my mom was always sewing in the background while we played. Of course now that I have children of my own, the sewing bug bites me hard just when there are not enough hours in the day to get my fix. You can imagine then my giddiness when I came upon the part in our kindergarten curriculum that suggests a simple knot doll as a handwork project. Edie was thrilled when I presented her with a vintage yellow sewing box complete with her own pair of ‘sharp’ scissors and cupcake pincushion tucked inside. And with that I informed her that she will be sewing a doll.
This is a classic knot doll and the steps may require some assistance from you at times, but for the most part Edie was able to accomplish much on her own. It took her a couple of seasons to complete. I have to admit that half the time was spent threading the needle or tying a knot at the end of the thread, but I can safely say she is now the expert needle threader in these parts. I don’t believe I have ever seen her beam so hard as when she showed “Baby” to her dad.
After this experience I suggest the following tidbits to help make this first sewing endevour go as smooth as possible:
:: Try to find a needle with a slightly larger eye for easier threading.
:: Allow your child to pick out the fabric.
:: Press the hems to be sewn so they lay flat; making them easier to sew.
:: While I try not to inflict a perfectionist eye I did have her correct unsightly mistakes such as sewing over the side of the hem and suggested she start over again. She learned to avoid this quite quickly and agreed that the hem looked much better when sewn correctly.
:: A verse and lighting of a candle (I sang The Thread Follows The Needle) really sets the tone and brings a certain sewing magic (my favorite kind of magic!) to the air.
:: Keep these sessions short. Even though Dolly may take close to a year to complete (ahem) the results will be that much sweeter!
:: Upon completion brainstorm together on a little baby who would like to receive a doll for Christmas. Christmas 2012 at least!
20 inch flannel square for the body
Flannel triangle for the hat measuring 7 inches on two sides and 10 inches on the other.
9 inch square flesh-coloured stockinette for the head
2 ounces of clean carded wool for head and stuffing the hat
Pink pencil crayon
Eye-coloured pencil crayon
Grown up, you press in ½ inch around all four sides of the body square then have child sew around. I suggested to my daughter to ensure that all the thread knots are on the inside of the work so that they can’t be seen on the outside. This part may be the longest part of the journey so make lots of tea and enjoy!
Fold the body square in half, then half again and cut off the tiniest snip to make a hole in the middle of the work. Set piece aside.
Roll some of the carded wool into a tight ball measuring approximately 3 inches.
Encase this ball with the square of stockinette and tie off at neck with the embroidery thread.
Work the neck of the head through the hole of the body until you can no longer see the embroidery thread. Tuck in raw edges about ½ inch. Have child sew the head on to the body by catching a bit of the head and a bit of the body all the way around.
Pick out the smoothest side of the head to place the face. It helps to use two pins to mark the placement of the eyes and one pin to mark the mouth. Have your child draw in the mouth and eyes with coloured pencils.
At this point, if you wish the doll to have hair (I personally have a bias toward bald babies because I tend to make those for real) let your child pick out from your yarn stash the ‘hair of choice’ but you, dear grown up, might have to sew this on. It takes a little bit of force to push the yarn through the stockinette! We gave ‘Baby’ a couple of strands of bangs by sewing on a short row of vertical lines of yarn across the front and then left a few long pieces of yarn on either side of the bangs to braid. Edie braided then tied off the hair-do herself – she was quite proud of that! The hat will cover up the back of the head so not to worry about placing yarn there.
For the hat; press the longest side of the triangle in about ¼ inch and have child sew in that seam. Fold the triangle in half to meet the two shorter sides together, keeping wrong sides together, and sew the two shorter sides together. Turn hat inside out and stuff with remaining wool.
Sew hat on to the the head so that the back of the head is covered.
Grown ups may have to tie the knots to form the hands. Now sweet dolly is ready for a hug – and so is your child.
Kathy Stowell is a homeschooling, homebirthing, homesteading mama living in the Kootenays of British Columbia with her husband, two kids, many chickens and a family cow. She blogs over at While Tangerine Dreams where she also offers Sewing Camps for Backwoods Mamas from all walks of life.