East Dakota Quilter


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Sewing A Rag Doll

I have gotten some great gifts from my Great Aunt Carol over the years, but perhaps the most-loved of all were the dolls she sent my sister and me one year for Christmas. The dolls were the same style without being identical, which we loved. I named mine Elise; my sister named hers Gretchen. Here we are opening the presents. (I’m on the left with the new permanent teeth and awesome gold scrunchie.)

Christmas Dolls

Some of my earliest sewing (and hot gluing) projects were clothes for Elise. My sister and I created a doll suitcase out of a gutted casette tape holder. We loved the dolls and still have them–only a little worse for wear.

dolls from carol by EastDakotaQuilter

Remembering how much I loved my own doll, I wanted to make a doll for my friend’s daughter–the same girl who received the first quilt I ever made and the Sunday Brunch Jacket. I scoured the internet for a pattern. None of them seemed right. I concluded I didn’t just like having a doll, I liked having the specific style of doll I received from Carol–not too big, not too small, and cuddly. I had to make that doll.

Fortunately, my mom was able to help me create a similar pattern.

doll by EastDakotaQuilter

I bought the materials when my friend’s little girl was born… two years ago this Easter Sunday! But I was too scared to start. I was especially worried about sewing the hair. For one thing, my mom’s pattern didn’t have a seam in the back like Carol’s did, and Elise had yarn hair sewn into the back seam. For another, I wasn’t certain exactly how much hair (yarn) would be needed. And I was scared the yarn would be difficult to distribute evenly. What if it was thin on top and bunched at the nape of her neck as I worked my way down the seam?!

It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but I will say I have an even greater appreciation for the doll Carol made me after trying to make one of my own!!! I definitely learned a few tricks in the process. And she looked like Frankenstein in the process.

unfinished doll by EastDakotaQuilter

One of my favorite things about the doll I got from Great Aunt Carol was the number of outfits she had. She could be dressed for tea one moment and wearing pajamas the next. I knew I wanted to make several outfits for this doll, too. My favorite is the pair of pantaloons made out of a lacy material.outfits by EastDakotaQuilter

doll outfits by EastDakotaQuilter

I also made one of Jeni’s drawstring bags to hold the extra doll clothes. She was gifted wearing the outfit most like a salwar kameez.

clothes bag by EastDakotaQuilter

My friend’s little girl scooped the doll up to give her a big hug right away. She “changed the doll’s diaper” (pantaloons) and wiped the baby with a baby wipe. Then she put the doll on a chair, realized it was as big as she was, and got scared, haha.

Did you have a favorite doll, or do you have a favorite doll pattern? Little girls seem to remember their favorite childhood dolls, so I hope this will be a happy part of my friend’s sweet little girl’s childhood.


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Achieving Hero Status (i.e. Sewing American Girl Doll Dresses)

I recently made a cross-country move and can’t wait to tell you all about it in coming weeks. In the meantime, I will share a an end-of-summer project with photos taken before things got hectic. I sewed dresses for my cousins’ newly-acquired American Girl dolls. I wanted something simple that I could finish in a week, and the Katie dress at Sew Like My Mom fit the bill. I decided to do four dresses–two for each girl–in case any one dress was imperfect. (It was my first time sewing zippers, and I didn’t want one girl to think I put more effort into the other sister’s dress; sewing two was a nice safeguard.) The dresses on the left were for the younger cousin, whose style is “pink and sparkly.” The dresses on the right were for the older cousin, whose style is “purple and not frilly.”

American Girl Dresses by EastDakotaQuilter

I would probably wear the dress in the lower right photo if it came in my size! And I suppose it could, but let’s face it: I’m a quilter, not a fashion designer. (I’m jealous of all you ladies with handmade wardrobes!)

I got rave reviews, and it was a fairly stress-free project… until I had to pack my whole apartment and my sewing machine broke again. Speaking of which…

Do you prefer Singer? Janome? Bernina? Any advice would be gratefully received at this point!