by Molly Remer
A travel doll is a small doll, (usually 10″ tall or less) originally used during the 1700’s to early 1900’s to entertain a child on a trip. Dolls were brought out for traveling only, and were put away again upon returning home. This helped to keep the doll “special” and enhanced its entertainment value. The most well known traveling doll is probably the small, intrepid carved wooden doll Hitty (of Hitty Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field). The most well-known rag doll is certainly Raggedy Ann. Now, travel dolls are small dolls that go all kinds of places with their owners (who are frequently adults!). Dolls can accompany their owners on vacations near or far, to work, around town, or to doll conventions. The following instructions will allow you to make a pocket sized travel rag doll using a special “no-sew” method. She is a convenient traveling companion and will always be eager to travel with you!
A fun traveling dollhouse: Magnetic Dollhouse
Instruction video to make your own Hitty doll: Hitty: A Carver’s Classic
A cute, friendly Dress Me Raggedy Ann Doll
Another doll that can easily be transported on a trip: Little Pioneer Girl Paper Doll
- Perfectly proportioned “tubes” (pillow edging) of pre-stuffed muslin are available in the fabric section of Wal-Mart and make great body and arm pieces for the tiny doll. You may buy it by the yard and make lots of tiny dolls! Cut away the flat edge as close to the seam as possible. For each tiny doll, the body roll should be 5 inches long and the arm roll 3 inches (the doll will be approx. 2.5 inches tall when finished). If you do not have pillow edging, you may roll stuffing in muslin to make a firm roll about ¼ inch wide (make sure to fold over the rough edge before rolling, to create a smooth fold on the back side of the roll when you finish).
- Cut the following size squares out of your choice of calico fabric. You may use all black fabric (except for apron pieces) to make an Amish style doll.
- 5 x 2 (skirt—try to leave selvage along long side to serve as a hem)
- 3 x 2 (cut two—bodice & bonnet)
- 3 x 1.5 (cut two—sleeves)
- Tie ends of the arm roll tightly to form small hands. Use a “butcher’s knot” for all ties—wrap thread around twice before pulling down the first time and then tie again.
- Tie ends of the body roll tightly to form feet.
- Fold body piece in half and tie near the top to create the head.
- Place arm piece inside of body piece below the head. Cross the legs so one goes to each side and tie across middle of body (there will be an upper body portion between the two ties).
- Tie on sleeve pieces (start with the fabric inside out). The long side should point away from the doll, and the short side should be tied around the wrist. Roll the fabric down the arm towards the body and tie securely at the shoulder.
- Cut a slit in the middle of the bodice piece. Slip over doll’s head and tie at waist.
- With the wrong side of the fabric for the skirt facing out and with the long side pointed towards the doll’s head, tie the short side of the skirt piece around the waist. Flip skirt down toward doll’s feet.
- Cut a small rectangle of plain fabric for the apron and use two thin strips (the excess cut away from the pillow edging works fabulously!) for the apron bodice. Cross the strips across the chest and lay apron piece across is (pointing toward her head). Tie around waist & flip apron down over skirt.
- Tie bonnet piece around doll’s neck. Make sure to fold back side across the back of head to create a tidy look 🙂
Cloth doll making is an exciting and vibrant art form. Some favorite instruction books are:
About the author: Molly Remer is the co-director of a craft school in Missouri. She is a childbirth and breastfeeding educator as well as a mother, volunteer, author, and artisan.
Copyright © 2005 by Molly M. Remer