Saturday, September 12, 2009

The dollmakers

I love handmade dolls. I grew up treasuring a ragdoll that my great-grandmother made for my mother, who passed it to my older sister, who eventually (reluctantly) passed it to me. The doll must have been 40 years old by the time I got her, but she was completely intact, if a bit dirty, and came with a beautiful hand-sewn wardrobe. My favorite piece was a pink dress with a drop-waist pleated skirt.

25 years later, dolls inspired me to start sewing. Specifically, Hillary Lang's Make-a-Long dolls, Olive and Archie, got me hooked.

image courtesy of Hillary Lang

When I first saw Olive and Archie on Hillary's blog, I had to have one, so I bought the pattern and my sewing life began. Hillary doesn't usually have Olives and Archies for sale in her shop, so if you want one, you'll have to sew one, too (or become my friend so I can make one for you).

Jodie of Ric-Rac is another doll maker I admire. Her dolls have such friendly expressions, and they are always decked out in clothes I wish came in people sizes. Jodie occasionally lists dolls in her Etsy shop, but you have to act quickly.

image courtesy of Jodie at Ric Rac

Mimi Kirchner's dolls are so artful and lovely, I can only dream of approaching her level of skill and imagination. Even at 34, I can imagine spending afternoons dressing these girls up in their stylish wardrobes. A few of Mimi's creations are for sale in her shop.

image courtesy of Mimi Kirchner

The fact is, though you have to get lucky to snag one of the dolls above, there are plenty of gorgeous handmade dolls for sale on Etsy. Take your pick:

image courtesy of frazzydazzles

image courtesy of SweetSukie

image courtesy of Bit of Whimsy Dolls

image courtesy of AntheaArt


  1. Thank you for liking one of my little girls enough to include her in a gallery that holds some of my favourite doll artists too!

  2. Thanks so much for popping one of my girls in this dolly post. I also adore the work of Mimi kirchner- she is my doll-making hero !!!

  3. What a wonderful gallery of dolls to be featured in! I am honored. The doll your great-grandmother made must have been truly loved to have retained her wardrobe all those years... lovely story :)

  4. I am traveling at the moment, on my way back a country wedding in Oregon, but I have my laptop with me and was happy to see your post about dolls. I share your love of handmade dolls and when I was a little girl I saved up my pocket money and bought an antique bisque doll's head and made her a rag body and clothes, rather than have a boring factory-made doll. I never planned to make dolls for my etsy shop. It just happened! I always notice beautiful hand made dolls and today I saw some really incredible vintage rag dolls with intricate bead work clothes, at an American Indian museum. I photographed them and will post them on my blog when I get home. My etsy shop is in vacation mode until next weekend but you can see all my multicultural hand made doll families, with links to my blog and etsy shop at

  5. how cute are these. Perfect for a little lady.



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