A birthday doll and a giveaway!


Suzanne and SallyAs a little girl I loved raggy dolls and I had quite a few. My favourites were an enormous Holly Hobbie (long gone) and a scrappy little thing with a soft body and a plastic head and hands (!) which my Grampy bought me on a day-trip when I was three. I named her Suzanne and she went everywhere with me for many years.

Suzanne is old and frail now, and lives in a box. To be honest, it's the best place for her - she's quite scary looking with her crazy eyes, thumb-sucking and matted old-lady hair. (I'm not really sure why I loved her so much, except that Grampy bought her).

At 40 (yesterday!) I still love raggy dolls and have bought several over the last few years ("for the kids") including some special handmade dolls and of course I made Pixie Moon who you've seen many times on the blog.

A few weeks ago Stitch Craft Create sent me a review copy of the newly released book My Rag Doll by Corrine Crasbercu. As Mum is the sewing expert of the family, I asked her to look at the book and give me some feedback, then I forgot about it as the review wasn't scheduled until next week... Until Mum rang the doorbell to wish me a happy birthday, with this in her hands...
Meet Sally, made for my 40th birthday by my mum
Isn't she adorable? I think she looks like a "Sally". (I'm pretty sure my Holly Hobbie doll was also a Sally.) Making her secretly and in a hurry, Mum didn't have time to separate the yarn used for the hair. I've done that now (it looks fab!) so I'll show you soon and I'm going to try making her some clothes before the end of the week... which brings me on to the book.

First things first - this is a truly beautiful book. The dolls are expertly photographed and styled. It all looks so lovely that even my mum (who doesn't like dolls at all) wanted to make one - that should tell you a lot. If you like the photography style of 'Mollie Makes', this will be right up your street. There are 11 different dolls which are all based on the same template, and so many lovely outfits I'm not sure which is my favourite. I wish the clothes were sized to fit Little Miss as they are completely adorable!
'My Rag Doll' book review

Now an important caveat: This book is not for beginners. If you are a doll-maker, or a sewist with lots of experience, you might just love it. Mum's feedback was that a less experienced person might struggle with the (incomplete) instructions and things like the lack of seam allowances. She hadn't made a doll before and relied on her years of sewing knowledge to make sense of the instructions - as the author is French I wonder if some details were lost in translation?

Another frustration - it's necessary to enlarge the pattern templates, so a photocopier is needed - my doll is currently shoe-less as Mum had to go to the post office each time she needed something printed at the right size (her printer can photocopy but not enlarge). Some of the materials lists could also be more detailed - for example the doll is made from an "old sheet dyed with tea" with no alternatives. (FYI Mum bought a metre of calico and probably had enough left for three more dolls.) Knitting materials for a hat say only "small ball of navy blue and grey cotton yarn" without stating the weight - you have to read on to find out that it's knit on 4mm needles which gives an indication of which weights might be suitable, but that may not be so easy for someone who doesn't know about yarn.
image from My Rag Doll - used with permission
I've read a few disappointed reviews, and as a beginner at sewing myself, I can totally understand the frustration of those who'd hoped to make these beautiful dolls only to discover the instructions require a fair bit of prior knowledge. It's a shame the disappointed reviewers didn't know this before buying the book, because there is a lot of really nice content and for someone who knows what they are doing there's a whole lot of inspiration. (Did I mention that it's really beautiful?)

 If I could sew as well as I knit, this book would be perfect for me as I am not good at reading written instructions and details, preferring to look at the pictures for inspiration, and then get on with it. Sadly I'll need some practice before I'm in that position, but luckily, with Sally to work from, I'm pretty sure I can make her some nice clothes and accessories, starting with my existing doll clothes patterns. I'll let you know!

If you're a good sewist (or know one!), or you just fancy a challenge after reading what I've written, there is a chance to get your hands on a copy of the book so you can decide for yourself. All you have to do is to leave a comment on this post, telling me whether you had a favourite doll when you were a child, and what happened to it. I'll draw a random winner from the answers next Wednesday 21st May. Good luck! 

26 comments

  1. What a beautiful doll. I too had a doll almost exactly the same as that (Mine has dark hair) I called Suzanne! I still have mine some where in my house.
    So glad you had a really special birthday my lovely friend.
    xxxxxxxxx

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  2. Belated birthday wishes, I hope you had a most wonderful time.
    I'd love to enter the comptetion. I loved dolls, still do if truth be known and I had many all of which I still have. Some played music and some were just soft bodied which included my favourite doll and she was also uncannily called Ruth, I suspect that's why she was bought for me as young child. They are all safely kept in boxes still.

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  3. My favourite doll was called Mary. She was a present for my fifth birthday (nearly 64 years ago). Mary went everywhere with me...including 5 years in the States and 3 years in South Africa. Unfortunately, a few years ago I was very hard up, and had an electricity bill to pay. Very reluctantly I sold Mary. I only got a few pounds for her (nowhere near enough to pay the bill) and I've regretted it ever since! Blessings

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  4. My favourite doll was a rag doll, made by my Great-Aunt Nora. The doll was, of course, called Nora. She had long plaits, a hat, shoes and the most beautiful dark red dress with velcro fastenings. I guess she is tucked away somewhere in my parents' attic. They never throw anything away.

    My daughter has a rag doll made by my very clever sister. If I were to win the book, she would be the recipient.

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  5. I had a favourite knitted clown when I was little, along with my tiny tears and both are still with me (in the attic). I made a rag doll for my little girl for her last birthday, using two pairs of newborn tights with some bits of fabric. It now sits in her room wearing one of her beautiful baby dresses and she loves it (she's now 4 and wants to learn to make clothes for her dolls :-))

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  6. The pictures look lovely, and would be great inspiration to get into doll-making! I don't remember having a favourite doll, but I do remember learning to make doll clothes at my grandmother's side when I was 8. I love your new Sally doll!

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  7. I've only kept one doll from my childhood. It's a walking doll. Poor thing has been boxed up for decades.

    I did have a Barbie who I designed clothes for, but that one went to a good home many years ago.

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  8. I had a favorite doll for when I was a child and I still have it in my baby trunk :)
    heatheranne99 at gmail dot com

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  9. I had a favourite remote control car (Audi Quattro) & favourite helicopter game. I wasn't a girly girl! My nieces, however are very girly girls & would love dolls that look like them!

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  10. I had a doll called Katie, with lovely long dark hair which I styled over and over. I also used to make her clothes, both sewn and knitted, as my Nan was a seamstress and fabulous knitter and taught me these skills. She was passed on to my daughter, 30 years later, and is now very much the worse for wear, but has been well-loved.

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  11. I had a hard plastic doll called Lindy after my cousin I was persuaded to part with Lindy to go to a neighbours child. I loved making clothes for one of my dolls from the sleeves of my dresses. My dresses all ended up short sleeved . I also made a 'biker' rag doll when I was 10.

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  12. I had several dolls as a child - they were passed on to my nieces!!
    Rag dolls were the first thing I made when I learned to sew!

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    Replies
    1. I've just looked at this book on Amazon - have you read the reviews????

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  13. Nice you picked the name Sally!

    When I was a child I had two dolls, I can't remember if they had names but the first one was a girl doll which my Mum made clothes for and my Dad made a wardrobe to keep them in. I got all this for Christmas one year. A couple of years later I got a baby doll which came with clothes in a carry-cot that my Mum had made.

    Although the wardrobe was given to another family when I grew up, they gave it back to my Mum when they moved house and it is in her loft!

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  14. What a beautiful birthday present! I had a couple of the Holly Hobbie dolls when I was a little girl and I loved one of them so much my nana had to knit her a jumper to cover her threadbare bits! I think that was when I first started to knit too. Hope you had a wonderful birthday. Xx

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  15. She is lovely :) I don't remember having a special doll when I was younger. I know I had one as I have a crocheted blanket my grandma made for me to use with the doll, but I don't remember her really. My favourite was my blue rabbit, I still have him. He wears a little coat my dad made as I carried him everywhere and he has a hand shaped threadbare patch where my fingers always held him :)

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  16. I had lots of dolls as a child, but I can't remember a particular favourite. Dolls are lovely though, it's always lovely to see children playing with them!

    Jane x

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  17. One of my dreams is to make myself a rag doll, as my girls are now grown up. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. I would give it a good try as I enjoy sewing and have recently enrolled on a patchwork and quilting course.

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  18. OMGosh; what a book! I grew up with Holly Hobbie. I had this sheet set that was worn but oh so smooth and soft. My mum loves dolls. She didn't have any while growing up so now she's all into them.

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  19. I wanted a cloth doll for years...and one very special birthday i was given one as a present from my mum!

    She was a gorgeous doll called "Frizzy Lizzy" with curly yellow bunches and a pink dress!! (Very modern).

    She was a 'Bang on the door' toy...and so special because of the meaning behind the gift and of how she was with me through many years of being in hospital as a child. Teddy Bears and cloth dolls are simple - - but special!

    I would love to be entered for this fantastic giveaway - my email is: lfountain1(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk

    Thank you x

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  20. I had 2 favorite dolls as a child. 1 was Orange Blossom...from Strawberry Shortcake, lol. I loved her and took her everywhere. I lost my first one, which my mom replaced but I've no idea what happened to the second! My other favorite was "Bon Bon Bunny" who stayed home for bedtime. A little soft pink bunny with plastic hands (paws?), one which is holding a carrot, and a plastic face (with a hole in the mouth to "eat" the carrot. My mom sewed a pompon to the Top Of His Head at my insistence (lol) and I have him still today!

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  21. My favorite doll didn't have a brand name and I can't remember what I called her, but I distinctly remember seeing her in the sweet shop window and saving up money from running errands for my grandad to buy her. My mum made her a dressing gown - because it was winter and she just had a summer frock - the doll, not my mum!!

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  22. the doll sucking thumb i had her too and i called mine annabelle loved her...

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  23. I can not tell you HOW LONG i have been looking for that doll that sucks her thumb. I had the same doll ! I received that doll at my mothers hospital childrens christmas party when I was just 9 years old ( i will be 43 this year) I named her Poppy because her body had poppy's on it. I LOVED that doll she went every where with me as well. But I had to get rid of her because I had so many things accumulated and my girls wouldn't play with her any ways because she was so old. But I miss that doll and I'm trying to figure out the make of the doll if you have that information I would be so grateful.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Allyson, I have looked at the doll and can't find anything to say the brand, and there is no other identifying information on her except a stamp which says Hong Kong on the back of her neck. I'm so sorry that I can't help you any further :(

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