Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lovely Rita Re-Doll -- making a stuffed doll out of fabric remnants

Rag doll repurposed from fabric scraps, denim and burlap
I love to sew, but I don't like all the bits of fabric left over from every project. It starts with the larger pieces from cutting out a pattern, and continues with the small bits snipped from seam edges.  

I toss all this surplus fabric into a paper bag I keep in my sewing room. In a previous post, I described the cat pillows made from these scraps.


fabric scraps

But even with 3 cats, I can only make so many little pillows. So I came up with another use for leftover fabric -- a stuffed doll made from denim, burlap, inseams and  cuffs from the clothes I repurpose for other things. I call her "Rita the Re-Doll."

I drew a simple pattern on an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper. I cut the front from the leg of kids' blue jeans.
pattern for repurposed rag doll
(I probably should have used the discolored part where the pocket used to be, since I couldn't use it for one of my bags.) Rita's backside came from a large burlap bag I scored from a local hardware store. (You'll see why I chose burlap later on.)
burlap for repurposed rag doll
To keep the burlap from raveling, I sewed around the edge.
burlap for repurposed rag doll
For Rita's hair, I cut the side seams from several pairs of denim jeans. To give her personality, I chose bright colors, like these yellow-green striped pants.
making doll hair from pant seams
The next step was tricky -- I pinned 6 seam strips to Rita's head. The first time, I did it the wrong way, with the strips fanning away from the head. Here's the right way, strips pointed toward the center, pinned to the right side of the denim.
making doll hair from pant seams
I basted the strips to Rita's head. Before sewing the burlap to the denim, I tied all the hair stands together, to keep them from falling into the seam.
making doll hair from pant seams
Then I sewed the front and back together, leaving the bottom edge open. Happily, the hair made it easy to turn Rita right-side out. I just reached inside, grabbed the wrapped strips, and pulled. I hope it didn't hurt!
making doll hair from pant seams
With my fingers, I pushed out Rita's head and arms. Then I began stuffing her, starting at the top. I cut the fabric remnants into small pieces and picked out any hard bits (like snaps). When she was tightly packed, I sewed the denim oval I'd cut from the same pant leg to the bottom of Rita's skirt. (The oval keeps Rita standing tall.)
base for denim rag doll
The oval didn't fit perfectly, so after I attached it to Rita's body, I trimmed the edges around the seam. She was almost done. All she needed was button eyes and a broad smile (made from part of a cherry red zipper).
Rag doll repurposed from fabric scraps, denim and burlap
What's that striped bikini for, you may ask? Not merely modesty. You see, Rita has a job -- holding electronic devices. Like TV remotes.
remote holder -- Rag doll repurposed from fabric scraps, denim and burlap
And cell phones.
cell phone holder -- Rag doll repurposed from fabric scraps, denim and burlap
The bikini, btw, is made from the sleeve and bottom edges of a toddler's fleece top.

What about that burlap back? It's for Rita's other job -- keeping track of notes and coupons. She's like a tiny bulletin board!
bulletin board -- Rag doll repurposed from fabric scraps, denim and burlap
I hope those pushpins don't give her a headache! I'll have to put Rita to the test for awhile to see how well she works. But as a plain old stuffed doll, she does just fine!


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