During the time of the pioneers, money was scarce and, therefore, so were toys and dolls. Most households, however, had a rag basket to use for various activities. A favorite activity for young pioneer girls was to make rag dolls. There were more complicated dolls that required sewing and less complicated dolls that young girls could make by themselves. Making rag dolls is a great activity for modern kids as well, since it teaches them about history.
The Classic Rag Doll
Fold your piece of fabric in half and cut out the basic doll shape. You can use an existing doll or a gingerbread man cookie cutter to assist you with the shape. Make sure you cut through both layers of fabric to get two doll-shaped fabric pieces.
Lay the two fabric pieces on top of each other, right sides together, and sew them together all the way around, leaving an opening of about 2 inches.
Turn the doll right side out and stuff it with cotton balls, batting, newspapers, rice or practically anything to fill out the shape of the doll.
Hand sew the 2-inch opening closed. Use fabric paint to paint a face on the doll. Stitch several strands of yarn onto the top of the head for the doll's hair.
No-Sew Rag Doll
Crumble up a piece of paper to make a ball that has a circumference of about 4 inches.
Cut out a piece of fabric that is about 8 inches square.
Hold the ball of paper in your hand and drape the square of fabric over it, pinching it closed at the bottom of the ball and letting the rest of the fabric drape.
Tie a piece of ribbon around the pinched area of the fabric, directly underneath the ball. You now have a simple doll with a head and a dress.