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History of the "Rag" Muslin / Fabric Doll

History of the fabric muslin rag doll

"Rag" dolls or "Fabric" dolls date back as early as the time when man first wore woolen cloth, thus there were "rags" around that could be rolled or roughly sewn into a doll like shape for children. Early American dolls are based on fabric/muslin dolls. Antique collectors today and yesterday tended to keep away from the "rag" doll because they were much harder to keep nice, weren't as pretty, and didn't survive as well as a "china" type of doll might have. But the fabric/muslin dolls that have made it down through the centuries are much cherished today.

    Cloth dolls could be dressed pain or fancy depending on the era of the time the doll was made. Some dolls have elegant needlework or embroidery, depending on the doll maker.  Dolls can be stuffed with other fabrics, sawdust, straw, or cotton.  Dolls of today are usually stuffed with batting, or polyester fiberfill.  Some dolls today are stuffed with sawdust, then painted.  One will pay "top" dollar for this excellent and unique type of artist work.

    Doll faces could be painted or sewn (needle point).  Depending on the artist or doll maker, the faces could be plain or highly detailed.  They could be very primitive or very elegantly done.  Dolls were VERY appreciated by children in those days, after all, it was probably their only "toy" and it was handmade by mom or Grandma.

 Early cloth doll bodies were homemade with scraps of fabric.  Nothing was thrown out or wasted back then.  Most were constructed with a front and a back including legs. The arms were attached separately. One piece body dolls were produced commercially in the early 1800's in many European countries.  By 1840 muslin bodies were being made that could sit.
So many changes throughout the years....yet the handmade muslin fabric doll is still a favorite amongst Americans young and old of today and yesterday.


Recommended Books on Fabric Doll Making & Sculpting


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Sewing Muslin Dolls Info Page

Sewing Muslin Fabric Dolls Photo Page 1 - 2 - 3 - 4









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