Handkerchief Doll


When pioneer children were crossing the plains to the Salt Lake Valley, they didn’t have cars, buses, and airplanes as we do. They walked beside wagons loaded with food, bedding, and seeds for the next season’s crop. There wasn’t room for toys and dolls, so the children learned to make things they could play with. A favorite toy was a doll made from a handkerchief—it was soft and cuddly and brought lots of joy to little pioneer children.

You can pretend that you are a pioneer child and make a doll of your own. You will need a man’s large white handkerchief, 1.13 m of colored lace or eyelet (2.5 cm wide), a ruler, a needle and thread the same color as the eyelet or lace, scissors, an embroidery needle, pink and blue embroidery thread, stuffing, and four pieces of narrow ribbon (25 cm long).

  1. 1.

    Sew a row of lace along one edge of the handkerchief. Sew a second row slightly above the first.

  2. 2.

    On the opposite edge of the handkerchief, find the midpoint, then measure in 9 cm. Embroider a pink French knot (see illustration) for the doll’s nose. Make two blue French-knot eyes 1.25 cm above the nose and about 2.5 cm apart.

  3. 3.

    Wad up enough stuffing to make a ball 5 cm in diameter. To make the doll’s head, place the ball of stuffing under the face you just made, gather the handkerchief tightly around it, and tie it off at the bottom with a piece of double thread. Tie a piece of ribbon into a bow over the double thread to make the neck.

  4. 4.

    Sew two circles of lace around the back of the head for a bonnet.

  5. 5.

    Make arms by rolling the handkerchief at each side of the head and tying in a knot, leaving 2.5 cm at each end for hands.

  6. 6.

    Make three bows out of the ribbon and sew them, equal distances apart, above the lace on the skirt.

[photos] Doll made by Jeanette Andrews; photography by John Luke