Turvy Doll Tutorial
Written and Designed by
Janet M. Davies
I think this century a Topsy Turvy doll represents to our
children that racism or class systems are not ok.
can have friends of any culture or colour.
I found a free rag doll pattern online and adapted it as you will see
below. I have not given the pattern but have shown you some of my
construction photos. I did not make an actual bodice for the dress,
instead I used what would be the bodice fabric and used that for the
Topsy Turvy dolls appeared in the USA not long before the
Civil War. They were depicted with a dark skinned doll body
at one end, joined to a light skinned doll at the
waist. They were said to be a dark maid/slave and light
Of course today it would be terrible to
have children think that this type of representation was ok.
With the Topsy Turvy doll I have made they represent
two friends that are joined at the hip. I live in New
Zealand a very multi cultural country. No culture or colour
of a person is better in any way then another. I see my
dolls as friends; equals in all ways.
I made the hair different
for each doll. The darker doll I used Turkey Stitch to
produce curls. I sewed cream coloured ribbons in the hair at
the back and front.
A gathering of lace was placed
around the neck on both dolls
The bodice fabric and the skirt fabric is different for
On each skirt I made a folded down 1 cm (1/4 inch) strip
which I sewed a row of gathered lace underneath.
On the light doll I made rows of plats and then hand sewed
them onto the head for hair. I placed a gathered piece of
lace on top of the head.
Two skirts are made and then the bottom hems sewn together.
The skirt top is made with an elasticised waist. I then
stitched the edge of the waist onto the body at 6 places so
the skirts can not be removed.
When adapting your rag doll pattern make sure the arms from
each doll do not overlap each other.
1. Sew the hands onto each body.
2.Sew the waist lines together.
3. Sew all parts together leaving a gap for stuffing at each
4. Stuff the body firmly and sew up neck gaps.
5. Embroider the face on each face. Traditionally one doll
was sleeping and the other awake.
Make sure that when you
stuff the neck area in the head it is firm so the head does
not flop over to much.
Sew the head onto the body in a circular shape not as a
long shape as this will help the head not fall over.
I used 2 strands of 6 stranded embroidery thread to
needlework the faces.
Make the stitches quite small so the stitches do not get
caught when playing.
The instructions in JMD Designs
retail pattern packs are a lot more
detailed than what is given here in this tutorial above.
The designs/patterns on this
page may be used for free,
for your personal non profit use only. They are not to be copied or cut and
pasted into other
Links to this website are
more than welcome. Thanks