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Topsy 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.
That we 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 upper body.

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 mistress.

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 each doll.

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 neck line.

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 websites.
Links to this website are more than welcome. Thanks



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