If you are looking for beautifully crafted handmade cloth dolls the best I’ve seen are made by Erin Eveland.

Modern Handmade Rag Dolls

Created from New, Reclaimed and Vintage Material

stitch in the eye

Clicking or touching the icon above will link to the  STITCH IN THE EYE Facebook Page.

This is Erin’s Story:

My experience in making rag dolls has been a long one. It started about ten years ago when I came across a book that had instructions for “How to Make a T-shirt Rag Doll.” The pattern was nothing more than a stretched out, gingerbread type of man – without a face or clothing. It was extremely simple and fun to do for my little girls. While I have expounded tenfold from that fun simple pattern, I believe that if I never came across that T-shirt Rag Doll pattern, I wouldn’t be making dolls today.

As my daughters grew, so did their collection of handmade dolls. If I put all the dolls together, you would see doll evolution taking place. The first ones were made from (sure) T-shirts, but also things like linens, worn denim, scrap fabric and any leftovers I could get my hands on. At one point, I even ripped out the stuffing from the crib bumpers I had made to stuff the dolls. That was a long time ago, or so it feels, but as I progressed I realized two things: One, even though my daughters loved them, these were truly archaic rag dolls. Secondly, I wanted to construct a rag doll that brought about the authentic look of a rag doll combined with a modern, artisan touch. That would be years later…

My journey to create a unique rag doll has been a long one. I have created more patterns than I can recall and unsuccessfully modified others to no avail. I have made many styles of rag dolls but I kept coming back to the solid body pattern – just like that first single T-shirt doll I created. Side note: It is rare to see a solid body cloth doll!

But then – that was just the body…

I have painted faces, used buttons and fabric for eyes, left noses in, left them out. I have tried multiple styles of faces, and even when I came close to thinking I found the right one, I would become unsatisfied again.

At one point, someone gave me needlepoint floss they no longer wanted. Honestly, I didn’t want it either – needlepoint looked like a lot of work – but my children were very young and I figured it would come in handy sometime. Then came that day, I decided to stitch on one of my doll’s faces. It was exactly what I was looking for! Even then, I didn’t know the precise face pattern I was going to use, but I knew I wanted to embroider them. While I love the embroidered faces of the dolls, they are extremely time consuming and labor intensive. I realize why hand embroidery has somewhat been a lost art in the doll making world. I enjoy all kinds of dolls and faces, but for mine I decided I had to spend the extra time required to bring out the character I wanted for these little ladies.

Deciding on the hair for my dolls came from an odd experience. I was at a sale where an elderly woman sat tucked in the back crocheting long, fat pieces of linen together. I couldn’t imagine what she was making – usually people crochet with yarn, but not her. So, I was inclined to ask. Coming up to her, I could see she had a few small different balls of fabric. The fabric was approximately 2 inches wide and where a long piece of fabric ended, a new one was tied to create a continuous chain. She was very warm and welcoming regarding my query, although she kind of laughed at me when I asked her what she made out of it. “Why, all sorts of things,” she told me; potholders, table runners, rugs, bags etc. I went home and tried making a few things crocheting fat pieces of fabric together myself.

It was interesting in the fact projects using strips of fabric like this are faster, and heavier. But what I found really interesting was the thought of using densely woven fabric with a rough edge – it frayed a little but not much. Somewhere, in my search for the right rag doll hair, came the idea of using fabric like this for the dolls. I think it adds an original touch while maintaining a quality ‘rag time’ look. It’s also fun to braid, swoop, crunch or straighten. Fun fact: For some reason I can’t comprehend, the fabric-hair doesn’t really tangle. Believe me, it’s been put to the test!

Through years of painstaking trial and failure, I was finally able to create the look I desired for a Handcrafted Modern Rag Doll.

Thanks for reading about Stitch In The Eye! ~ERIN



Finding an image to use in a recent post entitled, What Is Queen Anne’s Lace?, I discovered one of those pieces of art that imparted a wonderful feeling of emotion. The work transported me to a setting where I could feel the warmth of the sunshine, hear the quiet, and absorb the beauty of nature. The artist is Elizabeth Ellison. I highly recommend you take a look at her website, or if traveling to North Carolina, visit her studio/gallery in Bryson City. You may be compelled to purchase one of her works.

This is an example of her work that was inspired by a Tom Petty song:

Elizabeth Ellison



Elizabeth Ellison


Elizabeth Ellison has exhibited and sold widely throughout the United States for more than 30 years; and often teaches workshops at various institutions.

Clicking on, or touching her name will link to her website