Makin' Babies

I knew the title would grab your attention : )

I've always loved primitive dolls and crafts, but I've never attempted to make anything.  Until now that is.  I am having a blast making all these new things, but the rest of the household (all male *sigh*) isn't quite as enthused. 

Actually, it's been quite funny (from a female perspective) because they got all excited seeing me in the kitchen holding a baking pan in the middle of the day.  I generally don't spend much time in the kitchen unless I have to.  I'm a horrible cook and I don't think I inherited any baking skills either.  Anway, the guys weren't impressed at all when they opened the oven door to see what smelled so good and found this:

Cole said, "can we eat it?"
"Well then why are you wasting propane?"
Good question, huh?

Nonetheless, I was on a Baby Makin' mission and the best directions I can give you about making a cloth doll is:  buy a pattern.  I tried to draw my own pattern for a simple rag doll and it was so horrible it ended up in the trash.  What I can tell you is how to antique rag dolls so they look like they have been around for decades.

2 cups of hot, hot, hot water
1 cup of Instant Coffee
1 Tablespoon each of Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Vanilla.

(Note:  you'll have plenty left over - just refrigerate it until next time.  You don't have to reheat it, the hot water is used to dissolve the instant coffee)

Mix it all up and paint your doll with it.  I used a sponge brush and it worked great.  Then you pop your baby in the oven and bake her for 10 minutes on each side at 175 - 200 degrees.  If she isn't fairly dry to the touch, keep flipping over and baking for 2 - 5 minutes at a time, checking often so you don't burn the house down.

She'll come out looking like she's been played with, left out in the rain and drug through the dirt for 50 years or more.

The longer you leave her in there and the dryer she becomes, the greater the distortion.

Here's one that I took out a little earlier than recommended:

She's still antiqued, just lightly and probably what most people would prefer.  (I'm forever over-baking things!)

The face details had me scratchin' my head.  I like the looks of sculpted noses, but as you can see, I need some more practice.  You lightly pencil draw the nose then it's in through the top of the head with a needle and out at the top of one side of the nose.  Dig in and poke the needle out to the other penciled line.  Tiny stich down on the same side, dig and poke out on the opposite penciled line repeat, repeat, repeat.  Obviously I don't know what to do once you get to the nostrils, so I won't try to explain - lol.

After looking at that I thought maybe I should sculpt the nose before baking.


Sculpting the nose first made this one turn out looking like the brown-noser I used to work with!  

How about NO nose?

Naw.  Makes it look like I don't know how to make noses.

So, my new style is:

No nostrils!

Now, my next step will be to take the babies shopping with me so I can buy thread that matches the color of their baked skin and all will be well : )

I made the little dresses for them too. They are baked separately using the same process as the dolls.  The first ones of them also ended up in the trash.  But persistence and practice does eventually pay off : )  My babies aren't perfect, they have faces only a mother could love, but they are special because they're my first attempts.  

 May Lou and Mable



When (IF) I get better at this, I'll link them up to some parties : )


  1. I am blown away by your most recent posts... you are soooo computer savvy with the printed material and all! My favorite doll is the black kitty!! I think you should make an animal doll for each one of your animals. Even the albino pea chick!

  2. My goodness ! I just discovered your blog -Wow I've had the best time browsing your posts -you are amazing -You need to see your items on etsy -You are now listed under my favorites.

  3. Not gonna lie...was a bit freaked out by the doll in the oven. hahaha.

    Love the little black kitty though. :)


  4. You go Coleen! How cute! And I love your hubby who just doesn't understand...huh? Mine either! I actually like the no nose doll (looks more prim to me that way)... and the red head is a cutey pa-tutey!

  5. P.S. You are not a horrible cook! Love the dolls, super cute.

  6. These are AMAZING!! I love primitives, but have never attempted to make anything primitive. These are just incredible!

  7. Hi Coleen,
    Your "babies" are SO cute. I love how they seem to have their own personalities. Thanks for showing us the process of baking the babies (that just doesn't sound right). I'm not a cook either so it would be something for me to have something baking in the oven too.
    Love their clothes too....they are perfect!

  8. You get linking them up now Coleen, they are all gorgeous. You did a fantastic job on ALL of them.

    That is what prim is about... Love the brown noser you worked with... hahaha... I have worked with a few of them too in my day... now I work with all men, so much easier.

    Can't wait to see what you do next.

    Hugs, Deb

  9. Coleen,
    Your dolls are amazing and I think you should submit them to Stampington and Company, PRIMS magazine. Have you seen this magazine? I don't subscibe but I have looked at it when I'm at Barnes and Nobel and I think they'd fit right in :)

  10. Coleen those babies are party ready...The are adorable, really. Love the one in the the gingerbread story. Funny about your boys, just whip up a box of brownies, they'll be satisfied. Lezlee

  11. OK....I've always wondered how to antique, and these look great. The dolls are so precious, I especially loved them aged! I'm still giggling over the baby in the oven, that is so something I would do....and I'm not sure that it's normal to make that connection with someone. ;o)

  12. They look great! Have you ever tried just dyeing the fabric before making the dolls, with tea, or left over coffee? Dye with tea first & dry, then dab with coffee for the more spotted & stained look. Much simpler and no dolls in the oven.

  13. They look great! Have you ever tried just dyeing the fabric before making the dolls, with tea, or left over coffee? Dye with tea first & dry, then dab with coffee for the more spotted & stained look. Much simpler and no dolls in the oven.

  14. Forgot to mention, you just soak the fabric in hot tea... the longer, the darker it will be after drying. Then if you want spots and stains, dab here and there with left over hot coffee & or more tea, all done before making up the dolls. I just put it in the sink.

  15. I totally love the dolls, u are so hornest to making small mistakes, thats fine, awsome, look at mine, they are totally wierd haha,, love your blog, thanks for showing your great work.. Helle :)

  16. Colleen, I don't know how many of these dolls you make, but in Downtown Brainerd there is the business called The Olde Open Window and she is into primitivies and she might be interested in consigning them for you. You should check it out.


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