Using Vintage Fabric for your Rag Dolls & Plushies

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One of my favorite things is to collect vintage fabric.  My second favorite thing to do— use them when sewing rag dolls and plushies!  They give your finished soft toys a wonderful quirky sense of design and whimsy.  I think what is the most fun is the different kind of prints you have find.  They are so different than the designs that are available for sale now.   Many of the prints from back in the day are flowers too-  perfect for a rag doll.

vintage fabric for soft toys and plushies // plushie patterns

Another thing I just love is the vintage embroidery fabrics.  Those little stitched hankies or table runners are great to use when sewing your dolls & plushies.  There are a lot out there that have tiny holes, yellow stains, undone stitches or ravled hems.  This is a great way to use the spots that are in great shape, but you are just using a little part of it, so it works.

1) Wash your vintage fabric before using it.  You have no idea where that has been stored and you might even find little weavels or bugs when you unfold it.  Another reason to wash it would be because the colors are sometimes not set and will run when you wash your finished doll later.  You don’t want your new doll to turn totally pink because the colors bled.

using vintage fabric for plushies 2)  Fabric Content- does it matter?  Not really.  Whether it is polyester or cotton or a mix…. it will be ok in the end.  The thing that you want to look out for is stretch.  The only warning though with stretchy vintage fabric is to watch the direction of the stretch.  You will want to make sure the stretch is going up and down on the template.  NOT SIDE TO SIDE!!  This will make your arms, legs, ears and body fat and misshaped!

vintage fabric heirloom doll

3)  Mix and Match is wonderful!  The great part about using these retro pieces is the way that you can totally mix and match the parts without worrying about sticking a stripe next to a floral.  Just go for it and have some fun!  Along with the mix and match- do this for the front and back of the arms or legs.  Don’t get stuck on having to have them match all the way around.

blossom n bird vintage fabric dolls

4)  Audition before you cut.  Since you are using template you can ‘audition’ the fabric prior to sewing or cutting them.  Make sure you are placing it inside the seam area- you don’t want to miss-position it and have the best part hidden in the seam allowance.  What a drag!  Lay the templates out and move them around on the fabric before you commit completely with the scissors.

What’s your favorite way to use vintage print fabric and embroidery?

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2 Responses

  1. Nina
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    Is the doll used in your illustration of how to mix-match vintage pieces available on your web site? She is faceless with a bonnet.

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