Annabelle after 3 years of love.

I was recently asked in an interview whether I make toys for my girls or for home decor.  Without needing to think, I responded, "Absolutely for my kids."  If you stepped inside my house, this would be quite evident.

Bed head.

My middle and youngest daughter still play quite heavily with their handmade toys. My oldest sleeps with a few, and uses her dolls primarily for sewing doll clothes.  But between the younger two, their collection of toys moves back and forth, from beds, bedrooms, the living room, to Grandma's house, etc.  These toys travel.

I sometimes sigh when I pick a handmade doll off the floor, or find one crammed at the bottom of the bed, and take a closer look at their signs of wear love.  But then I remind myself - this is why I make them.


So I quickly pat their hair back into place and tuck the doll back into their bed, doll bed, or trunk.

Gumdrop after 7 months of love.

Sometimes I know beforehand that the yarn I choose for hair won't hold up very well over time.  Other times, it's just trial-and-error.  I knew that the yarn I used for Annabelle (Blue Sky Alpaca) was going to be fuzzy.  I was ok with that.  And i had no doubt that Gumdrop's hair was doomed :). 

Gumdrop's hair after a few "scrunches"

Still, my youngest thinks Gumdrop looks perfect (big advantage of making things for little ones), so I just scrunch Gumdrop's ponytails and put her back on my daughter's bed.

 Rose Doll after 4 years of love.

Yarn choice is important when considering signs of wear love.  I think wool ultimately holds up well.  But, unless a doll just sits on the shelf, even the best wool yarn will show signs of love over time.  My middle daughter sleeps next to her Rose Doll every night.  The top of the doll's head is a bit fuzzy now, but her ponytails look great, all things consdered.  I feel like I could "clean-up" Rose Doll's head a bit if I wanted.  Hmmm...I wonder if a sweater shaver would work?  But then again...why?  Toys are meant to be loved.

Mohair, pictured below, holds up, too.

(Floppy) Poppy after 4+ years of love.

Still, floppy necks will happen over time.

Along with other signs of love.

Sometimes, these signs can be cleaned up...

Bunting Doll after almost 8 years of love.

Sometimes this "love" is hard to remove.  That's eyeliner on the Bunting Doll above.  I tried to remove it years ago.  Nowadays, it reminds me how much my middle daughter liked to "explore" the vanity/bath area at our old home.  I remember the day that I found my daughter perched precariously on a chair (she was about 1 1/2 ), coloring on this doll.  Seems like yesterday.

I'll spare you a photo of the handmade doll that fell victim to a stomach virus...as in, my middle daughter got sick in bed...and the doll was next to her.  :(  

That doll ended up being scrubbed and eventually put in the washing machine...and she's still stained.  I knit her a turtleneck sweater which mostly covers the stains.  Mostly.

Sigh.  Poor kid and poor doll.

Kit, Chloe, Louise Doll after 4+ years of love.

In a few cases, I plan to "do something" to these loved dolls and toys.  Like the doll's leg pictured above.  That's silly putty (?!?).  Why was silly putty in my daughter's bed?  I don't know.  But in this case, I plan to replace the leg at some point.  Easy enough.

For the most part, however, I'll leave the "love" alone.  

When the toys I make my kids start getting dusty sitting on the shelf...when I stop picking them up off the floor and seeing new signs of love...I'll know it's time for me to re-evaluate making additional toys for my girls.

But for now, these toys are loved.


  1. What a lovely post. It's difficult sometimes but important to keep in mind why we make these very special gifts for our children. But in the end, when we see a well-loved toy, it is even more special. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. How lovely to see these well-used dolls! It is a 3D expression of love and appreciation. Thanks for sharing.

    1. These photos are just a sampling...I don't think there is one toy I've made them that is in "new/perfect" condition. Even the doll up in my header just had an arm sewn back on! It was coming loose.

  3. To see your dolls in 'used' condition is the best vote of thanks the children can give you, the doll that sits unplayed with on a shelf was not wanted much. I am about to buy your book and wonder if I'll chicken out in the fear of producing a little doll that nobody could love! Wish me luck, I sew well, but embroidering features worries me, I don't want to make one that nobody wants to play with....

    1. Wishing you luck! I'm sure what you make will be loved - but I can totally relate to your fear. I've made clothes and toys for adults/kids who were completely underwhelmed by their handmade gifts. That never feels good. But I realize that handmade is not for everyone. Luckily, my girls appreciate it. I'd love to see what you make. Virtual appreciation helps!

  4. Such a perfect post for those of us who make dolls for children :-) They WILL be loved, and carry those marks proudly, just like the Velveteen Rabbit.


  5. This is such a beautiful post! Sometimes I worry about whether a fabric (like fleece, etc) will pill, or look shabby after a while - but really, after a while They Should, right? And the little ones love them all the more for the years of cuddles they have given.

  6. Nice dolls! Maybe you could get some dolls your kids dont play with as often(and to stock up on new ones) and donate them to kids who dont have presents for christmas.