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Tiny Friends: Dolls

May 31, 2013

by Cate Fitt handmade and vintage goods

The child who loves a doll has a friend that becomes a vessel for deep affection and wild flights of adventure. Playing with dolls teaches sharing, kindness, and the permanent consequences of giving bad haircuts. For the unlucky, they teach about loss. Oh, the hours I spent searching for my beloved Cookie Moore, the little pocket doll my grandmother made for me. That doll held the magical possibility that tiny people could actually exist. Her replica never had the same resonant power.


[Clockwise from top left: Folk art sewing and craft doll from ARTinBOXES; Antique African American doll from yeoldewish; Vintage Hungarian doll from CitySparrows; Mexican folk art doll from myclosetshelf]

Some dolls evoke a bittersweet nostalgia for hours of long forgotten play.


[Clockwise from top left: Sasquatch doll by acuriousbrood; Waldorf-inspired folk art doll by Wonderwul; Eco-friendly rag doll by HereAtSmallGoods; Art doll by bitterplum]

The constant companionship of a tiny friend provides a dependable playmate.


[Clockwise from top left: Anatomically correct doll by DollyMamaEugene; Mom with baby dolls by PaulsDolls; Doll in tin by nicolaluke; Mom and newborn dolls by SaintReagansHollow]

Baby dolls can ease the coming of an actual brother or sister.


[Clockwise from top left: “Lourdes” clay art doll by DoubleFoxStudio; Miles Davis art doll by ArtDuritos; Figurative fabric sculpture by CathyCarr; “Miss Scrimshaw” art doll by Twelvemo]

When dolls cross into the realm of art, they still inspire imagination and creativity.

Not every child loves dolls, but some of us have vivid memories of a special doll and times spent together. Do you?

More Posts From Cate

3 Featured Comments

  • LanaManisDesigns

    Lana Manis from LanaManisDesigns said 7 years ago Featured

    I never really played with dolls much as a child. Give me a book to read, paper to draw on, or a tree to climb and I was a happy girl! However, in adulthood, I began to have an appreciation for dolls, especially those of the 18th and 19th centuries. For a few years I made and sold several cloth dolls and hand sculpted paper clay dolls using my own designs and patterns. Although I don't collect them, I do appreciate the handwork and creativity that goes into each one.

  • Twin1656

    Joyce from BundlesOfJoys said 7 years ago Featured

    I too love dolls, you are never too old to hold and cherrish a baby doll. This brought back so many memories for me. My favorite baby doll was the last doll my mother bought for me before she passed away. It was the Christmas when I was seven years old, Santa brought me a Betsy Wetsy doll. My precious doll was lost after my mother died as we were moved to so many places after she passed. My love for dolls has carried on through my shop on Etsy. I so love making baby dolls dressing them in little baby dresses and bonnets. My joy is complete when customers send me pictures of their little ones holding the doll I made for them. Seeing the love on their faces for their new friend, makes my day!

  • knitfitt

    Cate Fitt said 7 years ago Featured

    Thank you all for your comments and wonderful stories. There are many, many amazing & well-crafted dolls here on Etsy. I tried to make a selection that gave a sense of the great number of types available. Some are pure fantasy and some leave nothing to the imagination. Thank goodness, the Etsy community is just as diverse. I do particularly want to express my genuine happiness that so many of you have taken the time to add your own stories here. They add a real richness to the discussion.


  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 7 years ago

    I remember having a baby doll that my mother bought me from a handmade show. It was expensive but I wanted it so bad because it looked so real! My sister and I would play with our dolls for hours! Now my daughter has that baby doll and loves it just as much as I did :)

  • Mindaugas

    Mindaugas said 7 years ago

    I don't know why some grown ups think that kids should enjoy dolls with no face. When I was little, such faceless toys would have been quite scary to me. And, um, to be anatomically correct, I think you need to have a face. Just saying. Anyway, great article.

  • ikabags

    IKA PARIS from ikabags said 7 years ago

    Super post Cate ! I have more than 120 dolls already :))

  • crowdedlittlenest

    Carol Roll from MyCrowdedLittleNest said 7 years ago

    Loved this blog! my whole being is recreating those childhood moments of locking eyes on a beloved doll or toy. Oh if i could only see my Shrinking Violet Doll just once more. Thank you for the smiles, Carol

  • materialrat

    Margarita Rat from PackRatJewelry said 7 years ago

    Great article! I collect dolls in my adulthood years. My most recent addition is my first blythe doll. I cannot wait to get her (: I also have a few hand crocheted dolls which I've made myself; they're all very precious to me. Plus a few fabric dolls, I even have Mister Cat in the boots which I picked up in the antique store awhile ago. Each and every handmade doll is alive; they carry their makers' feelings and thoughts. That is why those dolls all are so valuable for both the maker and the owner.

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 7 years ago

    Cool! I was in love with my Tressy doll for a while. Great post.

  • polkadottydolls

    Lynda Black from polkadottydolls said 7 years ago

    Very inspiring!! =))) I love the wonderful variety of Art Dolls here on Etsy !!! I create the OOAK pOlkadottydolls !! Great Article - I now have a bunch more Art Dolls to be inspired by & enjoy!! ThanK yOu !! =)))

  • agebo

    Ann Cosgrove from acbcDesign said 7 years ago

    I wasn't much of a doll collector as a kid (I loved suffies!) - but I love seeing the art dolls people come up with!


    Susan Pauley from SPAULEY said 7 years ago

    I loved everything Barbie. I had a 1960 Barbie. She would have been worth some money except at some point I decided she should have short hair! Bye-bye ponytail!

  • barkercaed

    Caed Barker from FrogsFairiesAndFelt said 7 years ago

    When I was seven I adored a doll and a teddy bear a man from the dump gave me.

  • macraMe

    Ana Paula from macraMe said 7 years ago

    Wonderful!!! Congrats DoubleFoxStudio!!!! :-) :-)

  • jessgreenleaf

    Jess Greenleaf from GREENLEAFblueberry said 7 years ago

    Dolls and puppets tended to freak me out. But there was a gorilla mask I never wanted to take off.

  • irinacarmen

    irina chelaru from irinacarmen said 7 years ago

    Very nice!!!I love them all...

  • rlbroka

    Rita L-Broka from 5lovebirdsnest said 7 years ago

    I remember my first doll I made. I was aprox. 8 years old :) It was USSR time.. Great toys were a dream. Now already my daughters have everything what they need (or not:) But I still making the dolls and these creations are always on the top... Thanks very much for this article!

  • ElenaMary

    Elena Mary Siff from ElenaMary said 7 years ago

    Great dolls all..what a fun feature...I love making dolls as well..great way to use my bindis!

  • admspeicher
  • beadstylin

    beadstylin from beadstylin said 7 years ago

    I can't say I was much of a doll person. I did have a Barbie, but I played more with my stuffed animals--which were really more like dolls to me. I also had a Mrs. Beasley--never sure why those were such a hit.

  • beeanddew

    Edna from beeanddew said 7 years ago

    I had a doll, a stuffed animal. She was a mouse, named Millie. I remember the day I picked her up off the shelf at the store, and she became my best friend. I also remember being on a trip with my Dad somewhere, and leaving her behind in a booth in a restaurant. Then weeping so copiously that my Dad turned the car around so we could go back and get her... Thanks, Daddy!

  • WhisperingOak

    Quality Handmade Items from WhisperingOak said 7 years ago

    Beautiful examples of dolls. I keep a special doll with my things. No matter how old you are you always love that special doll

  • HuellaHuella

    Fabiola Friedman from HuellaHuella said 7 years ago

    This is super!

  • lovelygifts

    Linda from lovelygifts said 7 years ago

    So true. Loved my dolls as a kid

  • cheapnchicvintage

    Samantha Palmer from MissMagnoliaVintage said 7 years ago

    I played with dolls (those creepy super realistic looking ones) until I was far too old. I was the youngest in my family and desperately wanted a baby to love on! There was a full on household crisis when my childhood cat chewed the fingers and toes off my favorite doll. In retrospect, it's pretty funny but not so much at the time.

  • mirabellamorello

    mirabellamorello from mirabellamorello said 7 years ago

    I have loved, and still love, my dolls and stuffed animals from my childhood. Last summer, I finally found and decided to finally restring a lovely old doll that I had bought in pieces at a flea market about 30 years ago. She shows signs of wear and has no hair, but her face is lovely. I have hand-made some clothes for her and she has become a treasure to me! I don't intend to ever be too old to collect dolls!

  • mirabellamorello

    mirabellamorello from mirabellamorello said 7 years ago

    Oh, and I meant to say that the Sasquatch doll made me giggle!

  • ThreeBarDGifts

    Monica from ThreeBarDGifts said 7 years ago

    Great dolls! I had several I loved. I framed the old stained dress one of them used to wear. Good memories! Thanks for the article!

  • Chinascreen

    Deborah Strong from OneKnottyChick said 7 years ago

    I had a bunch of those small dolls that come from different countries. I still collect dolls to this day but now I'm into the art dolls. The stranger things are the more I like them. LOL.

  • Chinascreen

    Deborah Strong from OneKnottyChick said 7 years ago

    I use to have a bunch of the little dolls that came from different countries. Still collect dolls today but now I love the art dolls. The stranger looking something the more I like them. LOL. I love all the dolls above.

  • slathered

    Sharon Moores from slathered said 7 years ago

    I loved dolls! I had a bunch, some handmade and some commercial. My favorite was my Mandy doll. I'm surprised my 7-year-old doesn't show much interest in dolls. She went through a mild Barbie stage, but what she wants is crafty items. I can't argue with that, but I'm jonesing to buy one of these adorable dolls by Etsians for someone. I'm eyeballing my friend's daughter. She might be a doll lover in the making. :-)

  • Harem6

    Ildiko from DoubleFoxStudio said 7 years ago

    We still love dolls ! We think that's obvious : ). We didn't have too many dolls as children because there weren't so many at that time in our country, we lived in communism, but we still have vivid memories of some of them. Maybe the lack of toys made us recreate in a way the toys we never had into something else but still in a sort of playful manner. We're definitely obsessed with dolls now ! We're so happy to have Lourdes here ! Thank you Cate !

  • AutumnLeavesJewelry

    Carolyn S. Miller from AutumnLeavesJewelry said 7 years ago

    Love all the variations . I begged and receievd big Barbie head in the early 70s and was so bummed to realize the comb tangled in the hair, and the make up was fake. Now I appreciate weird looking dolls

  • richdon1

    Rich and Dona from TheCottageMouse said 7 years ago

    I remember my first baby Thumbelina doll, she looked real and I carried her around for years. Great post....

  • GeorgieGirlLLC

    D George from GeorgieGirlLLC said 7 years ago

    My first doll was a Baby Alive, I named her Carrie after Carrie on Little House On The Prairie. Loved that show, characters and my doll. I now have a house that is down the road from a Little House on the Prairie house. Thanks for the post, brings back good memories.

  • AlteredEcoDesigns

    Janine Hamilton from EventsEclectic said 7 years ago

    Awesome dolls!

  • FlaxandSpindle

    Darlene from FlaxandSpindle said 7 years ago

    my fav is the felted by far!

  • NicolasKnitKnacks

    Nicola and Jessica Belton from CelticKnittingCo said 7 years ago

    Beautiful dolls!

  • kadydesigns

    Denise Vining from kadydesigns said 7 years ago

    My Grandmother made "Little Red Riding Hood Dolls". When I was a little girl I would sit and watch her make dolls for hours!! She was so talented with a needle and thread!! I have the Red Riding Hood Doll she made for me in my sewing room today! I have so many happpy memories of the times I spent at my Grandmother's house. She really loved dolls and had a wonderful collection. Wonderful post!

  • BambuEarth

    Amber from BambuEarth said 7 years ago

    Love these! Such incredible craftsmanship. ♥♥♥

  • patspottery

    Pat Parker from PatsPottery said 7 years ago

    Oh man, this time you opened a floodgate of memories!! My Toni doll with the long hair. I prayed every night that I would be as pretty as her. My baby doll, who's head broke and my mother finally talked me into a burial for her with a casket and a grave. The dolls my horrible brother would hang. And my favorite, my mother would sew matching dresses for me and my doll every Christmas. Thank you for the memories♥

  • sprouthead

    Aijung Kim from sprouthead said 7 years ago

    that sasquatch doll is the best! i also love what you wrote about dolls and teaching us about loss and bad haircuts.

  • yimmekedesign

    Diana from yimmekedesign said 7 years ago

    My mom gave me a bear when I was four and a doll when I was eight. I still have both. My bear is 47 years old and my doll, 43...and so I revealed my age to all of you.

  • sarahmoon503

    Sarah from Birchmoonrocksfibers said 7 years ago

    very, very adorable!

  • carriegreen4

    Carrie from MaryJanesToo said 7 years ago

    how much do we love much gorgeous eye candy and inspiration!!

  • uramichi

    Mikako Takai from uramichi said 7 years ago

    I was one of those kids that preferred animal plushies over dolls, but I loved my little plush raccoon and the adventures we had in the garden. That nostalgia keeps me making my own little art dolls even now. Thanks for the awesome collection of dolls! It's great to see so many beautiful creations on Etsy. :)

  • peterzaitsev

    Peter Zaitsev from monartdeco said 7 years ago

    Very nice!!

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 7 years ago

    I used to love my dolls...My parents still have my first doll love...Not much hair left...Used to carry it around all of the time...Then I had a doll on a stand in my room....She had big eyes, which bothered me at night time... I would turn her around so I couldn't see her eyes, and she couldn't watch me sleep! (lol)...In the morning I would turn her back around..... I just wonder with how quickly children are growing up today, how long do they play with dolls now? Nice post, Cate!

  • Ellareki

    Ellareki from Ellareki said 7 years ago

    Neither myself nor my three sisters were ever interested in dolls when we were little. Dolls unlucky enough to come into our possession were treated to full punk makeovers with permanent marker makeup and spiky, felt pen coloured hair if they were lucky, a skinhead if they weren't! We loved our teddy bears though and treated them with kindness :)

  • lauriescustomthingz

    Laurie from lauriescustomthingz said 7 years ago

    I loved your topic, sure lends to memories...:-) I have my 91 year old Pa's doll Annabelle (30s Composition), my G'mas childhood bisque dolls (early 1900s), and my most cherished dollhouse contents,...made one mid 60s Christmas by my artist Mom's hand, out of clay... She built the house as well, it is gone tho, many years ago. She is no longer with us..I still get such joy each time I unwrap the tiny pieces...,... to me, her "love gift" is greater than gold. :-) and she is close to me, in those moments.....thanks for the memories!

  • betseybacke

    Betsey Backe said 7 years ago

    Oh, how I loved my dolls, especially the little ones which brought me such great comfort ion difficult days. In Africa I've seen children use stuffed plastic grocery bags for bigs dolls and rocks for little ones. Awesome dolls featured on your blog today. Great article. Thank you for the memories!

  • lunahoo

    lunahoo from lunahoo said 7 years ago

    Very friendly and funny post! I'm expecting my daughter Uma who is almost 3 years old likes dolls!

  • kathyjohnson3

    Kathy Johnson from kathyjohnson3 said 7 years ago

    As a doll collector myself, I really loved this article. I think the best doll I ever had was the one from the "Dick Tracey" comic series called "Moon Baby"

  • carolinefield

    Caroline Field from BetsyBadge said 7 years ago

    I adore making fabric animals and yet I only had one teddy and one doll when I was a youngster...the bear was my aunts and passed to me. It has hardly any fur, no eyes, ears or mouth but I love him. Oh and his head is wonky.

  • YearsAfter

    Sharon from YearsAfter said 7 years ago

    Lovely post and love the Scrimshaw Punk Doll! Dolls give great comfort and laughter. They allow us to express our feelings through them, and they keep the kid at heart in us always new and forever able to dream~

  • Mrsplopsshoppe

    Catherine Lane from MrsPlopsShoppe said 7 years ago

    This is a great post. My story is a bit sad, and personal, but I feel ok to tell it. I had a teddy bear called Edward. I was an abused child unfortunately, and as strange as it might sound, that bear was a huge comfort to me through that time as a child. Maybe that's something to do with why I make needle felted animals now! Thank you for the blog. It re-connected me to comforting times in my childhood x

  • platycatstudio

    platycatstudio from platycatstudio said 7 years ago

    Thanks for the lovely post, and reminding me of my chatty cathy, and my baby doll who would cry , frown and wet, and best of all my Francie mattell fashion doll with all her cool and mod clothes. So sorry Catherine Lane for what you went through!

  • huntkathleen

    Kathleen Hunt from KatsKoolStuff said 7 years ago

    Wow, awesome talent :) Thanks for sharing... KAT

  • Mrsplopsshoppe

    Catherine Lane from MrsPlopsShoppe said 7 years ago

    Thank you Playcatstudio x Sorry my comment was posted twice. I didn't think it went through the first time!

  • Desvan

    Desvan from Desvan said 7 years ago

    Beautiful ! Congrats !

  • ThePolkadotMagpie

    Polkadot Magpie from ThePolkadotMagpie said 7 years ago

    Never a fan of Barbie, or plastic dolls whose eyes open and close. But soft folk art dolls have always drawn me in. I have several in my studio from around the globe. Yay Double Fox Girls!

  • LanaManisDesigns

    Lana Manis from LanaManisDesigns said 7 years ago Featured

    I never really played with dolls much as a child. Give me a book to read, paper to draw on, or a tree to climb and I was a happy girl! However, in adulthood, I began to have an appreciation for dolls, especially those of the 18th and 19th centuries. For a few years I made and sold several cloth dolls and hand sculpted paper clay dolls using my own designs and patterns. Although I don't collect them, I do appreciate the handwork and creativity that goes into each one.

  • TheSingingBird

    Becky from TheSingingBird said 7 years ago

    ... so many sweet memories of dolls that I can't think of just one. I do remember the first time I saw Tasha Tudor's book, A is for Annabelle. I wanted to climb inside the book so I could play with the dolls and every item they owned. Thanks for sharing this list and stirring up some happy memories.

  • mikecork

    mikecork said 7 years ago

    I absolutely agree with what Mindaugas says about faceless dolls being too scary! I just don't get it why dolls lacking facial features are so popular. Because I am extremely focused in the medical field, a doll of a person without a face is a biological and medical impossibility. The following medical problems would exist in such a doll: 1.) 100% blind 2.) Unable to speak or breathe 3.) Unable to eat or drink (would need a feeding tube - absolutely NOT gourmet cuisine!!!) 4.) Would require full life support & ultimately die (how sad!) I love dolls that are realistic with large eyes & highly detailed facial expressions, plus realistic bodily features i.e. sculpted muscles, bellybuttons underneath their clothes (again my deeply rooted interest in the medical field translated into doll collecting & making). Also, I don't understand the thing with the Waldorf dolls having those tiny squinty dot eyes helping kids' imaginations (I think kids should like those huge bright Anime style eyes instead) - the dolls would have very poor vision requiring the most powerful glasses known to doctors to help them see normally. Why are the Waldorf's so chubby? It's like they are promoting childhood obesity by saying it's OK for kids to be chubby with sausage-like limbs & potbellies. I collect mainly dolls from Asian countries (cloth & vinyl ones because they seem more alive & I can love them without risking damage), dressed in pantsuits (dresses are too risqué in my eyes, nothing covering the legs underneath). That's why I prefer to make my own dolls or find someone on Etsy willing to make one for me according to my specifications. GREAT article! I have a father & daughter Ada Lum style Chinese doll pair I call "Paku" (father) & "Kaya" (daughter). I love them so much - they have pretty dark blue Chinese cotton pantsuits & they even have loose fitting white cotton undies underneath! Very, very special

  • carambas

    Maria from CarambasVintage said 7 years ago

    Cool post! I didn't really like dolls as a child but I love art dolls.

  • yourgypsygirl

    Gypsy Girl from YourGypsyGirl said 7 years ago

    Oh my, Wonderful article and great photos! I too have a flood of memories. It was the summer of 1959, I would be going into the 6th grade. My father had just been transferred to Turkey with the Navy for 9 months - we were all going... On the way from California to New York for the ship, we stopped at my grandparents farm in West Texas. To my delight, my Grandmother had just purchased the NEW Barbie! Since she was a very talented seamstress , tailor and milliner - she had made an entire wardrobe for her, I could hardly believe it! We stayed for two weeks, the both of us spent many hours adding outfits. When it came time to leave, I took Barbie and all of her goodies. Then my Grandmother went out, bought another doll and kept on going....she too was having fun with dolls...I still have My original doll in her box and all of her clothes. One other sad memory, I did have a tiny baby doll, about 2.5 inches long. I lost her (still have her dress). For years and years I would always keep an eye out for her - especially when packing or unpacking for a move. I have to admit, all these years later I still look for her in antique shops.....perhaps one day I will find her.

  • AWishForYou

    AWishForYou from AWishForYou said 7 years ago

    Dolls - they are the refuge of childhood secrets - the joy of collecting - the intimate friendship of youth - the fun of making - the art of dolls !!!

  • dominna

    Katrina Dzerkale from Dominna said 7 years ago

    As a waldorf-person, i can mention that dolls without faces gives you chance to fantasize your own features. You look deeper than the surface and see, if she is happy, sad, looking at you or your dog. But i think that rest of the doll should be less precise, to avoid the creepiness.

  • ArtyDidact

    Sharon Parker from ArtyDidact said 7 years ago

    I too enjoy the many dolls on Etsy, both those intended for children and the art dolls -- and paper dolls! When I was a little girl I played often with some sisters in a family that had 8 girls and 1 boy (he was the oldest). We would make paper dolls, then ask their mom to draw the faces because she was so good at it. Then we would spend hours pretending to be dress designers making clothes for those paper dolls, and putting on little fashion shows, and otherwise playing with them. This family was not at all well off, so they didn't buy their kids a lot of toys, and so the kids were always creative and resourceful in their play. We had lots of fun together!

  • minimalblue

    Jim Long said 7 years ago

    Sweet post and such amazing and beautiful dolls. I so wanted a doll as a child, but in those days people thought that feeding such instincts in a boy made him gay, which of course was the absolue worst thing a man could be. I surely hope we have evolved past those repressive times. Recently, I read the results of a research project that proved that boys that play with dolls make better fathers. I don't blame my parents, but I do wonder if my not being allowed to play with dolls is part of the reason why I neither have fathered children nor have had much interest in them.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage from accentonvintage said 7 years ago

    Great selections! Dolls are so lovable!

  • Oliverink

    OliverINK Publishing from Oliverink said 7 years ago

    Love all the dolls!

  • H88255

    H88255 from HillarysSuperfoods said 7 years ago

    I used to love American Girl dolls!

  • djg123

    djg123 said 7 years ago

    I love these precious little dolls! I had over 100 dolls when I was a little girl and loved every single one...

  • PennyBirchWilliams

    Penny Birch-Williams from PennyBirchWilliams said 7 years ago

    Brought back a lot of memories with this post! I had a baby doll when I was very young, probably a hand-me-down from one of my sisters, that I kept even when I had outgrown her. I enjoyed Barbies for some years, and a set of Johnny West dolls that could ride the model horses I loved. And Little Kiddles! They were fun. Also had a doll that could walk and talk, but she was of hard, stiff plastic and not cuddly. Mostly I loved my stuffed puppy that became very threadbare over the years with all the comforting she gave me. My daughter had no interest in dolls, only stuffed animals. But my son became enamored of a clown doll someone gave us (it was really very creepy) when he was a toddler. It kept falling apart so my mom made one for him that was really cute but it didn't have the magic of the first one. It's interesting how people can be so attached to dolls and other little critters, not only as children either.

  • brokenasphalt

    Chris from brokenasphalt said 7 years ago

    Fabulous. Dolls are always in fashion.

  • acuriousbrood

    acuriousbrood from acuriousbrood said 7 years ago

    Thrilled! Thanks Cate!

  • GracieLaFawnda

    GracieLaFawnda said 7 years ago

    Cate is a doll, a beautiful doll. I kept my favorite little doll, thinking I would pass it down to my child. I never had kids, so last year I gave her to my great niece, who was 4 at the time. She took to her right away, brushing her hair and changing her clothes, they were in their own world, and it made me so happy to see them. We even had a tea party together.

  • thedollsuniqe

    Beata Uniqe from thedollsunique said 7 years ago

    Wooooowwwww!!!!Congrats!!!!I love all the dolls:))

  • thedelhistore

    thedelhistore from theDelhiStore said 7 years ago

    Oh I remember my single doll. I loved it so much and my brother cut it's hand accidently. Oh how I cried I still remember it clearly. I also remember styling its hair. Those were so lovely days! :)

  • Twin1656

    Joyce from BundlesOfJoys said 7 years ago Featured

    I too love dolls, you are never too old to hold and cherrish a baby doll. This brought back so many memories for me. My favorite baby doll was the last doll my mother bought for me before she passed away. It was the Christmas when I was seven years old, Santa brought me a Betsy Wetsy doll. My precious doll was lost after my mother died as we were moved to so many places after she passed. My love for dolls has carried on through my shop on Etsy. I so love making baby dolls dressing them in little baby dresses and bonnets. My joy is complete when customers send me pictures of their little ones holding the doll I made for them. Seeing the love on their faces for their new friend, makes my day!

  • NirvanaRoad

    Lisa from NirvanaRoad said 7 years ago

    This feature certainly brought about a lot of memories! My favorite doll was a handmade cloth one.

  • knitfitt

    Cate Fitt said 7 years ago Featured

    Thank you all for your comments and wonderful stories. There are many, many amazing & well-crafted dolls here on Etsy. I tried to make a selection that gave a sense of the great number of types available. Some are pure fantasy and some leave nothing to the imagination. Thank goodness, the Etsy community is just as diverse. I do particularly want to express my genuine happiness that so many of you have taken the time to add your own stories here. They add a real richness to the discussion.

  • TheRobinsTree

    Robin from TheRobinsTree said 7 years ago

    My favorite doll growing up was a cloth rag doll my Grandmother made me. Her name was Mandy, and I carried her everywhere! :-)

  • loopyboopy

    loopy from loopyboopy said 7 years ago

    <--dol lmaker that never had or played with dolls as a kid. Only discovered doll making as an art form as an adult and fell in love with the idea of creating childhood memories through art.

  • cheriberrycherry

    Cheri Regis from colorstampeddolls said 7 years ago

    This is an inspiring article. I grew up playing dolls, which turned to an obsession for them, which turned into an appreciation for them, and now which turned into a passionate art form for me. Ever since the discovery of dollmaking, it has become an awes-tastic milestone in my entire art career. Long live dolls, and the whimsical art world that comes with it! Thank you so much for sharing, Cate! =D

  • artgirl59

    Joanna Stanton from artgirl59 said 7 years ago

    I had a stuffed dog. I still have it after 48 years. His name is Teddy because I thought he was a bear. lol I loved that bear!

  • FabBeads

    Shannon from FabBeads said 7 years ago

    I love dolls still and collect them and display them with pride. They are my treasures.

  • myword38

    angie blunk from the5thelementshop said 7 years ago

    Very cool!

  • TheInspiredTrader

    Deb from TheInspiredTrader said 7 years ago

    There was a large population of Mennonite and Amish around my Grandparents farm in Indiana. My Grandmother used to make dolls for them as gifts. They were all faceless as was/is required by their beliefs. The little girls were very happy to play with their faceless dolls and grateful to have a doll to play with at all. Many children who grew up during the depression had few toys. I don't think those days are so far in the past as to be forgotten. I certainly appreciated her handmade doll clothes! Lovely post and great cross section of the wonderful vintage and handmade dolls on Etsy. All the heartfelt stories in the comments are amazing!

  • vintagetogoetsy

    Kennedy Miranda from vintagetogoetsy said 7 years ago

    I had a pocket doll too! Mine was a tiny pink felt cat that lived mostly with me on many adventures. If not, close by in my pocket or in in my room in a matchbox! I loved it and it kept me company for years! My mom had to make replicas to last me through childhood. The last one is in a keepsake shadow box with my baby teeth and my brothers shoes. Remember those, with dry beans and different pastas? I'd wish they'd bring them back too!

  • sighfoo

    Jennifer Syfu from sighfoo said 7 years ago

    I used to have a doll that cried "mama" when you turned her upside down. Loved it until my sister drew all over her face.

  • MTmaiden

    Helen N. Hanson from NonToxicSpiritArt said 7 years ago

    I have never been a doll fan. My parents had a large Chatty Kathy type doll when I was young and it seriously freaked me out, I know, just plastic but i never liked that doll, this collection, however is wonderful, so different and so engaging. Hey, for some people its' clowns for me it was dolls, so congrats and thanks for reminding me there are 'good' dolls out there...

  • AdornedMalaBeads

    Sam from BuzzMeditations said 7 years ago

    I had a rag doll, made by my Great Grandmother & given to me by my Grandmother - I named her Annabelle and she went everywhere me with me-I remember in Kindergarten we were all asked to bring in our favorite doll-at the time cabbage patch kids were very popular & I knew everyone else would be bringing theirs-I had one too but I felt it would be a betrayal not to bring Annabelle even though I knew I would be teased about my very old doll. I was teased quite a bit but I did not regret my decision! Looking back it's interesting how I had such an intense friendship with a worn out rag doll...

  • juniperjennie

    Jennie from WildMarigold said 7 years ago

    I loved my doll I had growing up very much - my two sisters also had dolls and we made up all kinds of games with them... they were probably our most played with toy, and we have kept them all these years. They were simple but good. I still love dolls, which is probably why they form the foundation of my Etsy shop!!!! :)

  • laTeefahDoLLs1898

    LaTeeFah from laTeefahDoLLs1898 said 7 years ago

    ☆°•my brOther would try to devasTate me by switching aLL of my doLL's heads...setting them out fOr me to discover....i secretly fOund them less horrifying, and raTher preferred the mismatched oddness to their recognizable characters.

  • TreadleLady

    Donna Kohler from TreadleLady said 7 years ago

    Hi Cate, Yes! My grandmother taught me to treadle in her little adobe house in El Paso, Texas. She had a Singer treadle with a long bobbin and mysterious Egyptian decals. With scraps I made a shoe box full of doll clothes for my chubby baby doll. Those were the pre-Barbie doll days, before the wasp waistline, long legs and cleavage. Unfortunately the rubber doll deteriorated in a couple of years but the love of treadle sewing machines has stayed with me. My collection of iron beauties are not cuddly but they are my current dolls, and I even nickname them, Her Majesty, Scarlet, Gibson Girl, Bertha, Miss Twiggy, Miss Ellen Elevator and Hot Legs are some of the girls and there are the handsome guys too. I make a couple of Mac Icon Baby dolls, listed in my shop, the boy wears white undies and a red cape and the girl wears a tutu and pink laced bodice, fun fun.

  • BizzieLizzie

    Bizzie from BizzieLizzieHandmade said 7 years ago

    Oh, if only dolls could talk! A lifelong friend that filled many many playtime hours! Setting up house, going for a ride, dressing in frilly dresses - yes, that is what I remember of dolls! Fond, fond memories of dolls! I still love to dress them. I enjoy this more than Lizzie and I get to dress all her dolls when she's not looking!

  • KPlager

    Kate Plager from BombyxBotanica said 7 years ago

    Doll play is a critical for both sexes during child development. I think doll play leads to caring adults and good parents. Thank you for the lovely post!

  • leilalou

    Lesley from leilalou said 7 years ago

    Great article, I love the idea that my dolls might become a "friend for life" to a child somewhere. I grew up with a doll which eventually just became a head after every limb fell off. It's a very scary looking thing now, but every so often, I take her out and sit her on my bed!

  • DeathByVintage

    Jypyse from DeathByVintage said 7 years ago

    Great post....I love my dolls.

  • 777carolala

    Caroline Barbosa from OldSoulVintageLtd said 7 years ago

    I read this article yesterday and last night I "found" my Honduran doll in my dream! Bizarre and comforting at the same time.

  • norarssmith

    Nora Smith from SewUniqueDolls said 7 years ago

    What can I say? I'm basically on etsy to show that dolls can be a life-long passion, and deserve a space in our hearts. They are closely tied to our use of our imagination, a part of our selves we can't (or should not) do without. Like therapy dogs in doctors' offices, they can be invaluable in the 'services' they render, and in return, they deserve to be cherished. They (and I think we can include stuffed toys and pets in this) teach us to care for someone/ -thing smaller than ourselves at an age when most people and circumstances in our lives are bigger and wholly beyond our control; they are something that can be uniquely 'ours', and in letting us love them any which way we choose, in letting us create their lives for them, they help us to grow up well, to find our place in a multi-level society and learn how to fit into it. We're never too old for that caring experience. We start with dolls, bears, stuffed bunnies, then graduate to a puppy or a kitten, and ultimately are ready to take on even more complicated, two-sided human relationships with real-life responsibility (once we've overcome that urge for those irreversible haircuts.) It's an integral step along the road to maturity. And once we've got there, it can always be a wonderful way to look back on our younger selves, and enjoy or relive the memories of a simpler time.

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie said 7 years ago

    Love this post!

  • LoveButtons

    Julia K Walton from FireHorseVintageHQ said 7 years ago

    There is something magical about the way inanimate materials can come together and take on a personality of their own, in the right hands. What an interesting article and some delightful examples of the art of dollmaking.

  • losethecurse

    Sara from HiraganaAmericana said 7 years ago

    I loved my dolls as a kid, and it kind of makes me sad when people naysay playing with dolls, saying it's too stereotypically girly. Playing with dolls is a great roleplay tool to understand social dynamics, empathy, sharing, story sequencing, etc. More dolls for everyone! Boys and girls!

  • lunadleila

    lunadleila from BellaMiasCollection said 7 years ago

    What a lovely post. These dolls are absolutely adorable...all so different and unique. It brought memories of my grandmother and the a doll she made for me when I was just a toddler. She actually had to make the same doll twice. At the age of 7 I insisted on taking the doll to the zoo and a monkey grabbed the doll and made it shreds in front of my very own eyes. The spectacle made it to the newspapers. I was devastated to say the least. Ironically, my grandmother was with me a the time and she said, "don't worry honey, I can make you another one." what a relief :O) This doll was my "transitional object" of affection, as psychologists call it. We can never underestimate the power of our dolls ;)

  • sew3heartfelt

    sew3heartfelt from SewHeartFeltShop said 7 years ago

    What a wonderful blog! I had lot's of dolls growing up, from barbies, Wendy Walker, Raggedy Andy, as well as other stuffed animals, and loved them all. But thinking about it now, I can't recall having a home/handmade one of any kind. Mass produced dolls are nice too but, for me personally, there is just something a little more special about handmade ones.

  • FranceGallery

    France Gallery from FranceGallery said 7 years ago

    Fun to see the dolls here!

  • theindiehandmade

    Ombretta from IndieLab said 7 years ago

    wonderful! dolls: a dream for little and 'old' girl :)

  • bluestillwater

    Cindy from SweetStillwater said 7 years ago

    I like your dolls, very unique. My mom made dolls (including Amish dolls that had no faces) & would sell at local festivals.

  • RenataandJonathan

    Renata and Jonathan from RenataandJonathan said 7 years ago

    Creative and charming post !

  • joyceweaver

    Joyce Weaver from joyceweaver said 7 years ago

    Thanks for that great article! I love making dolls using all kinds of stuff!

  • adakarinaaello

    Aura Lavender from CharoiteWind said 7 years ago

    I love your blog updates. I sewed tiny doll clothes.

  • SilverFoxDesigns6

    SilverFoxDesigns6 from SilverFoxDesigns6 said 7 years ago

    Your post brings back so many memories. I got my first sewing machine when I was 3 years old (it really sewed) and I remember making clothes for my dolls on it.

  • DeEscalaArt

    BEATRIZ DE ESCALA from DeEscalaArt said 7 years ago

    Lovely stories, thanks for sharing.

  • lizhutnick

    Liz Hutnick from LizHutnick said 7 years ago

    Nice post! :) My sister has been a doll maker all of her life. She's made dolls from anything she could get her hands on...from paper, cloth, clay, to pouring, firing, and painting porcelain dolls.

  • peshka

    Peshka from Peshka said 7 years ago

    So Cute!

  • Schaefli

    Schaefli from Schaefli said 7 years ago

    They all have different characters and really cool!

  • mattyhandmadecrafts

    Matejka Max from NattyMatty said 7 years ago

    Mini Cuties!

  • ssguzart

    Savannah Schroll Guz from SavannahGuzArt said 7 years ago

    Great post!! Flavia and Ildiko of DoubleFox studio are just an awesome inspiration.

  • MountainDolls

    Janice Parrott from MountainDolls said 7 years ago

    love them!

  • TeenaSS

    Teena Surma from TheFancifulDoll said 7 years ago

    I love dolls! Great post and lots of inspiration :)

  • meanjeanarts

    Jean from Meanjeanarts said 7 years ago

    Terrific post that has inspired a lot of comment. I've enjoyed reading the responses more than the post. I loved my childhood dolls from baby doll twins Lanny and Linda, Debbie (a little girl with long braids), Cassandra (a bride) and her bridesmaid, Theresa. There were others, but they were my favorites. I later made dolls including a pair of cloth cowboy dolls with shaggy hair, mustaches, chaps and boots for my sons. The medieval doll with a sculpted and painted face, real hair and velvet dress that I made for my niece was not such a hit. She had nightmares about it coming to life, and it had to be put away for a year or two. She is in her forties now and has forgiven me for traumatizing her--she actually has fond memories of the doll now, however, dolls can be very creepy!

  • xutian1

    ya mo from 2013color said 7 years ago

    Very inspiring!! =))) I love the wonderful variety of Art Dolls here on Etsy !!! I create the OOAK pOlkadottydolls !! Great Article - I now have a bunch more Art Dolls to be inspired by & enjoy!! ThanK yOu !!

  • OliveLongstocking

    Gumtree Gallery from GumTreeGallery said 7 years ago

    thanks for inspiring story xxxxxxxxxxx

  • pumpkiandmo

    Kathi from PumpkiAndMo said 7 years ago

    The article gives a great glimpse of the universe of fantastic doll creators on etsy! Thanks for the profound research and sharing!

  • maclancy

    Marianne Clancy from maclancy said 7 years ago

    I've been collecting dolls my whole life. Size country material matters not. Each one in my collection speaks to me. I have a great collection to leave one of my lucky grand daughters~thanks for the article. Love all the different spins on a classic and most loved of all toys...the doll!

  • nasirshakouri

    Nasir Shakouri said 7 years ago

    Wonderful article

  • FireIslandSoap

    Billy Bubbles from FireIslandSoap said 7 years ago

    those are some awesome looking dolls!

  • kuklalili

    Лилия Ра from Dolllily said 7 years ago

    Good day! I do not know much English, so I write with a translator. I - of Rossii.I here only the second day, still not figured out what to do. But I love dolls and accidentally found your dolls and I really enjoyed the discussion. I also create puppets and do not know how to show them to you. I opened the shop here. He called Dolllily. There's three of my dolls. Lily

  • poosac

    Kim Smith from poosac said 7 years ago

    Wonderful selection! There are SO many beautiful art dolls to be found on Etsy. You've highlighted some of my absolute favourite creators. Beautiful work!

  • Iggyjingles

    Robyn Coburn from Iggyjingles said 7 years ago

    I sure am sorry my store has been on vacation hold for a couple of weeks at exactly the wrong moment. I like to think had it been open and searchable, my store full of art dolls and cloth toy dolls would have been included in the feature. For those who love dolls - art, vintage, collectible or play lines - I have a round up blog where lots of Etsy sellers have been featured in the past. At Dolls: Crafting and Collecting ( ) you can discover the web presences of many doll artists, vendors, collectors and events of interest to doll aficionados.

  • anamcleod

    anamcleod from DevineEssence said 7 years ago

    I loved dolls as child. My favorite was my raggedy Ann doll which i named Lulu.

  • nativestrandsjewelry

    Rachel from PeppersJewelry said 7 years ago

    I like the old fashioned dolls in particular. Thanks for the great article!

  • WonderwulAnnette

    Annette MacBean from Wonderwul said 7 years ago

    Thanks for putting in my doll ....I aspire to express a sense of sweet humanity and an independent spirit in my dolls...

  • mbg41

    Mary Woods from TeasetsandFineChina said 7 years ago

    I remember every Christmas morning waking up to see what Santa had left. I always got a baby doll I loved them all but I guess my favorite was baby Thumbelina. Not as unique as these beautiful dolls but they were loved. Thanks for sharing Mary

  • dollymamareba

    Reba from DollyMamaEugene said 7 years ago

    I always loved my doll house dolls and baby dolls. Playing with them was fun, but the true joy came from making clothing and furniture for them. Now as an adult, I love to create new clothing and accessories for my dolls. Guess I never outgrew it, and hope I never do.

  • teeshkie

    Hillary Mitchell from rationsofwonder said 7 years ago

    İm a new member and my first and only item so far are my exotic rag dolls. Very pleasing to see all of the little stuffed lovies on this site! Thanks for this awesome post, it's glorious to see such variety and creativity...

  • threadedfromheaven

    Courtenay Christian from threadedfromheaven said 7 years ago

    Wow, this was awesome! There are so many others with a love for dolls like myself. I also make a wonderful assortment of different cloth dolls. They bring so much joy to me when I am creating. I guess there is a part of me that has never stopped caring about dolls. And I enjoy seeing little girls and adults get excited about there purchase and new member to there family of traditional playing house or for adults adding to there collection. Thanks for sharing

  • alcarazgmar

    Adela Maria from AdelasBowtique said 7 years ago

    I love these dolls! This made me go back to when I was little and enjoyed playing with dolls so much.

  • AntonellaMia

    AntonellaMia from AntonellaMia said 7 years ago

    I love looking at dolls on Etsy <3

  • nickydill

    Nicky Dillerstone from nickydill said 7 years ago

    what a fabulous selection of dolls. i loved playing with my dolls as a child and am now making little art dolls so it is full circle for me and happily so

  • cocolitaboutique

    Marie-Claude from CocolitaBoutique said 7 years ago

    I love dolls and I just discovered "Guenilles et Boutons" on Etsy. Gorgeous dolls with funky names! ❤ My favorite is "Spring the Bitch" :)

  • riskybeads

    Lori from riskybeads said 7 years ago

    I had a realistic baby doll when I was little...she had peach-fuzz type skin. I used to take her all dressed up to the grocery store...little bonnet and all. One day, a woman stopped my mother in the aisle and reprimanded her for letting such a young child -- aka me -- carry such a tiny baby. She was pretty embarrassed when my mom and I showed her that she was a just a baby doll. :)

  • chilisugar

    Aja from chilisugarcookie said 7 years ago

    I love making dolls! I used to play with them, and they promoted my imagination that turned into creativity to this day! In my shop, I have some cloth dolls that have a story and everything. Cool article!

  • StylishKiddies

    StylishKiddies from StylishKiddies said 7 years ago

    Great Dolls We love Dolls too

  • iworkartwork

    Irma Galindo from iworkartwork said 7 years ago

    I always made dolls; paper, cloth, wood, peach tree branch, polymer clay. Now I make them from yarn! I love dolls!

  • Nemki

    Nemki from nemki said 7 years ago

    Ah, this has me thinking about my first dolls! So many memories. x

  • susanneoeren

    Susanne Oeren from KinderlandDolls said 7 years ago

    Growing up in Germany, I had many dolls as a child. When I turned 12, my family moved to the States. It was too expensive to take the dolls, so they were given away...Besides, my mom reasoned, 12 year olds are too old for dolls..Now, many years later, I run a doll "foster home". Dolls come and go on a daily basis. There's usually several hundred here at a time. I fix them up and redress them and adopt them out through my website, Ebay and Etsy. I don't guess anyone is ever too old to play with dolls :)

  • debmiller5

    Debbie from SunshineDebsCrafts said 7 years ago

    I love dolls of all kinds! As an adult, I only have a couple friends SO FAR who enjoy my love of dolls, and I' m always happy to find new friends with the same love! Your dolls are wonderful, and an inspiration to me to create dolls and accessories, too! Thank you for sharing your story :)

  • debmiller5

    Debbie from SunshineDebsCrafts said 7 years ago

    p.s. I still enjoy the idea of paper dolls, and I'm thinking I'll do something with that idea! thanks again :)

  • suellaforkids

    Mary from Suellaforkids said 7 years ago

    This is great information to me! I love dolls and I am starting to collect dolls for my daughter.

  • korenkwan

    Koren Kwan from GarasuWonderland said 5 years ago


  • Minibabydolls

    Anastasia Belova from Minibabydolls said 5 years ago

    Thanks for the article! Great! ♥♥♥ Love making dolls!

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