This is a project that’s really near and dear to my heart, and I’m so happy to be able to finally share it with you! First, a little back story. My mom’s grandmother (my kids’ great-great-grandmother) was a seamstress. She used to make these charming little dolls for my mom and all her cousins. There were all sorts of different dolls but the ones that have been saved and passed down through the generations are the fruit dolls. My mom saved hers and has given one to each of her grandbabies (Maggie has Penny Pineapple, and Henry has Billy Banana). The thing is, the dolls are about 80 years old and pretty delicate, so the kids can’t really play with them. Maggie fell deeply in love with Penny Pineapple and gets so sad when we don’t let her carry Penny around. So I decided to make Maggie a set of fruit dolls that were a little tougher, that she could play with. That’s how the idea was born. And with Christmas coming, I thought it would be great to share this DIY gift idea for kids: make an apple doll.
We’ll be sharing four tutorials over the next few weeks: Apple, Lemon, Pineapple, and Strawberry. Each will come with its own printable pattern as a free download, and its own set of instructions. First up today is Annie Apple!
- our Face/Arms/Legs pattern and our Apple pattern
- red fabric
- skin-tone fabric
- sewing machine, thread, scissors, etc.
- embroidery thread in black and white
- embroidery needle
- yarn in your choice of hair color
- narrow ribbon
- Fabric Fusion permanent glue
- felt in brown and green
Make Time: 2 Hours
Step 2: Use a pencil to lightly sketch the doll’s eyes and mouth, and a “shine” on the apple. Embroider over your pencil marks, using black for the face and white for the shine. This is a great, simple tutorial for a few embroidery stitches that you can choose from. We used a chain stitch.
Step 3: Sew your face, arms, and legs together. Pin right sides together and sew a straight stitch around each piece, leaving a 1/8″ seam allowance. On the head, leave the neck open. For hands and feet, leave the wrists and the ankles open. This will allow you to flip the pieces right side out once you’ve sewn them.
Step 4: Once you’ve sewn and flipped the face, arms, and legs right side out, stuff them with cotton batting until they’re you’re desired firmness.
Step 5: Place the two pieces of the apple with right sides facing. In between them, sandwich the arms and legs so that they’re positioned with about 3/4″ of fabric hanging over the edge of the apple. Pin the arms and legs in place between the two apple pieces.
Step 6: Sew a straight stitch around the apple, leaving a 2″ opening in the center of the top, being sure to also securely stitch in the arms and legs.
Step 7: Flip the apple right side out and fill with batting.
Step 8: At the base of the head, fold the fabric in on itself to create a finished edge. Hand-sew a tidy gathered stitch to close the neck. Do the same to the top of the apple.
Step 9: Use a whip stitch to hand-sew the head to the top of the apple. Go over this area a few times to secure the head tightly.
Step 10: Sew on the hair. Cut a few lengths of yarn to the length that you’d like the hair. Place them over the top of the head. Decide where you’d like the “part.” Using a needle and thread (thread the same color as the hair), stitch the yarn down onto the head. Add another small handful of hair and repeat until you have all the hair you’d like. Then style it into either braids or pigtails, and tie with a small ribbon. We placed a dot of glue over the knot on the ribbon to keep it secure. We also glued the pigtails and braids down to the sides of the dolls’ heads to keep them in place.
Step 11: Cut the stem from brown felt and the leaves from the green felt. Use the glue to glue the stem and two leaves on the front, and two additional leaves on the back. Allow all glue to dry.
I’m just so, so excited to share these! I hope if you try them, they bring your family as much joy as they have to mine. It’s been so fun to figure out the patterns using the old dolls — I kind of felt connected to my great grandmother while I examined her dolls to try to figure out how she made them. And now seeing Maggie play with them is just so sweet. Stay tuned for Lucy Lemon, Penny Pineapple, and Suzie Strawberry! xoxo
P.S. See all the fruit dolls right here!