Safe Toys Merit Badge, Intermediate Level


The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,602 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,898 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life  

For this week’s Stitching and Crafting/Safe Toys Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I was fondly getting lost in my memories of my most favorite doll, back in the day. (Besides myself, of course. My next favorite doll then). She was a lovely thing, a soft rag doll with a Sunbonnet Sue bonnet and a calico print dress. Her legs were made of muslin and had MaryJanes painted right on them.


I know.

But the best thing about this dolly was the bows on the sides of her bonnet, because if you pulled on one, her eyes would go from closed to open. Then you pulled on the other, and vice versa. It was so clever. I get wistful and nostalgic just thinking about her.

Anyway, in order to earn my Intermediate Level badge for the Safe Toys category, I needed to make a doll. Since I had mine in my mind’s eye already, I got to work. I wasn’t quite sure I was adept enough at making those amazing eyes with the pull-tab bows (that sounds like more of an Advanced Level badge, dontcha think?) I decided to skip that part. But everything else was going to be the doll of my dreams, I was sure of it.

Going with the nostalgic flow, I put on some music from my childhood and treated myself to my favorite girlhood snack: Rice Crispy Treats. (Remind me to attempt to make them a bit more farmgirl and organic friendly sometime, okay? They are currently sitting like a brick in my tummy. Alas.)

I decided to forgo a pattern, being the out of control, rebellious, rogue sewer and crafter that I am. I merely drew the shape of a doll onto some nice, soft, cotton fabric, making sure to leave allowances for hemming and/or mistakes. So she looked a little chubby at first, but I’m sure she’ll slim down as I go along.

Chubby dolls are people, too. They have feelings.

Well … you get my drift.

I used fabric paint for the face, except for the eyelashes, which I embroidered on. I wasn’t sure whether to go with yarn for hair or buy one of those doll wigs I’ve been somewhat creeped out by at the craft store. I went with yarn, a nice strawberry blonde with some caramel highlights. I even styled it in a chic chignon, which was probably silly, since I was planning on covering it with a bonnet, but still.

I made a simple dress out of some adorable gingham, and then—get this!—I put my Superior and Stellar Apron-Making Skillz to work, and topped her outfit off with a completely cute little stripy number. This was one well-dressed doll. I was getting jealous.

After that, I totally needed a snack break, and also a band-aid because my darn needle had it in for me. All I had left was the bonnet. How hard could that be, after all?

It was pretty hard. All those gathers, and measuring, and pinning, and seam ripping … I don’t recommend bonnet making for out of control, rebellious, rogue sewers.

Needless to say, my—I mean, her—chignon totally saved the day after all. (Wouldn’t be the first time, right, ladies?)

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Making dolls is really hard. One year, I made a doll with a horse head and hoofs for hands and feet for my daughter who wasn’t into human looking dolls but who was horse crazy. We named her Rose and she had a brown yarn mane, bangs, tail and embroidered eyes and horse mouth. Then we dressed her in a rose print dress that my mom had made for one of my dolls. Voila! she looked pretty cute sitting in the Easter basket one year and was actually loved and played with. However, my doll making days ended with Rose. It is way more difficult than I thought it would be!

    • MaryJane says:

      You can buy special tools that help turn the legs and arms inside out. I taught a doll-making class here once that lasted an entire weekend. It was fun to see what everyone came up with.

  2. Still have my rather pathetic rag dolls I made as a little girl. I had the sock style down to a ” t” but ofcourse it was made by 7 year old hands. I never mastered the sock monkey. But was just in my local Mennonite dry goods store and lo and behold they were selling those Rockford work socks you need to make them. Yep, I had to have them! I can’t believe that under those staid black boots some Old Order Mennonite girl or guy is wearing these cheery socks! I will let you know how the monkey turns out. I do still have 2 old sock monkeys I bought at my school bazaar in 2nd and 3rd grade, one was stuffed with old silk stockings and is so cuddly. The Second is just stuffed with cotton and is just not the same, ya know?

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