After many years of wishing for heirloom rag dolls and alternating between ideas of purchasing them and making some myself, we are now the owners of two of the sweetest dolls imaginable. Beautiful both in craftsmanship and design, and especially because they are the handmade work of Michelle Housel, whom operates creatively under the name Dancey Pants Disco. I was drawn to Michelle for her earth mama goodness and interviewed her previously about her gentle effective parenting choices.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Michelle in person at the Wild & Free Homeschool Conference and she is every bit the ray of sunshine as you would imagine from the world she shares on Instagram. Having her dolls in our home is a little snippet of her goodness.
The girls were instantly inspired by the dolls, there is magic in the handmade, and it resonated with them that their hands are capable to make too. Off came the dolls clothes and with it soared their imagination. “Oh Mummy, I am going to sew her a red dress!” Maya declared. Elle was equally enthusiastic about sewing her doll a dress as well and they scurried off to get their sewing baskets.
I decided to use this opportunity to give them a lesson in pattern drafting. I suggested Maya design her dress first by drawing it and selecting fabric samples. While she drew, I copied a pattern off the doll dress Michelle had made. Then I had the girls cut out the paper pattern pieces, write which piece was which, bodice, skirt or straps, and how many pieces of each to cut. Cut one, or cut two. The girls worked away at their own patterns, and the beauty of homeschooling shines bright when they both decide to try writing with their feet.
With pattern pieces cut and labeled, I had Maya pin her pattern pieces to the fabric and cut them out. Elle is not quite at that stage, so I cut her fabric pieces for her. Once all of that was done, we moved inside to sew on the machine. They sat at the table doing school work while I sewed the dresses together, explaining the process along the way. Doll dresses are such a wonderful thing for beginner sewers to make and I know that all these little lessons add up and that one day the girls will know how to sew clothes for themselves. Sewing is something you can build on your whole life and having foundation sewing lessons in childhood is rewarding and useful.
I love the comfortable lightness and ease of a rag doll, how it can be tucked under an arm, or placed in a handbag, or folded into a large pocket. With Christmas around the corner, an heirloom rag doll is beautiful gift to give. Michelle is about to release another batch of dolls, the last lot sold out in minutes, so be sure to keep abreast of the release! Michelle has an Instagram account for the sale of her dolls.