Pew Dolls (sometimes called Church Dolls or Civil War Dolls) go back to the days of the Civil War when materials were scarce. Pew Dolls were traditionally made from handkerchiefs or scraps of fabric and cotton/ribbons. They were made in such a way to be very soft, so that they would not make any noise if dropped. These were of course perfect to occupy the little ones during church services.
These are so cheap and easy to make, my residents really loved making them for their grandchildren to play with. I was able to get all my supplies from the local Walmart/Amazon linked below 😊
2 Men’s Handkerchiefs (or you could use bandanas or scrap fabric, just be sure to hem them) https://amzn.to/2z5FMNP
1 piece of string (about 6”) https://amzn.to/2K4PJiV
3 ribbons (these will tie around the neck and hands) https://amzn.to/2JX6bkU
2 strips of lace (bonnet 10 inches and trim of dress about 20 inches) https://amzn.to/2RPgcTU
A small wad of cotton batting (or you could use a couple of cotton balls) https://amzn.to/2JX6nk8
Needle and thread
First, place the cotton batting (or cotton balls) in the center of one handkerchief. Using the string, tie the handkerchief tightly around the cotton to form the head.
Then, take a short piece of lace (about 10 inches), using a running stitch, gather it for the bonnet.
Place the bonnet on the head of the doll sewing it on around the face. Set the doll aside for now.
Next, take the second handkerchief and fold it in half. Then, take the longer piece of lace and place it on the bottom. Using a simple stitch, sew the lace to the bottom (just sew straight through both layers)
I chose to also add a little decorative trim to the bottom of mine, this is of course totally optional. Feel free to get creative with your ribbon and lace trim choices, Walmart has a ton of options.
Now, at the top of the dress (second handkerchief) begin to sew a gathering running stitch just below the fold. Leave about 2 inches on either side ungathered.
Go ahead and knot off the gathered part of the dress so that it doesn’t unravel.
Set your dress aside for now.
Go back to your doll. Pull the tails of the handkerchief out to form an angel like shape.
Keeping both “arms” up, place the gathered dress up to the neck and wrapping around the “body”.
Simply sew through the front and back of the doll to attach and secure the dress.
Lastly, at the end of each arm (about an inch from the end) tie a ribbon to make the hands. Tie a ribbon around the neck to cover the string you originally used. And you are done!
These are so sweet and my residents absolutely loved making them. It took us about an hour and a half total, this is including time for giving instructions and helping to thread needles/such.