Sew Liberated: Dolly Wearing

A couple of weeks after Silas was born, I found myself really wanting to make something for my girls, something all about them; something that would fill a little need of theirs.  They needed a way to carry their dolls, Susan and Lucy, around the yard on adventures.  But they needed to be able to keep their hands free of course, and I knew just the thing!
There is an adorable doll papoose pattern in Meg McElwee’s new book, Growing Up Sew Liberated, so armed with our copy, Larkspur, Beatrix, Silas, and I headed to JoAnn to pick out corduroy.  I won’t go into details about how that shopping trip went.  I am sure you can imagine.  The girls chose their colors and somehow I managed to grab the other necessary supplies and get us out of there, but not before Beatrix loudly called me, “bad mommy!” when I didn’t agree to buy her a package of something along the lines of Hubba Bubba in the checkout line.  The woman behind me actually asked me, “Did she just say bad mommy?”  I just smiled sweetly and nodded.  
While this pattern is pretty quick to sew up once you have everything cut out and prepared, it took me two weeks to finish both papooses, given that I am on newborn time.  Last night when Jonny walked in from baseball practice with the kids, and I was finally able to give Beatrix hers, she actually shrieked and made spirit fingers, (you do know what those are right? arms outstretched overhead, fingers wiggling) she was so excited.
Today the girls took their first adventure. (Larkspur has hit that age when she wants her clothes to match exactly.  Today she has a prisoner theme going on.  I so remember the immense satisfaction of having my clothes match in similar ways–you know purple shirt, different shade of purple pants etc.)
How wonderful that the girls had their hands free to rub money plant seed pods!  The papooses made this possible.  Sort of like baby wearing makes it possible for me to do similarly important work such as vacuuming!
I sewed Larkspur’s papoose according to the exact pattern instructions.  With her purple corduroy we chose this paisley contrasting fabric.
Because this papoose is designed for a slightly older child (maybe 5-8?) I amended the pattern to make Beatrix’s smaller.  I used Anna Maria Horner’s Summer Totem Grapefruit for the contrasting fabric on hers.
My changes worked out very well and the papoose fits Beatrix perfectly while still allowing room for her to grow. I have to say that this pattern is super forgiving.  My sewing was far from perfect because I was in a hurry to finish these in my scant free time, and there were several times when I thought I would surely have to rip some seams. Even with my corduroy bunching in places where it shouldn’t have, these really turned out just fine, no ripping necessary.
Larkspur found a tacky little pretend camera at baseball practice and has been taking lots of photos ever since.  She was very cute taking pictures of “pretty things” on her walk with Beatrix.
She likes that she can store her “camera” in the pocket on the back of her papoose.
Regarding the book, Growing Up Sew Liberated, I can honestly say that I love it.  The projects really meet me where I am right now with my younger children.  I love Meg’s little bits of Montessori wisdom that are sprinkled throughout the book.
I hope to find the time to sew several more projects from the book this summer. I have to say that the detailed instructions for making a gorgeous waldorf doll are worth the purchase price of the book alone. I have made much simpler dolls in the past, but with this pattern and Meg’s instructions, I may finally try making a doll complete with hair.


Right now, I am just so pleased that I got the papooses finished, and that my girls like them so much!
(These two crazy animals were causing trouble- chasing each other throughout the girls’ walk.)
(no one was hurt, but Trudy did get a firm talking to after she knocked Larkspur over!)


Eventually Beatrix got tired so Gabe gave her a lift, and I got to carry her papoose.
Thank goodness for big brothers, and fun sewing projects!
p.s.  While I don’t know Meg, I did start reading her lovely blog in the months before her second baby was born.  Lachlan was born with a heart defect, and will be having his second heart surgery on Monday, so please keep him and the whole family in your thoughts and prayers!
p.p.s.  In order to make Beatrix’s papoose smaller, I made the following changes after having already cut out all the pieces full size (this will only make sense if you have at least read through the pattern):  I subtracted 4″ from the length on the main and contrast visor pieces, subtracted 2″ from each strap (main and contrast pieces), and then cut 6″ lengths of webbing (instead of 4″)  to attach to the straps so that they would be adjustable as Beatrix grows (just to be clear, I did not change the length of the webbing pieces that attach to the slide adjusters).  I subtracted 1″ from the across the top of the main fabric front, then folded it in half and took about a half inch of the width.  I assembled the visor/front and then laid it out on the full sized back pieces and cut around the back to fit the smaller front.  The final project is about 17 inches long instead of 20 inches.  The biggest difference is in the height of the visor.  I am far from being an expert–so I hope that this makes a bit of sense to anyone wanting to make similar changes!


  1. Can you tell me how much fabric is needed for these? Also what kind of hardware I will need. copy of the book is on order and I am antsy!

  2. Linda Torres says:

    my granddaughter saw this and she really likes it she wants me to do her one I was wondering if you could e-mail me a pattern or how mush it would cost me.

    Please and Thank you
    Linda Torres

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I made this pattern recently, for 18 month and 32 month cousins. To shrink the pattern, I re-sized everything to 75% of original size with a photo-copier. The only measurement I left un-changed was the width of the straps. I’m not sure what I did for the length of the webbing; I think I also made it longer to maintain the adjustability for the future, as you mention above.

    Thanks for the inspiration! I love your photos!

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