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How to make a Rememberance Dolly

The clothing of loved ones are dear to us.

They could be from a loved one's passing, or an old school uniform, or a piece of favourite clothing that no longer fits.

These items can be repurposed into a personalised Dolly or Doug and kept as a keepsake.

Here's my own story..

When my Nanny passed and my Grandad downsized to live on a widebeam barge, her bowls blazer was one of the items he didn't know what to do with.  Too personal to donate, too bulky to keep.  It was emblazoned with all the patches and awards that Nanny had won during her bowling career - and she was VERY good at it.

I happened to be with Grandad at the opportune time.

"got any ideas what I can do with this, Shez?" he asked. YES.  I did.

I thought it would be a fitting tribute to make a Dolly with red hair (my Nanny's hair colour) and repurpse the jacket/blazer into a miniature version for Dolly.

The idea was to retain as much of the original detail.

Nanny had sewn the badges together onto her blazer, so I painstakingly removed the outer stitches to keep her inner ones intact.  The original buttons were salvaged for re-use.

I used the Dolly Pattern Dr Doug scrubs coat as the pattern for the mini blazer, making it shorter by trimming the front and back panels to waist length.

Next, I used the pleated skirt pattern, minus the pleats, to make a skirt with a simple rolled hem and an elasticated waistband.

I applied the woven badges that Nanny won to the back of the blazer and added her pins and brooches to the mini jacket lapels.

Next, I made a Dolly with red hair using the Dolly Pattern Doll pattern and fitted it all together using the French costume raglan jersey top in a navy and white stripe to compliment.

I visited the barge for the first time last weekend and presented the Dolly to Grandad. He cried. I am glad that Nanny now has a place on the barge and that the original jacket lives on, providing comfort and memories.

My 5 Tips for making your own rememberance Dollys:

1. Remember that dolly can be personalised to the person you are making for.  In my case, it was my Nanny, but you could choose to customise our Doug doll too for any age group or occasion.

2. Rememberance dollys are not limited to those who have passed - what about a christening dolly, school leavers dolly or Bride?

3.  Save all the embellishments of the item you are going to upcycle - it is these details that make it unique - school patches, sports awards, buttons and toggles.  All can be incorporated into the new design.

4.  Cut the item to be upcycled into usable pieces.  This may mean stripping back layers of lining and cutting off and opening out sleeves.  Try to salvage as much fabric as possible.

5. There is no time limit.  Do what you can at a pace that you are comfortable with.  We all feel the weight and importance of these items and shiver at the thought of cutting them up to begin with.  Be reminded that you don't need to cut until you are sure.  Marking out the pattern pieces before you disassemble the garment to be re-used will give you confidence.


Front view of Dolly made with red hair and skin tone 4 (pale) aboard 'Jublani', Grandads new wide beam barge home.

Back view if the Dr Doug Lab Coat, modified length, with Nanny's patches re-applied.

Grandad and I aboard 'Jublani' at the presentation of the dolly.

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