Church Dolls, Pew Babies, Handkerchief Dolls

Church Doll

Church Doll

When I browse antique malls, treasure-junk stores, or find a small auction, I look for hand-made or hand-embroidered handkerchiefs. Though I don’t have a well trained eye for needle craft and can’t always be sure a piece isn’t machine made, I have a deep appreciation for women’s work and for their (our) customs. Women used to send a hanky inside a letter. That seems like such a pleasant, warm touch. In this email age, I miss what once was, even if I didn’t know about until now.

Recently I discovered online images and information about a quick doll made from a hanky to occupy a child during Sunday services. It was knotted or tied together with ribbons or string. Now there’s a huge array of dolls from the simple sugar baby (sugar “tit,” a corner of a hankie tied around a sugar cube) to angels with folded lace wings and lady dolls with lace trimmed dresses and bonnets. There are many “how to make a church doll” sites.

Knotting the hankies was not easy. Some of my hankies were very tiny, some richly embroidered, some lacy. Embroidery shouldn’t be knotted, neither should some lace, so the ribbon became a practical choice, not a lazy one. I made twenty-four of the church dolls and didn’t want to part with any of them.

The above photo is of a favorite doll, Lucille.


About rmkinder

This entry was posted in Uncategorized, women's art and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Church Dolls, Pew Babies, Handkerchief Dolls

  1. Debra Brenegan says:

    What a lovely post! I love learning about women did for their children (and for each other). Thanks for sharing this information, Rose Marie!

    Best, Deb

    Debra Brenegan Author of *Shame the Devil*


    • rmkinder says:

      Thanks for the comment, Deb. I remember that you began baking the way I began makingchurch dolls. Different forms of creating, aren’t they, and in many ways more restful than writing (as we noted). Rose Marie


  2. cate Browder says:

    I enjoyed your post / repost on the spelling of Gray/Grey as well! The lace details are lovely


  3. notewords says:

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.


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