Top News

Yarmouth County woman creating dolls from bits of cloth and boundless patience


Each doll created by seamstress presents its own personality

YARMOUTH COUNTY - When it came right down to it, the decision wasn’t a hard one to make in Grade 7.

“It was either Latin or home ec,” said Yarmouth County resident Donna Boudreau.

Sixty years later, she’s still sewing. What she’s working on now, however, has a lot more appeal than hemming pants or repairing a tear.

For the past two decades, Boudreau has been creating beautifully accessorized, fashion-conscious dolls. 

Some of them are what she refers to as memory dolls, made with scraps of material that are supplied to her by someone who wants a doll wearing an outfit made from a loved one’s clothing. 

“This one girl was very close to her grandmother, so I used the grandmother’s pajamas to make the body of the doll and bits from her grandmother’s favourite sweater to go over it,” said Boudreau.

She then slipped the grandmother’s wedding band onto the doll’s wrist as a bracelet and sewed the hand on.

“That wedding band will be forever attached to this doll’s hand,” she said.

When the girl was born, her grandfather gave her a foot anklet so Boudreau turned that into a necklace on the doll.

What adds to each doll’s personality is its individually sewn face, which is first stuffed with fibre-fill, painted, then needle-sculpted with a long needle to create the nose and eyes.

The hair is typically sheep’s wool, which Boudreau dyes, sometimes using the most unusual source, including Kool Aid.

“I like it as fussy looking hair, not neat and tidy,” she said.

The colour co-ordination is commendable, as are the meticulous details.

Clarissa the Mermaid has a tiny gold star for her bellybutton and a fresh-water pearl ring on one finger.

One of the reasons Boudreau spends such time to create the detail on her dolls is for the therapy benefit.

She says when she was first diagnosed with MS she had a very hard time with her hand, dropping things and spilling glasses of water, etc.

“I thought, ‘I’m not going to let this get to me.’ Sometimes I struggle with needle-sculpting or even turning the (doll’s) hands. I have to sew around and cut in between and then turn the hand inside out. It takes patience and a tiny, tiny little stitch,” she said.

Occasionally she’ll sit looking at a doll and realize it needs one more little touch. For instance, some lace and a feather accent on a hat, or a few pieces of yarn crocheted for a shoe topping.

“It helps to take your mind off stuff and it’s helped my dexterity. It’s a case of if you don’t use it you lose it,” she said.

The memory dolls are especially rewarding.

When one woman received a doll wearing an outfit made from her mother’s old caftan, she called Boudreau.

“She was in tears and said you’ve turned this horrible caftan, something that I hated, into something that I can now look at and say, ‘My mother. It’s a gift from my mother,’ even though I made it,” she said.

For more info

Prices for each doll start at $150.

Call 902-742-9515

Recent Stories