Rag Dolls: Two Reviews and Request for Help

Rag Dolls: Two Reviews and Request for Help

Bella with her new rag doll
Bella with her new rag doll

Five years ago we bought Bella a rag doll for her birthday. I wanted her to have something soft and cuddly, something that evoked Laura’s rag doll in the Little House books, the one I always wanted as a child. Amazon sent the wrong doll, twice. (Best Pals Sofia Original 16″ Rag Doll)


But maybe she was the right doll after all. Bella’s first reaction was joy. Then she turned against the doll and said she hated it and didn’t play with it for months. And then she rediscovered it and played with it quite a bit. Bella still loves her and plays with her occasionally. Weeks will pass with the doll neglected and forgotten and then she surprises me by pulling her out for a game. We made clothes for her recently. She’s the kind of toy that endures.

flannel nightgown on Bella's doll
flannel nightgown on Bella’s doll

We bought Sophie a similar doll (actually the one I’d originally intended to get for Bella: Best Pals Isabelle) from the same manufacturer and have been just as pleased. Sophie has been quite attached to her doll as well.

Dolly in her new ensemble.
Sophie’s Dolly in her new ensemble.
Green floral jumper dress
Sophie’s Dolly in a new green floral jumper dress
The doll in the green jumper dress with matching green coat.
Sophie’s Dolly in the green jumper dress with matching green coat.

I’ve been quite pleased with the quality of these dolls. I’m amazed at how well they’ve held up. They each came with a dress, a one piece undergarment, knit stockings, felt shoes, hair ribbons, and a bead bracelet. So far we’ve lost the shoes, the socks are perpetually ending up in the dead sock pile in the laundry room. The braids have come undone and the ribbons were lost long ago. But the clothes have held up pretty well. Bella’s doll still wears her original red polka dot dress. Sophie’s doll’s dress did tear across the front where I can’t easily mend it. But the dolls themselves have proved to be very well made. The girls got them when they were three. They’ve been swung by the arms and legs, left outside over night. Tossed in the air and trampled underfoot. And so far not a rip or tear. Satisfyingly sturdy. Quite beloved. They have been one of the best investments I’ve made and I look forward to getting one for Lucy when she turns three. Last year we even gave one to a needy child via our parish’s giving tree.

If you want a rag doll for your child, this is a great line and they have a fine selection of dolls with a variety of skin tones and hair colors to choose from. There’s Janet , Kathy, Lily, a Christmas Kathy doll, and a Christmas Janet. There’s even a boy doll, Danny Boy. (And if you purchase one through my Amazon links we will get a little money to help buy more books for our kids.)

Sophie's beloved Princess
Sophie’s beloved Princess

And then there is the doll we got Sophie last year for Christmas. The dearest wish of her heart was to have a princess doll with a pretty dress and a crown that was soft and she could cuddle her. That seemed like an impossible request and then I found this gorgeous doll made by FAO Schwarz: Princess. A bit more expensive than the other doll, but it fit the bill perfectly and I figured the quality was going to be good. I trusted the brand. And Sophie loved her. Still loves her. It was a match made in heaven. Except for one thing: the doll shredded to pieces within weeks because she was so shoddily made. I seriously cannot believe they made the body out of satin. It’s no wonder it shredded, that’s a horrible fabric choice. What they should have done was made the body of a sturdy cotton and then put a satin dress on her. Like the removable dresses of the other rag dolls. But they cheaped out and made a crummy product whose dress doesn’t come off and which is virtually guaranteed to fall apart in short order if she’s actually played with by a real child. Unless you plan that she will just sit on a shelf and look pretty, this doll is a bad deal.

Best Christmas
Best Christmas Present Ever
ripped seam under the arm
ripped seam under the arm
ripped waistband seam and legs.
ripped waistband seam and legs.
Legs pulling away
Legs pulling away

And, yes, I dropped the ball. I should have complained to the company and got a refund or a replacement but I had a hard time finding the number to call, then was distracted, busy, who knows, I have five kids, and months passed and the doll sat on the shelf and eventually it was too late to do anything about making them make it right. But still Sophie laments her broken dolly and the dearest wish of her heart this Christmas is for the doll to be restored to her former glory. Restored or replaced, she doesn’t care. She just wants her precious dolly back to be played with and loved.

So this is my plea. Does anyone know how to repair her? Could you give me instructions or would you be willing to do the repair yourself? Or, alternately, does anyone know someone at FAO Schwarz who might be willing and able to make this right despite the long lapse of time since we purchased the doll? All I want is to see her eyes light up this Christmas as much as they did last Christmas when she opened the package and saw the doll for the first time.

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  • Unfortunately, with that kind of material, I don’t think there is a way to repair it after it’s started to fray like that. If it was just a little tear, you could use fray check and then stitch it back together. I think the only way to salvage that doll is to create a whole new body out of a material that looks purple but is sturdier fabric. It is was my child, I’d be finding a replacement. Something that looked like that doll but made of sturdier stuff. Such a shame. I hope you get some assistance from FAO Schwartz.

  • Hi Melanie – maybe you could consult with a doll “hospital” in your area & see if they could help fix her. Failing that, FAO Schwartz might still like to have your feedback about the doll’s quality so they can offer something better made in the future. Incredible that someone would think making a doll’s body out of silk was a “good” idea in the first place.

  • Well, since it’s hard to judge completely from just seeing the damage pictures, it looks like the only parts showing stuffing are those under the clothing where the clothing/dress itself is used as the cover for those parts of the body only, the clothing itself keeping the form together. Soooo…..couldn’t you find a similar fabric (perhaps from a woman’s cotton undershirt in natural color) that covers the rest of the body/arms, legs, head, take all of the clothing off, use that matching as close as possible stretchy cotton fabric and form/wrap it over the stuffing for that part of the damaged body and then make something similar in “fanciness” as a new princess costume? More work of course but at least you have the pattern from old, torn dress, re-using perhaps the skirt netting. The hair, face, arms and legs at least are still intact.