Homespun Betsy

As a child I was your stereotypical tomboy. I climbed trees, built dams in the creek to create swimming holes, jumped my BMX bike and most certainly didn’t wear dresses or play with dolls.

But a few years ago I became chronically ill, and after I married, had the luxury of staying home to rest and try to regain my health. (I am doing much better now.) I needed something to occupy my time now that I was no longer teaching so I made quilts and discovered folk art.

I was surprised to find I was drawn especially to primitive and folk art dolls. I think it was a mixture of factors… I loved using up scraps of cloth left over from my quilt projects. Dyeing the cloth with tea and coffee to achieve skin tones was just plain fun. But most of all I was drawn in by the personalities that took shape as the doll was constructed. Each was entirely unique. I drew the pattern for the body pieces on notebook paper and then sewed through it to stabilize the skinny arms and legs, ripping it away when done. I might have a vague idea in mind upon starting a new doll but mostly the doll dictated to me what to do as her parts came together. Always the resulting doll was much different than my initial concept of her.

Although I found making dolls fun and intriguing I really didn’t have much use for them once they were made. Displaying dolls still just isn’t my style. Many have become gifts over the ensuing years, but I just pulled a box out of the closet in which I had packed away this one.

Introducing Homespun Betsy:

Homespun Betsy is a 19″ tea dyed doll hand sewn of muslin and cotton ticking. He dress is roughly woven cotton, unhemmed and fraying at the bottom. The neck of the dress has a hand sewn edge of embroidery floss.

Over the dress she wears a small apron and a simple thread necklace with three wooden beads. Her hair is made of fringed felted wool from an old thrifted coat. The face is needle sculpted and hand embroidered.

In Betsy’s lap is a quilted American flag, a work in progress with the thread and a needle still attached.

She appears to be momentarily pausing in her work, holding her needle at the ready to get back to sewing once again. The large sewing needle is real so THIS IS NOT A DOLL FOR CHILDREN.

Homespun Betsy has the honor of being the first item ever listed in my Etsy shop, Folk Haven Creations.

Thank you for reading,




  1. June 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Hi Karen. I love your doll. I’ve enjoyed browsing your site, thanks for visiting mine. You are very skilled. I just like trying to make things myself however unsuccessfully and encourage my kids to have a go without someone elses rules. It’s a sinple thing, but brings so much pleasure!

    • June 18, 2012 at 8:20 am

      I agree… The feeling when you have created something, and it is ALL from you, is so satisfying. It’s great you are passing that on to your kids. I really enjoy the artwork on your blog. You are very talented!

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