how to make a flip doll

About a year ago while i was at work, i stumbled on the coolest doll i have ever seen. It was a flip doll, which are dolls that share one body. Scroll down for a photo if you're confused. Maybe you've already heard of these but i was blown away when i saw this. It was from some tropical island and had a very neat vibe to it. I immediately took some pictures on my cell and did a quick sketch of what the shape was like. After work i rushed home, took out my mother's sewing machine and made myself a very folky flip doll. It was bulky, made out of a pinkish canvas fabric but beautiful, with some beads i had saved for crafts adorning the head coverings. This version here is my second doll. I learned from my first mistakes and so she is very soft and delicate. Simple and beautiful at the same time. I love these dolls and hope to pass them along to my daughters someday, when i have them. If not i can always just give it to my new niece, Ava. These photos are not the best. They were taken before i got my slr and so aren't as "pretty" as what would have come out of my canon. If you would like some photos of the original flip doll i made, let me know. She looks different. More folk artsy.
Feel free to ask questions if you feel inspired to make your own!

I started with a white slightly stretchy fabric.
Did a trace of the shape. Hope you can see it clearly here.
The shape is important, as it helps the final doll look
symmetrical and holds up the dress shape.

I cut out the shape after it was all pinned.
The pinning really helps with keeping her from getting uneven and flimsy.
Just don't prick yourself!

Looks like a gingerbread man. :)

After i sewed the edges and left a slight opening on one side of her tummy,
i turned her inside out, pushed the corners out with a capped pen,
and gave her a hand sewn heart on both sides.
Just for an extra loving touch.

I then stuffed her. And i actually had a lot
of extra scrap fabric from old projects and stuffed her with that.
It was soft jersey fabric, but regular old filling will work.
I just wanted her to be extra relaxed and squeezable.
Do whatever puts a smile on your face.
Then sew the opening shut by hand but
turn the fabric in so it's a finished edge.

Okay, so I'm not going to lie. The skirt is the hardest part.
I screwed it up on my first doll and it took awhile to fix.
You can pick whatever colors please you
but I did two different fabrics that complimented one another.
They need to be the same size and about three times the measurement of her waist
and need to be the length of from under her armpits to about 2-4 inches
under the other dolls head.
I don't mean to yell, but I wanted to kick myself
for messing that up on the first doll.
I care about you and want to help you avoid that mistake.

First you must gather the top of each fabric separately,
so that it bunches enough to fit once around the waist.
This will allow the dress to fall freely over the other dolls arms
and rest with some pretty "poofiness"
a.k.a volume
If you wish, you can fold over the top about 1/2 and inch before you gather it, and sew it down so that the edge is finished.
Don't sew the skirt on the doll yet.

Take the another cut of each type of fabric.
You will need the shape of a triangle. This will be used for the shawl.
It should be big enough to cover over the shoulders as you see
in the photo above. The gray fabric is the shawl.
Sew the edges again if you want a finished look.
Lay the doll on her face, if there is a side that seems more like a face side.
Place the triangle fabric with the "good" side up.
Good meaning without ugly string showing.
Then pull the corners of the triangles around her shoulders.
Like a shawl. Overlap them in the front.
And hand sew them together and preferably
to her body so it doesn't come loose.
Do this to both dolls.

Wrap the skirt around one of the dolls,
right beneath her armpits. Have the opening be in back.
You will need to hand sew the back together,
pulling the edges inside so they don't show.
Make sure to sew it tight on her waist.
Then just with about 1/2 inch edge down the rest of the skirt.
And also, sew a small bit in the front and the back on the
gathered part to her body so the dress won't slip down.
The skirt should fall past the other dolls head
by about 2-3 maybe even 4-5 inches.
Do the same thing with the skirt on the other doll.

Then take the edges of the skirts.
Line them up as perfectly as you can, and fold the edges inside so that
the edge you're about to sew is nice and finished. Pin it all around.
Unless you like a shabby look, then just let it all loose and what not.
Carefully and slowly with the sewing machine,
sew with about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch off the edge.
I say slowly because any crooked sewing will show here.
Once you've sewn all around,
take a good look at your lovely doll.
She probably won't look her best because she looks bald.
Two more triangle pieces please.
Place it on her head like a bandana.
Pull it back on the bottom back of her head
and hand sew it tightly but not extremely tight.
Make it look natural and feel a tad loose.
Then sew just a bit on the forehead but try to
hide the thread under bead decorations or something.
The bandana will slide down onto her forehead
if you don't sew a bit there.
Add any other decorative touches like beads or hand sew on a face.
Make her your own. Make the fabrics clash if you like it!
Don't be discouraged if it didn't come out perfectly.
It took me time to figure it out and learn from my mistakes.
Make a second one and I'm sure it would turn out great!


  1. AnonymousJune 05, 2009

    Great tutorial! These really are neat! Thanks for sharing!

  2. AnonymousJune 05, 2009

    Eep! I had one of these as a little girl and i loved it so! It was Red Riding Hood on one side and when it flipped it was the Wolf in granny's clothes! One of my favorite special toys--wish I still had it today.

  3. Very cool! Thanks for sharing!

  4. OMG, mewpapaerarts, that's exactly what I was coming here to say....I didn't have the Red Riding Hood doll, but I remember seeing them when I was little.

    Great tutorial, Amanda. I'm not crazy about sewing, but I could understand everything you said. lol

  5. Great tutorial. Thank you for share to me.

  6. I'd like to see this first one!

  7. maybe ill post it up, ill have to find her first. dig through some boxes. shes totally rough and clunky i think. but i learned from it for my second one.