Children have played with homemade rag dolls through the ages. In America, interest in rag dolls increased with the invention of the sewing machine in the 1840s. Women’s magazines published directions for making the dolls. Butterick published its first pattern for a rag doll in 1882. The first commercial rag dolls were made in the last half of the nineteenth century. Sometimes manufacturers dipped the fabric in wax to stiffen it. Toward the end of the century, rag dolls were created to advertise products. One of the earliest advertising dolls was made in about 1895 for Northwestern Consolidated Milling Company. It was a farmer boy with the company’s trademark printed on his shirt between his suspenders.
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