Keepsake Dolls

Keepsake dolls - handmade and personalised

Who wouldn't like
a little friend who's always there...
on the bed... or on a chair...
reminding you of happy times...
whether you're troubled or haven't a care
never judging whatever you share?

My keepsake dolls are made of fabric. They are created, usually from a photograph, to remind the recipient of a special occasion in life by being dressed, as identically as possible given the smaller scale, as the recipient on the occasion to be remembered. Each doll is approximately 40cm tall.

Are you the proud parent or grandparent of a young woman who has just graduated after much hard work?
Do you want to give her, or yourself, a special gift?

Girl graduate with her parents

Graduation - many graduates hire their gowns for the occasion and have only a photo to remind them how they looked.  

Example of a Graduation Doll

A proud mother commissioned the making of this doll to bear testament to the culmination of many years of study and travel in order for her daughter to achieve her goal of a doctorate in her chosen profession.

doll in PhD graduation gownGraduation keepsake doll

The cap and gown were only hired for the award ceremony but the doll will be wearing hers as a reminder of that special day for many years to come.

woman in graduation gown for doctorate

Has there been an occasion either recently or maybe in the past for which someone, wore a memorable outfit? 

Many young women would love a constant reminder of that special prom dress. Or perhaps the occasion was a special birthday, a never-to-be-repeated celebration, retirement party, Palace garden party... A keepsake doll in replica clothes will provide a lasting souvenir.

Example of a Prom Dress

The owner of this dress wore it to a school leavers' dance very many years ago. This was all long before mobile phones existed and there are no photos of the dress being worn. Nevertheless she was unable to part with it. Her memories of the night in question are now revived in her keepsake doll.

doll in red tartan dressKeepsake doll in prom dress

The skirt of the doll's dress is made from some leftover scraps of the original fabric. On her feet she wears golden shoes. Around her neck is a necklace of matching multicoloured Swarovski crystal beads and an Ooak Gifts charm.

The front of her knickers is embroidered with the relevant date and the word, "Prom".

red tartan prom dress on hanger

Is there someone close who has been on the stage - perhaps an especially memorable performance?

A performance as a ballerina for a national ballet company was the trigger for the creation of this doll.

doll in theatrical costumeCharacter costume worn by keepsake doll

The embroidered waistcoat has been copied as accurately as is possible on the much smaller scale, as has the headdress.

The front of the doll's knickers are embroidered with the name of the ballet and the date of this special performance. She has an Ooak Gifts charm on a garter around her thigh.

girl dancer in theatrical costume

Do you want a special reminder of your wedding day?
Something that you can keep to hand and not shut away in an album?

This bride now owns a doll who wears a replica of her wedding dress. Some of the fabrics used are leftovers from the original.

The lace jacket around the shoulders, has been made from a smaller piece of lace.

The original embroidered lace that was used wasn't suitable for such a small garment although pieces of it have been added to the dress as was the case with the original.

bride doll

The bride wore red shoes on her wedding day. The doll too has red shoes but hers are finished with two tiny red bows with a diamanté centre. These same bows were part of the original wedding invitations.

The bride wore a borrowed pearl necklace for her wedding. The doll wears a necklace made from small glass Swarovski pearl beads finished with an Ooak Gifts charm.

This doll also has the word "Wedding" and the date embroidered on the front of her knickers.


Or perhaps you were a bridesmaid?

This is a replica of the outfit worn by a bridesmaid. The mixed race bride wanted to acknowledge her oriental roots so chose a red cheongsam for her only attendant.

bridesmaid doll in red cheongsam

Some of the original duchesse satin was available to make this dress although its thickness made the task quite difficult on a small scale as satin tends to fray quite easily. To keep it tidy the dress was fully lined.

The doll has the word "Bridesmaid" and the date embroidered on her knickers. She has an Ooak Gifts charm on a garter around her thigh.

I created a slightly different eye shape for this doll and can offer this to customers who prefer a more oriental look for their dolls. 

bridesmaid in red cheongsam

More about Keepsake Dolls?

A doll might also be created in a national costume as a souvenir of a special holiday. Or a beloved relative, such as a grandmother, could be recreated as a memento.

French can can doll and two souvenir Tyrolean hedgehogsKeepsake doll, Fifi, from Paris and two hedgehogs from Austria in 1961

I don't know about you but when I was a child I collected dolls of all shapes and sizes dressed in the national and regional costumes of places I had visited as well as many brought back by relatives from their own travels.

Many of these dolls were tacky and have long since disintegrated or fallen apart. Others were of better quality and have stood the test of time. Most of these were passed down to my daughter and now to my little granddaughter.

But there's one that I kept for myself.

From the start I called her Fifi. She was treasured because she was brought back from Paris for me when I was about thirteen years old, by our much older (by seven years) lodger who was my first great crush. Fifi has stood the test of time and I will never part with her. The crush was much less enduring!

Dolls as souvenirs

The word "souvenir" comes from the French "souvenir" which means to remember and the Latin "subvenire" which means to occur to the mind.

Dolls have been used as souvenirs in many cultures for centuries.

The Russians have a tradition of Matryoshka - nesting dolls. But apparently these began around 1000AD in China. (More about their history can be seen on a blog at this link.)

I also came across a You Tube video showing a lady who is making dolls in order to preserve the history of nuns and their different habits.

Many visitors to Japan take home a vintage Hina doll as a keepsake of their holiday. These dolls are made of porcelain and, as any other, vary in quality.

Hina dolls are associated with the Hinamatsuri Festival which takes place on 3rd March. This festival is celebrated by little girls until their tenth birthdays. You can find out more about Japanese traditions associated with dolls here.

Why dolls fascinate humans

Dolls undoubtedly hold a fascination for humans. This is no surprise because they represent controllable versions of ourselves. We usually begin as small children mimicking the behaviour of our mothers towards us.

As we grow older we use the doll more as a proxy by allowing it to live in ways which aren't possible in our real lives. The success of dolls such as Barbie are testament to this.

Dolls have been used by child psychologists to allow a child to act out, in miniature, events which cannot be spoken about for one reason or another.

When I create a doll I am always surprised how they become so much more than fabric shapes filled with polyester fibre. As they acquire facial features and hair, etc. they seem to develop personalities of their own.

Want to find out more?

Or visit other shops with personalised items:

Birthchart Necklaces

Various options to show the wearer's
own birth chart. A truly personal gift.

Toy Handbags

for little people

Or find out about ready to buy non-personalised gifts...

Hand Knits for Babies

One of a kind  cardigans, hats and blankets

Tiny Knitted Bears
for Collectors

Each one wears a hand knitted
jumper and a label bearing his name

Fabric Handbags
for Special Occasions

Bags handmade in cotton fabrics for something different
and special

  1. Ooak Gifts
  2. About Keepsake Dolls