Clothkits Rag Dolls – a trip down memory lane

by Claire

I’m taking you on a trip down memory lane – to re-visit my childhood collection of Clothkits rag dolls. I grew up in the late ’70’s – early ’80’s and I was always dressed in clothes from Clothkits. Clothkits was a fabric shop which sold kits to make clothes. The kits included the pattern printed on fabric which could be cut out and sewn together and all the extras you needed to complete your project (thread, trim etc).

My Grandma used to live near the Clothkits shop in Lewes and was always popping in as she loved sewing. I have fond memories of growing up wearing comfy Clothkits dresses with beautiful folksy patterns; and less fond memories of bright blue corduroy dungarees when I was starting to get very self conscious as a teen! If you have similar memories from your childhood, please share them with me in the comments, I’d love to hear your stories!

As a girl, I spent lots of time dressing and playing with my Clothkits dolls. The dolls, like the clothes, came printed onto the fabric ready to cut out and sew. I’m taking a trip down memory lane and sharing my Clohtkits doll collection with you. I retrieved them from the attic where they have been since my daughter grew out of playing with them.

If you missed out on the dolls in the’ 70’s and ’80’s, you’ll be pleased to know that the Clothkits brand (including dolls) was revived and relaunched in 2008, thanks to Kay Mawer. The shop also happens to be in my home town of Chichester, which has been perfect for adding to my vintage doll collection with some new Clothkits dolls and outfits (as well as helping fuel my general sewing/fabric addiction!). You can buy a new versions of the original Clothkits dolls from Clothkits online store.

Clothkit – the boy doll

‘Clothkit’, known to his friends as Kit, came ‘dressed’ in a very fetching running vest and shorts. All the girl dolls have printed on undies. Maybe the designers couldn’t decide between boxers and briefs so decided to give him printed outfit instead! My favourite part is his printed digital watch. He won’t let you down by being late.

His main outfit is a check shirt and jeans. It came with a waistcoat, cap and a bag with his name on. The waistcoat must have been inspired by Native American art; with birds and a teepee in the centre. What I love about Clothkits is the bold patterns and prints used on the fabrics. As much thought has gone into the doll clothes as the children’s clothes, making them so special.

The pattern also included these wonderfully bold red pyjamas – you could say he’s a bit of a night owl…(groan). Again the patterns are bold and bright, with lovely detail when you look closely. There are feathers around the neckline and a large owl in flight on the back, swooping down on unsuspecting prey and looking rather fierce.


Kitty is one of the girl dolls. She has printed undies and her outfits included dungarees with a blouse and a pretty dress.

As with all the Clothkits patterns, the attention to detail is lovely, with folk inspired flowers and butterflies combined with geometric patterns and soft colours. There’s also a brown version of Kitty, with a yellow eyes and yellow replacing the blue on her outfits.

Sleep time for dolls!

Dolls, like children, need a good night’s sleep, and the Clothkits dolls are no exception. This bedding set and nightie has had a lot of use – in doll prams, cots, and even cardboard boxes made into beds. I have always loved the pretty patterns, colours and the quilted effect. Perfect for bedtimes. You can still get this set – but in pink and purple, which is equally lovely.

Polly – with bloomers!

Polly came in two variations, the ‘fair’ version (blue eyes, blonde hair, pastel outfits) and the ‘dark’ version that I had. My Polly had darker skin, pretty emerald green eyes and her outfits were emerald, fuchsia pink, black and green. She came with dainty pink court shoes with green bows and her little white ankle socks had flowers at the top. Her printed undies were white with cute pink hearts, bows and doves. She also had a dove ring on one of her fingers.

Polly’s outfits included a dress, bloomers, jacket and a basket with cherries printed inside. Again, all with the same cute folksy prints and lovely details – of hearts and flowers. The catalogue says that ‘Polly is rewarding to sew and is sure to remain a much-loved toy for many years’ – they got that right then!

Romany wanderings

This is the Romany Style outfit which was designed for Polly. As you can see from the catalogue (below) it came in two colour-ways; the pastel shades which I had, and the bright colours. I’ve just realised (after all these years) that the white skirt with the bows on is meant to be her petticoat! I’m sure if I asked my daughter what a petticoat was, she wouldn’t have a clue (the same goes for bloomers!). A pinafore over the top of dresses are also something of the past – I remember my grandma asking me to put my ‘pinny’ on. It does seem a shame that all we get now are aprons – which are not always as pretty.

The white pinafore has tiny cross stitch details along the bottom and on the top.

I’ve always loved Polly’s big pink bow – clearly way ahead of the JoJo bow trend – proving that there really is nothing new under the sun.

Tutti frutti – a totally tropical fruit medley

The Tutti Frutti collection includes a nightie, kimono, shorts, skirt, waistcoat, hat and sundress. It certainly lives up to it’s name – with apples, oranges, strawberries, cherries, pineapples, bananas and lemons featuring on the clothes. I was never too keen on the hat – which didn’t really fit very well and I don’t think the shorts went well with the white socks!

The sundress and nightie were both really sweet and had perfect vibrant summer colours.

A smiley sunshine and parrots join the fruit theme for a very tropical sunny set out clothes! I think we’d all feel happier if we had a Kimono with a smiley sun on the back!

I’ve enjoyed re-visiting the happy memories I made with my Clothkits dolls. Share your Clothkits and Clothkits doll memories (old and new) below! 

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