a doll costs HOW much!?!

This is a little series that I’m writing about the dolls. This post, ‘but I really think its for me’, was the first post I did in the series. Stay tuned for ‘how to do boys with dolls – from my perspective’ .

This is usually muttered by husbands when their wives are talking about getting their little ones a doll. It’s also sometimes ( very rarely, but once in a while) said by a person at a craft fair to their friend while looking at the dolls, usually loud enough for me to hear it. I’ve gotten over the point now that I yell ‘Hey, I’d be making way more money if I worked at Subway’.. but we won’t go there.

So, why do the dolls cost as much as they do? Well, lets look at the time that goes into one of these sweeties..


John making heads and fabric being traced out.

Head making, shaping and covering 30 min.

Tracing, Sewing and cutting body 15 min.

Stuffing 15 min.

Assembly 1 1/2 hours.

Hair 2 to 2 1/2 hours (boys take alot longer for the hair).

Face embroidery 20 minutes.

Clothing 1 to 2 hours (depending on what it is ).


Nonna knitting a sweater on my parents porch. So cute!

Sweater knit about 3-4 hours.

Dressing, cutting hair, blushing, getting ready to ship 30 minutes.

So, a doll can take about 12 hours to make (but it’s really closer to 15 when we include all the picture prep, uploading, packing, etc .. crazy time consuming!) – that’s just the ‘lady love’ that goes into it. (Well- lady love minus John love.. he makes all the heads!)


This is an older pic , last year, of Ben and my wool. I remember when I did this order, it was a milestone for me I had never ordered so much wool. Now, I’m getting in about double that. One of those coils makes around 12 heads – John packs those heads in tight!


After a trip to buy fabric. I always prewash all my fabric to prevent shrinkage. There is some hand dyed mohair there too drying on my deck.

Now there are the supplies. I could get my wool for a better price – I know I can –  but I am so incredibly anal about my supplies and what I use. I get the majority of my wool from Birkeland Brothers. They are a Vancouver company that has been in business for over 70 years – its a family company that has the softest, cleanest, most scrumptious wool I have ever dealt with – and believe me I’ve seen a lot of wool.  There is over a pound of wool in my 14″ doll. Then there is my cotton knit for the ‘skin’  that I import in from the Netherlands, all my quilting fabrics for the clothing, and then the hair. I usually mix between 3 and 6 different yarns, we use all natural fibre yarns from mohair to alpaca. I use about 100 grams of yarn for the hair – that is an insane amount of yarn.  I’m not going to price it out because it is a tad embarrassing how much I spend in supplies, but you get the gist!

So there you have it. Keep in mind that these times are fast, I don’t want any beginning dollmaker thinking ‘Jeesh – it takes me 20 hours! What am I doing?’ It took me 20 hours too in the beginning. Myself and the girls have been doing this a while now – we’ve got callouses to prove it!  Another thing to keep in mind is that you are helping families- you really are. There are 6 of us doing the clothing, sewing and knitting – we’re a little group, this isn’t a big company ,we are a small home based company that really love and care about what we do.  You are also helping to keep crafts alive in North America one doll at a time.

Thanks and peace out.








25 responses to “a doll costs HOW much!?!”

  1. Naomi Avatar

    Thank you for outlining this- my husband is always asked about the price of his paintings and sculpture, too, and I don’t think people who aren’t artists realize the time it takes to make things.

  2. Aubrey Avatar

    I loved reading about how you make your amazingly amazing beauties – thanks for the peak into your process!

    How cute is your grandma?!?! =)

  3. jozen Avatar

    catherine, you forgot to mention how beautiful they are! and how lovingly they are made you can’t put a price on beauty or love!

  4. Fabiola Avatar

    it is pretty weird, but this afternoon while sipping tea, i wrote down all the little things that I do to make one doll from “scratch”…and there’s some time difference but not that much…it takes me 15-16 hours to make one…more if it’s a big one (i struggle with the leg seam and shoulders more than with the little ones). And then I come, and I read your blog and what do I find…same list, different dolls. I did my list because I am having a hard time picturing exactly how long it takes me, and also because I need to “set priorities”…ok…this is way too long a comment. I LOVED the photo of your Nonna!

  5. Jennifer Avatar

    Thanks for walking us through the process! I’ve made a couple of dolls myself and I definitely understand why they cost so much! Lots of time, love and beautiful materials….

    Your nonna is adorable (:

  6. Christine Avatar

    I don’t even know how much a Bamboletta costs! But whatever the price is, it makes sense when you read how much time everything costs. I love the pictures in this post!


  7. cheryl Avatar

    The cost is irrelevant. When you see the joy it brings a child, for what then costs small change every day. I love seeing the process. I also love Nonna knitting away.

  8. Kathryn Avatar

    I’ve drooled over your website/dolls for a while now and I finally decided to post a note. This one made me smile! I was at the park last week putting on the embroidery for a little kitty I was making for a swap and a woman came up and began chatting with me. She asked how much it cost to make a doll/cat like the one I was making….offering up $3 or $4 as her guess! Hmmm….. (wool stuffing, suit wool body, wool felt, designer quilting fabrics, the tears that my daughter sheds each time I give away something)!!!!! She was sweet so I wasn’t flippant but there was little educating that took place that day!
    Your dolls are so, so, beautiful. As my skills increase, I’d be thrilled if mine were 1/2 as beautiful.

  9. Kerry Avatar

    This is amazing behind the scenes story. I have even more greater appreciation for locally made products and small businesses. Thank-you!

  10. Sue Avatar

    Great post!
    I have educated quiet a few people that way already as well. Afterwards they understand and respect that it is a labour of love. You never get the “real” price that each doll would have to cost if you would add a reasonable hourly fee for your work to it.
    Have a wonderful day! :0)

  11. CanCan (Mom Most Traveled) Avatar

    Seconding Naomi’s emotion, beyond all of the work that goes into the dolls, they are works of art! So YOU as the ARTIST are selling one of a kind works of art that also happen to be dolls.
    Are you sure you charge enough? 🙂

  12. Amber Avatar

    Anyone who’s ever done any crafting and tried to sell it knows that it’s expensive and time-consuming. I never even broke even. I am sometimes surprised by what items cost, but never in a, “Oh, that’s unreasonable” sort of way. It just drives home to me the effort and materials that go into these little treasures. I’m with everyone else, your dolls are beautiful and worth even more than you charge.

    This also drives home how everything has become a commodity. We are more concerned with price than with where things come from and what their true cost is. I would far rather support a business like yours than buy yet another cheap toy from a big box store.

  13. Holly Avatar

    Oh I love that! “It costs HOW much?!”

    Just imagine if you actually factored in an hourly wage! You can’t put a price on quality handmade.



  14. Lauren T. Avatar
    Lauren T.

    Handmade doll treasured for a lifetime…. priceless. Truly. Anyone who scoffs at the price of any handmade treasure can just drive themselves over to Target and pick up any from a great variety of cheap imitations. We all do it all the time. I love that picture of Nana knitting those bitty sweaters, that is absolutely darling. And the very idea of supporting the types of quality companies that you support….. it’s all part of the great deal. I love seeing the pieces and the process…. getting so excited!

  15. Julie Avatar

    I love reading all of the beautiful comments everyone writes! I am one of the six that works for this dynamo! In amongst these 15 hours are: driving kids to school, rushing at the end of the day to pick them up, screaming ‘in delight’ baby Jasper who has the most dexterious sp? fingers of any 1 1/2 year old I know, so sweet Ben wanting his momma and his home all to himself, deliveries while babies are ‘trying’ to nap, post office runs, taking care of husband John, answering the phone, cooking (she’s Italian after all!), cleaning, being an incredible friend, wonderful daughter and great sister…oh yes and most appreciative grand daughter. Plus! Designing new dolls, deciphering custom orders, making every moment count, always learning about the ‘business’, spirituality, a very aware and concerned global citizen. Her days start early and end very, very late and she is always, always, always pleasant, patient and a joy to work for. I love you Christina! Julie xoxoxoxo

  16. Katie Avatar

    I’ve looked into making dolls, and know how the costs add up, I trained as a jeweller where suprisingly the material costs are low, and people dont fuss about price so much, too bad I dont really enjoy it! Your dolls are so beautiful.

  17. admin Avatar

    Wow, I didn’t expect all these comments from this one. Thanks so much ladies 🙂

  18. anna Avatar

    its great to hear you talk about this Christina! soooo many people don’t get the prices of handmade, but in actual fact *most* of the time things are under priced. your dolls are totally reasonable $ wise.

  19. Jen Avatar

    They are worth every penny…I usually don’t tell my husband about how much things like this cost. 😉

  20. eti Avatar

    Hi Christina.
    I’m a beginning dollmaker for fun and for my children.
    me and my freinds started to meet and study making waldorf doll.
    It’s taking lots of hours and money…
    every doll is getting alot of attention. Its a one of a kind doll and you can’t replace it with any industrial doll.
    kids notice the difference. mine are waiting tracing the dollmaking… they know to Evaluate it.
    It look like you have a nice working-place there and it’s wonderful know that you keep crafts alive.


  21. nathalie Avatar

    just amazing!!! totally worth the price. they are beautiful and each so special. i know people think the money is a lot…..but when you spell it all out it seems like not nearly enough. i know this first hand. keep up the great work!!!! this is such a beautiful family business!!!!

  22. Shawn Avatar


    I completely enjoyed this post. The love you put into your dolls really shows in the final product.

    I’m looking forward to the post you are going to write about boys and dolls.


  23. Alexis Jennings Avatar
    Alexis Jennings

    And they are worth every penny………. I have always been in love with your dolls. So I saved up at Christmas to get one for my little girl, and to tell you the truth I want to save up again to get one for ME!
    Keep doing what your doing Mama. You are loved by all…

  24. Ella Avatar

    lots to say on this matter…but how the heck do you stuff a doll in 15 mins? it takes me 1-2 hours depending on how intent i am to stuff. it becomes a meditation.
    oh and i went to buy some wool yesterday (not nearly as much as in your photo above – wow!) and it has gone up ridiculously in price. it has nearly doubled per pound since i first started stuffing dolls but you are right there is no going back. i sometimes get wool from organic sheep in the Okanagan but only when i make a trip out there.
    As for the side comments at craft fairs etc…i think this is notorious of Vancouverites. i’ve done shows all across Canada and i have to say BC is the worst for it.?? i think there are a lot of crafty folk here and so often people are out to get ideas rather than to buy (unless it’s a steal of a deal). maybe i’m wrong – there certainly are some amazing and supportive folk too but i always did better in other provinces.
    i’m so happy that you are selling most of your dolls first hand now. you deserve every penny and they are so worth it. actually i think they are worth so much more for all the love that goes into them.

  25. Chris Avatar

    These dolls are totally worth the money. I look around at how much plastic crap we have from Target, WalMart, etc and the baby hardly plays with it. Most were given to us and while she has a few favorites, like the sorting barn she mostly likes playing with simple balls, her handmade toys, and anything grown up she can find. (Like my computer mouse, a pen, nail clippers, etc. You leave it out, she’s got radar to find it.)

    I look at all the wasted money on stuff that won’t mean a darn thing and am almost sick about it. Her handmade items on the other hand will probably be treasured as she grows. That’s what I’m hoping anyway.

    I make handmade bunnies and the thrill of hearing how much a toy you made is loved makes it all worth it. Time to start sleeping less with Easter on the way though. After two weeks of a sick kiddo (vaccine reaction and then teething) I’ve been “bad” and been going to bed at a decent time when everyone’s asleep. That is normally my time to sew, so I am behind, but at least not falling asleep at the wheel on the road.

    Your dolls are amazing. I only wish I made enough to give one to every 3 year old little girl (and boy with open minded parents) I know. 🙂

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