Custom Handmade Rag Dolls

Lusaka, Zambia · 423 Sales


Custom Handmade Rag Dolls

Lusaka, Zambia 423 Sales On Etsy since 2012

5 out of 5 stars

thebuslbarn is taking a short break


Note from shop owner Hello Friends, I've reached the maximum amount of orders for this year. I'm closing my shop and will reopen in January. Please feel free to convo me with any questions. I hope each of you enjoy a blessed holiday season! ~Michelle

Note from shop owner

Last updated on Oct 20, 2016

Hello Friends, I've reached the maximum amount of orders for this year. I'm closing my shop and will reopen in January. Please feel free to convo me with any questions. I hope each of you enjoy a blessed holiday season! ~Michelle

Michelle Busl

Contact shop owner

Michelle Busl


Custom Rag Dolls...Handmade in Africa

I love to sew...anything and everything! My mother is a master seamstress and taught all three of her girls to use a sewing machine, read patterns, and embroider at a ripe young age. From quilts, to baby clothes, to handmade rag dolls sewing is my stress release and favorite way to spend "spare time" as full time mommy to four active children. By education, I am a registered nurse and enjoyed working labor and delivery for 5 years before choosing to focus on my growing family. Besides sewing, I love to run, cook and spend quality time with my family and amazing husband.

With a recent relocation from Chattanooga, TN to Kafue, Zambia, my love of sewing and creating continues! Being able to travel to Africa with 13+ bags between our 6 membered family, I assure you I filled at least two 50 lb. suitcases full with sewing supplies, fabric and yarn for my dolls! Even my precious Bernina sewing machine, being carefully packed in a rolling carry-on bag, traveled safe and sound on the plane with me.

So why are we here and what are we doing? My husband grew up a missionary kid exploring the wilds of Africa and now with four kids in tow, we have returned to his familiar stomping grounds to pass down the same upbringing of cultural awareness, lack of materialism and consumerism, and just plain adventurous living to our offspring.

Your purchase in my etsy shop goes directly to support our life, mission and humanitarian outreach here among the Tonga speaking people of southern Zambia! We are stationed on a 3,000 acre farm which grows mainly bananas, wheat and soy beans providing jobs and training opportunities for hundreds of Zambians. The farm also operates a Christian primary school, health clinic, tailoring school, mechanics shop, woodworking shop, grinding mill, and education department.

As for my upbringing in the hills of Appalachia Tennessee, I can remember as a child my mother hand making pixie rag dolls for us to play with. Simplicity at its best...natural materials, sweet friendly characteristics, vintage fabrics. With the upcoming birth of my daughter, I began hunting for similar realistic looking dolls for her to play with. Let's face it; every little girl needs a doll, right?! Unfortunately, I was disgusted with the mass produced make-up plastered dolls on the market. Ugh! Doesn't anyone value simplicity anymore? That's when I stumbled upon a few of my mothers handmade pixie dolls tucked away in the attic. From a simple pattern along with my own drawings, I designed a larger version of her rag dolls imagining what I would want for my own little girl...and so, my rag dolls were born. The natural fibers of cotton and linen are warm and feel more 'real' than plastic. My dolls, quilts and quiet books flow out of a desire to recreate the beauty and purity of times gone by...the good ole' days before plastics were even invented.

Doll making for me is a fluid process...I am constantly adjusting patterns and improving processes such as the way I embroider, attach the hair, or appliqué. Despite the tedious process of stuffing the arms and legs, my dolls are so much fun to create because of their vintage look, warm natural feel and the way each doll develops it's own personality upon completion. In an effort to reduce our global footprint and make a happier planet, I love using true repurposed fabrics and eco-friendly materials whenever possible. In fact, my grandmother just recently cleaned out her attic and I inherited her huge collection of ancient sewing supplies-threads on wooden spools, antique buttons, left over lace from my mother's wedding dress, and fabric remnants; all of which I love to utilize with almost every doll, quilt or quiet book I make!

Hurray for Etsy, the bridge from my creative home in Africa to you! I'm amazed and humbled at how small this planet really is and how global my dolls have become, shipping to 11 different countries such as New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Israel! My shop, The Busl Barn, is where I get to share my handmade original designs with you. Join in the creative process too by customizing your doll to look just like the child it is gifted for. I love creating custom rag dolls for my nieces, nephews, and many of my friends children. They make the perfect keepsake gift for Christmas and birthdays and are sure to become an heirloom for generations to come.

Thanks for stopping by the busl barn! I hope you can find something to brighten your life, your home, or a treasured gift for the little child you adore!

*Photo credits: Thanks to Sabrina Stanford ( and Jessica Fitzgerald ( for their amazing job of capturing real-life play with my dolls.


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Shop members

  • Michelle Busl

    Owner, Designer, Creator

    I am a Christian, wife of 10 years to an amazing man, mother of four precious children, registered nurse, runner, homemaker and I love to sew in my spare time ;)

Shop policies

Last updated on August 10, 2015
Hello and welcome to the busl barn! I love creating and designing handmade rag dolls, quiet books, quilts, teddy bears, blankets, burp cloths and whatever else sparks my interest!

I appreciate high quality and natural materials. My creations are one of a kind heirloom treasures made in my clean, smoke and pet free home with the highest quality fabrics and materials.

Accepted payment methods

  • Pay with Visa
  • Pay with Master Card
  • Pay with American Express
  • Pay with Discover
  • Pay with PayPal
  • Buy with Apple Pay
  • Pay with Sofort
  • Pay with iDeal
  • Accepts Etsy gift cards
Prompt payment is expected. Paypal and direct checkout is preferred.
*DOLL SHIPPING: Please allow up to 10 business days for your doll to be handmade to order and shipped. Also, make sure to specify the name you would like hand embroidered on the back of your dolls dress in the 'notes to seller' at checkout along with any other custom requests.

*Due to international shipping times, please plan for at least 2-4 weeks shipping time!

*All orders will ship Standard Post First Class International mail and will arrive in the United States via USPS. A delivery confirmation email will be sent to the customer once the order is shipped. Please feel free to contact me prior to purchasing if you would like your order to be shipped Express International Mail (4-7 business days) or to be insured. Please note that tracking is only possible with Express International mail. The price for shipping will be adjusted accordingly and I will create a custom listing for you to purchase.

*The buyer is responsible for all customs, taxes, duties, etc. involved.
(Please be advised that orders from the UK may be subject to high custom charges).

*While it is extremely rare that any of these things happen, please understand that the busl barn cannot be responsible for the USPS or another country's postal system: this includes lost, damaged, or stolen items after delivery. If this is a concern, please contact me prior to purchasing so that we can discuss the additional insurance cost and I'll get a custom listing set up with correct shipping rate right away.

Please note:

*In an effort to reduce our global carbon footprint and make a happier planet, an invoice is not included unless specifically asked for.

*If sending as a gift directly to the recipient, I am more than happy to include a note from you; please let me know what you would like it to say in the "notes to seller" box during checkout.
Refunds and Exchanges
In order to ensure that my customers always receive a freshly made and unused item, order cancellations, returns, or exchanges are not possible.
Additional policies and FAQs
-CUSTOM ORDERS: I love custom orders! Please feel free to message me with your dreams, desires and wishes. The sky's the limit!

-WHOLESALE: While I am more than happy to put together large orders, please keep in mind that all my items are handmade by me and not manufactured; you are welcome to message me for wholesale pricing.

-DOLL DETAILS: Perfect gift for first birthdays, baby showers, Christmas, and stocking stuffers! They could be used as a decorative addition to a little girls room bringing warmth and ageless appeal. Suitable for all ages, boys and girls alike-for imaginative play, loving, and learning!

Each doll is MADE TO ORDER and may differ slightly from the one pictured in the listing.
Dress is machine stitched and appliqued for durability. Face is delicately hand embroidered. Doll is stuffed with washable non-allergenic premium fiberfill. The yarn hair is meticulously cut and machine stitched together and then hot glued and hand sewn to the head. Handmade by me in my smoke and pet free home.

-PERSONALIZE: You can name your doll after the child it is gifted for! The name will be hand embroidered on the back of the doll's dress.

-SAFETY: Dolls with button decorations are not recommended for children under 3 years of age. These dolls make wonderful first dolls, but babies and small children should always be supervised during play. If this doll is desired for a child under 3 years, I can replace the buttons with another suitable dress decoration. Just state your request for button removal in the "notes to seller" at checkout.

-CLEANING: Spot cleaning is recommended.