house fly rag doll : sewing tutorial

simple fly rag dolls that fit in the palm of your hand. Made from cotton scraps with button eyes and simple details. Their expressions are very happy.

Who could be mad at these guys? Sew up some little fly friends, you’ll need a handful of scraps, stuffing and buttons. Pretty much. Their expressions crack me up. And the funny little legs definitely have “flyness”.

The idea for them first turned up in the daily paintings. I love to celebrate the less loved creatures and who is less loved than the dreaded house fly?

little fly dolls in miniature wire beds with vintage cotton mattresses

And why not make them cozy? They fit perfectly in the little wire beds.

let’s make a batch of dear little pests


fabric fly doll, on it's back on a windowsill next to a vase.


download the template


  • basic sewing kit
  • embroidery thread  (I’m using dmc perl cotton 12)
  • buttons – 1/4 – 1/2  inch-ish
  • cotton fabric scraps
  • a little stuffing

It’s helpful to read through all the steps before beginning.

1. Pin the body pattern to 2 layers of cotton fabric – right sides together – and cut out 1/4 inch from the edge. With the pattern still attached, stitch around the edge of the paper. Leave open between the marks.

2. Clip the seam allowance at the marks.

3. With the paper pattern still attached fold the edges of the opening over and press.

4. Clip little triangle sections out of the seam allowance – be careful not to clip the seam.

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back to the flies…

5. Turn the body right side out. Use a chopstick or similar to push out the curves.

6. Stuff the body and stitch the opening closed with tiny whip stitches.

For adding the details and features you will find this tutorial on how to hide your knots helpful.


7. Cut out the stomach patch and stitch in place.

8.  The wings are made from 2 layers of fabric. Pin the wing pattern to a double layer of cotton – wrong sides together – and cut out around the edge of the pattern (do not add seam allowance). Repeat for another wing.

9. Stitch all the way around the edge of both wings with contrasting thread –  about 1/8th inch from the edge.

10.  Stitch buttons close to the edge of the head. I used a half inch button here – you can use 2 or 4 hole buttons.

11. Stitch two straight lines in contrasting thread to finish his simple features.

12. Pin the wings in place. The short side goes in the center with the edges overlapping slightly. Make a few stitches in the center and down the side. Stitch with the same color thread over your previous stitches.

13. Make a knot 4 inches from the end of your leg thread (I used dmc perl cotton #12). Insert the needle into the side seam at the top to the stomach patch.

14. Bring the needle out the other side until the knot catches and make a knot at the seam.

15. Make a knot in the thread and before tightening it use the needle to pull it down the thread util it is 1/2 inch from the body. Tighten the knot.

16.  Trim the leg about 1/2 inch from the knot. Repeat the knot and trimming on the other side.

17. 1/2 inch below the first legs add the next two. For the last two legs Make a knot 4 inches from the end and put the needle in 1/2 inch from the bottom of the body. Bring the thread out the other side until it catches and make a knot at the seam.

18.  Make a knot 1 inch from the body.

19. Trim the leg  3/4 inch from the knot. Repeat the knot and trimming on the other side.

hello fly friend!

Do you know somebody who needs an aggressively friendly fly?  Is there an adorable swarm in your future? Let us know in the comments.


  1. HAHA!! These guys are a riot. I love the one you laid on the windowsill! Maybe these flies will alter my bad feelings toward flies.

    • Lauri Hyde

      I saw the dead fly on its back and roared!!!
      You know that final touch should have been?
      Legs stiffened with starch or glue so they would stick up a La rigor mortis and… wait for it….. instead of the single straight stitch for the eye…. It should have been a CROSS STITCH!! Like little X’s in the eyes??! Got ‘em!!
      Now appearing! Little plaid fly swatters!!!! I’m dying!!!!!!

  2. Barbara

    I haven’t laughed so hard over something silly in a long time . Thank you. Who knew housr flies could be so loveable!

  3. D. Harper


    • Rosemary B

      hahahaha I love that idea. I will do the same

  4. Shelley Tucker

    I absolutely hate flies and I am completely in love with this!!! It’s so cute I can’t even ❤️❤️❤️

    • annwood

      Right?! I’m the same way hate flies! But these guys are too funny!

  5. Lisa Biladeau

    I love this pattern, thank you! Since you’ve sewing on a tummy patch, there’s really no need to stuff through an opening in the side seam. Stitch all the way around, make a little slit in the center of the tummy, turn, and stuff. Sew on tummy patch.

    • annwood

      Nope. You are welcome to do it that way but having compared methods the one demonstrated is recommended.

  6. Absolutely adorable!!! I love flies in general and these friend are the sweetest! Those legs Thank you! These cutenesses will definitely get the creative but out of me

  7. Rosemary B

    Oh Ann… ❤️
    You always come up with the cutest things.
    I want to make these house flies with my grand girls.
    I will gather the ingredients and take along when I go to them next week
    You are a treasure

  8. Susan Hemann

    hate flies! I’m in a wheelchair so stealth mode is out for me to catch them
    your pattern is so cute though, thank you

  9. Christina

    These are so fun! So, you leave the paper in when you turn the body? I think it would be interesting for the little ‘crackle’ that it would make.

  10. Deborah

    So adorable! Even though house flies gross me out, I truly think these ones are the sweetest. Thank you for the smile today and for sharing the free pattern with tutorial.

  11. Even though I don’t like flies, I use to doodle them for fun. These would make the cutest pattern weights! Or emeries! So many possibilities, thank you for sharing 😀

  12. Omg, I’m bringing this to my Waldorf group for handwork for us parents to do while the kiddos play!! SO CUTE!!!

  13. mklands

    I just laughed like a loon over these funny things, as a gigantic fly is banging away all around me!

  14. Dorylyn

    I did laugh out loud!! How fun to have these around when the grandkids come over!!!

  15. Liberty

    Very cute Ann, who would have thought I needed a fly pattern? I can see these decorating a summer picnic table, used as a pin cushion, table decorations at a luncheon, filled with beans for a fun game toss, the ideas are endless. I will bees wax the leg threads to add some substance. Thank you for making my day with the fly pattern!

  16. Monica Terrill

    What a super cute idea and I’m thinking these would be great as refrigerator magnets! Thank you so much!

  17. This is why I look forward to your newsletter so much and do a happy little jig on the inside when I see it in my inbox. Thank you

  18. I made one for my daughter and she’s been hugging it tight ever since. What a great little fly!

  19. I’ve previously made moths like this using colorful fabric for wings and furry fabric bodies. I am a fan of all things insect. These flies are incredible!

  20. We’ve had a sudden onslaught and determined that the cat is somehow propping open his kitty door and letting them in. My kids will definitely giggle at this. Cat toy, anyone? Thank you for the adorable ideas, Ann!
    p.s. Is there a post explaining your scrappy fabric roll at the back of your workspace today? I’m so intrigued!

  21. Hi Ann,
    I love the flies! I made one, slightly differently from your pattern, with single hole mother of pearl “sequins” and a French knot for each eye. I used scraps of wool for mine, as I have lots!! I am going to make more and modify to make my own. They make me laugh. I shared on Facebook and will mention that it is based on a free pattern that you provided. You may get more members as I have almost 3000 friends, many being artists and fiber artists. Thanks so much for this free pattern!

  22. Very funny & creative, I’m definitely making a few for my windowsills! These would make anyone laugh!

  23. Sue Clarke

    So much fun, thanks Anne for the pattern and the joy. I am new to your news letter but I am really enjoying reading it.

  24. Shannon

    They are so cute and remind me of the Fly Guy stories which are so delightful.

  25. Frannie Stevens-Meshorer

    Mosquitoes, hornets, wasps and flies
    Who’d a ‘thunk’ I’d like these guys!
    Gnats and chiggers, Bees and fleas
    All my friends each of these
    Each in nature plays a part
    Each has a tiny beating heart

  26. Melissa Murray

    These are wonderful, and I love some of the ideas you other ladies had (pincushion! Ha! Wonderful idea!!) But all I could think of was a baby mobile over a crib I think most moms may object, but I think it would be brilliant! Or, stuck on your screens.

    Anyway, they are lovely, and a few are certainly in my future…

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