For all the old pillowcases in closets and drawers, let me suggest an innovative use . . . turn them into dolls.

To make the dolls you'll need:

1/4 yard muslin

1 standard-size pillowcase (preserve an heirloom pillowcase this way)

24 inches of 1/4-inch elastic;

fiberfill stuffing

fabric paints and brushes

1 piece heavy paper (card stock)

doll hair (can be found at craft store)

fabric glue or hot glue gun

lace and ribbon

To make the body: Cut two rectangles 6-inches by 12-inches from the muslin. Sew pieces together using 1/4-inch seam allowance, curving top end a leaving short flat end open. Turn right side out and stuff with fiberfill. Turn raw edge under and sew or glue.

Painting the face: Make face pattern on a piece of paper with about 2 inches from outside to outside of eyes. Fold the pillowcase in half lengthwise and mark the midpoint at the seam line. Slip the face pattern inside and center it 2 inches below the mark. Trace the pattern on the pillowcase with a pencil. Remove the pattern and place the piece of heavy paper inside under the face to protect the back while painting with fabric paints. If you wish, you can use your own blush for the cheeks.

Constructing the doll: After the paint is completely dry, remove the paper and insert the doll body into pillowcase, centering the rounded part under the face. Tie a 6-inch piece of elastic at the neck area to form the head. Evenly adjust the gathers around the neck. Put one or two handfuls of stuffing (depending how puffy you want the arms) into the corners of the pillowcase to form the arms. Tie each off with a 6-inch piece of elastic. Using a 5-inch piece of elastic, make the hands by tying off about one inch of the corner of the pillowcase of the puffy arms. Glue or stitch gathered lace around top of head on pillowcase seam so lace faces forward. This gives the doll the appearance of wearing a bonnet. Glue hair under lace next to seam or place hair all over the head if you don't want the hat look.

Decorating the doll: Glue or sew several layers of lace trim around the bottom of the pillowcase. Tie narrow ribbon around the neck with a bow and streamers hanging down the front. Now that you know how to make the basic doll, use your imagination to make a ghost, a pilgrim or a Christmas angel.