She Writes … And Plays with Dolls Too (Part 2)

Posted by on Sep 26, 2013 in Other Craftiness | 1 comment

In my previous post I said I’d go through a doll-making from beginning to end.

Here’s how I do it 🙂

blog1First I start with a simple one-piece doll pattern. I drafted it myself (as I’d like to sell these someday, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t using anybody else’s pattern) and cut it from plain muslin. I usually use my sewing machine to make the body, although I have also done the body completely by hand. While I sew the clothes by hand, I dislike doing the doll that way. It takes forever because I can’t use a simple running stitch as I do with the clothing–I don’t want to risk the stuffing coming out from between the seams.

You can also see my eye and mouth placement marked on the pattern. It’s easier to mark it now, because figuring out where the eyes go while the head is half-stuffed is annoying (the buttons slide all over the face).blog2This is my portable doll-making kit. Needles, thread, buttons for eyes, scraps for clothing, yarn and felt (when I’m working on the hair), beads for buttons, scissors, tamping stick, pins, etc., all contained in an old quilt block box. The stuffing is the only thing that doesn’t fit in the kit itself, but I usually only need that for one night’s worth of work.

Making this set-up portable was one of my best ideas recently. My daughter is on a year-round swim team. So 4 nights a week, for over an hour at a time, I’m sitting in the bleachers at the local YMCA. It used to be that I just surfed the Web for that time or attempted to write (it’s very loud and distracting there, so that usually didn’t work). However I can now sit and sew and feel ever so much more creative and productive. Not to mention I get to chat up my books every time somebody comes by and wants to know what I’m doing.blog3

Here’s Rob partially stuffed. I’ve been stuffing my dolls from the head down, figuring it was best to hide the closing stitches under the hairline. But stuffing this way has proved to be a time-consuming task. I have to take very small amounts of batting and tamp each piece down through the narrow neck, slowly working my way up from the toes to the head. Then I have to sew the entire head by hand while keeping the seams on the inside and stuffing it as I go along. It’s a royal pain, and makes for some lopsided heads.

I think for my next set of dolls (I stitched together my first four all at the same time) I will leave a side-seam open for stuffing. That will allow a better shaping of the head, and easier access to the limbs.blog4

And here’s the doll with the bottom layer (iris) of the eyes sewn on. As I finish stuffing each limb, I sew a seam across the body where the limb meets it. This allows the arms and legs to bend somewhat, keeps the stuffing from shluffing about, and just plain looks better. I also sew a seam where the head meets the body. Though now I’m wondering if I should leave that one open and stuffed very tightly. Perhaps their heads wouldn’t be quite so bobble-y if that seam were not there. Hmmmm…

Now that I have a finished doll body, the fun part of customizing begins. In my next post I’ll discuss how I make hair, mouth issues, and why you should know ahead of time whether your character has a moustache or not.

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One Comment

  1. Loved the step-by-step on this, and the fact that you drafted your own pattern. 🙂

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