It’s another “wah!” moment here, as a new doll has reached completion. Her name is Mathilda Esmerelda, Queen of Krill.
DOLL CONSTRUCTION: I thought you might like to know a little about how she came into being…
She began with a silly SKETCH done on a piece of scrap paper at work. It looked like this:
Next, I rifled through my envelope of PATTERN pieces I’ve made for previous dolls. There are two I use often. For M.E. I chose one in which the head and body pieces are separate. I’ve been leaning toward that method more and more lately, because I feel like it gives the neck area more stability. I’m hoping to have a pattern / tutorial coming soon. Super basic pattern pieces, they are.
I CUT the pieces out of muslin, beginning with the head. The FACE is the best part, as that is what gives the doll her special character and personality. I don’t always do a sketch and sometimes I modify it, but it’s nice to look at it now and see what sort of face I had imagined. I cut out the EYES and other necessary facial features out of felt and begin to hand sew them on. Many dolls need embroidered mouths and eyelashes too. M.E. has a felt mouth enhanced with embroidery. (Oops, she’s just informed me that she hates it when I call her M.E. and prefers Esmy. *sigh*)
So, here is Esmy’s unstuffed head, with her face intact.
You may note that I simply set her “seaweed hair” behind her head to see what it would look like. I also arrange all the doll’s pieces out on the table to get a sense of what the completed critter will look like and if I like the proportions. Here she is, before sewing and stuffing.
By the time I took this photo, I had also already hand-sewn her heart on. I like to give most of my dolls a heart (or some sort of other bodily feature). The nice thing about having this separate body piece is that you can make it out of a different fabric, either just to be cute, or to simulate clothing without having to bother dressing the doll later.
You’ll notice that the tops of her arms are rounded, while the tops of her legs are not. That’s because I planned to attach the ARMS on the outside of her torso after putting her together, so I want them to look nice and neat. Her LEGS will be attached so that their tops disappear into the seam at the bottom edge of her body.
In this case, I sewed her HEAD TO her BODY on the front and back sides with 1/8th to 1/4th inch seam. Then I placed her seaweed HAIR and folded it over her face, matching up the raw edge of hair to raw edge of head and basted it in place. Next, I matched the front and back sides of Esmy, right sides together, and sewed all around except for the bottom edge where her legs would go. Turn her and stuff. Voila!
This is when the dolls begin to take on their own (often unusual) personalities. This is also when they become demanding, wanting their arms and legs to be attached as soon as possible, so that they can feel complete.
You’ll note that at this time the legs and arms also need to be sewn, right sides together, and then stuffed. For the legs, I leave an opening at the top. For the arms, I’ve recently begun to round out the tops and leave the opening on the side. The side opening can be hand sewn up when the arms are stuffed.
I stick the legs into the body and hand sewn the opening, catching in the tops of the legs. For the arms, I use the button “axle” method much of the time. I will post about this elsewhere, but basically it’s what it sounds like. There is a button on the outside of each arm. A long thread goes through the button and arm, through the whole body and out the other arm/button combo, back and forth a few times. This also the arms some range of motion.
Esmy demanded a pretty dress, similar to the one that Wacky Deb wears. Making doll clothes is a tricky business, I find, and so I’ll leave that discussion for another day. She also is wearing tiny crocheted leg warmers!
Here she is sitting on the bookshelf with her friend Wacky Deb. Hope this has given you a bit of direction if you are new to making dolls! I’d love to hear comments about your own techniques or trials and tribulations.