Monday, August 21, 2017

Alphabet Girls: Making Faces

Charlotte, who crochets charmingly :-)

The first thing one notices about a doll is its face.  And faces tend to intimidate dollmakers, but they shouldn't.  When you make your doll's face, it comes alive and has the power to tell you stories.

A face can be as simple and as charming as two dots for eyes, and nothing more.  Illustrations by Joan Walsh Anglund have this look of innocence, and a lot of dollmakers use only this to create very endearing dolls.

But you can be a bit more daring, and create a more expressive face, and that is what this post will show you how to do, step by step.

So lets get started!

 Drawing the face

The right tools make a big difference in the ease of what you do.  I use a Pilot Frixion erase-able marker to mark the features on my dolls.  The beauty of this pen is that, if you don't like what you've marked, a warm iron will take the marks completely away, and you can start again!

Feature placement for your doll is important.  I prefer my doll's features to be in the lower half of the face.  This gives a more child-like appearance to the doll.  So first (image at the top left) use two glass head pins to locate the eyes, then use an orange glass head pin to mark the mouth.  Move the pins around until you get a symmetry of features that is pleasing to YOU.

Then, make a small dot at each of the pin points.  Carefully trace an even circle around the two eye points, then draw in the eyeliner and eyelashes.  Next, add eyebrows, and finally,  the nose and the mouth.

The mouth.  This is always the hardest part for me, but I've found the sweetest and simplest mouth is a single line for the lip parting, then two shorter lines above and below this for the lips.  And finally, in the last image (bottom right) your face is drawn!

 Embroidering the face, part I

I like to embroider the faces on my dolls, mainly because I have much more control with a needle and thread than a brush and paint :-)  And their are SO MANY floss colors to choose from!  For Daisy, I used DMC 926 for the eyes, DMC 817 and 350 for the lips, nose, and eyebrows, and black and white for the eye detail.  All of the stitching was done with two strands of floss.

 What to do about the knots??  Look carefully at the middle and right hand images on the top row.  The middle image shows the needle coming out of the eye, with a tiny knot up next to the hairline, but in the next image, the knot is gone!  What you do is tug the knot gently into the body of the doll, through the cloth.  To finish off the embroidery, run the needle out of the doll in the felt area of the hair, then take the needle back into the same spot, and out again in another location in the felt.  This will anchor the thread, with no knots showing :-)

Satin stitching the eyes does not have to be hard, but you do need to go slow and take care.  The best way to do this is to first outline the eye with an outline stitch, as in the bottom left image, then begin satin stitching across the eye, beginning in the middle and working to the bottom, then working from the middle to the top.  Now you have a nicely worked satin stitch eye.

Embroidering the face, part II

Add detail to the eyes with black for the pupil, eyeliner, and eyelashes.  Work the pupil stitches over the satin stitched iris, as in the upper left and upper middle images, then use a stem stitch to make the eyeliner and straight stitches for the eyelashes.

Add two tiny stitches in white for the eye light, as in the lower middle and lower right images.  Now she has lovely eyes :-)

Embroidering the face, part III

And finally, embroider the eyebrows, nose, and mouth.  I used the same color for the eyebrows as her hair, which was DMC 817.  Use the darker of the two lip shades for the lip parting line in the middle, again DMC 817, then the lighter shade for the lines that are the upper and lower lip, DMC 350.  I also used the lighter shade to make the points for the nose.

To blush her cheeks, use crayola crayon!  The color I like best is Wild Strawberry ( in my box of 64 colors), but any appropriate shade of pink or peach will do.  Rub the color into the cheek, then use a soft knit cloth (a clean pair of old undies will do) to rub the color into the cheeks and soften it a bit.

And now you've created a lovely face for your cloth doll. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Alphabet Girls, a dollmaking challenge

Molly, Sophie, and Belle; the first Alphabet Girls :-)

A is for Ann, amiable and artistic,
 B is for Belle, beautiful and bright,
C is for Charlotte, who crochets charmingly,
D is for Daisy, in denim a delight.

E is for Emma, earnest and engaging,
F is for Flora, fond of her flowers,
G is for Ginny, a gardening Goddess,
H is for Hannah, happy for hours.

I is for Ivy, incredibly intelligent,
J is for Jane, just and joyful,
K is for Kitty, kind and kinetic,
L is for Lucy, loving and loyal.

M is for Molly, merry and mischievous,
N is for Nettie, knitting so neatly,
O is for Olive, obstinate and ornery!
P is for Poppy, personable and pretty.

Q is for Quinn, quiet and quirky,
R is for Ruth, reliable and resourceful,
S is for Sophie, sassy and sweet,
T is for Tansy, trusting and truthful.

U is for Ursula, utterly uninhibited,
V is for Violet, very Victorian,
W is for Wren, winsome and wise,
X is for Xanthe, an X-Ray technician!

Y is for Yvette, who loves yoga and yarn,
Z is for Zinnia, zany and Zen :-)

So, can I make 26 dolls from the Rita pattern on Mimin Dolls blog?  All different, with names and characters from the Alphabet poem above? 

I have plenty of fabric, plenty of time, and right now, plenty of enthusiasm.  Four dolls are already made:  Molly, Sophie, and Belle, above, and Daisy, below, who  was just finished up this afternoon.


It only takes a day to make a doll; they are quite simple, and so much fun to dive into the fabric stash and pick the materials.  
And when they are all done?  What to do with 26 sassy, joyful, quirky, amiable dolls?  Gift them, donate them, love them :-)

Along the way I'd like to share some tips and techniques that will make your cloth dollmaking experience a joy:  how make faces, how to stuff bodies, how to keep from chewing up your fabric in the sewing machine, and anything else I can think of.

Maybe challenge yourself to make some alphabet dolls, with your own favorite pattern, and using your favorite names.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Simple Fabric Dolls

The internet is an amazing source of ideas and inspiration for dollmakers, not to mention a great place to find free patterns!  The three dolls above were all made from patterns made freely available by their creators.

I got turned on to fabric dolls (again) by a friend from the Hitty's Knittys Yahoo group, and went searching for dolls with sewn on felt hair.  One great place to look is Pinterest, where I found the links to these three dolls.

Josephine, the doll with blue hair, from the blog While She Naps.

Pepper, with the brown braids, from the blog Paisley Roots

Lily with the red jacket, from the blog Make It, Love It.

 In the beginning...

I love picking out the fabrics and trims for each doll I make, spreading it out over the kitchen table and trying to keep my cat from 'helping.'
Putting it together, in a rather messy workroom!

Then we move everything back to my workroom, where the sewing machine and ironing table live.  I found it easier when making these dolls, to: 

1.  leave openings for the arms and legs when sewing the body, 
2.  stuff the limbs, then,
3.  ladder stitch the arms to the body, 
4.  stuff the body, 
5.  then ladder stitch the legs to the body.
This was much easier than trying to fit the limbs inside the body, then stitch the body and turn it all right side out.

Also, I reduced the pattern sizes for these dolls.  One of the nice things about patterns online is that you can easily alter the size of the doll when you print the pieces out.  Josephine and Pepper were both reduced to 50%, and Lily to 75%.

The face is the soul of the doll

Once the face is added to the doll, they come alive!  They tell us their story, whether they are shy or outgoing, adventurous or bookworms, or both!
These dolls were very easy to make, and made up fast.  After they were done, I found one more free pattern, which I liked best of all!


Molly is about 10 inches tall, from the Rita pattern on Mimin Dolls blog.  There are no instructions for the doll, just the pattern, but these dolls are so simple that they are pretty self explanitory.  I increased this pattern to 115% when I printed it out.  
Maybe you will give one of these dolls a try, and delight the child in your life, or yourself :-)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Great Greenway Tour 2017

 All images are courtesy of my brother and my husband :-)
Saturday most of our family participated in the Great Greenway Tour, along the Cardinal Greenway in Delaware county, Indiana.  The greenway is a wonderful Rail-Trail that stretches almost 80 miles, from Marion to Richmond, and all but 15 miles along the railbed.

It was a pure joy to ride in the country, enjoying the rolling and fertile farms.  The day was perfect, cool and dry with a beautiful blue sky.  My brother and sister-in-law, our nephews, my Dad, Larry, and I did 13 miles, then came home to enjoy carryout pizza!

our youngest nephew leads the way!

 Sister-in-laws selfie!

 Farm along the trail

A great way to spend the day!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Make it with size 20!

 These were designed for 4 1/2 inch crochet mini Hitty, but should fit any similarly sized doll

If you like a somewhat more delicate look to your tiny crochet, consider using size 20 crochet cotton, or DMC perle size 8.  I work these threads with a size 9 hook, and it really is not much more difficult than size 10 thread with a size 7 hook.  It just takes a little getting used to.

The advantage of size 20 is more detail in your crochet, and also better drape in the garments.  What I want to share today is a pattern for some basic garment elements, but not a complete dress.  Why?  Two reasons:  you can use your own creativity in making a garment, as long as you have the basic fit of the bodice.   Secondly, the dress is not my original idea, but one I fell in love with on Pinterest.

The bloomers and camisole are my own, and include full instructions.

Size 20 basic instructions

Enjoy the crochet!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Cardboard Construction

About once a year I get bitten by the cardboard box bug...hate to throw them away!  It is inspiring to look around and see how many different things can be made with cardboard boxes.

With the advent of multi-colored duck tape, the construction ends up being tidier, easier, and pretty good looking.  Of course, you don't want to sit on your construction...or leave it in the rain... or throw it at your annoying sibling.  But if you play carefully, you can have a dizzying array of doll houses for pennies, and a bit of your time.

This two room cottage for Mini Hitty was made with boxes we get our vitamins in.  Since they come monthly, I have an impressive stash of boxes; probably enough to make a village!

In addition to the boxes, I used scrap book papers and colored duck tape, both from Michaels.  Modge Podge for glue, and a couple of old paint brushes to apply the glue with.

I papered the ceilings first, then the walls and finally the floors.  I also papered the outside, then taped the first floor to the second floor with white duck tape.  

I used the duck tape to cover all the raw edges of the cardboard.  If the tape was too wide, I laid it on my cutting mat and sliced it with my boxcutter the width I wanted it.

To support a craft stick fence on the balcony, I used lengths of basswood glued to the edge of the balcony, for the fence to then be glued to.

One of the box flaps was left attached to the upstairs, to form the front of the roof.  I used a bit of cereal box cardboard to make a rafter to support the top of the roof:

 you can see it here on the roof of the barn; and this is what the finished roof looks like:

The living room furniture is made of a cardboard frame, then covered with a crocheted slipcover.   Instructions for making the chair and sofa are here:

The coffee table is a wood plaque with four small wood spools for legs.  I glued a piece of lace to the top of the table, then glued ric-rac around the edge (this was the hardest part of the entire construction!  the ric-rac would not stay put!)

The bed is made from four clothespegs glued to a cardboard frame the size of the mattress.  To make the mattress frame stronger, cut two pieces of cardboard and glue them together, then glue on the clothespegs at the four corners of the bed.  One side of the peg is sawed off, so the frame fits onto the stub of the sawed off peg.  The bed is dressed with stash lace for skirting, and Warm&Natural cotton batting for the mattress and pillow.  The coverlet is knit.

I added a peg rack made from a craft stick, with tiny wood spools as the pegs, covered with colored mini buttons.  Mini Hitty can hang her clothing here.

The LLama's needed a home of their own, so with one box and some red duck tape they now have a barn:

Two box flaps were cut down to half size and used for the barn doors.  Another box flap was left in place and trimmed to look like the gable front of the barn roof.  I used a separate piece of cardboard to make the back side of the barn and roof; cut the top to the same shape as the front gable of the roof, then glue this piece of cardboard to the back of the barn box.

Instead of scoring the cardboard for the roof, I used the edge of my work table to crease it, then glued it to a cereal cardboard rafter.

Try to keep things simple and let the boxes do most of the work :-)


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Llama Love

Dolls need pets, and the mini Hitty's wanted Llamas!  I found this wonderful pattern, Lorenzo the Llama, on Ravelry.  The pattern is $5.50, and worth every penny.  The pattern is well written and diagramed, and worked seamlessly from the legs to the head.  It is quite a bit of crochet engineering, and I wondered how many times the designer had to rip out and try again to get the perfect shaping that resulted.

My Llamas were crocheted with Knit Picks City Tweed DK in Snowshoe and Obsidian, with a size C crochet hook.   The yarn names seemed to me perfect names for the Llamas :-)

Such a perfectly shaped neck and head!

The blankets for both are simply the first five or six rounds of doily patterns that I have a gazillion of.  Just choose one that has an interesting beginning, and use several different colors to crochet the rounds.  These use Knit Picks Palette fingering weight yarn and a size 3 steel crochet hook.

The main thing in making this pattern is to keep scrupulous count of your stitches.  If you do, you will end up with a very adorable companion for yourself and your small dolls :-)

Enjoy the crochet!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Mini Knits

Four more Mini Hitty's have leapt off my hook; these girls have the rainbow hair I wouldn't dare wear myself :-)

I've made two of them some knitted clothing:  a sundress and capelet for Ivy (of the green hair), and a tube knitted dress and cat cap for Jade, with the black hair. 

Mini Hitty Knit Sundress, Capelet, Sweater dress and Cat Cap

The sundress could be easily adapted to bloomers.  Make the skirt less full, and once you've knitted past the crotch of the doll, divide the work evenly for the legs and work them the length you want.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Here Kitty, Kitty!

We love kitties at our house, so I went looking on the internet for a simple and sweet (and free!) kitty pattern.  This one, by Drawn and Hooked, hooked me immediately!

To scale to tiny dolls, 4 to 6 inches tall, I used fingering weight yarn and a size 2 steel hook.  With this yarn and hook the kitties are 2 1/4 inches long.  Her pattern is called Neko Atsume, and it will take you less than two hours to make one. 

Clearly it was impossible to stop at just one kitty!