Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dollmaking Details

I love making dolls, and I love sharing what I've learned over many years of dollmaking.  There have  been many generous dollmakers that have shared their special techniques and tips on making exceptional dolls:  Judi Ward, Gail Wilson, Fiona McDonald, and many others.

Many techniques used in cloth doll making work quite well with crochet and knit.  The jointed head technique used on my crochet dolls I learned from Judi Ward making her cloth Bleuette, which in turn inspired my crochet Bleuette.  Using a crochet wig cap to make wigs for dolls came from the Waldorf dollmaking community.   Painting eyes on felt for crochet and knit dolls from Fiona McDonald.

To knit or to crochet?  Both are wonderful dollmaking mediums.  A knitted doll is generally softer, cuddlier, and more rag-doll like than crochet.  Crochet produces a stiffer, more rigid fabric that holds it shape on its own better than knit.  Crochet stitches are more visible than knit stitches; crochet works up much faster (for me!) than knit.  I love them both, and love their differences.  After knitting dolls for almost a year, I'm back to crochet.  If you both knit and crochet, they will keep each other ever green :-)


 I have some tutorials and a pattern to share today.  First is a basic camisole to fit Isabelle Kessedjian's My Crochet Doll.  I use this design for all the dolls I make.  It is simple, easy to fit to the doll, and can be used as a basis for dresses, romper, and t-shirts. 

My Crochet Doll Camisole

 This pattern has options for making rompers or a dress:


I used a different technique for making the hair on these dolls, which is a hybrid of Isabelle's instructions and the wig making I ususually use.  For Simone, on the left, and for the last two dolls I've made, I used a laceweight/fingering weigh yarn to produce hair that is more, well, hairlike :-) This tutorial is in PDF format so you can download it:

Hair making tutorial



And finally, all of these dolls have a roving wrapped armature inside the legs/torso and arms.  Roving is carded and unspun wool available in long lengths or ropes, which make it a great choice to wrap the wire armature with.  It is also a lovely stuffing medium, something I learned from Gail Wilson's cloth dollmaking.  It flows into the doll body very easily, packs well but doesn't distort your stitches.  It warms in your hands, which is an endearing quality in any doll.

Roving wrapped armature tutorial

If you are unfamiliar with roving, here is a site where it can be purchased:

Undyed wool roving from Weir Crafts

These techniques can be used with either crochet or knit, your own or someone else's design.  Mix and match patterns and techniques and make the doll of your dreams :-)

34 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this, I'm making my first ever crochet doll using Isabelle's book so your tips are very useful and timely for me. Your dolls always look so amazing.

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    1. That's great! Would love to see your doll when you are finished :-)

      Beth

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  2. Thank you for all these helpful details.

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  3. Me encanta la muñeca!!!
    Gracias por los tutoriales.

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  4. Beautiful dolls as always and great new ideas to experiment with thank you as always Beth for sharing your creative talent and gifts x

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  5. Oh my goodness, you are making a little cheerleading squad of these lovelys. You are inspiring me and your other faithful followers to join you. I've cracked the pages of my book, hook in hand and yarns picked out to start on my own My Crochet Doll. Thank you for all of your input regarding making these dolls. It is very helpful.

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    1. I get a bit compulsive when I find a pattern I really like :-) Can't wait to see your own version!

      Beth

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  6. You're absolutely right about the techniques of creating. I love crochet, few weeks ago I started knitting and so far I think that I'll love it equally. :) As you say, both has its own specialities and differences, which make it so original and special. Sometimes I have a problem - I want to crochet a doll, but at the same time I want to enjoy knitting, so great both acivities are. :D Now I want to knit my first fairy doll ever from Fiona McDonald's book and I look forward to it so much!

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    1. Ann, Fiona's fairies are so much fun! They are easy to knit and work up quick, and her technique for eyes is the best. Combining knit with crochet, and even sewing, is just a great way to make dolls :-)

      Enjoy! I'd love to see what you create.

      Warmly,

      Beth

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    2. Thank you very much for your kind answer. :) I'd love to show you the doll when it's done, or any of my so far created dolls. Unfortunately I just don't know where to post the pictures or how to send you a private message. :(

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    3. There are many online communities for people who knit, crochet, make dolls, etc. Ravelry is an excellent place to start! Sign up is free, there are many forums devoted to whatever knit or crochet passion you have, and the ability to share what you make via pictures.

      Also, Flickr is a photo sharing site where you can post and share your images. It is also free.

      You might give them a try, and be amazed at how many others out their share our love for making :-)

      Beth

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  7. Always a pleasure to see your beautiful work Beth.

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    1. Thank you so much, dear Carolyn :-)

      Warmly,

      Beth

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  8. They are so greate. I like how each "artist" add something from his soul to his dolls. Kessedian dolls belong to the cutests one. I have to thank you for your Grace notes doll pattern. I have already made two dolls and one pirate doll which I combined with Travel doll pattern. If you want you can look here. https://www.flickr.com/photos/anna1603/sets/72157626103469193/ Pirate is not finished yet (his clothes) so there is not his picture. I love your patterns.

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    1. Thank you so much, Anna, for the link to your delightful knit dolls! Your Grace Notes are so sweet, but I love your Fiona Travel Dolls as well :-)

      Warmly,

      Beth

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  9. Beautiful! And thank you so much for your willingness to share your patterns and techniques! I've been working on a version of your Bleuette but have been having trouble finding yarn for hair - because I too wanted it to be hairlike. But living in the back and beyond (nearest Walmart, Joanne Fabrics, Michaels, etc. is a 2 hour drive one way) my choices have been limited, would you mind sharing a link as to where you purchased the yarn you used for the hair on these dolls? It "looks" like what I've been looking for.

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    1. Thank you for your good words! Unfortunately, the exact yarn I used for these dolls, Louet Kidlin Lace, is no longer available. However, If you combine a lace weight mohair yarn with a fingering weight wool yarn, the effect will be very similar. I buy all yarns like this through the internet, as no Michaels or Hobby Lobbty ever carry this kind of yarn. Try WEBS online; here is the link:

      http://www.yarn.com/index.cfm

      Do a search on yarn weights, and you will find many options.

      Good luck!

      Beth

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  10. Thanks so much - I've wanted to go do the "touchy feely" thing and have been hesitant to randomly order - I'll check out WEBS this afternoon :-)

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  11. I'm glad to see yet one more of your wonderful crochet dolls! Interesting too that it is crocheted from side to side, I just have to make my own Camisole doll from your pattern. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Hi Anita! Thank you for your sweet words :-)

      Warmly,

      Beth

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  12. You might want to try www.knitpicks.com for lace weight mohair for doll hair. It is also reasonably priced.

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    1. Excellent suggestion, Joyce! Their Palette yarn is a lovely fingering weight, and they do have a laceweight mohair, and their prices are very hard to beat. Thank you!

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    2. Thank you for the suggestion of knitpicks Joyce. The colors are wonderful :-) I also discovered that WEBS is about a 3 1/2 hour drive and I have to go right by when I go visit my daughter in CT in a few weeks - and by gosh I'm going to stop! I'll probably be broke by the time I walk out the door LOL

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    3. I barely bat an eye when it comes to buying yarn...but clothing? Much rather spend my cash on stash :-)

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  13. I hear that!!! I like to feel and see the yarns too but our yarn shops here in south Florida are like buying designer clothes at Bloomingdales. Me too, Beth, give me a pair of jeans and a nice yarn stash.

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  14. Beth, you are a genious !! love your work, so kind to share so many patterns with us, I have used one to make dresses for a couple of dolls I made, its easy and it looks great. GRACIAS, can I ask a personal favour, I live in Argentina, next would love to try and make a doll using isabelle kessedjian pattern, and dress her up , (its complicated for us/me to buy via internet anything; and can´t find the book in any of the English Book Libraries due to restrictions on import/customs problems in the country) could you send me basic body pattern to work with? I think with your free patterns I could do the rest, cloths, hair, etc. I know its to much to ask from you, If you can´t I will understand, its just that i run out of ideas on how to get my hands on the book, or any of its patterns. If you need I can send you my email address or you can find me on FB, and send it there by private message. THANKS so much for Reading this, and hope I don´t offend you with my request. gracias and have a nice Day. Alejandra Abad

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    1. I understand your problem, but I am afraid I cannot send you the pattern; this would not be fair to Isabelle. However, what you might do is look for a free pattern, on this blog, or on Ravelry, that would make a similar doll. Use some of the dollmaking suggestions here, and create your own version of this doll.

      The Crochet Manga Spirit doll on this blog is similar. If you use black acrylic eyes instead of painting them, your doll will look a lot like Isabelle's. And, there are clothing patterns for the Manga Spirit doll here as well. Look on the left sidebar of the blog page for Manga Spirit Patterns.

      I hope this will work for you.

      Beth

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    1. Je vous remercie beaucoup, Isabelle:-)

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  16. blessed your hands, I love everything you do, and thank you for sharing ....

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    1. Thank you for your lovely words :-)

      Warmly,

      Beth

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