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. 

14 comments:

  1. You make it look so easy in this wonderful tutorial. I only can imagine how much time it took to take so many pics and to give so much detailed information. THANK YOU!
    BTW I found the link on flickr.

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    1. Thank you for the good words, Elenor. My hope is that this will indeed make it easier to make faces on dolls, for everyone :-)

      warmly,

      Beth

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  2. Has conseguido una bonita expresión. Considero muy difícil hacer la cara de las muñecas. Buen trabajo.

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    1. Isabel, espero que esto pueda ayudarte a hacer las caras que quieres en tus muñecas:-)

      con gusto,

      Beth

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  3. Beth, what a captivating tutorial! Your patient explanations each step of the way inspire confidence in your readers that we, too, could create such lovely results. Your detailed photographs build the needed transitions from one step to the next, stitch by stitch...this was simply a joy to read. Thank you!

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    1. Dear Mary, thank you so much for stopping by, and your sweet words!

      warmly,

      Beth

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  4. Thanks for naming a doll after me! How did you know I love to crochet? :-)

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    1. It must be serendipity, Charlotte :-)

      warmly,

      Beth

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  5. This is a fabulous tutorial. Your trouble is the mouth and mine are the eyes. I'm not good at embroidering when the doll is already stuffed. I usually do it beforehand with a hoop. But you run the risk when seaming and stuffing that the face may not be centered exactly the way you want it. I'm going to try it this way again. Where ther is a will, then you can.

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    1. Thank you so much, Joyce, for your good words. Like you, I started out embroidering faces before stuffing, but yes, sometimes the features migrate! With the Frixion pen, you know exactly where the feature will be after the doll is stuffed, and taking it slow when embroidering will result in a lovely face.

      Go for it!

      warmly,

      Beth

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  6. Hi Beth,
    I love that you are making cloth dolls again. Thank you for sharing your tips and tricks. It's so fun to see your process. Did you add your felt doll hair before or after turning and stuffing the dolls?
    Thanks,
    Ginny

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    1. Hi Ginny; thank you for the good words :-)

      I hand sewed the felt hair to the doll before stitching the doll body. Hand sewing made controlling the placement of the hair easier than trying to use the machine to stitch it.

      I basted the outer edge of the front hair to the doll's cloth head, then took finer hand stitches for the bangs. The back of the hair is simply the head cut out of felt instead of fabric.

      warmly,

      Beth

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  7. Such great personalities and help! I love them all.

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    1. Thank you so much, Carolyn :-)

      warmly,

      Beth

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