Thursday, September 29, 2016

Prairie Flowers bloom again

Seven years ago, I created a cloth doll pattern I called Prairie Flowers, which is available here on the blog (look down the left sidebar for the doll and her clothing pattern).

That was the last time I made cloth dolls.  Sitting at the sewing machine for hours on end gave me a backache, and crochet and knit dolls consumed all my interest...until Joyce introduced me to Ann Wood's Tiny Rag Doll.  Hand sew a cloth doll?  I was told you should never do this.  But, at least at this small scale, it works just fine.  In fact, in small corners and curves you have much more control over the sewing if you do it by hand.

So how about making a diminutive version of the Prairie Flower doll?  How about a Pocket Prairie Flower :-)  So I reduced the pattern by 50% (simply a printer selection before printing out the pattern) and here she is!  The difference in instructions for this doll vs. her larger sister is that I made stiff templates for the doll body pattern pieces, instead of making freezer paper templates.  Trace around your stiff pattern pieces to create the sewing lines, then cut out the pieces adding a seam allowance as you cut out.

If you want to make her the same wardrobe as the original doll, I would reduce the pattern by 50%, then trace your pattern onto fabric on the sewing line, not the cutting line.  Cut out, leaving some margin for the seam allowance, and hand sew along the sewing line.  At least, that is what I intend to do.

Don't be put off by the shape of her head.  I tend to like dolls with slightly oversize heads, and this doll is no exception.  I like a lot of forehead, and also like to place the eyes of the doll at the midpoint of the head.  This gives a more childlike look to the doll, which is what I prefer.

Her hair is a wig cap with braids, made from Knit Picks Palette, a fingering weight yarn, and a size 1 steel crochet hook.  I embroidered shoes on her feet, just for fun.

She likes the bed I made for the Ann Wood dolls, but fortunately for all of them, she cannot wear their clothing :-)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Making Cloth Dolls

I am still in the throws of this delightful little cloth rag doll.  These two are my fourth and fifth dolls from Ann Wood's Tiny Rag Doll pattern.  She is also now offering the pattern as a written booklet, in addition to the PDF format.

There are some tricks I've learned over the years (largely from Gail Wilson) for making cloth dolls, that apply to any size.

1.   Wool roving is a marvelous stuffing material!  It comes in long 'ropes' of long staple fiber wool.  You cut a length of it, then peel off what you want to use.  It stuffs into the doll smoothly, and has the added advantage of giving your doll a warmth that polyester fiberfill just doesn't do.  Hold the doll in your hand, and she will warm to you :-)

It is more expensive than polyfill, but for these small dolls, a little goes a long way.

2.  The right stuffing tool can make all the difference, especially if you are using wool roving:

Along with the wool roving, I purchased this stuffing tool from Gail Wilson's website:

Gail's stuffing tool

On this page you can also find the wool roving, and a lot of other tools to help in your cloth doll making.

3.  Dampen your unstuffed doll before you start to stuff her.  This is particularly helpful when stuffing the body of the doll with a single head/torso configuration.  A lot of times, a doll like this will end up with neck creases as you go from stuffing the head to stuffing the neck and shoulders.  Spray your doll with water, not to saturate but to dampen, then begin filling up the head with your wool roving.  By dampening the cloth, it stretches slightly, and also 'grabs' the filling a bit.  You can pack the doll tighter, and you will notice no neck creases with this method.

This is my doll, dampened and ready to stuff

Miriam and Jean Marie are the latest additions to my growing Tiny Rag Doll family!

Happy Stitching!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Additional Outfits for your Ann Wood cloth doll

If you have fallen in love with Ann Wood's Tiny Rag Doll, then you may want to make her a more extensive wardrobe.  Here, Joyce and I will share a couple of patterns to increase your wardrobe choices.

First up is a simple, one piece nightgown.  Joyce found the pattern for free here, and reduced it and tested it to fit the Tiny Rag Doll.  Joyce's version uses only one layer of fabric, to reduce bulk at this tiny scale.   For my nightgown, I used the lines on the pattern as sewing lines, not cutting lines.  This pattern can be made into a dress, embroidered, embellished, shortened for a shirt, and on and on.

Finish the neckline with tiny overcast stitches, turn and sew, or make a small facing.  I used the facing method, which just meant that I made another pattern piece of the neckline only, and sewed it to the neckline with the right sides together.  Clip the curves and turn to the wrong side.

You can also modify Ann's camisole and pantaloons pattern to create rompers or overalls for your doll.

I modified Ann's camisole pattern to have a curved neckline, but you can do this with the cami pattern as written.  You can use the camisole for the bodice of rompers, overalls, or a pretty sundress:

And here are the instructions for these modifications:

Sewing Rompers for Tiny Cloth Doll

If you like, you can modify Ann's dress pattern to also make a shirt.  Simply shorten the length of the dress, and eliminate the 'flare' of the dress below the sleeve area.  Here the shirt is paired with overalls, for a sweet country look:

You can also add a skirt to the shirt and create a full skirted dress.  No picture yet of this, but as you can see, an extensive and simple wardrobe can be made for your Ann Wood Tiny Rag Doll!

Happy Stitching!

Monday, September 12, 2016


Observing the 15th anniversary of 9/11/2001.  Field of Flags sponsored by the Exchange Club of Muncie Indiana.  1000 flags under a sky of blue, remembering innocents who died, first responders who gave all they had, some their lives, and all who have served our country.  "Greater love has no one than this:  to lay down one's life for one's friends;" John 15:13 NIV.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other.

Rachel, sewn by my friend Joyce, from the pattern by Ann Wood

The title of this post is from one of my favorite verses from the Bible:  Proverbs 27:17.  This version is from the Contemporary English Version (CEV) published first in 1995.  The simplicity and truth of this statement informs most of my creativity.  

For example, the lovely cloth doll above was created by my friend Joyce, from the Ann Wood pattern Tiny Rag Doll.  This charming little doll is only five inches tall, and entirely stitched by hand.  Joyce made all of her sewn clothing, even though she says she cannot sew!  All of the clothing is removable,  and her hair is a simple crochet wig cap you can find here.

It has been ages since I've made a cloth doll, but looking at Joyce's work, I had to make this dear little doll myself.

It takes so little fabric to make the doll and all of her outfits.  I tucked it all into a Michael's memory box.  

The handstitching aspect of making this doll gives the dollmaker much more control of the tiny seams and corners, and the stitching itself is a relaxing pasttime.  You are making a doll just like your foremothers made for their children in past centuries.  And as you stitch, think that before the advent of the sewing machine, all clothing was made the same way.

So here is Charlotte, inspired by my friend Joyce, from start to finish.  Thank you, Joyce, for leading the way :-)

Charlotte, stitched by me from the pattern by Ann Wood

Both Joyce and I highly recommend this pattern.  It is well written and all of the steps are copiously photographed.  You will create an heirloom doll of  your own, or one for a special child.

Happy sewing!