Monday, January 10, 2011

Making Dolls

When I was about 16, I started teaching myself to sew. I remember making simple projects before that, in Girl Scouts and Daycare, but no one in my immediate family owned a sewing machine. My grandparents let me borrow my Great Grandma Lillian's machine, and one day on the internet, I stumbled across a treasure trove of free sewing patterns at My favorite first sewing projects were tote bags and purses. Slowly I progessed into other projects, including a quilt for my nephew. By far, my favorite project has been making toys.
The first time that I made a doll, I just started cutting and sewing from an idea off the top of my head and using the materials I had on hand. I even tried to sew her hair onto her head with the sewing machine. Needless to say, she didn't turn out so good. She's a funny looking girl with blue fleece skin and black yarn hair with bald spots.
After that I purchased patterns online for dolls that looked like they would be so cute, but mine never turned out quite as good as the originals pictured. Everything changed when I started to sketch my own ideas and draw patterns for myself. I learned that I can't sew dolls off the cuff because if I don't know where I'm headed, the doll ends up all over the place. I learned that I can't be satisfied with making dolls from other people's patterns, because I don't like the finished project. The best method for me, is to carefully plan each doll, and then sew from a pattern that I have created. That way all the arms and legs match, and my hand sewn hair looks adorable instead of wonky.
One example of bringing a doll to life from sketch to stuffing is the doll I made for a family member. "Lee" is a ladybug dancer doll.
I started by making a simple sketch and choosing fabrics for the doll. I thought about accessories and made notes about what to include.

I cut out a simple pattern and then cut the fabrics.
I machine sewed her body, wings, and tutu, but I hand stitched her face, hair, and antennae.

Since then, I've made several dolls by planning each one out and they get better and better each time. I put a lot of love into each one, and they are special because they are all one of a kind.

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