My First Cloth Doll Projects
My first cloth doll making about three years ago. I made a friend a cat doll based on one of her favourite youtube animations Meow. It was incredibly fiddly, but I enjoyed the process none the less. This initial success, was followed by a miniature dachshund for my partner’s parents one Christmas and a circus cat for a friend who was moving away.
The doll below was made about a year later. However, I just felt frustrated because I knew I could make dolls, and yet this one was a struggle. For the reason that I felt that my techniques was incorrect. As a result, the idea of making dolls was put on hold.
The Saviour of Cloth Doll Making Books
Over Christmas 2014, I bought a couple of doll making books: ‘An Introduction to Making Cloth Dolls’ by Jan Horrox, ‘Creative Cloth Doll Collective’ by Patti Medaris Culea and ‘Designing the Doll: From Concept to Construction’ by Susanna Oroyan.
I have made two dolls from my Jan Horrox book. The first doll shown below is based on the doll pattern called Miranda. This is the most simple doll to make in her introductory book and teaches key methods in how to create and attach a basic head, body and limbs, with some ideas of dressing and adding detail.
My version is very different to Jan’s, this is for two reasons: one; I did not have the colours that were used in the original design and two; I wanted to keep within a more vaudeville style.
By chance, I happened to have a lot of red, black and white striped and black fabric leftover from previous projects.
Despite only having a little bit of experience, I was really pleased with the outcome. Consequently, I am now completely hooked. Especially once I realised that I was capable of creating a quality cloth doll.
Developing My Skills
The second doll, Anastasia, is much closer to the original by Jan Horrox. I wanted to try out some of the more advanced textile techniques used to create this doll. Plus really I loved the charming elf and fairy like character of this doll, which reminds me of a Cirque Du Soleil character with her brightly coloured leggings.
By creating this doll, I was able to re-try some forgotten textile techniques. Firstly, a simple cold wash dye for the body. Secondly free machine embroidery was used to embellish the the arms with leaf details. Finally, for the legs, I even managed to find some old curtain material that had a batik effect and fitted perfectly with the colour scheme.
It was interested to try out other methods to create the hair instead of just musing lengths of wool.
Whilst making these dolls, it has allowed me to think about how I might go about developing my own designs and characters. I already have some ideas and I am looking forward to revisiting drawings that can be transformed into three-dimensional cloth dolls.
This post was originally uploaded 22nd February 2015.
If you are interested to start your own doll making journey then I highly recommend the book which I used, ‘An Introduction to Cloth Doll Making‘ by Jan Horrox.