Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Adventures in Doll Making

I decided I wanted to make a doll for my niece's 2nd birthday, and have been really enchanted with Waldorf style dolls lately, so I set out to make my own.

Since the traditional Waldorf dolls are made with all natural materials like wool roving for stuffing, cotton interlock for the "skin" and mohair yarn for the hair, and because those materials can be very expensive, I decided I would make a "practice" doll with materials I had around the house.

I didn't have any wool roving on hand, but there's usually a giant bag of polyfill around so I decided to use that. And instead of the gauze tubing I used a knee-high stocking to form the head.

There are a few different tutorials on the internet that show how the head is constructed. I consulted this one and this one.

The skin colored cotton interlock that most doll makers recommend for these style dolls is extremely pricey, so my next improvisation was to use some bamboo velour I had leftover from making cloth diapers. It seemed like the perfect choice as it was a close approximation to a skin tone, and it's so soft. I wrapped my shaped head tightly in the velour and hand stitched it in place, then embroidered the facial features. One more improvisation; traditionally these dolls' cheek color is applied using a beeswax crayon, one more thing I didn't have. A regular old Crayola brand worked just fine. Now I had something that was actually starting to look like a doll!

The hair was definitely a challenge. I used a bulky acrylic yarn that I had picked up at a flea market, and I really wanted to make a her wig using the crocheted cap method detailed in this tutorial, but ultimately found this yarn too ungainly to crochet with, so instead I used this tutorial.
I couldn't manage to sew the hair on with a length of yarn as instructed. The yarn was just too thick to pull through the head fabric, but I sewed it on with thread and it seems like it's tacked down pretty good. I anticipate that she may be carried around by the hair a bit since she's a gift for a toddler, so I really sewed the hair down.
I think her hair may be my favorite part of her!

I'm not thrilled with her body; she's a bit long in the torso, and I should have curved her arms, so I guess it's back to the drawing board to make a new body pattern, or I might just break down and purchase one, but all in all I'm pleased with how she turned out. I made her a little cotton dress with matching bloomers. I had to put her out of sight from Lennon, because he really loves her and I don't want him to get too attached; she started out as a practice doll, but she's definitely going to my niece, and I guess the next doll I make will be for Lennon.

I wonder what Maddy will name her? She looks like an Emily to me, but I'll let Maddy decide.