Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Heads up!........................

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I have a very large amount of fabric with a little bit of stretch in it. I couldn't understand why the last head I made, from that fabric, came out so different from the 'twins', as I used the same pattern and that fabric also had some stretch in it. Then I thought maybe it was the direction of the 'stretch', like the direction of the 'grain' when you are dressmaking. (People that make dolls and soft toys all the time probably know this, but I didn't!).

So, I got 'scientific' and experimented. I made these four heads, cutting them from the same fabric and pattern but with the 'stretch' in different directions, and I got four completely differently shaped heads from the same pattern.

1. All pieces cut with the 'stretch' going from side to side.

2. All pieces cut with 'stretch' going from top to bottom.

3. The middle face gusset cut with the 'stretch' going from top to bottom and the side pieces cut with the 'stretch' going from side to side.

4. The middle face gusset cut with 'stretch' going from side to side and the side pieces with the 'stretch' gong from top to bottom.

Number 3 is the shape I was after, and clearly that was how I got the head shapes for the 'twins', but I made them from scraps and took no notice of the fabric 'grain' or 'stretch' at the time. It was a useful experiment - there may be occasions when I want the other shapes instead.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

My first 'proper' cloth dolls

Babies for my six year old grandaughter, so quite traditional.

I made the heads first, because I thought they would be the most difficult bit...

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Made in stretch velour fabric. Needle sculpted. Painted with watercolour dyes and gouache in fabric medium. Heat fixed with a hot air gun.

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The 'wigs' are knitted in fancy fur-type knitting yarn. I had several goes knitting different yarns on different sized knitting needles. (I've got a bag of 'experimental' wigs now that will probably be used to make puppets!). I used 'teddy bear' joints to fix the legs and arms to the body, so that the dolls can sit and I put empty 'plastic tubes' from polyester sewing machine thread in the necks to help keep the heads up. That's about it, really. Made in the traditional stuffed toy way. Now I just have to make two sets of clothes.

I'm pleased with these, they make me laugh. I think I'll make some more!

I had a hard job making clothes to fit these dolls. They are adapted from a teddy bear pattern, to get that 'babyish' look, but I hadn't thought ahead to fitting clothes on them. Once I realised that dolls clothes don't have to be made or fit in the same way as regular children's clothes, it became a little easier. Also, trousers had to be made very baggy, otherwise they couldn't sit. I had quite a few false starts, and there is a pile of clothes that don't quite fit!

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Here they are dressed in shorts and t-shirts, out to play.

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And here they are all dressed up to go out to tea.

I had fun making these, and I'm sure my grandaughter won't mind the mistakes! I can improve on these quite a lot..