By Martha E Bishop
If you're looking for a little motivation to get started making your first doll, then you've come to the right place.
The beauty of making cloth dolls is that many of the patterns available call for inexpensive materials. Or, because you don't need a tremendous amount of fabric to make most dolls, you can splurge and work with the high end fabrics such as silks, satins and furs.
Here are seven tips to get you started making cloth dolls:
The very first decision you're going to make is: how is this doll going to be constructed? Is there a sewing machine available? Are you going to be sewing by hand? Choose your first doll knowing that hand sewing will definitely take you longer. On the plus side, if you intend to hand sew you can tote your project and stitch on it while you're on a lunch break, on a road trip or waiting at the doctor's office.
Pick the right pattern. You can find that perfect doll at fabric and craft stores or some very unique patterns can be found at quilt shops and specialty stores and online. If this is your first attempt at sewing, take a moment to look at the pattern instructions to see if they are adequate. Some pattern designers assume that the maker has been sewing for 20 years and only tells you what to do, not how to do it.
After you've picked your pattern, find the "Materials List" which is usually on the back of the pattern envelope or visible through the packaging. If you can't find it, ask the clerk to help you. Remember, they want you to buy all the materials you need to make that doll from them, so they'll be helpful.
Buy your materials. Slow down. This can be the most enjoyable, exciting part of making cloth dolls. Breathe in and let your creativity flow.
Use a pencil to check off the items as you purchase them. There is nothing more frustrating than starting your doll only to find that you forgot the thread.
Usually, the big fabric/craft stores will carry all the supplies you need to make dolls from the patterns they sell. If you can't find a particular item or the correct size of an item, ask the clerk when they will be restocking. They just might have the product in the back and just haven't put it out yet. Don't be afraid to speak up and ask questions. With the price gas these days, you don't want to be driving all over town to buy a set of $2 eyes.
Before you dare start cutting into that fabric, dig deeper into the pattern instructions. Most of the big pattern companies have a glossary included at the beginning of every project, but some of the boutique designers don't. That's one of the reasons you need to read the pattern first. If there are any terms that you don't understand, try doing a GOOGLE search. There are many great websites that have detailed explanations and pictures for making cloth dolls, and it's faster than going to the library.
It's also important to read the pattern to find out if there are any special or out-of-the-ordinary instructions. For example, some patterns are printed on both sides of the paper and the doll maker is expected to either copy or trace the pieces without actually cutting them. Some pattern pieces are meant to be traced onto fabric, then sewn on the tracing line and cut out with the doll maker adding a seam allowance.
Like any hobby, you need to actually do the craft to see if you're going to like it. There are many "specialty" items available for making cloth dolls, but I would recommend trying to get buy without them, at least until you know for sure that you've fallen in love with the art. You don't want a closet full of gizmos that you are never going to use.
Even though the doll designer has probably spent at least a hundred hours developing your pattern, you don't have to make the doll EXACTLY like the original. There are no doll police. Sometimes you'll find something you like better. Sometimes you'll create a disaster and start over. But either way, you'll be making cloth dolls that will be your own artistic vision.
With that being said, there is no shame in making a doll exactly like the doll on the pattern envelope. After all, that was the doll you fell in love with. Making a doll to the exact specifications of the designer, while not as exciting, can be wonderful way to learn new techniques and start to develop your own.
Once you get into making cloth dolls, I promise you that there will come a time when you say to yourself, "I don't really like those ears. I think I'm just going to make them a little bigger, longer, shorter, pointier, wider, fancier." And soon you'll be making your own patterns.
Now if you're looking for a cute doll that has been developed specifically with beginners in mind, go to http://www.missbeesdesigns.com