Whew. I am finally done. And I have to say, these dolls were a TON of fun to make. Every time a little eyeball, a tiny hand, a frilly skirt, or a simple shirt pocket actually turned out………I was beyond thrilled. And I would show whoever was around…..”Look! It worked!!” Ha. I loved it!
And yes, I know I said I’d have this up yesterday but the holiday turned into a crazier day than I thought. Sorry about that. Also, writing this tutorial took a lot longer than my before-the-kids-wake-up-time in the morning and during quiet-time/nap-time in the afternoon (which are my normal sewing/photo editing times). Mostly because I kept adding in more pattern pieces and pictures. Hopefully you’ll find them helpful. :)
But hooray!! The sweet little Fabric Dolls (that won the popular vote a few weeks ago, as the next project here on Make It and Love It) are finally complete. Mmmmmm……..I could eat them right up! :)
Each doll is as cute as can be, even without adding any extra clothing pieces (so you don’t have to add any)……but my girls, well, they love skirts. So, I added skirts to their dolls and shorts to Connors’.
The anticipation almost killed these guys……but their dolls (and “boy buddy” according to my husband) are now complete!
The dolls have little felt eyes and hand-embroidered mouths. Nothing too fussy.
I made yarn hair for Elli’s, felt hair for Connor’s, and a yarn/felt combo for Chloe’s. All turned out darling.
Connor’s boy doll kept getting cuter and cuter. Ahhhhhhhh! I was trying to decide between a bowtie/suspenders outfit and a shirt/pocket/shorts outfit……..but the pocket and shorts won. Holy smokes, I can’t stop lovin’ on this little boy doll! :)
But all 3 make me smile for different reasons.
Especially the little embroidered heart on the bum with an “M” (for mom) inside and a “13” for 2013. It reminds me of my old Cabbage Patch doll with the signature on the bum. (Yes, I’m totally a child of the 80’s.)
There’s just something about a homemade fabric doll. It’s soft, it can be personalized, and it’s perfect for the little ones to drag around.
Chloe ADORES hers. Ahhhhh…….melts me.
And Connor thinks that having a little buddy all his own, is SO cool! Sweet boy……I must smother you in kisses.
And oh, little feet. Why are they the cutest things when they’re mini?
I’m glad I made one for all 3 kiddos. It was worth the little delay.
And just like Connor and Elli (and sometimes Chloe) are the best of playmates…..I decided the dolls needed to be as well. ;)
Love them, love them……..and LOVE THEM some more. Thanks for voting on this project and giving me the perfect motivation to finally make some Fabric Dolls.
Would you like to make some for your own little ones? Or the neighbors? Or as baby gifts? Or hey, how about one or two to sit up on your sewing room shelf? They will surely happy up your creative space. :)
Before getting started, go and print out the Fabric Doll Pattern Pieces. (Be sure that you copy and paste each pattern image into a document. Set your margins to zero and expand the image to cover the entire 8.5 x 11 inch document.)
Decide which pattern pieces you’ll need and cut out your fabric pieces accordingly.
***Seam allowance for the dolls is 1/4 inch, unless otherwise noted.
***I used 100% cotton for all of the doll pattern pieces, except for the hair and shoes, which I used felt.
***Be sure to note when a pattern piece says “fold” on it. You’ll need to line up that edge of the pattern along the “fold” of the fabric, so that once it’s cut and opened up, it’s twice as big and is symmetrical.
***Gather up your sewing supplies (here’s a list of my favorite sewing supplies, in case you need a few ideas)
***Check out my Sewing Terms 101 post, for additional help.
For one doll, you’ll need 2 head pieces, 2 body pieces, 4 arm pieces, 4 leg pieces and then possibly some hair. After cutting them out in your desired fabric, attach any extra pieces you need.
Here’s Connor’s Doll Pieces first:
For example, you’ll need to add extra details like this little pocket on the shirt. I didn’t take a picture of the pocket process (sorry!) but I just cut 2 pieces of fabric in this pocket shape (including an extra 1/4 inch all the way, for a seam allowance) and then placed them together, with right sides together and then sewed along all of the sides (1/4 inch seam allowance) except for the top. Then, I turned it right side out, ironed it flat, and folded under the top raw edge. Lastly, I sewed it right to the main body piece, by sewing around all the edges.
I also added sleeves to each arm. To do this, I cut a strip of fabric that was just as wide as the arm and then as long as I wanted the sleeve to be, plus an extra 1/2 inch in length. Then, I folded under the bottom edge a 1/4 inch, then another 1/4 inch……then sewed it in place. Then, I placed the strip right side up on one of the arms and trimmed to the top edge in a diagonal, to match the arm shape. Then I sewed the sleeve to the arm, along both sides. I repeated this same thing with the other 3 arms, making sure that I was placing the sleeve on the right side of each arm piece. (The front and back piece for each arm will mirror each other.)
And then for the shoes, I used my leg pattern piece to cut out a shoe shape (mine is 2.5 inches long) and then sewed each “shoe” onto the bottom of each leg piece (on the “right side” of the fabric) with just one line of stitching along the straight top edge of each “shoe”. I used felt for my shoes but you could used a variety of fabrics. If you use a fabric that frays, you’ll need to fold under the top raw edge of your shoe before sewing it down.
If you decide to attach felt eyes and hair like I did, you’ll need to do this before continuing as well. For the hair (pattern pieces available), I sewed all the way around the hair piece…..but later realized (for Chloe’s doll) that you really only need to sew around the edges of the hair that will be seen after the doll is sewn together. So, everything except the rounded outer edge. And for the eyes, I just cut out small felt circles and slowly sewed around both of them. (I found that using a shorter stitch length really helped while sewing around such small circles. It will give you more control.) You could also hand-stitch the mouth on right now (hand-sewing instructions down below) but I wanted to see the doll all put together before deciding where the mouth would go…..but you decide what works best for you.
Next, Chloe’s Doll Pieces:
To make the collar, I cut out 2 half circles for each collar piece (4 half circles total). Then I sewed 2 half circles together with right sides together, along the curved side. Then I turned it right side out, ironed it flat, and then placed it along the top edge of the body piece and sewed it in place. I did the same thing with the other half circle pieces. (Be sure that after sewing, your half circles fit along the top of the body piece with a 1/4 inch open at both sides. You’ll need that 1/4 inch open to keep your collar free after sew your doll body together.)
To make these little ballet flats, I cut them the same way as the boy shoes above, except for the front shoe piece, I added a little scoop.
For Chloe’s hair (pattern piece available), I sewed the Hair Front and Hair Back pieces down to the head pieces first. I used a really fuzzy felt fabric, for added texture. But regular felt would work just fine too.
Then, I added several pieces of yarn to each side of the head by placing the yarn inward and then sewing it down, right along the outer edge of the head (a 1/4 inch from the edge of the head). You can see where I sewed it down on the left and then what it looks like after you flop it outwards, by looking at the right side. (I bought a really thick yarn for Chloe’s hair.)
Next, Elli’s Doll Pieces:
For her yarn hair, I cut many, many pieces of thinner yarn, all the same length. (She wanted long braids.) Then I sewed an even amount of yarn (the amount will vary, depending on the yarn thickness) down the center back of the head, leaving a 1/4 inch space at the top. I also stopped sewing on the hair about 1.5 inches from the bottom of the head. Then I sewed several piece to the upper 1/3 of the front head piece, right down the center, also stopping a 1/4 inch from the top of the head.
For these Mary Jane type shoes, I sewed some felt pieces onto the ends of each leg, just like the red shoes above. But then, I also added a little black strip across the top of the shoe fronts, to look like a strap.
And for the detail of this doll’s “shirt” section, I cut out a white scoop shape in felt, sewed a piece of ric-rac to the back side of the outer edge of the white felt. Then I sewed it down (hiding the under edge of the ric-rac) right to the body section of fabric. Then, I hand sewed some buttons on, right through all the layers.
Construction of the dolls:
Once your dolls have all the details you want (or don’t want), it’s time to put everything together.
First, place your Head Front and your Body Front piece together, with right sides together, matching up the the straight edges of both. The straight edge of the head will be slightly shorter than the body piece……but that’s okay. It’s supposed to be. (It’s because both pieces are at an angle but when you sew in a 1/4 inch, it will meet up just right.) Just center the straight edge of the head on top of the straight edge of the bodice, leaving a slight overlap at each end……and it will work out. Do the same with the Head Back and Body Back pieces.
Then, once you open them up, your pieces should look like this:
Next, place 2 of your arm pieces together (be sure that they match up correctly with the diagonal and any other fabric additions) and then sew along all of the edges, except the straight end. You’ll need to leave that open to turn it right side out. Repeat with the other arm and the two legs.
Be sure and leave the short straight ends open on the legs too.
Now, make a slit between the thumb and “finger” section of each arm. Don’t cut through the thread…..but right up next to it. (This will help when turning it right side out. It will help the thumb and “fingers” to lay flat.)
Now, practice some patience and turn the arms and legs right side out. :) I use the rubber eraser end of a pencil to shove the closed end down inside of itself and then wiggle it through until I can get it turned completely right side out. You may have to work at it slowly and pull on little bits of fabric at a time to force the pencil through……but it will turn eventually. Then, use something smaller (knitting needle, mechanical pencil tip, etc) to poke out the thumb and “finger” and feet sections. Then, stuff each arm and leg with batting (not too full and tight……but not too loose and floppy either). I used the eraser end of a pencil again, to help shoe the batting inside each one.
Leave about a 1/2 inch free at each end, from any batting. Then, sew each arm along the sides of the front body piece, starting about a 1/4 inch down from where the head meets the head. And be sure that your arm diagonal is facing the correct way (reference picture below). Do the same thing with the legs, making sure that if you have shoes that are different on the front, be sure that the fronts are facing down as you center each leg and sew them onto the bottom edge of the Doll Front.
Next, place your Doll Front piece together with your Doll Back piece, with right sides together. Fold the arms towards the center of the body and out of the way…..but let the legs hand downward. Pin in the front and back pieces together, matching up the head, neck seam, and body. Then sew along the entire outer edge, stopping before reaching each leg.
Make several cuts along the curve at both sides of the neck/head. Cut right up to the seam but not through it.
Then, turn the doll right side out and stuff full of batting. You’ll need enough batting to really plump it out and expand all of the seams and give the doll shape. But not so full that all the seams are pulling and almost splitting. Then, fold the bottom open edges towards the inside, a 1/4 inch, and hand-stitch closed. (Need help with hand-stitching?)
And that’s it. The main doll shape is complete.
However, there’s a few more things you may want to add:
Here’s how I made the shorts. I cut out 2 pieces of fabric (pattern piece available) and then folded the bottom straight edges towards the wrong side of the fabric, a 1/2 inch, another 1/2 inch, then sewed in place.
Then, I constructed the shorts in the same way that I sewed together these simple leggings. Even though they’re pants, I put them together exactly the same way. For the waistband, I serged the top edge of the fabric (zig-zagging would work too) and then turned the shorts inside out. Then I folded the top edge over 1 inch, towards the wrong side of the shorts’ fabric. Then, I sewed it in place, right along the bottom serged edge of fabric, leaving a 1 inch opening at the back of the shorts. Then, I threaded some 3/4 inch elastic through the opening and sewed the ends together, just like the legging tutorial I linked to above. (Don’t forget to sew the casing closed too.)
Then, I turned the shorts right side out, ironed them flat, and hand-sewed a button to the front……just for looks.
For the “skirt” section of the dress for Chloe’s doll, I cut a piece of fabric that was 5 x 21 inches. I made a really simple skirt out of it so that I could slide it onto the doll and then it would blend in and look like it was a dress. (Here’s a skirt tutorial, if you need help with putting a basic skirt together…..but you won’t be adding the tiers.) After sewing my strip into a circle, I serged the top and bottom edges (but you could also zig-zag) and then folded the bottom edge under a 1/2 inch and sewed in place. Then, I folded the top edge over a 1/2 inch (towards the inside of the skirt) and sewed all the way around, leaving a 1 inch opening at the back. Then, I threaded my 1/4 inch wide elastic through the casing, sewed the elastic ends together, then sewed the casing closed.
EDITED TO ADD: I forgot to take better pictures and explain Chloe’s doll sleeves a little better. They are gathered sleeves but what I did was, I cut a strip of fabric that was twice the measurement of the arm. Then, I hemmed the bottom long edge and then stretched a piece of elastic (that was slightly longer than the measurement around the arm) and sewed it down to the bottom edge, using a zig-zag stitch……so that once I let go, it cinched in the fabric. (to see close-up pictures of this technique, check out this Butterfly Sleeve Shirt tutorial) Then, along the top raw edge of this fabric strip, I sewed a line of basting stitch and gathered it in till it was the same amount of gathering as the elastic edge along the other edge. (Need help with gathering?) Then, I sewed the two ends of this strip together (with right sides together), to make a tube of fabric. I turned the tube right side out and slid it over the arm (before the arm was attached to the body), matching up the raw edge of the arm with raw edges of this sleeve. Then, because the raw edges of the arm is on a slant, I allowed the raw edge of the sleeve to hang off the top edge of the arm but kept the bottom elastic edge straight on the arm. I pinned the top edge of the arm down really well and then cut off some of that extra fabric, to create the same diagonal line. Then I sewed the sleeve down along the diagonal line of the arm, so that it would stay gathered and in place. Then, I did the same with the other arm and then pinned both arms to the body and continued on like shown above.
For Elli’s doll skirt, I made it just like these elastic band skirts…..but used ruffle fabric that didn’t need to be hemmed. So I cut a piece of fabric that was 3.5 x 18 inches, sewed the ends together to make a circle, and then added it to a circle of 1 inch wide elastic. However, because the elastic circle was so small, I would change that up and add the fabric to the elastic while both were still long strips and then sew into a tube afterwards.
Now, onto the yarn hair doll. When you sew a doll together with all of this yarn, be sure to tuck the yarn out of the way while sewing the head together. And remember how you left a 1/4 inch free at the top of each head piece? Well, that’s because when you sew the two head pieces together at the top, the yarn won’t get in the way. See the seam along the top of the head? When you sew the head pieces together, the yarn should meet right up and hide the fabric below. Mine shows a little itty bit of the white fabric below……..but remember, it’s homemade! ;) If it really bothers you (or if your gap is extra wide right there), hand-stitch a few long pieces of yarn right over top and let them hang right with the hair.
To make the braids, separate the yarn down the center where the seam is and then pull each half into a ponytail.
I used a long piece of yarn, tied it really tightly around the ponytail into a knot, then let the ends hang down as part of the ponytail.
Then I tied the other end off and braided both ponytails.
At the end of each braid, I tied them off with another piece of yarn and then cut the ends off the same length as the end pieces from the braid. Also, trim off the ends of each braid, to make them even and pretty.
To hold each braid in place (and it keep it from flopping around on the head), use a needle and thread and start your thread under the braid with a knot. Then grab some fabric, wrap the thread around the braid, grab more fabric below with your needle, wrap around again, and repeat several times, keeping the thread tight. Knot it again under the braid, hiding your thread out of view.
For Chloe’s style of doll hair, you sew the head together with the long yarn ends facing towards the face. Then, when you turn it right side out, the hair will stick outwards. I just tied a quick ribbon around each ponytail, then trimmed the yarn ends.
Now, for the embroidered smile. (Like I mentioned above, you can add the smile before sewing the head pieces together but I wanted to see the doll all put together before deciding where the mouth would go…..but you decide what works best for you.)
I first drew a smile with a pencil.
Then I used some embroidery thread (the twisted kind, not the strand kind that you can separate) and knotted the end. Then, I lifted up the hair in the back and place my needle through. I pinched the face from the front, to make it flat enough to poke the needle through until it came through right at the one end of the pencil line smile.
I pulled the thread all the way through. Then I held the thread out of the way over to the left, with my left hand. With my right hand, I poked into the fabric with my needle from right to left, right along the pencil line and stitched a small chunk of fabric. (I maybe stitched like a 1/4 of a centimeter of fabric at a time…..really small.) When coming back up with the needle, be sure that you’re coming up right next to the thread that you’re holding out of the way with your left hand. You don’t want any gaps in your smile. Then pull the thread all the way through.
Then, repeat over and over again, keeping the thread pulled over to the left with your left hand.
When you reach the end and take your last stitch along the pencil line…….pull the thread through just like normal. But then (shown below in the picture on the right) poke the needle back down in right at the end of the smile, not lengthening the smile at all. Pinch the face flat so that you can shove the needle back through to the back of the head where you started.
Then, as you pull the needle end towards the back of the head………your thread end will disappear. But don’t pull too tight or you will create a dimple.
Now, you can knot the end of your thread, securing your thread ends under the yarn hair. For the boy hair, I entered and exited at the back of the head, under the small flap of felt edge that I had. You can sorta see the knots under that edge……….but who cares? It’s homemade, remember?!! :)
For the embroidered bum, I drew my shapes that I wanted with a pencil, then hand-stitched the heart the same way as the mouth above. Then, for the ‘M’ and the ’13’ and the ‘X’s’ for the shoes, I just used long stitches going up and down. (The laces were an after thought…..but next time, I would hand sew the X’s on before sewing the legs together.)
And guess what? That’s it. WHEW!
I really love these little dolls though. There are so many possibilities and different ways to personalize them. I already want to make several more. So be creative………and make them just how you want them. And have fun!!!
Check out these other fun toy tutorials. You’ll be giving Santa’s elves a run for their money!
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