Handmade dolls are wonderful playthings and steadfast companions for children -- especially when they resemble familiar people. These basic dolls have yarn hair and clothes fashioned from fabric scraps, which give them a rustic aura.
Tools and Materials
Soft, skin-colored fabric such as cotton broadcloth, muslin, or linen
Patterns (Tip: On the patterns, solid lines indicate cutting lines; dotted lines indicate stitching lines.)
Sewing machine (optional)
Embroidery thread (optional)
Fabric for clothes
Snaps, Velcro, or hooks and eyes
Stiff wool or felt
Handmade Dolls How-To
1. Cut out pattern pieces: Fold a piece of skin-colored fabric in half. Using the pattern for the doll's torso, place the pattern piece so that the indicated edge lies along the fabric's fold. Trace and cut out the pattern's shape. Repeat so that you have two torsos. With patterns for legs and arms, trace and cut out four of each from the same fabric.
2. With matching skin-tone thread, sew pieces together with right sides facing in, using a 1/8-inch seam allowance. Make sure to leave the edges indicated by the pattern open for stuffing. You will have two legs, two arms, and a torso when finished.
3. With pinking shears, trim excess fabric from seams (this will minimize bulkiness when stuffing). Turn shapes right side out.
4. Stuff arms, legs, and torso with stuffing, filling it with small handfuls at a time and inserting it in layers to minimize bulkiness. (You can use a chopstick to help fill in the ends. Smooth out any lumps by redistributing the stuffing with your fingertips.) Make sure to leave a little space near the opening of each part so that you will be able to attach the legs and arms to the torso. Hand-stitch arms, legs, and torso closed with a whipstitch, turning in the edges.
5. Attach the seamed parts of the arms and legs onto the torso using a whipstitch.
Decorating the Doll How-To
1. Cut out pattern pieces: To create details such as fingers, follow the pattern's lines as a guide, using a chain stitch or a running stitch. For the doll's elbows and knees, hand-stitch a straight line across the leg and the arm at the halfway point. To create a belly button, hand-stitch a small stitch in the center of the stomach.
2. For long hair, cut a generous amount of 5-inch lengths of yarn. (For curly hair, you can use boucle yarn.) Drape several cut lengths across the top of the head so that their midpoint falls at where the doll's center part would lie. Continue laying yarn across the doll's head until you have a thick layer, covering the head completely from the forehead to just above the neck. To create a center part, hand-stitch down the center of the head, making small stitches while securing the yarn to the doll's head.
3. To create the doll's facial features, thread a needle with a single strand of embroidery or sewing thread in an appropriate color: brown, blue, or green for the eyes, pink or red for the mouth, and the same thread as the body for the nose. Embroider eyes and mouth using small stitches. To form the nose, pinch fabric in the center of the face with your fingertips and stitch a vertical seam through both sides with skin-colored thread, creating a pleat.
Making Doll Clothes How-to
Included in the patterns are templates for making a coat with a pocket and collar, pants, and a collared shirt. All sewing uses a 1/8-inch seam allowance.
Making a Shirt
Lay front pieces on top of back pieces, right sides facing in. (They will overlap slightly). Sew shoulder seams of each front piece to corresponding shoulder piece on back piece. Hem placket on both sides of shirtfront. Sew each sleeve into an armhole. Hem end of each sleeve to create cuffs. Sew side seam from cuff to armpit to shirttail on both sides. Pin collar pieces, facing in. Sew along outer edge. Turn collar right side out and hand-sew inner edge closed. Hand-sew collar to neck hole along inner edge of collar. Sew snaps or velcro to underside of right placket and to front of left placket.
Cut four pants pieces. Place 2 pieces facing in. Sew center seam for each (as indicated on pattern.) Open. With right sides facing in, sew inseam and side seams. Hem waist and cuffs.
Making a Coat
Use stiff wool or felt. Place front pieces on top of back pieces, right sides facing in. (They will overlap slightly). Sew shoulder seams of each front piece to corresponding shoulder piece on back piece. Hem placket on both sides of coat front. Sew each sleeve into an armhole. Hem end of each sleeve to create cuffs. Sew side seam from cuff to armpit to coattail on both sides. Cut out one collar. Hand-sew inner edge of collar to neck hole edge with right sides facing in. Press collar so it lies down. Sew pockets onto front of coat leaving top edge of pocket open. Sew snaps, Velcro, or hook and eyes to underside of right placket and to front of left placket.