I first tried cloth doll making about three years ago when I made a friend a cat doll based on one of her favourite youtube animations Meow it was incredibly fiddly but I enjoyed the process none the less. This initial success, was followed by a miniature dachshund for Steve’s parents one Christmas and a circus cat for a friend who was moving away.
We therefore discussed the idea of designing and making dolls, which would have printed versions that could be applied to shirts etc as apart of the Vaudeville Hippie brand.
I attempted the doll above about a year later, however I just felt frustrated that although I could make the dolls, it was a struggle and I felt that I was not quite doing it correctly so the idea was put on hold.
Gladly things have changed and as I mentioned in my previous post ‘2015 the Year of Transformations’ I bought a couple of doll making books: ‘An Introduction to Making Cloth Dolls’ by Jan Horrox, ‘Creative Cloth Doll Collective’ by Patti Medaris Culea and ‘Designing the Doll: From Concept to Construction’ by Susanna Oroyan.
I have made two dolls from my Jan Horrox book. The first doll shown below is based on the doll pattern called Miranda. This is the most simple doll to make in her introductory book and teaches key methods in how to create and attach a basic head, body and limbs, with some ideas of dressing and adding detail.
My version is very different to Jan’s, this is for two reasons: one; I did not have the colours that she used and two; I wanted to keep within a more vaudeville style.
I also happened to have a lot of red, black and white striped and black fabric leftover from previous projects.
Despite already having a little bit of experience, I was still really pleased with the outcome and now I completely hooked, once I realised that I was capable of creating a quality cloth doll.
The second doll, Anastasia, is much closer to the original by Jan Horrox. I wanted to try out some of the more advanced textile techniques used to create this doll. Plus really I loved the charming elf and fairy like character of this doll, which fits in with my other hippie theme. She also reminds me of a Cirque Du Soleil character,
By creating this doll, I was able to re-try some forgotten textile techniques; a simple cold wash dye for the body and clothing detail and free machine embroidery on the arms and leaf details. I even managed to find some old curtain material that had a batik effect and fitted perfectly with the colour scheme for the legs.
It was interesting to try out other methods of creating the hair, other than just making hair piece out of lengths of wool.
Whilst making these dolls, it has allowed me to think about how I might go about developing my own designs and characters. I already have some ideas and I am looking forward to revisiting drawings that can be transformed into three-dimensional cloth dolls.
Please feel free to share your love of cloth dolls below!