A Cloth Doll For Tim: Jeffery the Jazz Musician

“So I’m looking to the saxophone as a resource which has its own unique set of possibilities. I’m looking to exploit them and develop them and have the fullest range of possibilities of the saxophone be known.” (Evan Parker)

the possibilities of a jazz player cloth doll

So for Steve’s stepfather, Tim, I wanted to explore new possibilities with my cloth doll making skills.  To help with this exploration of ideas I used Tim’s keen interest in jazz to get me started, factor in the fact he is a saxophonist, and Jeffery the jazz cloth doll was born.

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getting started

When discussing ideas with Steve, we decided to go for a Blues Brother vibe and created a very quick sketch to develop the idea from.

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jazzing up the details

There are many details on this doll I love, and I was more confidant creating some of the trickier items of clothing this time around because I had gained a lot of the skills needed from my previous dolls.

Jeffery the jazz musician cloth doll

the hat

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For instance, when making Gwyneth I really struggled to get the shape of the hat right and to keep the lining looking tidy, so this time I used felt to avoid the possibility of fraying edges and to provide more a rigid shape.  This, I feel worked really well.

the shoes

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I continued using felt for the shoes and this time developed something that fit around the whole foot, rather than the clog style that I used for Gwyneth.  This involved three pattern pieces and the blanket stitch around the edges to hold them together and to provide aesthetic detail.

the jacket

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The jacket was much easier this time round since making Elizabeth.  The knowledge I gained from Elizabeth’s jacket gave me a better understanding of the sequence needed to sew the fabric pieces in the correct order. Even the trouser pattern from the Zombie has been adapted to fit more closely around the waist, which was a problem the first time around.

the saxaphone

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The saxophone also started with a sketch and after a little thought as to how I would create the form and shape of the bell I realised it could be achieved quite simply by sewing a basic saxophone shape using two outer pieces and two inner pieces of black lining. The lining was inserted into the main shape wrong sides together and the raw edges were folded inside.  These were stitched by hand using a blind ladder stitch.

A Cloth Doll For Steve: Zombie Poi Spinner

So for Steve’s birthday doll I wanted to created something a bit more masculine.  After a bit of thought I decided to base his doll on some design ideas that he developed for Vaudeville Hippie in the early days based on zombie jugglers.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Steve and I enjoy practising circus skills, which includes the art of poi spinning.  Now am I not sure, but I think we were heavily into The Walking Dead at the time, which sparked the inspiration for the zombie juggler range.

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To create the artwork, Steve whole heartedly threw himself into this project, posing with a range of circus props in different zombie stances and facial expressions.

zombie juggler design exposed on a silk screen

zombie juggler hoodie screen print

These were then hand drawn and then adapted in Illustrator and Photoshop with filters so that they could be prepared for a silk screen print for T-Shirt printing.

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POI ZOMBIE 2

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Poi Zombie (Drawn)

I tried to copy the stance and facial expression of Steve’s zombie poi spinner photo and drawing as faithfully as I could, with some artistic license with the hair.

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I wanted to create a sense of the hair decomposing and therefore have used a combination of cut up plastic from beer can holders and small off cuts of black netting fabric.

Now, although this is based on Steve’s work, it has allowed me to start personalising the style of the dolls and moving away from the templates I have been using so far.

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The body parts are a combination of patterns from both Jan Horrox and Patti Medaris Culea to get the shape of the arms that most reflected the photo I had chosen to work from, one bent and one straight, this meant resizing the length of one of the arms to keep them a uniform length.  I also extended the length of the legs and added wire inside to enable to doll to stand in his zombie pose.  To create a male torso, I widen the waist.

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The details have been drawn on by hand with micron pens and water colour pencils and a little bit of stitching in red for the zombie scars.

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The poi are simple and small woollen pom-poms.

I am planning to make more zombie juggler fabric dolls.  To see my other OOAK cloth doll creations and read about my doll making challenge click the appropriate links!