dollmaking supplies and where to find them

For those new to dollmaking where to get the supplies can be daunting. But really you should be able to find everything you need at your local fabric/craft store if you want to get started straight away or online if you’re a planner.

BODY FABRIC:
Starting with the bodies, the key to body fabric is a tight weave (so no stuffing oozes out) and no stretch. For my patterns you will not be able to keep the doll’s shape if you are using a knit, jersey, fleece, anything with stretch. For my dolls and animals I use cotton, linen or wool. I find the slight texture of linen more forgiving than a smooth quilters cotton so that is typically my go-to. Essex Linen by Robert Kaufman is my favorite. Here are some of the colors I have on hand today.

dollmaking supplies - linen

And the pastel colors are great for the Make-Along animals. You can see all the Essex linen line here at the Robert Kaufman website. I’ve been buying mine at Juniper Blue Textiles (crazy fast shipping) and at Fat Quarter Shop.

Another fabric I like to use for doll bodies is wool. I’ve found wool fabric to be difficult to find online. And if I do find it online it’s so expensive I’m hesitant to buy without seeing what I’m getting. In the Fall/Winter sometimes the local fabric store will have a decent color or two of wool suiting that might work. Again, just check that it’s not a blend with something stretchy. The other trick with wool is the thickness, too thick and you’ll have a very difficult time turning out arms and legs and the doll will be so stiff. Wool melton is nice but on the thick side. And I believe wool fabric is sold in other countries as wool flannel which sounds lovely but international shipping costs have kept me from trying it. So I find most of my wool at the thrift store. I look for oversized blazers and jackets, long skirts, wool pants, and I cut them up and use the fabric. Again, it’s seasonal so squirrel it away during the Fall and Winter.

WOOL FELT:
For doll shoes, hats and other accessories as well as doll eyes I use wool felt. A Child’s Dream Come True is a good source (I get the Holland Felt), or my new favorite is Benzie Design on Etsy. Crazy fast shipping.

STUFFING:
The stuffing I’m using now is Pellon Perfect Loft Cluster Fiber. I was using Clusterfill by Morning Glory but they seemed to have changed the product and it’s not what I like anymore. I prefer synthetic stuffing over wool or cotton because I prefer a lighter doll. I find them too heavy when stuffed with wool. Also the polyfill has no allergens and is somewhat easier (washing dolls is never easy) to clean. This is just my preference, wool or cotton stuffing would work great too. Also any polyfill will work fine. I like this type that’s in little clusters because I feel like I can really get a firm stuff going with it. Too me it’s the perfect balance, I get the firm appearance and feel but it’s still light and huggable.

dollmaking supplies at wee wonderfuls

TOOLS:
Now, on to dollmaking tools. From top to bottom… the beeswax crayon I use to do blush, a water erasable marker to draw faces before embroidery (although I do get nervous they won’t work so I freehand most of it. They’ve never not worked when I’ve tried them so it’s just my own paranoia), hemostat to help with stuffing, a bodkin that I use to turn out linings in doll clothes (I tuck the corner of the fabric into the eye and pull) and to string elastic, a stuffing fork  and a doll needle. A note on my stuffing fork, I got mine from Gail Wilson and you should definitely check out her page of dollmaking supplies. I bought the large fork and love it, I use the pointy end for corners but almost end up using the handle more because it is perfect for stomping down stuffing in legs and arms.

dollmaking supplies at wee wonderfuls

What am I forgetting? For embroidering facial features I just use DMC embroidery floss. For yarn hair, that would be an entire post but really it would just say “all the yarn” because I buy everything. Anything fun that looks like it’d make great yarn hair goes in my basket. Fabric for doll clothes I get everywhere… Joanns, local quilt store, etsy shops, thrift stores. If you have any questions on something I’ve used please leave it in the comments and I’ll do my best to remember for you.

Sewing a Make-Along “Spring it on” dress for Kit-Kat

I love this vintage print, the colors are amazing. I think it was sheets or a pillowcase. I haven’t used any of my vintage fabrics in a while. When I started making toys everything I used was from the thrift store. Since fabric companies finally learned to tap wonderful designers for their prints I’ve been unable to stop myself from shopping and using mostly new prints but it is fun to go back to “my roots”, especially for the very 60s inspired “Spring it on” dress.

doll clothes how to

Making sure my pintucked top matches same size as the lining…
doll clothes how to

After opening up the sides and sewing together…
doll clothes how to

Kit-Kat in her new dress. Now she just needs some shoes!
handmade kitty doll

Summer groove

I thought I was pressing my luck to take my tween and teen out on some outings this weekend that they’d have loved as toddlers but not as much anymore and was pleasantly surprised everyone was happy and enjoying themselves! That’s the magic of Summer I guess, everyone reverts to being a kid.

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I was having a panic that I’d overbooked our Summer but, we’re slowing down now, and I’m really looking forward to our vacation and a lazy rest of summer break. Let’s reset this Lang family vibe, back to easy breezy. This moment of zen will be thrown off soon enough I’m sure but I’ve frozen it here for future reference.

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hair pins

I did order these Clover basting pins I mentioned and I love them! They’re perfect for setting this gal’s super long mohair hair into all sorts of hairstyles. They’re definitely impractical. They’d be great for holding a complicated hair-do into place so you could sew it down. I like them just for playing though. Maybe for a doll for older kids or an art doll, definitely one that wouldn’t see any play because the pins would come loose. Not sure if I’m going to put these dolls up in the shop or what I’m doing. I just feel compelled to make, and play, with them.

handmade doll with yarn hair

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Curly Heads and Long Legs

hilda cowham illustration

I’ve always loved and been inspired by children’s book illustrators and one of my favorites is Hilda Cowham. Her girls are floppy mops of curls, with the 1920s drop waist dresses & giant bows and are always hanging out with ducks or elves or something equally adorable. I often come back to these drawings and channel them into dolls. The Pixie from my book and this Blackberry Fairy I made for Phoebe come to mind. And now this girl.

handmade doll wee wonderfuls original

I’m having lots of fun playing with her hair. I made her from the Kit, Chloe and Louise pattern shrunk down to 80% and then I gave her hair from the Make-along pattern and I left it suuuuper long so that I could coil it up into big bouffants and curls. I’ve been looking for some sort of U shaped pin that I could use when I’m styling hair. I think I’m going to order some Clover basting pins and see if they do the trick. They look a little long but we’ll see.

handmade doll wee wonderfuls original

Took me 3 attempts to get this drop-waist dress working right but I’m happy now and it should be easy to make more. I’d like to try it again in voile or cotton lawn to make it more fluttery.

wee wonderfuls handmade original doll

The Make-along knit cardigan fits her perfectly!