Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My First Doll Making Books

After finding a few blogs with cloth doll patterns and doll making instructions or tutorials I decided I wanted to check out what books were available at my local bookstore.

So, I took a trip to the local bookstore (a chain that normally has a wide variety). Unfortunately, I didn't find much in the way of cloth dolls. Only books on crocheted dolls.

After my failed excursion to the books tore, I decided to shop Amazon. There is an amazing selection of doll books, with reviews, descriptions, and more to help you find the books that will most help you.

I spent a good hour or two reading through descriptions and looking through the pictures, and reading what the reviewers thought. Eventually, I narrowed it down to 3 books that I'd order to help me get a kickstart into making cloth dolls on my own. Here are the books I bought:

Teach Yourself Cloth Dollmaking by Jodie Davis
Of all the doll making books, I liked this one because of the reviews it had on amazon. Many of the reviewers mentioned that she teaches the basics and then with each doll you try from the book they increase in difficulty.

She also teaches new skills with each new doll, so I'd be able to build up all of my skills over the course of the book. I was really looking forward to this doll making book because it covered not only putting the dolls together, but also adding their hair, creating faces, and clothing the doll.

Once I received the doll making book I scanned through many of the patterns trying to decide which one I would make. I took some time reading her instructions for each doll trying to picture the process.

I have to admit that I was a little under impressed with how much direct instruction she had on adding hair and faces, but the dolls and patterns are great. She gives step by step instructions and with many of the patterns she includes pictures of the process.

The best part of the entire book are the small tips scattered throughout the book, sent in by others that have taken her courses. In the introduction of this doll making book she explains that it started out as an online instruction where she'd send out the patterns and people would make them.

When they were finished, they would send in the pictures of their doll and any tips they found helpful along the way. These small tips are by far the best part of the book as they add in that extra instruction the beginner is looking for, but the teacher might not think of adding in. 

Wee Wonderfuls by Hillary Lang
This doll making book looked amazing online. Not only was I able to look through some of the pages through amazon, but the reviews were fantastic. Everyone talked about the variety of patterns, but also he variety of techniques covered in the book.

When the book arrived, it lived up to every one of the reviews on Amazon. There are 24 patterns. Each pattern, has a different difficulty level, but also teaches different stitching techniques and more. For each creature, she goes into detail on how to do the hair and faces so that you're learning a variety of designs that you can use for future projects.

Another great feature that this doll making book has is the basics section. In this section she covers what each type of stitch is, when to use it, and how to do it. She also goes into how to trace faces (or transfer them) onto your doll. Let's not leave out the patterns.

The patterns in the back of this doll making book are great - they are easy to copy on my home printer. They are clearly labeled on how many to cut. They also include he faces she has on the dolls, but she does encourage you to try out your own creativity to make your own faces.

The best part of the entire book is that it doesn't just have cloth dolls... she includes monsters, teddy bears, and animals. This is great because it gives me other cloth dolls/creatures that I can create with my son - who isn't that interested in just sewing and decorating "girl" dolls. This book was definitely worth it's cost, and will get its use over time.

Doll Fashionistas by Ellen Lumpkin Brown
I had a hard time picking this book over some of the others, but I am definitely glad I added it to my collection. This book is set up MUCH differently than other doll making books. Most go from pattern to pattern and then teach you how to duplicate that doll. In the next chapter it's a new doll and a new step by step tutorials.

However, in this doll making book the author breaks down the doll making process by chapter and goes into great detail on how to do each step. For example, she starts out with building a doll; sewing it, stuffing it, attaching the limbs, etc. Then in the next chapter she talks about adding a face. Later in the book she goes into making clothing from your old clothes, hair techniques, and even sculpting.

This doll making book is set up in stages of experience. The chapters are clearly labels basic, intermediate, and advanced so that you're not jumping the gun and getting yourself in to over your head. To be quite honest, I've been so busy with the Wee Wonderfuls book, that I haven't had a chance to really dive into this book.

One of the reasons I am still glad I purchased this doll making book is for future projects. I liked that these dolls have a more modern feel and look to them. They aren't just kid stuffed animals or rag dolls, but a quality doll that I could give to a girl friend for display or to an older girl that will appreciate a more mature looking doll (not one that looks like grandma made it in old "grandma" clothes.

These are the 3 doll making books I've added to my collection so far. I'm looking forward to getting a few more over the coming months once I've worked through these patterns. I'll share more as I get them. In the mean time if you have a favorite book, or have a comment on of these doll making books leave a comment below.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Easy Doll Making Tips For The New Year

The best way to learn doll making tips is to do them by trial and error. Unfortunately, that means you have to actually do it wrong before you get to share the easy doll making tip. No worries though, I've decided to share some of my easy doll making tips (or my trial and error learning) with you on Fridays here on the blog.

This weeks top 2 easy doll making tips come from my most recent rag doll that I made for my niece.

Easy Doll Making Tip #1
Dollar stores are your best friend.

Seriously... I ran into to the dollar store the other day to pic up some wrapping paper and a few last minute stocking stuffers. While there, I found a couple of items that I could use for my crafts.

For example, their really cheap dolls for just $1 have LOADS of hair on their heads - in the craft store I'd pay $3-$6 for doll hair, and here it is on a dollar store doll. In the doll section you can often find small chairs for propping your doll on and doll stands. It was also a great place to pick up some doll accessories - hair ties, blush, small toys to attach to your doll. I also found some squeakers and rattles that I plan to use on an upcoming baby doll toy.

So before you make the craft store your first stop - be sure to pop into your local dollar store and see what you can salvage there.

Easy Doll Making Tip #2
When cutting your pattern out from the fabric, cut along the inside of the lines. In one of my most recent doll making experiences, I cut out the pattern following the line as normal, sewed the entire doll together, and then the clothes that I made for her didn't fit.

I found that the small differences between cutting the inside of the line and just outside the line actually make a BIG difference in the size of your doll. Cutting this way will actually affect the size of the fingers on the doll as well and could take out any space you may have wanted when it's turned right side out. So, lesson learned - cut the lines off of the pattern.

Easy Doll Making Tip #3
Add some great flare to your doll by giving her an adorable ballerina tutu. It's a super simple process that is very low cost, but can give your doll some great character and add more texture.

All you need is a simple elastic hair tie that fits around your doll (I picked these up at the dollar store). Then you'll need some Tulle - a BIG roll of it is only $4 at the craft store, and I'm sure if you search the ads you can get it cheaper. Then cut strips of the tulle that are 2x the length between your dolls hip and knee. So if you are making a BIG doll then each strip will be between 8-10 inches.

If you're doing it for a smaller (barbie size doll) the length would be closer to 3-5 inches. Next loop each strip of tulle around the hair tie until it's a full tutu. Then attach to your doll. This makes the doll young and fun - and is great on fairy dolls.

There you have it - this weeks edition of Easy Doll Making Tips... most learned from my trial and error. If you have some you'd like to share feel free to send them in or comment below.