Jan
19
2011

  Stuffing Forks and Hemostats

Since I finished W's quilt and another small sewing project that needed to be done, I was able to start work on my doll.

Over the summer, I got a book on dollmaking, and ever since I've wanted to make a fancy doll. These dolls aren't necessarily for playtime, they're very fancy arty dolls. At first, I couldn't proceed because I lacked the necessary fabric paints, but failing to find them locally over the months, I finally ordered them online just after Christmas.

So then the only thing holding me back was my self-imposed rule to not have too many half-completed projects piled up. And, my desire to make a doll was pretty much what motivated me to power through and finish the quilt. The other small project I finished before I started the doll was motivated by the desire to use up the materials I had purchased months ago while they were still useful so they wouldn't sit in my sewing room for years.

So last night, I started this doll. I traced the pattern onto fabric, and sewed and cut out all the pieces. For this "beginner" doll, there's the body, head, arms, and legs. The fingers are topstitched but not articulated except for the thumbs. But I was unable to turn the legs because I couldn't find my tube-turner tool. I thought I had a set of metal turners, but I couldn't find them anywhere. T said he'd organize my sewing room for me today to try to help me find them, but he never got around to it. This evening, I cleared off a good portion of my cutting table by boxing up all the old T-shirts I'm saving to re-purpose. I still never found those turners I thought I had, but I do have these flat tube tools that must be what I bought but thought were tube pullers. I tried one, and it did work for pulling the body parts around to the right side, so I was able to continue work on the doll tonight.

The first body part to stuff was the body. Phew! That was a trial. The instructions are to use big fistfuls of stuffing, since that will look more natural than little tiny clumps of stuffing, but I was unable to get a big lump through the small opening of the neck, which was where the pattern called for the body to be stuffed. So I just used the biggest clumps I could manage, which was about the size of two cotton balls. It took a very long time, since my finger barely fit through the neck opening, much less with stuffing, too. Now my fingernails are a little sore from pushing, but I got it done. Also, the instructions said on the one hand to "stuff until firm" but also to "smooth out any wrinkles in the fabric by adding more stuffing". I stuffed until firm, but only later read the part about stuffing until the wrinkles were gone, and when I tried to stuff more in to smooth the wrinkles on one side I wound up popping the seam in two places. Dumb directions, I should have just stuffed until firm and left it at that. Nevertheless, I've no fear of handsewing so just patched up that side seam with some invisible stitches and finished the job.

But before I attempt to stuff the arms and legs, which have equally small openings, I am going to look into "stuffing forks" and "hemostats"-- two tools recommended by the author to ease the work of making fancy dolls. I hadn't really paid much attention to them since they were "optional" tools, but now I'm thinking that they might not be optional for me. Because I will never make another doll if it is going to be as difficult as this one is turning out to be already, and I'm still at the very beginning of the process!