Jan
20
2011

  Learning Dollmaking

I managed to get the head stuffed and attached to the body while W was in the studio with T this morning. But not without busting another seam as I was stuffing. But a close inspection revealed that it was not the seam which was weak, but the fabric itself.

The instructions did say to use a high-thread-count muslin, but instead I just used some regular muslin I had in the sewing room. I thought it would be fine, but I didn't realize the amount of stress that stuffing puts on fabric. Repairing the tears does add a little time to the project, but it's a de minimus delay with respect to the total time this is taking. But I'll be sure to use stronger fabric for the next doll.

That's right, I expect I'll make another doll, since I went ahead and ordered the specialized equipment last night. Although I did proceed without it today, I used a miniature screwdriver in place of the stuffing fork. I still used my finger to get the stuffing through the opening in the leg, but used the screwdriver to position it once it was in there. I read about the stuffing fork last night, and can definitely see how it would be very useful, and I look forward to the day mine arrives.

Without the tool, it took a long time to stuff the leg; it's a very shapely leg, and bent for sitting, so there were many narrow parts I had to fit the stuffing through. I only finished one leg today. I don't feel a big rush to do the next tomorrow, since I don't think I'll be able to do the arms until I get the official stuffing fork, and that could take a while. I ordered the supplies from some doll supply shop and who knows how long they will take in transit.

The head is not symmetrical. Part of it is my repair of the stressed fabric, part of it was probably amateur stuffing technique, and lastly I probably wasn't quite as careful as I should have been when sewing the fabric together. I wasn't thinking about symmetry at the time, just about making a smooth curve around the head. I'm not sure it this defect will be noticeable when the doll is all decorated and finished-- it could be that it just makes the doll look like she's making some kind of expression or something, or that her head is turned a bit, I don't know. I'm not worried about it.

I'm viewing this doll as a learning experience. Many of these techniques I'm using to construct it are new to me, and I enjoy the novelty. And there are so many different techniques to use when making art dolls, I could try out new techniques every time for dozens of dolls if not more. I'm curious to find out how the fabric paints perform. I wonder if they are non-toxic enough that a baby could play with these dolls if they put them in their mouth. I could certainly limit the amount of buttons and beads and other decorations I put on them to make it safe from a choking perspective, but I just don't know about the dye at this point. Fortunately, most of the little girls I know are beyond the putting-everything-in-their-mouth stage, so if I wind up with a surfeit of experimental dolls I should at least be able to give them away to good homes. . .