Tips for doll making

2 Jan 2011

First doll, made in 1998

If you are considering making a doll for your child or yourself you have probably been looking around at the materials you will need and wondering where you can buy them and  how much it will cost.

It is lovely to use the very best supplies, lovely to work with and they help to give a professional result but the very first doll I made was made with tea dyed fabric from an old white t shirt and the stuffing was wool fleece that had been shaved off an old sheepskin car seat cover.
This first doll was a cushion doll and she was so sweet.
I fell in love with the beautiful little head, its wonderful shape and weight. 
The body of the doll was made from a soft pink and soft purple homespun cloth, only a few dollars a metre.
 Her hair was a little bit of undyed mohair yarn I had left over from something else I had knitted.

Amelia with the Mermaid and Timmy

That little doll met a bad end, tossed out of Kate's pram as we made a run for the Glenelg tram and never seen again.

The second doll I made was at a class run by the local Steiner group and again the fabric used was tea dyed t shirt fabric, the wool stuffing was new though, her hair was mohair dyed with onion skins  and I made her clothes from bits and pieces I had at home.
That was Elizabeth and she was, and still is, my doll.

Next was Mary and she was played with by a child, Kate, too young to have a formed doll and poor Mary also suffered by the fact that Kate was given some play nail polish from a kind aunt ( thank you very much). Artistic child that she is she painted her dollie's face.

She never really liked Mary after that. 
Mary was recycled, gasp!

The next doll I made was sweet Amelia, who was not tossed and not painted and lives a happy life, mostly sitting on the windowseat  now, watching the world go by and looking super pretty now in her new Christmas clothes.

in the garden
Amelia and  friend in the garden in 2004

So the point of this is that if you want to make a doll you can use what you have at hand, experiment and enjoy the process. 
It really isn't so scary and you don't have to make a doll that looks professionally made, you are making a doll with love for someone you love.
Don't compare it to other dolls, relax, enjoy the experience and know that if you want to make another doll it will be different from the first, you are learning a new skill and it is an adventure not a test.

Amelia in her new Christmas clothes from Reggies Dolls

8 Responses to “Tips for doll making”

  1. Thanks for the tips! My Grandma used to knit beautiful dolls for her 30 grandchildren - I would love to learn how so I could pass down her tradition!
    Sort of like anything in life, where theres a will, theres a way.

  2. Jenny you are in my head! Great tips and advice and anecdotes, thank you.

  3. Thanks for the advice! I've just started making one of these dolls to my own design because I love the simplicity of them - so different from the kind of dolls I normally make.
    I love some of the rainbow wools you use to knit clothes - do you source that locally, or do you order it online?
    Happy New Year,

  4. Susie, the rainbow wools I have used most recently I bought on Etsy from Mama Jude. They are very soft and pretty. The sunshine wool, the pink , yellow, apricot tones , I buy from Winterwood in Melbourne. They have an online shop. The colours are really pretty but the yarn is a little coarse.

    I would love to see your dolls when you are finished!

  5. Thanks Jenny - I'll look into it - thought you must have found them further afield than Launceston. I'm crocheting hair at the moment and deciding whether I want baby limbs or not. Trying to resist the urge to do MORE on the face (KISS, Susie, KISS!)

  6. Again, wonderful gentle wise advice. Do you remember the trepidation of the first doll make or do you just visit inside my head? I love "'s an adventure not a test."

  7. The very first doll wasn't scary I just wanted to make that doll and nothing would stop me. The second doll, Elizabeth, wasn't scary either I just got in a twist about embroidering the face and procrastinated and sweated a bit but she turned out just fine.

  8. When I was making dolls, we saved old hosiery for the doll head, which then got covered with "skin fabric".. or thos small white cotton socks children wear... and get a hole in one or one gets lost in the wash - so those orpahned socks often made good "underheads". And on the smallest dolls.. those finger puppet/gnome size dolls, we would use cotton balls to stuff on occasion, rather than the wool... woll was rather dear and hard to find in our area initially, although eventually we got hooked up to a farmer in Pennsylvania who was helpful. I think I need to make myself one.. or perhaps revamp the ones my boys have outgrown. I just want to sew clothes and knit the tiny sweaters for them, lol!


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.