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Fabric - The Anatomy of a Doll

Posted on April 08, 2013
Anatomy of a Doll fabric to use when making one

Let's talk about the Anatomy of a Doll. A doll is made up of some basic parts .... A Head, A Body, Arms and Legs and let's not forget add-on such as hairs, removable shoes and clothes too. We're just talking about your bog standard dolly here ... an all in one, no joints, simple and safe. You can start with a standard pattern and just by changing the colors of fabric used you can change the whole look of your doll, but the same goes for the texture of your material and the fabric itself.

So what fabric do I use to make a standard dolly?

Let's start at the top and work our way down.
  • The Hair - can be Wool Felt, Yarn or Fleece .....  and Cotton too although a lot of people tend to forget that.
  • The Skin Tone - Face, Limbs etc - Cotton, Linen, and high thread count Calico & Muslin.  Flannel but you need a very good quality.
  • Sewn on Clothing/or Body - Cotton, Linen, and Calico also some Suiting materials and light weight Denims can be nice.
  • Removable Clothing - Cotton, Linen, Poly Cotton blends, Silk, Jersey .. you name it, if you can make 'human' size clothes out of it, chances are you can make dolly clothes out of it too!
  • Sewn on Sheos - Felt, Cotton and Linen
  • Removable Shoes - Felt, Faux Leather .... recycled leather.

My favorite Tips for using each Fabric.

    • Cotton - I love 100% cotton with a high thread count and low texture. 
    • Calico - is a lower thread count unbleached cotton ... A good test for a Calico is .. if you can see your hand through it .. don't use it!! If it's nice and thick and you can only see the outline of your hand it means you have a good quality one so go for it.
    • Muslin (bleached & unbleached) - great for testing new doll patterns etc with.  If you wish to use it on a finished doll, e.g. for skin tone, check that you can't see your hand through it, you want a nice thick high thread count for a finished dolly!
    • Linen - Love the texture for tummies and clothes, but be careful ... seal those edges with fray check/stopper or serge/over-lock as the fabric's raw edges will unravel. 
    • Flannel - Always check you can't see your hand through the fabric .. a lot of fabric stores only sell low end Flannel ... if you can see your hand, you'll be able to see your dolls stuffing so only use for removable clothing. 
    • Fleece - Careful as this is naturally stretch .. so don't over stuff your limbs.  Also be careful when stuffing the head if using this instead of cotton or felt as if you don't stuff each side of the face with the same amount it can distort the shape. 
    • Poly-Cotton blends - Cheap and cheerful BUT careful when you iron .... cooler the better otherwise you'll end up with warped threads! If you then stitch up a dolly using it you could end up with a lopsided head or twisted limbs and that's no fun! 
    • Suiting materials - cute for boy softies/dolls but remember to seal your raw edges. 
    • Denims - use light weights, easier to work with and you won't need to change your needle.


      What are my current favorite fabrics?

      Hair & Shoes - felt,
      Skin & Clothes 100% Cotton


       Happy Sewing from Sarah
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