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Doll Making Tips by Susan Wallace

There are many free patterns available online, and most that you purchase will come with a "level" marked on it - Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced. If you spend some time online, you will be overwhelmed with the different kinds of dolls, patterns, styles, techniques, etc.

Now that I have made a few dolls I have come up with a tools list that I wish someone had already packaged and had for sale when I started this. This is just my personal list, others here will have their own and hopefully will add to this and make it better!

Other than the obvious Fabric, paint, various embellishments, thread, good quality scissors etc., there are a few tools that I did not already have in my supplies that I had to search for:

Forceps/Hemostats: MUST Haves. You can find them online at doll supply shops, or you can go to the nearest Medical Supply and purchase them in various sizes. I have two sizes, 5" and 3." These are used for placing stuffing in small places, helping to turn parts, and REALLY a necessity in turning small fingers.

Stuffing forks: these are little pointed "forks" that are used to place stuffing in small places. I have two of these, and personally don't use them a lot, but I see their worth. I know that a lot of people swear by them, so at least one needs to be in a beginners kit so that you will have options available.

Turning tubes - I had a pattern that mentioned turning tubes, and I had someone explain the concept to me over the phone, so instead of purchasing something specific, I went to the hobby store and got some brass tubes from
the model airplane section in different sizes. One fits inside the other, and that's what I have been using. I know that these can be purchased cut specifically for dolls at online supply sites. Anyway, you need these for turning small fingers, small legs, etc.

Other items that will be very helpful, but if you are on a budget, can wait until you decide how you like to work:

Freezer paper: used for transferring templates - you can trace your pattern piece onto the "dull" side, then iron it to the fabric to use to either cut or sew around.

Sculpting needles - depending on what size dolls and how detailed you want your faces to be, you may not have to purchase these right away, but you will be glad you have them when you need them. I was able to find a variety pack at Jo Anns.

Button or Carpet Thread - at least one spool of this - for sculpting faces and body parts.

My personal Fabric tip:

As with any new fabric hobby, I always think "If I spend too much on this, and it doesn't work, then I'll be stuck with it." One thing that I personally wish I had *started* with is a pillow case that I bought - It was a 300 ct. Pima cotton pillow case that I got at Wal Mart for about $6, and then I tea-dyed it to make a better skin tone. Even if you just started with the basic case fabric, it would give you an idea of how cotton fabric works in dolls. It was cheap, and I still have enough of it left to make some more dolls - small ones, at least. I tried muslin, felt, and various versions of cotton before I finally found what I liked, but I think that had I started with this pillow case, I could have saved myself some headaches along the way...

That is not to say that you should take that as *the* fabric to use - there are plenty of places online to get other kinds of fabric that work better for doll making, and it's ultimately a matter of preference. That's just my"I wish I had started with this" $.02

And last, but certainly not least - you must have FUN! :)

Hopefully this helps some!
Good luck!

 

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