Some of the oldest dolls discovered by archeologists have been constructed from textiles. Throughout history, dolls have been expensive toys to play with and collect. Many doll makers created home-made dolls out of necessity, but a resurgence in sewing has led to a viable market for handmade dolls as collectable works of art.
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Cotton is an excellent source of doll-making fabric because it is naturally washable. Cotton is a strong fabric and is easily obtained and inexpensive. The fabric is easy to work with while sewing and maintains its shape. Edges may fray some during production, but seams usually last for a long time.
Knit fabric for doll making can be found in polyester knit and cotton knit. The fabrics come in a wide array of skin tones. Knit fabric is stretchy and a lighter weight than cotton. It lends itself well to needle sculpting of the doll's facial features.
Nylon stockings either purchased new or recycled are a staple among doll makers. Facial features can be realistically sculpted with the use of thread and batting.
Muslin is another all natural fabric. Pre-constructed muslin doll bodies are inexpensive and can be purchased at most craft and discount stores. Muslin by the yard varies in quality from very course to very soft, finely woven muslin. It is an excellent source of doll making fabric.
The first pre-printed fabric doll panel appeared in the United States in 1891. Pre-printed panels gained popularity as free giveaways to advertise household products. Pre-printed panels allow the sewer to cut out, sew and stuff. There are many options available from dolls, clothes and stuffed animals available as pre-printed panels.
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