How to Make a Life-Size Manga Doll

Written by alison diefenderfer
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How to Make a Life-Size Manga Doll
Making a life-size manga doll is not a hard project. (manga styled samurai girl image by Anastasia Serdyukova from

Making a doll can be a creative project, and much cheaper than buying one. Crafting it with a child can add to the special qualities the doll has. Design the toy to be as tall as the child or young adult recipient. Add the details from the child's favourite manga and you will have a quality toy the child can admire and play with for years to come.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 3 to 4 yards of white or skin-toned cotton or polyester fabric
  • 1 to 2 yards of fabric for clothing or doll costume
  • White cotton
  • Sewing machine or sewing needle
  • Straight pins
  • Quilter's or sewing chalk
  • Sewing ruler
  • Bags of quilting batting
  • Scrap fabric or old clean clothes
  • Buttons
  • Zippers
  • Fabric paints
  • Fine and thin paint brushes
  • A person to trace outline
  • Fabric scissors
  • Doll hair or wig
  • Fabric glue
  • Pictures of a manga character

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  1. 1

    Lay white or flesh-toned coloured fabric out on a clean work surface. Ask a person to lay flat on top of fabric. Trace the outline of his or her body onto the wrong side of the fabric with sewing chalk. Check that the outline appears clearly on the fabric.

  2. 2

    Cut the fabric along the chalk line.

  3. 3

    Lay a second sheet of fabric wrong side up.

  4. 4

    Pin the fabric shape you cut to the sheet and cut along the outline edges. These two pieces make the front and back of the doll.

  5. 5

    Remove the pins and turn the two pieces so that both right sides face each other.

  6. 6

    Lay the two pieces on a flat surface and mark a line along of the fabric, a half inch from the edge to allow for an inseam.

  7. 7

    Pin the front and the back pieces to each other and sew them together along the chalk line leaving twelve to sixteen inches undone at the top of the doll's head. Remove the pins as you sew.

  8. 8

    Insert your hands into the unsewn opening and flip the fabric inside out.

  9. 9

    Stuff the doll with quilting batting or clean scraps of fabric beginning with the feet and legs . Press the stuffing so it fills the fabric and is shaped evenly.

  10. 10

    Sew the opening in the top of the head closed. Double stitch the last half inch of stitches to secure the thread.

  11. 11

    Use children's clothing or make clothing yourself to dress the manga doll. Refer to pictures of the manga character to get the correct colour and style.

  12. 12

    Attach a wig with a few sewing stitches or with fabric glue. Style the wig to match the manga character you choose.

  13. 13

    Replicate the character's eye brows, eyes, nose, mouth and any other distinctive features using paint and buttons.

Tips and warnings

  • Decide which character you will be making before purchasing fabrics, paints and wigs. Do not get quilter or sewing chalk on good clothes or the right side of the fabric as it may be difficult to wash.
  • Do not rush the sewing, cutting fabric or face painting stages to avoid an unfinished or unprofessional look .
  • Allow children to help but only with age-appropriate stages.
  • Do not allow young children to handle sharp objects.
  • Sew on buttons and attach the wig firmly so children cannot choke on loose objects. Manga characters are copyrighted--make them for personal use only.
  • Hand wash the doll if it gets soiled.
  • If the stitching comes undone, resew it and do not allow child to ingest stuffing material.

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