How to Make Needle Sculpted Dolls

Written by melissa j. bell
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Needle sculpting, a soft sculpture process usually done on artist's dolls and other plush toys, is a method of creating shapes in a stuffed cloth form. Generally, the shapes of facial and body features on cloth dolls are made by sewing many small pattern pieces together. Most commercial plush toys are put together this way. Soft sculpturing is a more traditional method, requiring only a simple cloth doll body. In this process, the doll's features are created by pulling the stuffing into shapes with a basic needle and thread.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Stuffed cloth doll body
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Doll making needle
  • Quilter's thread
  • Regular needle

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    Needle Sculpting the Face

  1. 1

    Take your cloth doll body. Draw out the guidelines for the facial features lightly in pencil, making sure to mark the position of the nose, eyes, eyebrows and lips.

  2. 2

    Thread a long doll making needle with the quilter's thread. Push the needle through the back side of the head, so that the knot will be eventually hidden by the wig.

  3. 3

    Pull the needle out through the front side of the head, beside the bridge of the nose. Push the needle back into the face, close to where it came out. Pull the needle out on the opposite side of the nose in a scooping motion, trapping the stuffing between your stitch and the fabric.

  4. 4

    Continue adding these horizontal stitches to make a raised nose and raised lips. Tie the thread off at the back of the head as needed.

  5. 5

    Create raised eyes and a brow bone effect using the same method described in Step 3, this time with vertical stitches.

    Needle Sculpting the Joints

  1. 1

    Take 1 of the wrist joints on your needle sculpted doll. Thread a needle with quilting thread and insert it through the seam at the wrist, hiding the knot.

  2. 2

    Make a few small stitches at the back of the wrist, then push the needle through the arm completely, so that it comes out the front.

  3. 3

    Insert the needle back through the arm so that it comes out the back of the wrist.

  4. 4

    Pull the thread slightly so that the doll's arm bends, then make a few small stitches to hold the bend in place.

  5. 5

    Perform this same stitch on the other wrist as well as the ankles, elbows, knees and finger joints.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not pull the thread too tight while you are sculpting, or you will deform the back of the head. Let the stitches hold the shape.

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