Nylon recycled from old stockings or pantyhose provides a handy material for creating a range of facial features in handcrafted dolls. Create a one-of-a-kind item or a family of pantyhose dolls for yourself, to give as gifts or to sell. With practice and experimentation, the faces can be made to display a variety of emotions and features.
Make a quick sketch of the type of face you want to create for the doll to help you determine where to place the stitches. Consider, for example, whether the doll will be cranky or happy, young or old.
Lay one leg of the nylon stocking on a flat surface and measure about six inches from the toe. Cut through both layers of nylon to create a sack-like piece.
Stuff the toe full of polyester fiberfill. Nylon stretches, so take into account the facial shape you want to create from your sketch.
Rearrange some of the fiberfill with your finger so that there is a hole in the middle. Spread craft glue on the end of an ice pop or craft stick, covering about an inch or two on both sides. Do not cover the entire stick with glue. Slide the glue-covered stick into the hole in the fiberfill and tie a small piece of string around the end of the stocking to secure the head to the stick. The nylon hose should extend below the string to attach the body.
Create facial features by placing tiny stitches, using a single thread run through the top of the head and pushed back out in the same direction. A nose and eyes can be created by sewing a circle of the desired diameter, then using the needle to lift some of the fiberfill into the middle of the circle and securing it by working the needle through the centre of the head and out the top. Pull the stitches gently and the area will bulge out. Knot and cut the thread. Use a gathering stitch to create a mouth by inserting the threaded needle through the top of the head and bringing it out where the corner of the mouth will be. Place the desired number of stitches, depending on how big you want the mouth to be, and push the needle back through the top of the head. Pull the thread to achieve the desired expression, knot and cut.
Add colour to the face with felt-tipped markers. Create hair by arranging cut pieces of yarn on a piece of tape to make a wig. Sew it to the head.
Lay a piece of muslin or cotton on a flat surface and fold it in half, right sides together. Measure and mark a 5-by-7-inch rectangle.
Pin the fabric and cut through both layers to create two rectangles of the same size, pinned together. Sew along all four edges using a half-inch seam and leaving a two-inch opening in the centre of one short side.
Turn the rectangle right side out and stuff with polyester fiberfill. Poke a hole in the filling. Apply glue to the protruding end of the ice pop stick that is attached to the head and stick it into the body until no wood shows.
Pull the excess nylon from the head down over the body and stitch it to the fabric.
Cut a six-inch section of leg from the nylon stockings. Use the same leg that the toe was removed from if possible. Cut that section in half lengthwise. Fold each piece in half lengthwise. Pin and sew the entire length and one end, leaving the other end open to turn. Rounding the closed end slightly helps to form a hand.
Turn the nylon tube and stuff with fiberfill. Sew small stitches in the closed end to create the look of fingers, if desired.
Cut a nine-inch section of leg from the nylon stockings. Use the same leg that the toe was removed from if possible. Cut that section in half lengthwise. Fold each piece in half lengthwise. Pin and sew the entire length and one end, leaving the other end open to turn.
Turn the nylon tube and stuff with fiberfill. Sew small stitches in the closed end to create the look of toes if the doll won't be wearing shoes.
Pin the arms and legs in place, tucking in any loose ends, then sew onto the body.
Lay the completed doll on a piece of newspaper. Trace around the doll to create a pattern for trousers, a shirt or dress. Add enough to allow for a seam. A half inch usually works well. Cut out the newspaper pattern.
Fold a piece of material in half, right sides together. Lay the pattern on top and pin it to the fabric. Cut through both layers, leaving the pins in place.
Sew the pieces together to form the appropriate garment. Remove the pins, turn right side out and press. Hem and decorate as necessary, then dress the doll. Use additional scraps of material to make hats and shoes.