How to make cloth doll armatures

Written by louise harding
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How to make cloth doll armatures
Cloth doll armatures are constructed from wire. (Getty Creative)

Traditionally, cloth dolls are floppy and cannot be posed, but art dolls contain armatures inside. Armatures are wires that allow the doll to hold a pose. Different types of wire can be used. Use chenille pipe cleaners for very small dolls and 3mm aluminium wire for larger dolls up to 35 cm (14 inches) tall. A wire hanger for clothing also works. According to "Mimi's Handbook for Dollmakers," use a "single conductor 12-gauge vinyl-covered copper wire stripped from 12-2 NM-B indoor electrical cable with ground. This is common house-wiring cable that you buy at the hardware store."

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Things you need

  • Cloth doll body
  • 3 mm gauge aluminium wire
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Permanent marker
  • Wire cutters
  • Tape measure
  • Unsharpened pencil
  • Stuffing, cotton or polyester blend

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  1. 1

    According to Mimi's Handbook for Dollmakers, you should measure out about 105 cm (3½ feet) of wire. Alternatively, measure twice the height of the doll plus 15 cm (6 inches). Cut off the measured length of wire.

  2. 2

    Form a U-shape with the wire by aligning the two ends of the wire and squeezing the top portion.

  3. 3

    Hold the rounded end of the U-shaped wire in the needle nose pliers and twist until the twisted section is about 13 cm (5 inches) long. Leave the small loop at the top where the pliers were.

  4. 4

    Measure from the top of the twisted wire down about 5 to 8 cm (2 to 3 inches). Mark a dot at this spot with a permanent marker. The wire will be inserted here.

  5. 5

    Measure 60 cm (24 inches) of wire and cut it with the wire cutters. Gently fold the wire in half to determine the centre and mark a dot at this point with a permanent marker.

  6. 6

    Insert the wire through the small loop at the top of the twisted wire, threading the wire through the loop until the marker dot indicating the centre of the wire is reached. Twist the wire around the loop so both ends of the wire form a triple twist at the top. Pull the arm wire ends out horizontally, as if the doll were spreading her arms wide.

  7. 7

    Use the pliers to pull out the remaining two ends of the twisted U into another U- or V-shape.

  8. 8

    Insert the armature into the cloth doll body through an open slot in the doll's back or through the open crown of the head. Work the leg wires into the empty doll legs and the arm wires into the empty doll arms.

  9. 9

    Use an unsharpened pencil to poke the stuffing down into the feet of the doll, and around the leg armatures, fill the body, and stuff the arms around the armatures. Continue stuffing and completing the cloth doll.

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