How to Make Cloth Doll Gusset Joints

Written by f.r.r. mallory
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How to Make Cloth Doll Gusset Joints
Gusset joints increase the poseability of a cloth doll. (handmade doll image by Eugene Tokarev from

A gusset joint on a cloth doll is a movable joint created at the shoulder, hip, elbow and knee. It allows the doll's limbs to be arranged as desired. Making gusset joints is not difficult. Once learnt, the basic technique can be applied to any cloth doll joint to make it movable. Choose a sturdy, tightly woven fabric for the body of your doll such as muslin, dolskin, Kona cotton or Osnaburg.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Arm patterns
  • Pins
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Stuffing
  • Sewing needle
  • Upholstery thread
  • 2 buttons, 1/4 inch in diameter

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  1. 1

    Select a doll pattern that is designed with gusset flaps on at least one set of limb joints. Once you see how gusset joints work, you can modify other doll designs by adding gusset flaps to the pattern pieces. Cloth doll patterns are available for free online or can be purchased through books and other outlets.

  2. 2

    Pin the pattern pieces for an upper and lower doll arm to your chosen fabric. Most doll patterns will use two pieces for the upper arm and two for the lower arm. Cut out the arm pieces.

  3. 3

    Sew any darts in the arm pieces indicated by the pattern. A dart is a triangular-shaped fold that is sewn to shape a curve in fabric. Not all doll patterns use darts. Place the upper arm fabric pieces with right sides together. Sew with a 1/4-inch seam, leaving the two dog ear-like flaps open. Turn the upper arm right side out and stuff through the opening between the flaps. These flaps form the upper part of the gusset joint.

  4. 4

    Put the right sides of the lower arm pieces together. Sew with a 1/4-inch seam, leaving an opening at the round-shaped elbow joint. Turn the lower arm right side out and stuff. Turn the seam under and hand sew the rounded joint using a slip stitch.

  5. 5

    Knot a length of upholstery thread to a 1/4-inch button and thread the needle with the tail. Insert the rounded top of the lower arm between the two dog ear flaps at the bottom of the upper arm. Push the needle through one dog ear flap, through the rounded top of the lower arm, through the second dog ear flap and through a second button. Pull firm. Sew back through the button, gusset flap,bottom arm, second gusset flap, and a second button two to three more times. Knot the thread off beneath one button and trim. This should produce a tight gusset joint at the elbow.

Tips and warnings

  • You can repeat the elbow joint procedure for the knees, joining upper and lower leg pieces the same way.
  • This basic joint also can be used at the shoulder, passing a long threaded needle through a button, the rounded part of the upper arm, the doll's body, a second upper arm and through a second button, pulling tight and sewing back and forth through the doll. An enlarged version of this joint is can be used for the hips. It is important to stuff tightly for joints to hold their positions.

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