How to Make a Cloth Doll With the Gusset Joint Technique

Written by melissa j. bell
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How to Make a Cloth Doll With the Gusset Joint Technique
You can make your own posing cloth dolls using gusset joints. (porcelain doll image by laviniaparscuta from Fotolia.com)

Cloth dolls, while usually best suited to children's playtime due to their soft texture and easy washing, are also used as artist's dolls. Unlike their toy counterparts, dolls made for artistic purposes generally have much more detailing in the face, costume and body, often including complex joint construction. One common method of adding these posable joints to a cloth doll is the gusset joint technique. Gusset joints, also known as gusset hinges, are added to the limbs so that the knees and elbows can bend.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Cloth doll pattern
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Pins
  • Cotton fabric
  • Home sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Sewing needle
  • Polyester fiberfill
  • Quilter's thread

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Instructions

    Create the Lower Limbs

  1. 1

    Take a basic cloth doll pattern and cut out the pattern pieces for the upper and lower arms and legs. If your doll pattern does not have separate pieces for the limbs, simply cut each piece in half.

  2. 2

    Lay the lower arm and leg pieces onto a sheet of paper. Trace each piece, then discard the original pattern pieces.

  3. 3

    Locate the upper ends of your traced limbs. Extend the upper end of each limb into a triangular shape, with the point rounded. This will create a "flap" that looks like a dog's ear.

  4. 4

    Cut out the new pattern pieces you made in Steps 2 and 3. Pin these pieces to a double layer of your cotton fabric.

  5. 5

    Cut around the pattern pieces so that you have two cloth lower leg pieces and two lower arm pieces. Cut two more lower arms and legs, so that you have four of each total.

  6. 6

    Take two of the lower arm pieces and pin them together, with the right sides of the fabric touching. Sew 1/4 inch away from the edges, stopping just before the "flaps" you created in Step 3, so that they hang open.

  7. 7

    Bind the edges of the flaps by slipstitching, or turn the edges under 1/8 inch and sew them down.

  8. 8

    Repeat Steps 6 and 7 on the other lower arm and both lower legs. Stuff all lower limbs with polyester fiberfill stuffing.

    Create the Upper Limbs

  1. 1

    Pin the upper arm and leg pattern pieces to your cloth fabric. Cut 4 of each, so that you have 4 upper arms and 4 upper legs.

  2. 2

    Take 2 upper arm pieces and pin them together. Sew 1/4 inch away from the edges, leaving the shoulder edge open. Do the same for the other upper arm and legs. Stuff all pieces with polyester fiberfill.

  3. 3

    Take 1 upper arm piece and 1 lower arm piece. Insert the closed end of the upper arm into the "flap" side of the lower arm, so that the pieces fit snugly together.

  4. 4

    Thread a needle with strong quilter's thread and insert it into the flap. Push the needle through the flap, upper arm, and opposite flap until it comes out the other side. Reinsert the needle back through the arm and flap pieces. Tie off the end.

  5. 5

    Repeat Steps 3 and 4 on the other limbs. Attach the limbs to the body as your particular doll pattern dictates.

Tips and warnings

  • You can find several different cloth doll patterns using the links in the Resources section. Some cloth doll patterns already have gusset joints worked into the pattern.

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