If you are looking for a zany new friend, try your crafty hand at making a life-size stuffed cloth doll. A few pairs of old pantyhose, some fiberfill stuffing and fabric can be turned into a leggy, sculpted cloth friend.
Create the doll's head by measuring and marking 6 inches up from the toe of one pantyhose leg. Cut the nylon where it is marked. Stuff the nylon foot with fiberfill stuffing until the foot is slightly larger than a softball.
Make a hole in the fiberfill stuffing for the tongue depressor. Coat the end of the tongue depressor with white or craft glue. Insert the wood depressor approximately one to two inches into the fiberfill stuffing in the head.
Gather closed the edges of the open fabric at the head's opening by running a straight stitch around the edge. Pull the thread tight and twist it several times around the fabric and the wood tongue depressor. This secures the head and provides a wood anchor to attach the head to the body.
Design the doll face by first creating a nose. Insert a needle and thread through the top of the head and pull them through the centre of what will be the face. Sew tiny stitches into a circle. Use the tip of the needle to pull up some of the fiberfill stuffing into the circle. Do not insert the entire needle into the head as it is very difficult to retrieve it from the stuffing. Pass the needle back through to the top of the head when the circle is complete. Pull the thread tight and to create the nose. Knot and cut the thread.
Create the eyes using the same technique as the nose; the circles should be the size of a quarter. Gather the stitches to make the eyes form. Knot and cut the thread.
Form the mouth by pushing the needle and thread through the top of the head and pushing them through just below the nose. Sew a gathering stitch to form the mouth. Turn the corners of the mouth up for a happy grin or down for a sad face. Exit the needle through the top of the head. Pull the thread taunt. Knot the thread and cut it.
Create dimples to add character. Fluff the fiberfill in the cheeks or chin. Push the needle and thread down through the top of the head. Make a stitch in the cheek or chin. Remove the needle and thread through the top of the head. Pull the thread taunt, then knot and cut it.
Add more character by pinching and pulling to form wrinkles, frown lines and humorous expressions. Place stitches where they are needed to hold the expressions in place.
Add colour details to the face. Paint eyes with acrylic paint and an artist's brush. Use white paint as a background for the eyes. Paint an iris in each eye. Add a pupil by painting either black or navy in the centre of the iris. Add small specks of colour to the pupil for dimension. Add a touch of glossy acrylic varnish for sparkle.
Add eyebrows by running a gathering stitch above each eye, or by painting tiny fine lines with brown or black paint and an artist's brush with a very fine tip. Eyelashes can be added with acrylic paint or by sewing tiny lines with embroidery floss.
Brush on eye shadow with a small make-up brush. Add blush powder with a large make-up brush to add more colour to the face.
Add the cloth doll's wig by sewing or gluing 30 pieces of 20-inch yarn to a strip of felt or fabric. Glue the strip to the doll's head and arrange the hair. Create braids, pigtails or whatever style seems to match the character of the face.
Make the cloth doll's body. Cut two 20-by-24-inch long rectangles of muslin or any close-weave fabric. Pin the right side of fabric together with straight pins. Sew all sides together, leaving a 2-inch opening in the middle of one of the 20-inch sides to accommodate stuffing. Turn the body right-side out and fill with fiberfill stuffing.
Make a hole in the fiberfill stuffing in the body. Coat the tongue depressor that is sticking out with white or craft glue. Insert the depressor into the body. Sew the head to the body by pulling the two fabrics together and sewing them. Be sure that the tongue depressor does not show.
Create arms from pantyhose legs by cutting the legs free. Stuff the pantyhose leg with fiberfill stuffing. Sew fingers and a hand with a straight stitch in the foot section of the pantyhose leg. Turn the raw edge inside, and sew closed with small overcast stitches. Make two arms.
Attach the arms at the shoulder of the cloth body. Use an overcast stitch to secure the arms. Knot and cut the thread.
Create legs from pantyhose by cutting the legs free. Stuff the pantyhose leg with fiberfill stuffing. Sew toes with a straight stitch in the foot section of the pantyhose. Turn the raw edge inside, and sew closed with small overcast stitches. Make two legs.
Attach the legs to the bottom of the cloth body using small overcast stitches.
Dress the stuffed cloth doll as desired.
When sewing the details on the face, enter and exit your needle and thread from the top of the head. The stitches will be hidden by the hair, and the shape of the head will not be flattened. Although the instructions for this stuffed cloth doll create a slightly out-of proportion, whimsical doll, you can change the length of arms and legs to make a more traditional doll.
If this doll is to be a child's play doll, do not add any small beads or buttons as these are choking hazards.
Tips and warnings
- When sewing the details on the face, enter and exit your needle and thread from the top of the head. The stitches will be hidden by the hair, and the shape of the head will not be flattened.
- Although the instructions for this stuffed cloth doll create a slightly out-of proportion, whimsical doll, you can change the length of arms and legs to make a more traditional doll.
- If this doll is to be a child's play doll, do not add any small beads or buttons as these are choking hazards.