How to Create a Look-Alike Life-Sized Doll From a Photo

Written by erin dorrance
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How to Create a Look-Alike Life-Sized Doll From a Photo
A life-size doll makes quite a conversation piece. (full size mannequin of mary in Christmas nativity image by nextrecord from

Whether you want to honour the birthday girl or throw darts at your boss, a lookalike life-size doll can be made to celebrate any occasion. Your doll will be an excellent addition to any doll collection and will double as a carpool body, but if you are pulled over you will need to ensure it is by a cop with a sense of humour.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Photograph
  • Computer
  • Printer/Scanner
  • Iron-on transfer sheet
  • 5 yards of flesh-toned fabric
  • Fabric pen
  • Iron
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Pillow fill
  • Hair, clothing and accessories

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  1. 1

    Select a close-up photo of the person's head you would like to use for your life-size doll. The photo needs to be high resolution so that you can enlarge it to be proportionate with your doll.

  2. 2

    Print a preview on regular paper. It should look exactly like you would like it to appear on the doll.

  3. 3

    Print the photo on the iron-on transfer.

  4. 4

    Cut out the design leaving a 1/4-inch border.

  1. 1

    Ask someone who is the height and weight of the desired doll to lie down on their back on top of the flesh-toned fabric. Draw their outline using a fabric pen. Double the material to create a front and back so that you only have to outline the body once.

  2. 2

    Cut out your body giving yourself a 1/4-inch buffer for the seam. If the fabric is thin enough, cut both layers of fabric at once to save time. Cut the neck straight across so that you have four cut-outs: front body, back body, front head and back head.

  3. 3

    Set the iron on the hottest setting -- usually the "cotton" setting -- and turn off the steam.

  4. 4

    Take one of the head cut-outs and iron on the photograph. Use an ironing board or a low, flat surface and press down hard when ironing on the transfer.

  5. 5

    Remove the paper backing from the iron-on transfer. Set the transfer aside so it can cool for at least one hour.

  6. 6

    Pin together the front and back cut-outs of material using straight pins every 4 to 6 inches. Leave a 1/4-inch space between the pins and the edge of the material.

  7. 7

    Sew the cut-outs together while removing the straight pins as you go. Leave a space at the neck area on both the body and head to insert stuffing.

  8. 8

    Stuff the body with pillow stuffing until you reach the desired thickness. The Doll Maker website recommends using polyester fill as an alternative.

  9. 9

    Add bendable wire to give the doll more structure. HGTV recommends running the wire throughout the inside of the doll's entire body to include the fingers so the doll will be malleable. Decide whether the doll will be standing or sitting and apply the wire to fit the desired position of your doll.

  10. 10

    Sew the stuffing holes shut, and then sew the head onto the neck.

  11. 11

    Purchase doll hair or yarn at your local craft store. Use adhesive to attach the doll hair or knitting needles to stitch the yarn into the doll's head.

  12. 12

    Add clothing and accessories to your doll to make it come to life.

Tips and warnings

  • HP offers several different types of iron-on transfer paper. The HP website has free patterns available for the iron-on transfer image. Visit the HP website here:;=5&hl;=en&ct;=clnk≷=us
  • If you are making a large doll and would like the doll to stand up on its own, use cement-filled shoes for a strong base and PVC piping instead of bendable wire. Cement the PVC piping into the shoes of the doll.

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