How you finish a handmade doll depends on how you made the doll. The widest range of options probably comes on some version of a classic rag doll. You can paint on facial features or embroider them. You can make hair out of any kind of string or buy special-purpose, lifelike doll hair. You can also make a wig to attach to the doll, or in classic rag-doll design, stitch the yarn directly to the doll's scalp.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Two small shank buttons
- Embroidery needle
- Embroidery floss one shade darker than doll's face
- Brown embroidery floss
- Pink embroidery floss
- Fine yarn to match brown floss
Stitch the buttons in place for eyes, using the embroidery floss that's close to the skin colour. You can embroider eyelids around the buttons, and add lashes and brows in the hair colour to make the face more realistic.
Outline upper and lower lips with the pink floss, using a back stitch. Fill the space of the lips by tracing additional lines just inside the outline.
Draw two lines, flaring out slightly, down the middle of the face for the nose, using the flesh-coloured floss and back stitch. To create nostrils, stitch a half circle at the bottom of each line; run your needle through from one end of the half circle to the other and pull up on the thread to make the outlined fabric puff up. Give the nose even more definition by making similar stitches across between the verticals at one end and then the other. Tie off the floss.
Add freckles by scattering French knots across the cheeks in flesh-coloured floss. Draw up a thread, wrap it three times around the needle, and send the needle back down near where it came up.
Cut lengths of yarn longer than you think you'll want.
Stitch each piece of yarn to the scalp with a few stitches across, using the matching floss. Start at the hairline above the face and work all the way around, then spiral in to the crown, overlapping the strands. For the last few strands, tuck the ends under others and stitch them invisibly.
Trim the hair to an even length all around. Cut fringe if you like, or pull it into ponytails or braids. You may find you need to add a few more strands along a part.
Tips and warnings
- Draw the features on the doll's face, using a dressmaker's pencil, before stuffing it.
- Craft stores offer glue-on and sew-on eyes, from classic shoe buttons to "googlies" of all sizes and ready-curled hair to stitch onto dolls.
- Hair will appear fuller if you stitch it in loops rather than single strands or comb it out after it's attached. You can also buy curly yarn for the hair, or wet lengths of natural-fibre yarn and braid or twist it tightly. When it dries, it will hold the shape and have more texture.
- Make a doll for a child's first birthday, using a favourite baby outfit as your pattern and making facial features and hair match the child's.
- For a child less than 3 years old, it's best to embroider all features. Do not use glue-on features, and make very sure that sewn-on buttons are very secure, as anything a child can pull off the doll can become a choking hazard. Keep the doll's hair short enough for these young children that they can't get tangled in it.
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