How to Make a Posable Doll

Written by f.r.r. mallory
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How to Make a Posable Doll
A posable doll can be soft and cuddly for play. (David De Lossy/Valueline/Getty Images)

A posable doll can sit or stand, bend its arms or legs and hold itself upright. Usually this is done by installing a wire armature inside the doll's body that can be bent to accommodate the posing positions. Creating an armature is not hard, although you will need to bend stiff wire to make the doll strong enough to hold its own weight. Once you make your first doll you can adapt the technique to posable animal dolls and other projects.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Coat hanger
  • Pliers
  • Vice
  • Wire cutters
  • Chenille wire
  • Fabric
  • Quilt batting
  • Polyester fill
  • Needle and thread

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  1. 1

    Cut coat hanger twice the finished height of your doll. If you prefer to use wire, use a similar gauge wire that is stiff but still bendable. Bend the wire in half to create a soft bend. Shape the bend you just made into the shape of a head. Twist the wires together under the head to form a neck. Twist three times. Use a vice and pliers to help you twist and bend as necessary.

  2. 2

    Bend each wire away from the neck to form shoulders. They should slope slightly downward toward the shoulder joint. Bend the wires back toward the centre to create the torso. From the neck to the waist is typically twice the height of the head. Bring the wires together at the waist and twist three times.

  3. 3

    Shape the wire away from the waist toward the hips. This section of wire should have a soft curve indicating the curve from the waist to the leg joint. The width should be less than the shoulder width. Bend the left wire toward the right at the leg joint so that the wire is horizontal. Bend the right wire toward the left at the leg joint so that it is horizontal and overlaps the left wire. The wires should overlap the full width of the seat. Trim off the excess wire with wire cutters.

  4. 4

    Cut wire 1 1/2 times the finished height of the doll. Bend the end of one wire to form a hand. Twist the end around the wrist area three times. Position the arm wire vertically so that the hand is 1/4 inch below the leg joint and touching the shoulder joint. Grab the arm and shoulder wires with pliers at the shoulder joint. Wrap the end of the wire around the shoulder moving toward the neck, past the neck and to the other shoulder.

  5. 5

    Form the hand so that the curve of the loop is matching the first hand and 1/4 inch below the leg joint. Twist the wire back to form the wrist and twist the wire three times. Trim off the extra wire with wire cutters.

  6. 6

    Cut wire 1 1/2 times the length of the finished doll. Form a foot loop similar to the hand loops. Wrap the end of the wire around the ankle area. The leg should be the same as the height of the head to the leg joint or slightly more. Grab the leg wire and the wire at the leg joint. Wrap the loose end across the overlapping wires of the seat toward the other leg joint. Measure and make the second foot loop the same length and size as the first leg and foot. Twist the end of the wire three times around the ankle area and trim the excess wire. This is the complete armature.

  7. 7

    Use chenille wire to make fingers for each hand if you are crafting operational fingers. Cover the armature with quilt batting and skin coloured fabric. Most dollmakers sew a body suit and fit it over the armature to create the shape they desire. Pad out the fabric body with polyester filling. Some portions of the body will be hand stitched for the best fit.

Tips and warnings

  • Often this type of doll has soft-sculpted features, stitched features, yarn hair, button eyes or even fabric painted features. You can mix and match doll parts such as porcelain faces, hands and feet on an armature body or design your own type of doll.

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