I’ve always loved making dolls. But eventually I got tired of sewing and stuffing their bodies, because what I REALLY like is making the costumes and sets and props. For years I have used patterns that I’ve drafted, and then I started using doll blanks or dolls that had no faces, but were ready-made. These dolls are made in China using cotton fabric and new stuffing materials, and sell for around $1 to $15 dollars each when imported to the USA, depending on their size. Of course, none are as large as the full sized pattern I made to create Belle and Katherine, two life-sized cloth ladies!
I can’t really make them myself at that price, and then there are licensing considerations. Stuffed toys and soft sculptures are subject to ever increasing legislation concerning safety, and require special permits and licenses to sell them legally. This is true even when they are not meant for children.
I used muslin dolls, which were unfortunately discontinued shortly after I drafted a whole series of patterns for clothing them as Heirloom Lady, Girl, and Boy Dolls. So, I created a pattern for the body too. Eventually the patterns and a complete how-to article will be finished, but its not today’s project. Recently I’ve found other sources for the same style doll, including Factory Direct Crafts and Dharma Trading Co. I like to dye the doll bodies and add polymer clay faces too!
The same face that I draw by hand with a pen on my paper dolls like Belle and her more sober sisters the Heirloom Lady and Heirloom Girl is one I often put on cloth dolls.
Here are some of the cloth dolls I’ve made using my own patterns and pre-made bodies as well. Click on the thumbnail to see the larger image, and you can view it from there as a slideshow as well.