Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dollmaker Mommy

I never thought that I would be making a doll...I have no experience with doll making. But when LC became so excited at the thought of her mommy possibly making her a doll, I had to step up and do my best to give my daughter a handmade doll as a gift. She received it yesterday and cherishes this toy. She wanted to bring it with us everywhere today...and this is the second night she is sleeping with it. I spent about ten hours on this project and this is the doll I created:


The cool thing is that every part of this doll is made of reused materials, so I was happy LC witnessed not just how I was able to dive in to learn something new...but that we could hunt for stuff around the home and give these items a second life. The head/body/arms are made of a knee-high purple sock LC loved that no longer fits. The legs are made of an old pair of tights she wore twice before she outgrew them. The doll's dress is the sleeve of a size 3 sweatjacket LC adored...I just had to cut holes for the doll's arms and turn the top a bit to make it look like a cowl neck style. I took the felt flower off LC's old hair clip and put it on the dress. After looking at many buttons on her old outfits...I chose these large ones from the pink sweatjacket. Then, we have the hair...lots of it...I put that yarn in strand by strand...that took quite a while. I used up all the rest of the yellow yarn (which is the color LC requested) and then I had to use some pink yarn, because I couldn't leave the top of the head hairless. To stuff the doll, I had LC choose one of her old stuffed toys she no longer wanted and used the cotton (with a small screwdriver to push it into place without tearing the doll apart).

After cutting the sock...I did start off initially with thread and a small needle to sew it up properly...but that didn't work out well. No matter how big the knot...the ends would keep going through the sock and it would fall apart, when I tugged at it a little.


So then I decided to use yarn and the largest needle I had in my case...I had no idea if it would look good...but I had no choice. I don't have a sewing machine, I never learned how to use one. This is all I could think of...grabbing my crochet basket (I taught myself how to crochet granny squares December 2010 and she still wears the hat I made for her) to see if I had any leftover yarn.


That went pretty well... the important thing is to leave one end open on the body, each arm, each leg...so that you can stuff it before closing it up. Since I have no idea what I'm doing...I ended up with rather big knots on the BACK of the doll. I didn't know how else to do it...so it doesn't unravel of course (my greatest challenge with crochet as well). I tried to hide some of the big knots INSIDE the sock...and the doll's dress and hair ended up covering the rest.

With all the parts stuffed and sewn up...I was starting to feel confident that I could finish this project...especially with LC asking every night if this would be the night that she meets her new doll.


So, after tying a piece of yarn where the neck would be...to give the head and body a bit of separation...I attached the arms and legs.


I do regret not taking any photos of the hair in progress. I sorta got into it...and it was so painstaking...at first it seemed like it would take forever...but then I found it to be quite therapeutic. I was in the zone and felt quite calm and I could have done this for hours and hours (I really have to learn how to knit and learn more about sewing and crochet techniques...it is quite enjoyable...one of the few times my mind is at rest). First, I cut the strands at about equal length, wrapping each around my finger (knowing I would be giving the doll a little haircut after it was all done, to even the hair out). I used a crochet technique for the hair strands...though I was using a big needle...by simply hooking a bit of the yarn through the eye of the needle, pulling it through and then getting the yarn strands through the yarn loop to make like a knot. Then, I added the buttons for the eyes...and entered the head from the back and carefully created the smile with the very last piece of pink yarn I had left.


It would be an understatement to say she adores this doll. She doesn't see the imperfections. It didn't come wrapped in plastic or inside a box. She kept thanking me, while I was working on it...and running up to me and kissing me. She actually stated "you're a wonderful woman!" I felt so appreciated, I just had to finish the doll even though it looks so far from professional. After she saw the doll and held it...LC said "it's a great, great dolly!"


The fact that it's made with love seems to mean more to her than anything. As you can see in the above two photos, she is still wearing (as a scarf and headband these days) the crooked red crochet thing I made in 2011.

I spent the first hour of the project checking out a few YouTube clips for inspiration...people are creating awesome dolls. I liked this clip the best for getting a clear idea of how to make the face, body, arms and legs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRXc4i9cK_E

And when I was stuck trying to figure out how to make the hair...this Coraline doll making clip did the trick:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMz3rWkUers

What a great way to kick off the holiday gift making season.