Way back in the day, my grandmother made a little pocket doll for me. Actually, she made me two, because I lost one at daycare and was so upset that I needed another one. The second one had my name stitched on it so that if it was lost it could be returned. Shortly thereafter I found the original doll, who now had a bff.
Fast forward two decades. Nick and I had the distinct honor of babysitting our niece, Maggie, the other weekend, and I decided that she needs her own pocket doll to haul around in her pocket along with all the dandelions, dirt and rocks.
Here’s the weird thing about these dolls: they have two faces. No idea why. Both faces of my little dolls were smiling, which is good, because obvs. they were happy, but since I had the chance to make two different faces I thought, why not?
I had tried cross stitching faces for the doll, but that wasn’t going so well – hand stitching is not my strong point, and the fabric I found to use for the face was too thin – so I opted to just sew the doll and make the faces later like any 90’s girl worth her puffy paint would do. Read on!
To sew the doll I cut out two scraps of fabric (this is a great little project to use up fabric scraps), one 4.5 x 4.5 inches for the body, and one 4.5 x 2 inches for the face (okay really I cut the face a little smaller than that, but the end result was smaller than I had wanted. So go with me on this.)
First I stitched the head to the body, leaving a .25 inch seam allowance. I ironed the seam allowance towards the body.
For decoration, I stitched a 4.5 inch piece of ribbon across the body. Then I folded the whole doll in half, right sides facing, and stitched across the bottom and the long side, again with a .25 inch seam allowance. I clipped the bottom corners, flipped it right side out and had to use a skewer to poke the bottom corners into place.
Then I stuffed it. I used the skewer to poke the stuffing down.
The hardest part was stitching the head closed, because I needed it to be a little rounded to help the hair stay in place nicely. With a water erasable pen, I drew a curved line on each side to follow.
Grandma used a whipstitch to close my two dolls. I used a slip stitch while continually stuffing the seam allowance into the top of the doll. No idea if one stitch is better than the other for this, I just knew which one I could handle.
Okay, then came the part where I was completely clueless: sewing on the hair. I was happy to find a doll-making section at JoAnn Fabrics near the yarn, because I didn’t want to buy a whole skein of yarn for one little doll.
I slipped a pair of scissors under the yarn, as close to the edge as I could get, and cut it free. Then I cut the opposite side, so I had a pile of 7 inch long ‘hair’.
I took a close look at my own doll and it didn’t seem like grandma had done anything to stitch the yarn together before she attached it to the doll. So I threaded my needle again and started at the top/middle of her head. I took the wad of doll hair and shoved the needle somewhere through the middle of it, so that there was approximately the same amount of yarn on all sides of it.
Then I just started looping the needle over the yarn in small chunks, back into the ‘forehead’ of the doll on both sides, keeping the thread tight until I seemed to have caught all of the yarn. I secured the thread underneath all of the hair.
Grandma used a similar technique to secure the hair in two pigtails on the sides of my doll. But the thrill of that method was gone for me, so I improvised. I picked out another color of ribbon and cut two large pieces (and planned to trim them down later). I stitched the ribbon to the body portion on each side of the doll, right near the face/body seam.
I still needed faces for this gal, and I had gotten so far into the project that I didn’t want to mess it up. So I went simple, and with puffy paint and a tooth pick drew a smiley face on one side and a sleepy face on the other.
Did anyone else out there hand-make any Christmas gifts this year?