Sunday, 1 October 2017

Making a Tiny You: Part 3


Hello my lovely loves!

We’re back making our Tiny Human dolls a little bit early this week! I've got a medical appointment tomorrow which will likely leave me wiped for a bit, so I thought it better to post this sooner rather than later!
Let’s get cracking. We’ve done the limbs, so it’s time to work on the torso.

27. Pin the front of your doll to the back. Hold the arms against the body of the doll and mark where the posts of the joints will enter the torso. 

I like that as these pictures progress, they slowly get less terrifying.

28. Using blanket stitch, sew around the edge of your doll, from one arm mark, along the sides, across where the legs meet the body and up the other side to the other arm mark. There's another handy video tutorial here on how to blanket stitch around awkward objects.
Stuff the bottom portion of your doll’s torso.

If you’ve created flat sole-based feet and given the legs wires, your doll will most likely be able to stand up and stare at you creepily. Aren’t you glad you started this project?

I spoke to soon on the whole "less terrifying" thing.

29. Insert the arm joint into the body to measure the width of the gap necessary. Mark this with pins.

Red: width of gap needed for arm joint post.
White: Pin placement.

30. Sew from neck to ear on each side of your doll, using blanket stitch.

31. Attach the arms to the body, by pushing the arm joint post through the gap you have left on each side. Add the washer and the clip provided on the inside of the torso and push down until you hear several clicks.
This helpful video shows you how to do it. 

(32. If you want magnets in your dolls temples and haven’t already sewn them in, do so now.)

33. Using blanket stitch, sew from ear to ear, around the rest of the doll’s head, and stuff as you go.

(BTW Mum's hand is in a bag in the background because she'd burned it quite badly. 
It's fine now, but ice was needed.)



Adding Hair

34. Take the felt you’ve bought to use for your hair. Using the original pattern as a guide, cut out two head shapes from the hair felt. Don’t forget to add the seam allowance.

35. Take one of these shapes and pin it to the back of your dolls head. This will create the basis for your hair and give you a hairline.
If you know a way to draw a naked doll, face down, 
having something sewn to the back of it's head 
without making it horrifying, please let me know.
I really wish I'd photographed this stage.

36. Take the second hair piece and cut it into a hairline for the front of your doll. This can be a simple crescent shape, or you can get creative and add a widow’s peak, or side burns. If you have a beard you can use this method to create some facial hair.
Here’s my hairline.

I added some wiggles at the sides where I have little curl frizzies.

37. Sew along the edge of the hairline to attach it to the doll. Sew along the top of the head to join the two hair pieces. You now have a basis from which to create your hair. If you have a shaved head, or very, very short hair, you don’t need to do anymore.

Blanket stitch is my favourite of all the stitches.

38. Take the remaining hair felt and decide how you want your hair to look. If you want separate strands of hair, or a more sculpted look. Have a look at felt dolls online for inspiration.

Here are some options I tried out on TH...

Somehow simultaneously flat, and too "thank you for the country music award". Rejected.

Better, but still flat. I need VOLUME, DAMMIT!

I looked online at the dolls made by Miss Coffee (who I bought the doll pattern I altered from, and who, unfortunately, doesn't appear to sell patterns anymore), and decided to base TH's hair on the doll she made of Poison Ivy. Search "Miss coffee felt doll" on goggle images for other inspiration. 

All credit to Miss Coffee. Please start selling doll patterns again.

Since I decided I wanted individual strands of waves, but had no instructions, I created layers of waves, and built them up, a bit like a long set of hair extensions.
I don’t have photos for this step so here’s a sketch of the layers and how they were built up.

I hope these weird brown tentacles make sense to you.

Once the main part of the hair was created I then cut out individual waves pieces. I used these to create my fringe.
To create a swoop of hair I stitched the fringe pieces on so they were pointed up like this…

The classic "got-too-friendly-with-a-plug-socket" look.
Also how I look every morning.

and then folded them back over and secured the fringe with a couple of small hidden stitches.
Hairdressers will recognise this as something you do to real hair to give it volume. You blow dry it the opposite way to your intended direction, and then flip it.

Because you're worth it, my tiny doppelgänger.

I then did the same on the other side.

At this point I started to get irritated that TH has better hair than me.

Finally I added some extra individual wave pieces to give the front part of the head it’s own hair strands, and to hide the stitching at the top of the head. 
I used a little fabric glue to secure an remaining strands in the right place that couldn’t be stitched easily. 

Dem tresses.

When using fabric glue, dab on with a brush or a cocktail stick to make sure you don’t soak the felt. Too much glue can leave the felt stiff and stained.

Your doll is now almost ready. Next time we’ll see how to start making clothes.


Monday, 25 September 2017

Making a Tiny You: Part 2


Hello again! And welcome to part two of making your own Tiny You. Today we'll be making your doll's arms and legs.

Hopefully by now you’ll have go the hang of the blanket stitch, but this is where we start sewing…

11. Adding Magnets - as I’ve said on the previous post, having magnets in your doll is optional, so just skip this bit if you’re not going to be doing that. It can be tricky, especially because needles are usually magnetic and will get stuck to what you’re trying to sew, but the results are fun. It’s up to you.

To add magnets to your doll, you first need to make little pouches for them to be held in. This will make it easier for you to attach the magnets to the doll.

Cut two small felt circles, slightly larger than your magnets. (You basically have to leave a seam allowance like you did with the pattern pieces.)
Hold the two circles together and start to blanket stitch around the edge to attach them. When you have stitched about halfway, slide the magnet in the pouch you have created and continue stitching until you complete the circle and the magnet is completely enclosed. Repeat for all the magnets you’ll be using inside the doll.
That feeling when you create a non-terrifying diagram.

Tiny Hannah has one magnet in each hand and one in each temple.

Once you have your magnet pouches, sew them in place on the inside of your arm pattern pieces where the palm would be. Felt is great because, due to it’s texture and thickness, if you’re careful you can sew them in place without it showing on the outside.

Palm magnets completed.

Note: if you want to make it so the hands of your doll easily touch, make sure you take the poles of the magnets into account when sewing them into place.
You can do the temple ones at this point if you like, but I waited till I was working on that area.

12. Using your bradle or sharp pencil, make holes in the top of your arm pieces, ready for the teddy bear joints. You may need to widen the hole in the same way you did for the safety eyes in step 6. I doubt you've forgotten the horrifying diagram I made for that step, so I won't bother reusing it here.

I'm so glad I bought a bradle. It makes this so much easier.

13. Push the pegs of the teddy bear joints through the hole of each arm. DO NOT ATTACH THE REST OF THE JOINT YET. Once teddybear joints are snapped shut they don’t reopen, so you need to wait until most of the rest of the doll is done.
On a roll with these non-frightening diagrams

14. Adding wire to arms - skip steps 14-16 if you’re not adding wire.
Assemble your wire, cutters, pliers, and arm and/or leg pieces.

The tools of the tiny trade.

Measuring against your arm pieces, cut a piece of wire and curl each end inwards to create a loop; a larger one at the bottom (the”hand”) and a smaller on at the top (the “shoulder”). Repeat step. These will be your arm “bones”.

Wire arm bones

15. Using your sugru or similar, stick the smaller shoulder loop onto the top of the teddy bear joint peg. This will stop the bone sliding around inside the arm and potentially damaging the felt.

Sugru not shown. Obviously.

16. Carefully sew the hand loop in place to stop it shifting. A blanket stitch could work here, but as long as the hand won’t move about it doesn’t matter too much.

Use a flesh coloured thread if possible. 
I just used black on her to make it more visible.

17. Your arm is now ready for sewing and stuffing. Fold the edges of your felt together so the bone, joint and magnet is hidden. Start your blanket stitch, and, as you sew, add stuffing bit by bit. It’s easier to stuff as you sew than to try and push stuffing into the toy later. You can use your pencil or cradle to help you stuff the toy.

Frustratingly I don’t have any photos of this stage, probably because I’d never done it before and I was concentrating too hard, and it's not really something I can easily draw, but here is a video where this stage is shown. The right part is at 0:49. 
The limb should feel relatively solid when you've finished. The more to push it with a pencil or bradle the more it'll compress.

18. Adding wire to legs - optional steps 18-19.
This step is tricky and I wouldn’t blame you if you gave it a miss. I decided that I wanted my doll to have proper soles so she could wear proper shoes, which made this a lot more difficult, because the wire had to be shaped like a leg, ankle and foot. 
If your pattern doesn’t have foot soles, you can just use a loop technique like I did on TH’s arm wires.
This is the shape I came up with.

Yes. I did do a version of the Charlie Chaplin fork dance

I looped the end into an elongated oval, that was slightly smaller than the sole piece. The loop was twisted closed where the heel would be and then bent forward slight to give a more definite heel. This also allowed the ankle to be slightly further forward. 
The leg then extended up, and was bent at the hip towards the other leg. All of this was just measured against the felt pieces as I went.
Ideally I would want both legs to be made of one piece of wire, but I felt the chances of me getting that right on the first try were too slim, so I made them separately. 

19. If you decide to go with this shape, then, once you have the basic leg wire shape, sew the foot wire to the sole piece to stop it moving about and provide a more solid foot. 
(At this stage the images of the wire inserts will be white. I covered them in tape thinking they might be visible through the felt if I left them metallic. This step is unnecessary. I’m so glad I spent a good hour doing it for Tiny Hannah...)

The cunning reuse of the same diagram. No one will know.

20. Using blanket stitch, sew the sole of the foot to the leg piece. I found it easiest to fold the leg piece in half to find the centre, and place it on the heel of the sole. Then stitch from the heel round to the front. Repeat on the other side until the entire sole is stitch to the leg. Repeat on the other leg.

This is probably the point where you'll realise making tiny 
accurate feet was rather ambitious. It's certainly when I did.

There may be a little fabric left over from the leg piece at the toe. That's fine, you can trim it off. 
If there's not enough fabric you can either cut out leg pieces with longer toe sections, or make a little triangle (like a thin slice of cake) and add it into the gap.

21. Ready your stuffing. Start stitching from the toe to the top of the leg, and stuff as you go. Remember to stuff all the way round the ankle and leg wire to try and keep the “bone” in the middle of the leg; it’ll help to keep the wire from shifting too much or rubbing against the felt. When you reached the top of the leg, leave the very top with only a small amount of stuffing.

Take your time and go little by little, especially around the fiddly toe piece. This is pretty much the last difficult bit. It'll get easier from here on out.

22. Your leg should look like this.

Leg, with trimmings from the toe.

Pinch the the top of the leg so it lies flat, with the leg seam in the middle. The wire should also be roughly in the middle.

23. Trim any jagged edge of the felt, and sew the leg shut. Repeat on the other leg.

24. Lay the legs against the back piece of the doll, so the edges of the leg lines up with the edge of the hip. If you have wire inserts, bend the wires up where it meets the edge of the doll.

25. Trim the wire and bend it back in on itself until it forms a loop.

26. Stitch the legs into place on the back. You can use a blanket stitch, backstitch, or any secret stitch you fell comfortable with. 
If you have wire inserts, sew them together in the middle by looping round them and then sewing into the felt until it feels fairly secure.

That feeling when the tricky part is done!

Your doll’s limbs are now complete! Next time: completing your doll’s torso.


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Making a Tiny You: Part 1


Hello my lovely loves!

Regular followers of my blog doubtless know about Tiny Hannah and her adventures, but, for those that don’t, Tiny Hannah is a small felt version of myself that I sent in my stead to visit friends and family.

It was really getting me down that there were so many important events in my friends lives that I couldn’t be a part of, so I made her to go in my place. It really takes the pressure off knowing there’s a representation of you acting as a placeholder while you’re not well.
Here are some of her adventures.

TH is currently in America, and there’s plans to send her on to friends in Canada after she’s visited all my American friends. 

I’ve found having TH to send to friends really comforting, and my friends have been amazing about her, so I thought that other Spoonies might like to make their own version of themselves to send to places when they’re not able to go.

You will need:

A Pattern: I created a hybrid pattern for Tiny Hannah using one that I found on the internet, and one that I purchased on Etsy. The first had moveable limbs, and the second had a less childlike body shape and a facial aesthetic that I preferred. 
Here is the pattern I used, which you can print for yourself. There are two different leg/foot sizes, and different body shapes included.

The Etsy shop doesn't appear to sell doll patterns anymore (which is a real shame, because they were awesome), but here is the blog post including the free pattern which I also used as inspiration. The video tutorial included in the post is a must watch too; it really gives you insight into the construction of dolls like this.

Felt - A skin tone, a hair tone, some different colours for clothes. 
(Wool felt is generally more durable, and comes in a wider variety of colours, but can also be more expensive. I use acrylic based felts, because I’m allergic to wool, and working with it for longer periods of time makes my hands raw.)

Embroidery thread - Regular thread is a bit thin and could probably tear felt relatively easily, so it’s best to use embroidery thread. 
If you buy your felt from a shop then usually the assistants can help you match the colours. I tried to buy mine online but it’s very hard to colour match over the internet; in the end Mum went in to our local craft shop and enlisted the help of the lady there.
Embroidery thread appears rope like, but in fact comes in six strands that you divide up to use two at a time.
If you do use normal dressmaking thread, double it over so you’re using two strands at once to lessen the chance of tearing.

A needle - It will need to have an eye large enough to thread two strands of embroidery thread through it. Embroidery needles are a thing, so look for those if you’re not sure what to go for. If you have the option of buying more than one, then do. You’ll lose the needle at least once during the process.
(When you do I recommend shining a light on the area you dropped it to make it easier to find. It’s not the kind of thing you want to stand or sit on later.)

Pins - In some cases it may be easier to hold what you’re sewing together, but for cutting out pattern pieces, and sewing tiny clothes, it’s best to have some pins on hand.

Scissors - Fabric scissors are best, but as long as they’re sharp, and have pointed ends, it’ll be fine.

Safety eyes - I used 15mm black eyes for Tiny Hannah.

A sharp pencil.

Plain paper sheets, roughly A4, for templates.

Paint for facial features - I used acrylic paint, but you can use a special fabric paint if you really want to.

Soft toy stuffing

Teddy bear joints (yes, that’s what they’re called) - this is if you want to be able to move your dolls limbs. They usually come in packs of five, but Tiny Hannah only has two; her arms use teddy bear joints but her legs are just wire. 
If you wanted to get fancy you could even make the head of your doll separately and attach it with a teddybear joint so the head turns. I was slightly worried mine would end up like something out of The Exorcist so I didn’t bother.

(You don’t have to do teddybear joints if you don’t want to - you could technically just make a front piece, and a back piece and then sew them together without any separate limb pieces at all - but for the sake of this tutorial I’ll talk as if you are making moveable arms.)

Optional: Fabric glue - can be useful if you’re less confident with stitching fiddly things, but not suitable for the main body of the doll. I used glue when putting the finishing touches on Tiny Hannah's hair.

Optional: Bradle - A stabbing tool useful for making eye holes, and showing toy stuffing who’s boss. You don’t have to have one though. A pencil works fine in a pinch.

Optional: Wire to make posable limbs - it took me ages to find the right strength and thickness, and this is the one I recommend. You could probably use pipe cleaners in a pinch.

Optional: Wire cutters - For the love of God, do not use scissors on wire. It will destroy them.

Optional: Round headed pliers - you can get away with regular pliers, or with tweezers, but the best option are still jewellery pliers. They won’t leave dents on the wire, and they’re easier control.

Optional: Sugru mouldable glue or similar - used for attaching wire to teddy joints. If you’re not adding wire, you won’t need this.

Optional: Magnets to make magnetised hands and accessories - These are the magnets I used. Again, it took me ages to find the right ones. If you’re using magnets, make sure to keep them out of the reach of pets or children, as they can do serious harm if swallowed.
I used 5mm x 0.5mm neodymium magnets. You can go larger or thicker for a better span or strength, but I wouldn't go smaller. They smaller the magnet, the more fiddly they are to use. 
If I didn't feel one magnet was sufficiently strong I just stuck two together.

Extras: Snap fasteners for Tiny Clothes, ribbons, buttons, beads, trimmings etc. For decoration and for keeping clothes on your doll.

Making Your Doll

Okay! You have everything you need. Now on to making. Necessary steps are in bold, optional extras are not.

1. First things first. Cut out your pattern. You’ll need two of each piece. I had originally decided to do the ears separately, but later I decided the head of my doll was too big. When I cut down the head I left extra bumps on for the ears.

Here we have my pattern pieces, clockwise from top left, the ear, the head/body, the leg, the sole of the foot, and the arm.

2. Lay your pattern on your felt. It’s easiest to fold your felt in half, and pin your pieces to it. Then, when you cut the pieces out, you’ll have cut two of everything. 

(Try to arrange your pieces so they take up the least amount of space you can reasonably manage. 
It’s not a massive deal, but if there’s more fabric left over you can cut out extra pieces if something goes wrong.)

Materials are expensive. Use them wisely.

3. You’ll need to see if your pattern has already included a seam allowance. From what I can gather most toy patterns don’t - the ones I used didn’t, and if you’ve using the same ones they won’t. That’s fine. When you cut out your felt pieces, leave a bit of extra fabric all around the paper as I have in the photo.
Keep the scraps for now.

Despite appearances, there are actually two of everything cut here.

(3.5. For Tiny Hannah I was worried that the acrylic felt I had bought was too thin, so I cut out another layer of felt and stuck it to the original using iron-on double-sided interfacing. This step is pretty unnecessary, and I wouldn’t bother next time, but I’ll show you what I did to avoid confusion on why my felt changes appearances at this point. 

I cut out more felt pieces (this time not leaving the extra for the seam allowance), and the same pieces in double-sided fusible interfacing. I ironed the interfacing onto the new pieces, peeled off the backing paper, and then ironed the pieces onto the original. Ta-da! Doubly thick felt pieces.)

Unnecessary felt pieces, slightly smaller and a different colour.

Unnecessary ironing of interfacing.

Unnecessary (but pleasing) waffle pattern left by the tea towel
I sacrificed to stop interfacing sticking to the iron.

4. Lay all your pattern pieces on a sheet of paper so it roughly resembles your doll. Make sure to fold the leg and arm pieces in half lengthways when you do this. 

Line the arms up with the shoulders at roughly a 45 degree angle, slightly overlapping the body piece, as shown. 

I am an illustrator. People actually pay me to draw things.

Line the legs up with the hips, slightly overlapping the body and leg pieces, as shown. There will likely be a gap left between the legs: that’s fine, it makes it easier to make clothes.

Draw around the shape you have created on the paper. This will make it much easier for you to make clothes for your doll later. DO NOT LOSE THIS PIECE OF PAPER. It’s technically possible to work out sizing for clothes later, but it’s really difficult.

5. Mark the eyes on one of the face pieces of your doll. You can do this by eye, or by laying your pattern piece on top and stabbing through the paper with a biro or pencil. 

6. I used a tool called a bradle to stab a hole in the felt ready for the safety eyes. 

Stabby, stabby!

If you don’t have a bradle, a sharp pencil could work, or you can CAREFULLY cut a little cross over the pen mark you made, using the point of your scissors.

This is the most horrifying thing I've ever created.

This step will probably be much easier without the double layer of felt, or if you’re using wool felt. Wool naturally stretches more, and the interfacing I used is basically a mesh of glue, which stopped the hole from stretching.
I ended up widening the hole I made using scissors, by snipping little cuts into the top, bottom, and sides of the hole made by the bradle (like a cross). If you use scissors, cut a tiny bit at a time. You can always go back a cut more, you can’t cut less.

7. Add the safety eyes. You do this by pushing the eye through the hole in the felt, and then fastening the plastic washer on the other side. Suddenly your felt will look much cuter.

Left without washer, right with washer.


8. Draw your facial features onto your doll with pencil. You could technically do this before the eyes are in, but I found it much easier to get an idea of what size everything should be once the eyes were in. You can also add things like tattoos at this stage.

It’s up to you what look you give your doll. I decided to keep my doll more cute looking and forgo a nose. *Suddenly realises that this is the look Voldemort was going for all along*

The resemblance is uncanny.

9. Paint your dolls face and other features like tattoos. I used acrylic paint, watered down about half and half. If the paint is too thick it gets caught on the loose fibres of the felt and sits on surface, and you won’t be able to get a clean line. If it’s thinner, it’ll be much cleaner, but also sink more into the fabric, and become much less likely to flake off.

You might find the fuzzy fibres get in the way, so take your scissors and, laying them flat across the surface, snip away the loose fibres from the surface of where you need to paint. 
If that sounds confusing, imagine you need to cut a hair from your leg. You wouldn’t stab in and snip and risk cutting skin, you'd lay the scissors flat and try to mimic a razor. You’re basically shaving your doll’s face.

Once you’ve painted the face on the un-sewn head piece, your doll will now resemble an adorable fat-monster from Doctor Who called an Adipose, if an Adipose had kidnapped Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist.
For this reason I have named my own little felt Adipose, “Kim Lardashian.”

Kim would be proud of those eyebrows.

10. This is the last step on this post, and so far we’ve managed to avoid sewing, but I’m afraid this is where that changes. 
The next thing you need to do is learn how to blanket stitch. It’s pretty much the only stitch I used for making tiny Hannah. Have a practise on a spare piece of fabric before you start stitch your doll.

Here is a helpful tutorial on how to blanket stitch. 

Next time... we'll be making your doll's limbs!