Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Orchids on your Budget Christmas Series #12...Christmas 2017...DIY Dolls..

Orchids on Your Budget was a gorgeous little handbook for the financially bereft. Written by Marjorie Hillis back in the 1930's, it gave advice on all manner of ways to remain Societally Respected Whilst Undergoing Financial Changes.
I've mentioned this darling little book before. You can read about it in my Christmas Gifting series here:
The thing about Christmas, is that it's really about getting your mindset around the fact that it's about giving, not necessarily spending.
If you're facing a financially challenging time now, or leading up to Christmas, or in fact any other celebration, getting your mindset right is vital. Otherwise, you're going to make things even more uncomfortable for yourself than they are currently.
Every year, make a point of learning a new skill. Something that you can use to create gifts. Whether that's baking, cooking, mixing marinades, making liqueurs, sewing, candle making, crochet, knitting, embroidering, ceramics, pottery, propagating plants, art, photography, card making...whatever...get good enough at it, to gift that skill proudly.
It goes without saying too, that it really needs to be something you can purchase the materials for, relatively inexpensively. There is no point in spending $300, to save money and make your own gifts, if you don't have $300 to start with.
In my recent post here, I talked about using eBay to purchase the components of lovely individualised gifts. An outlay of just $6 per gift, can mean savings of $30 on a similarly packaged purchased gift. You just have to be clever.
By all means window shop, but do so with the intention of replicating what you see, in some form. Not for buying!
I have two granddaughters, so I've been admiring hand made dolls in specialty shops and on Etsy.
Hand made dolls fetch big dollars, and can range from $65 for something really very simple, up to the hundreds of dollars for the type that are more like pieces of art.
I haven't made dolls before. I had three sons before I had a daughter, and she has lived and breathed dance more than dolls in her 17 1/2 years!
So I'm starting off simple as far as doll making goes. I can work my way up from there. That's the thing you see. Don't make it so difficult for yourself, that the results are less than you'd like and you give up. That's no fun!
When I saw these pre-printed fabric Doll panels on sale for just $6 each panel, with each panel yielding 6 dolls/doll cushions, I knew I'd found my starting point.
These dolls, or doll cushions if you prefer to think of them that way, are 45cms tall (18"), and are super cute. Each one resembles a Princess or Fairy, and you can leave them as is, simply cutting, stitching a front and a back panel together, and filling them with stuffing. I've chosen to use the panel as a base for embellishments of all kinds. You could also cut shapes from toning or contrasting fabrics for the alternate sides, thus getting twice as many dollies from your panel.
You need:
Pre printed Fabric Doll Panels
Polyester stuffing
Embellishments eg buttons, beads, sequins, lace, ribbon
Needle and thread
Sewing machine or patience to hand stitch the front and back together by hand!
Cut out your Doll shapes. This was a little tedious, as I had 12 to cut out. But I just cozied up on the couch and spent a peaceful time, while watching Househunters International, sipping tea, and snipping Dolly shapes.
Here's Dolly before I started embellishing her. See, you can easily leave her as is, or paint her with glitter or pearl paint, or trim her with lace and ribbon too. I used the dots on her gown, the flowers on her belt, the star on her wand and the jewels in her tiara as my embellishment guides.

I had two jars worth of mixed white buttons left over from some costume making, and I wanted to use the existing pattern on the doll as my guide for embellishment. So I  had a grand old time, digging through those to find enough matching buttons in various sizes and shapes. It was actually quite therapeutic finding matching buttons and sequins for those diminishing sized dots. I felt good about using up the buttons too!
If you needed to buy them, about $10 gets you literally 100s of white buttons to play with, so it's still an inexpensive embellishment. I also used sequins (very cost effective) and bugle beads. All of these were sourced from the Clearance table at the Haberdashery on one occasion or another for under $1 a packet.
It takes an hour or two of dedicated stitching to sew the embellishments, but none of it is difficult. I gave my Dolly little bugle bead earrings, and a faux strand of pearls too.

 Once I'd embellished Dolly to my liking, I paired her front with her back, right sides together, and stitched around her outside edge. I made sure I started at the bottom of her hemline, so that when I filled her with Polyfill (stuffing), I could hand stitch the opening, and make it almost unnoticeable. Don't forget this bit. You don't want Dolly's hand stitched opening at the top of her head like some mad Frankenstein!

Turn Dolly right way out, using the opening you've left for the stuffing. Much like turning a freshly washed sock right way out....

Now Dolly will look like this...

It's helpful at this point, to turn the seams of your opening in, and press them with a hot iron. This will assist enormously, when you come to use your Ladder Stitch to stitch her closed. Iron Dolly too, so that she's nice and smooth.
Grab your Fibre Fill (polyester stuffing) and gently push the stuffing into Dolly, ensuring that she is evenly packed all the way through. You might have to wiggle and tug the fibrefill around a fair bit to make this happen.

Stitch Dolly's opening shut, using tiny Ladder stitches.

If Dolly is now a little creased for her adventures, you can hold her (very carefully!), over the steam from the tea kettle, to smooth out any remaining creases, and plump her up.

And you're done.
My Dolly took about three hours all up. But that's mainly because I chose to decorate her with LOTS of buttons and beads. I love the textural finish this gives her. I also popped three little Jingle Bells inside Dolly when I was filling her with fibrefill, so she jingles happily when moved.
It's worth mentioning that these are NOT for children under 3, who might be tempted to put Dolly's buttons and beads into their mouths.
They do however make a super cute doll toy or doll cushion for children from 4-ish and up. You know your children best. Use your own discretion.
I'm off to finish my second little Moppet.
She's clothed in Lavender and mother of pearl buttons and sequins, and is going to be just as pretty as Dolly!
Dolly cost me no more than $3 and some time to create. And I still have 5 more just like her to create, to gift to the children in my family this Christmas.
Start now. Or at least soon. And you too, can have Dolly and Moppet to gift this year.


  1. Super cute, Mimi! A great idea!
    xx Jen in NS

  2. She is adorable. Is this a panel that can still be purchased? I have always loved cloth dolls!

    1. Thanks Penpen. I imagine the fabric stores always have stock of these or similar :)

  3. What a cute little doll! I so agree with your mindset about gift giving.

  4. She is lovely Mimi! I'm sure your grand daughters will love them, my daughter certainly would! Where did you find the panel? Love the embellishments, and can appreciate the satisfaction of matching up the buttons and sequins lol.

    Just a thought, as boys are often difficult to make things for, my boys love drawing. I had some fabric markers and let them go wild on an old sheet. They drew superheroes, wrestlers and wild animals. And then I cut around them, as you have with the dolls, and sewed a back to make them into cushions/soft toys. You can either iron the markers to get them to set, or chuck it in the drier. I never thought to embellish them, that would have been cool. So that could be an option too if people couldn't find the fabric panels, I'm not an artist at all, but I can trace lol.

    Thanks for this fun post Mimi!

    Jen in NZ

    1. Jen, the fabric stores usually have a few versions of these. Otherwise you can buy them online. I LOVE this idea of drawing with fabric markers and making them into things. You clever thing, you! Mimi xxx

  5. What a darling idea! I was trying tho think of something to do for my 2 year old granddaughter and this will be perfect. Thank you!

  6. Mimi Dolly is gorgeous. Your sweet Misses are going to love their gift from their Granny.
    I use a knitting needle or chop stick to help get the fibre fill into all the nooks and crannies in little stuffed creations. These also help push out seam allowances.

    1. Jane, she is sweet isn't she? That's a great tip, thankyou! Mimi xxx

  7. Just adorable with all the added bling, Mimi!!! What a difference a few buttons and beads make. I would never have thought to do this - on bags, yes, but not dolls. You've given me lots of ideas - now I need a little recipient at the right age. Pinned! Love you to add this to the Softies link party.

    1. Yes Pam! A few buttons and beads is all it takes. These are so cute! And

  8. Very pretty, Mimi. My granddaughters have never been interested in dolls so I have never made any. They do look cute though.

    1. Chel, kids are all different aren't they? Thankyou. I'm happy with them. Mimi xxx

  9. What a lovely topic and gift. You keep on coming up with things to delight and inspire. Well done!


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx