Miss Gioia

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hair and Faces

Elisa is working on a baby from my rag doll tutorial. (How fun is that!?) She reminded me that I was going to post later about hair, but never did. Elisa also asked a great question about embroidering faces. So, while this post will not be a true hair and face tutorial, perhaps it will be enough to help Elisa finish her baby.

Making the Face

Question: Why isn't the face embroidered first, before the doll is sewn and stuffed?

Well, you can do it that way too, if you like. But the advantage of adding the face after the stuffing is that you can tailor the face to the 3D shape of the stuffed doll. A flat face is different from a round/oval/curved face. What looks good in 2D may look weird in 3D.

You have many options in finishing your face. The easiest method is to add buttons for eyes, as my husband did with Tiddley above. Of course this is not a good idea for a doll destined for a child under three. You can also use felt shapes to make eyes, cheeks and other features. Mimi does felt faces exceptionally well. She sometimes uses scrapbooking tools to cut out the perfect shapes - like circles cut in half for eyes - and then appliques them to the face with a blanket/buttonhole stitch or something similar.

You can paint the face. You can embroider it. Or you can be minimalistic and leave the face blank, like I did here. This part really is all up to your imagination.

To embroider the face, you will first make a knot in the embroidery thread and then insert the needle from the back of the head, through the stuffing and out to the front. Embroider the eyes using your choice of stitches - satin, outline, anything. When you are finished, put the needle back through the head and create an ending knot on the other side. For Waldorf doll heads, you will need a 5" or longer doll needle for this step, because the head is really thick. But for the rag doll, you can use a regular needle because the head can be squished enough to send the needle through and out the other side without losing it inside the doll.

Making the Hair

Now, the reason that you can embroider the face from the back of the head is that the knots will be covered up by the hair. Hair can be made of many things, actually, like yarn, cloth strips and felt. Many people attach hair by hand sewing each piece to the head, while some people glue it down. I really like using yarn for hair, and I prefer to sew the pieces down. But that is just me.

Each hairstyle is different and requires special methods. For Miss Tiddley's hair, Chris threaded an upholstery needle (with a big eye) with the actual yarn used for the hair. He sewed the strands directly into the head along the crown, and then tied it back into a ponytail. This was quite quick and easy. Here is a link to a tutorial for a similar hair attachment method.

One of my recent hair favorites (one with no picture - alas!) was a Raggedy Ann-esque style with pieces that stuck out crazily all over the head. This method was really labor intensive, as each strand had to be hand tacked down with sewing thread. With one long piece of yarn, I created row after row of long loops. Each loop was sewn to the head twice: once with the thread looping around the yarn and into the head, and once with the thread through the yarn and then into the head for security. Then I snipped all of the loops open to create a wild, loose style.

This little doll's hair was sewn down at the crown (piece by piece) and then looped back to the ponytail area where it was gathered into a bunch.

One of the best resources I have found for doll hairstyles is "Making Waldorf Dolls" by Maricristin Sealey. Pricey book, but maybe you can find it at your local library for free.

Elisa, I look forward to seeing your finished baby. Good luck!

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Blogger Elisa said...

Hey Rebecca...thanks for all the great info and links on your latest post. I squeed when I saw you'd mentioned me and my project on your blog :)

I rushed ahead with the doll and had finished her hair and face before I even saw your reply (I'm impulsive!)

Have a look on my blog and tell me what you think *gulp*

August 18, 2007 5:27 AM  

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