I would never presume to be an expert at sewing, stitching or dollmaking. But I pick up on crafts skills pretty quickly. I can easily analyze an item and think of a million ways to do something similar with the skills I’ve collected throughout the years.
I know there are tons of patterns available for download out there with well thought-out precise instructions written by crafty bloggers. But one of my biggest joys is to be able to create something myself from beginning to end on the whim without nitpicking on details.
Another thing I enjoy about crafting is using items that can be found around the house and not wasting any piece. This behavior may lead to hoarding, so beware. I also love ‘rescuing’ old items and repurposing them in my craft.
I initially wanted to write a detailed step-by-step tutorial for the Helix Dino Doll, but I don’t want to limit you with materials, patterns, and process. I think it should be a personal discovery process.
For the pattern
To draw out the initial pattern, I simply drew the side profile of a dinosaur on grocery store flyers because we always have tons of them lying around the house. It can be a dinosaur, a dog, a cat or anything you want. You can also change it up and draw a front profile. That way, you can eliminate the need to draw arms and legs separately. Maybe you can add a tail. Nothing fancy here. You can even have your kids draw up something cute. What a wonderful little thing to make as a family! Make sure the drawing is big enough; bigger dolls are easier to make.
Once the profile has been drawn, I ‘fleshed’ out the outlines of the parts that are going to curve. The more you ‘flesh’ it out, the ‘fatter’ you can make your doll. It’s not an exact science, so play around with it.
If you want to make your doll rounder, consider splitting the body into 3 or 4 parts instead of just two. For Helix Dino, I drew out a third piece for the belly. It tapers at the neck and at the tip of the tail. But if this is your first project ever, it’s perfectly cool to keep it simple. There are no rules.
Once you’ve drawn out the fleshed out profile for the body, arms, legs, and any other pieces you may need, I suggest adding a 5/8″ seam allowance around the profile for sewing together the pices. And that’s it! You have just created your own doll pattern!
For the fabric
For my Helix Dino Doll, I used baby blankets I found at Salvation Army. They’re usually extra soft, colourful, and cheap. Play around with different fabrics. Use old t-shirts or pillowcases, whatever you would otherwise discard. Lay down the fabric on your table. I don’t have a cutting mat, so I used a big cardboard box cut up to lay down flat. It works out pretty well because I can pin the pattern pieces to the fabric directly into the mat. I cut the fabric directly around the pattern without tracing, but do it however you want.
For the embellishments
It’s cleaner to add any decorative stitching on either side of the doll before sewing the fabric together. On the right side of the fabric, draw eyes, nose, mouth or any designs you want. On one of my dolls, I covered one side completely with stitched tattoos. You can also write the name of your kid. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find tons of tutorials for basic stitches. I might do a tutorial one of these days. Choose colourful threads and voila! Simple and quick personal touches to your doll.
For the stuffing
Sew the fabric together, wrong side out, but not completely all the way around; leave an opening of about 2-3 inches to be able to flip the stitched fabric inside out and add stuffing. For the stuffing, I use the fluff from a pillow. But you can also buy bags of stuffing. Stuff, stuff, stuff, and then stitch up the opening of the doll. This is your first doll with a new pattern. So don’t fret if it doesn’t look perfect: make adjustments to your pattern if you find it needs adjustments and make a second improved doll.
There you have it! It’s nothing fancy nor difficult. I like to keep the process simple and fun, as it should be. Hopefully, this inspires you to play and create something of your own.