Nellie"s Needles

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Spirit Dolls

I mentioned at Bee that it would be fun to do a round-robin exchange with spirit dolls. Everyone was agreeable IF we had a pattern. Since it was my idea, making a pattern for the doll is up to me.
On the left is the outcome of my first draft. On the right side is the result of my finalized pattern for a 12" tall doll.
There is no doubt about her gender in spite of her lack of breasts. I figure at some point during the rounds she will acquire a set along with a lot of other interesting and decorative goodies.

I've come up with a different method for working with this pattern from the way I instructed making the bird. Both patterns are transferred to a wax backed freezer paper. The cut edges of the doll pattern pieces are the seamline.
I use a light box to position the freezer paper pattern over the area I like on the wrong side of the fabric. After the pattern is ironed to the fabric rough cut at least a 1/2" allowance around the pattern. I again use the light box to position the pattern with the ironed on fabric to a "good" spot on the right side of the fabric. Then again rough cut the fabric at least a 1/2" from the paper edge. It's very easy to sew the seam at the edge of the pattern with an open toe foot. I shorten the stitch length to "2" on my Pfaff machine. The seam is stitched all around the pattern piece (do not leave an opening for turning). Trim close to the pattern with pinking shears.
If you don't have pinking shears, it is necessary to clip into the seam at the curves so they will be smooth when turned inside out. The sharp inwardly curved seam between her feet needs to be clipped that way.
To turn the body inside out I drew a 2" long line in the middle of her back to cut an opening.
Using tweezers is helpful to grasp narrow ends to pull them through the body and out the cut opening. After the body is turned right side out draw a 5" long line from the toes upward to give her two legs. Stitch a seam along the line being sure to secure the thread ends.
The arms are cut and sewn the same way ... a closed seam around the pattern. The slit for turning is made at the top in the area that will be sewn next to the body.
The pattern for the head is laid out on the fabric and sewn in the same manner. Leave an opening in the seam at the chin for the neck on the body shape to fit into. Cut excess fabric in the shape of a neck at the opening. The dotted line represents the placement of the stuffed neck when the head is attached to the body.
Turn all the body pieces right side out. Use a fiber-fill to stuff the arms, head, and body. The opening of the back is closed with the ladder stitch. Take a running stitch on alternate sides of the opening. A number of stitches may be made before drawing the seam shut.
Sew the arms in position with a ladder stitch seam from the center of the front up over the shoulder to the center of the back. This allows mobile arm movement.

Tuck the excess "neck" fabric inside the opening of the head. Position the head over the stuffed neck on the body. It's a bit fiddly. Use the needle to help stuff and smooth the loose fabric.
Use the ladder stitch to attach the head to the body. I stitched the backside first, then added more stuffing to puff out the face before stitching the front closed.
And that's how to make a spirit doll. She's ready to be decorated and embellished however her maker wishes to portray her persona. I'm looking forward to my friends each adding their unique touch to my doll ... bits of their creative spirit.
The pattern and these instructions can be downloaded to your computer and printed out... just like for the bird.

  • Go here for the pattern
  • Go here for the instructions


Merry said...

I think she is beautiful and the directions and pictures very helpful...will definetly give her a try.

verobirdie said...

Thank you Nellie, my "to do" list already exceeds my possibilities, and this doll has been added, to the first rank! :-)
I think it is a good idea and your tuto sounds great!

Dolores said...

I would love to make one of the spirit dolls but both links are the same - the instructions, not the pattern. Am I the only one that finds this link?

Libby Fife said...

Nellie-I must say that I like that doll. I have been tinkering with the idea of the female form lately and how to incorporate it into a piece. I have ideas!

Kay said...

How fun! I love her shape. As you say, there's no doubt about her gender, is there. I like her demure expression too.

Julie said...

Wow! What a great tutorial! Thank you very much Nellie. I shall save this and put it in my "Must try this" pile! I shall have to find a few friends to share with.

Joyce said...

I'm thinking I'll have to try one of these ladies. Pretty easy to sew and tons of fun to embellish!

teodo said...

Thanks Nellie!
ciao ciao

arlee said...

I will definitely be trying this one---love the hips :}

Heather said...

What a great tutorial and a great design. She is so curvacious and lovely. I will look forward to seeing how you have all finished your dolls.

Di said...

Thank you Nellie, she is on my 'To Do' list.

Pat Winter said...

Thank you Nellie! I will have to try making one. Could you email me at please? Thanks.

Karoda said...

Nellie, you are so gracious...thanks for sharing so much with your blog audience :)

Barbara Strobel Lardon said...

Love these dolls. I used to make dolls for each little girl born of any relative or friend. Hopefully they are all still out there somewhere.

I copied the pattern. Maybe I can try to make a bird and the spirit doll one of these days.

Great face!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Thank you so much Nellie! She is a beautiful doll and I can't wait to give her a try. I have some perfect fabric in my 'doll' drawer which I've been saving for something special.

MargaretR said...

I love the doll Nellie. Thanks for sharing. She's on my 'To Do' list too.