Quite possibly one of the easiest types of cloth doll to make are panel dolls. With a pre-printed front and back you simply sew around the outside of the doll, stuff it and voila!
I was fooling around with the things I learned in the Illustrator course I am taking. Scratch that. I was diligently perfecting the skills I recently picked up in my Illustrator course and came up with a simple image of a Kokeshi doll.
Kokeshi dolls are a traditional Japanese dolls usually made from wood and painted. Here I've used the look of the Kokeshi doll to create a simple panel doll that you can print onto printer ready fabric with your home printer. I stuffed my Kokeshi doll with lavender so that I could use her as a sachet, but it would be just as easy to stuff her with toy stuffing and use her as a toy.
Here's how to make one:
What You'll Need:
- The free printable panel, just click the link to Download Kokeshi doll
Tip: If you are having trouble downloading the panel doll then please ensure that you have Adobe Reader installed and that you have updated your Adobe Reader. It is free to both download the reader and to update it, just click the link to visit the Adobe site.
- Printer ready fabric sheets such as Jacquard InkJet Cotton Fabric
- Sewing machine, thread, scissors, hand sewing needle
- Polyester stuffing
- Lavender (optional)
- Eucalan No Rinse Delicate Wash (optional)
- Access to a home printer
- 1/8" (3mm) wide ribbon for hair
How to do it:
1. Print the Kekeshi doll image that you downloaded above onto paper first, just to make sure that it prints correctly. Once you are confident that the image is printing properly, follow the printer ready fabric manufacturer's instructions to print the photos onto the photo ready fabric. I advise feeding one sheet into the printer at a time. It is also usual to leave the paper backing on the fabric for 24 hours after printing to allow the ink to dry fully.
2. Optional: I find that printer ready sheets can have a quite crispy texture once the paper is removed, so I like to soak the sheet in Eucalan No Rinse Delicate Wash. The lanolin in the Eucalan conditions the fibres and improves the hand of the fabric. This step is not strictly necessary but I like that the process both improves the feel of the fabric and ensure that any excess ink is washed away.
3. Fold the fabric in half with right sides together, matching the outline of the front and back of the doll exactly. Pin layers together.
4. Sew around the outer outline of the doll as accurately as you can. Leave a small opening along one side of the doll. Be sure to back-stitch at the beginning and end of your stitching.
5. Cut out the doll leaving a 1/4" (6mm) seam allowance around the seam. Clip into the curves at the neck and hair and trim the bottom corners. Turn right side out through the opening.
6. Stuff your doll using a pair of haemostats if you have them, or alternatively use something like a chopstick to get the stuffing into place through the opening. First fill the doll's hair buns and head with polyester stuffing. I chose to use my doll as a lavender sachet, so I filled the rest of the doll's body with fragrant lavender. However, if you intend to use the doll as a toy, continue to stuff the body lightly with stuffing.
7. With a hand sewing needle and thread, ladder stitch the opening closed.
If you don’t know how to do the ladder stitch, have a look at this diagram.
I’ve used red thread so you can see the stitch better. The blue lines indicate where the thread is travelling through the fold of the fabric. When you pull the thread taut the two bits of fabric butt together. You should pull the thread taut as you go, but I have left it loose at the end here so you can see the stitch better.
When you have closed the opening, finish by anchoring your thread and bury the tail in the body of the doll.
8. Tie a piece of 1/8" (3mm) wide ribbon into a bow around each of the doll's hair buns.
Enjoy this little Kokeshi doll!