My mum bought me a copy of a book Crafty Dolls by Jane Bull for Christmas. It contains templates, ideas and instructions to make your own soft dolls. Knowing I liked sewing and had a lot of materials at home, she thought it would be fun to make E some dolls.
I made E a girl doll complete with top, skirt, jumper, jeans, pjs and a pirate outfit. I invented the pirate outfit (which is why the hat is too big) but the other clothes were in the book. There were a few mistakes in the instructions (I double checked as I’m pretty slapdash on occasion and wanted to be sure it wasn’t me, but no, there are some mistakes in the patterns) but the clothes themselves are easy enough to adapt.
I got the book out again for Easter gifts for my nephew and niece. My nephew had shown an interest in the book when I looked through it at Christmas and I asked him if he’d like a doll. He liked the superhero doll. The superhero doll in the book is knitted but I decided my nephew J might like the pirate outfit I made for E too so I decided to make him a regular cloth doll and make a range of outfits, including a superhero. That way he could change.
My niece is only 6 months old (another E) so I decided one of those upside-down dolls might be fun for her and they had a Cinderella doll in the book. This was harder to do but hopefully it works. Here she is:
And finally, I decided to complete the project I would write them a story to go with their dolls. J’s story is called The Adventures of Captain Superbilly and is about a small boy trying to decide between being a superhero and a pirate when he grows up. E’s book was a slight retelling of Cinderella (I was asked not to make it too feminist – it’s probably the least feminist fairytale ever, I did my best to change the worst bits but it’s an uphill battle. My sister doesn’t mind her heroines hopeless and passive.)
The instructions are worth reading through properly before you make the dolls up (which should go without saying) and I recommend drawing the faces on before sewing. But the book is pretty easy to follow and the patterns are flexible enough for you to make adjustments if you want (not counting the mistakes). The patterns are easy enough to be done with minimal sewing skills but again, if you like sewing and know how to adjust you can do more (I like things neatly hemmed if possible and so on…)
E loves her dolly and likes to change her outfits regularly, or more often just take all the clothes off and get me to replace hem. I will adjust some more patterns for more costumes as she gets bigger and can do some f this herself. A supergirl costume seems inevitable and I’m wondering how easy an astronaut would be…