I love looking through flickr sets or scrolling back to the beginning of someone's blog and watching their creative-style really develop. Part of me wishes I had started this blog a few years back for that reason.
So, while I have a couple dolls that are *almost* done, I thought I could post about a few past dolls that I've made. This was a key one. A topsy-turvy Goldilocks doll.
I started this doll during the Summer of 2008. And she started out as a regular doll for my youngest. I used a vintage pattern for her head/torso and arms. I believe the pattern was either an Alice Brooks or Laura Wheeler one. But after I sewed/stuffed the head and body, I just did not like it. The torso was so TINY and the head was so BIG. The limbs were supposed to be button jointed, and maybe it all would have looked fine when done, but I scrapped the project for a few months.
Eventually I decided to use the head for practice and went ahead and hand-embroidered the facial features. It was my first time doing embroidery like this.
And at the time, I was really happy with the results (I've gotten more critical these days :-P). I hated not doing something with her, so I somehow came to the decision to make a topsy-turvy doll. The tiny torso would be hidden this way.
While I do own a vintage pattern for a cloth Goldilocks/Three Bears topsy-turvy (the very pattern my mom used to make one when I was little), I went ahead and tried to do this on my own. And I learned a few things about making dolls like this.
For example - the reason the arms on topsy-turvy dolls are so little is because they get in the way otherwise when you flip the doll over. Of course, I didn't realize that until afterward. Look at how long I made the bears' arms! They are hard to stuff under Goldilocks's dress. And their head is too huge!!! But because Goldilocks had such a big head, I thought the bears' head should be bigger :).
It took me two attempts to get Goldilocks's dress right. And while I usually only use wool stuffing for my dolls and toys, I did have to use a bit of polyfil for the bears' head so that it wouldn't be so heavy and dense. I think I used bamboo, too, I can't remember.
I made up the design for the bears' head and then used one of those Carol's Zoo patterns for Baby Bear.
Okay, and this is one of my favorite parts of this doll - Papa Bear's overalls (which you can only see part of here...he's sitting in a canvas bucket for the picture). The overalls are made out of a pair of my husband's old jeans. I ripped off one of the back pockets and used that, too. It's not just Mama Bear's job to carry Baby around!
Anyways, the reason this doll was so important was because it really started me on my journey into making my own dolls. The toys we've always chosen for our kids have been those made of natural fibers - wood, cotton, wool, etc. We are big fans of Waldorf toys. I've even made some Waldorf dolls for my girls. And while I love Waldorf dolls, I realized that I could make dolls that are just as "natural" in content, but different...still wholesome. I can use 100% organic fabrics for doll bodies, clean-carded wool to stuff them, and natural fibers for their hair. And even more, I love making their faces (the primary thing that really sets them apart from Waldorf dolls). I told my husband that hand-sewing their facial expressions feels like drawing with a needle and thread.
After toying with a few other vintage patterns, I started to draft my own design, redrawing lines/curves numerous times. I love the "baseball" style head construction, but I am not a fan of button-joints myself. The doll pattern that I've been working on for over a year has the baseball-style head, but with a more traditional rag-doll style body. There are still kinks I'm working out, but the design gets a little better each time I make one.