Directions for Creating a Doll's Head for 11" tall doll. Pattern can be adjusted, reduced or enlarged for other size dolls.
1.) Take a 12” length of 2" wide tubular gauze and, with heavy craft thread, sew a running stitch 1/2” from one short end. Pull tightly to gather and close the end. Secure with a knot. Turn inside-out to hide the stitching. It will look like a tube sock. Set aside.
2.) Carded wool will tear easily in one direction. Tear several strips that are 2” wide and about 15” long. Tear another strip that is 6” wide and 9” long; set this one aside.
3.) Next, you will form the inner ball for the head. This must be very firm or your doll’s head will be too soft and lack dimension. Take one of the 2” strips and begin forming a small, tight ball on one short end. Roll and fold the wool to make the ball bigger, always keeping it as firm as possible and round. You will notice the wool sticks to itself as you go, making this process easier as the ball grows. Continue rolling and wrapping until the ball measures 8-5/8” (22 cm.) around. Measure it in several directions to assure that your ball is indeed round.
4.) Lay the ball on the 6”x 9” piece of wool, allowing 1/4 of the ball to extend above the wool strip (see following photo). Roll up in jelly roll fashion. (Now you have a tube of wool with the head at one end and a roll of excess wool on the other. This excess roll of wool is necessary to form a sturdy neck. Without it, your doll’s head would be floppy.) Take this and push it into the tubular gauze sock, head first. Take a 16” piece of cotton string and tie tightly under the ball to create the neck. The wool hanging below will eventually form the body (or trunk) of your doll. But, for now, just leave it hanging loose and open.
5.) To give your doll’s head some natural curves, use strong cotton string to make an eyeline. Wrap a 24” piece of cotton string twice around the exact middle of the head (see following Eyeline Placement diagram below). Tie with an overhand (or square) knot, pulling moderately to create an indentation. This is the eyeline, with the knot at the back of the head.
6.) Take another 24” piece of cotton string and wrap it twice around from the top of the head, under the chin and back to the top. Secure with an overhand (or square) knot on the top of the head, although do not tie this string as tightly as the eyeline. This string will help create the cheeks of your doll. (see diagram above)
7.) With needle and heavy craft thread, secure the points where the two strings cross over each other on the sides of the head by sewing an “X” over them. Dig down into the wool with each stitch for greater security. (see Cheek Line Placement Diagram above)
8.) Finish shaping the head by pulling the string at the back of the head down toward the back of the neck. If you have difficulty, this can be done easily with the aide of a small crochet hook. Stop about 1/4” above the neck string. Secure it in place by zigzagging back and forth a few times with needle and thread from this string to the cheek string (which is running down the side of the head under the “X, see following photo).
9.) To make a nose, very lightly draw a 3/8” (1 cm.) circle with a water erasable marker or pencil in the center of the face directly under the eyeline (see photo and diagram above). With strong craft thread, take small stitches back and forth across from each other in a circular pattern. Think of the circle as a clock and start at 3:00, take a stitch under the wool and come out at 9:00, pull gently. Move to 10:00, take a stitch under the wool and come out at 4:00, pull gently. Move to 5:00, take a stitch under the wool and come out at 11:00, pull gently. Move to 12:00 and so on, continuing in this pattern until you come out at 3:00 again. Pull your thread and the wool will draw up into a tight, little ball. Spread a very thin layer of glue on the nose to protect it’s shape. Allow to dry. Now your head sculpting is complete!
10.) Take a piece of cotton knit skin fabric and fold in half, with the stretch going across. Place the body pattern on the fold (as indicated) and draw the shape onto the fabric with a water erasable marker. Sew on this line and cut 1/8” away from the seam and turn to right side.
11.) Pull the skintone fabric onto the doll’s head with the seam centered on the back of the head. The top opening should fall just in front of the top center of the head.
12.) Close the Top Opening: With needle and thread, sew a running stitch 1/8” from the cut edge of the top opening. Push the raw edges into the opening and pull the thread to gather and close. Secure with a small knot. This gathered closure will eventually be hidden by the hair and provides a smooth, seamless forehead.
13.) Take a 10” length of the heavy craft thread and tie tightly around the neck, making sure to keep the doll’s chin and cheeks smooth and as wrinkle-free as possible. (There may be a few small wrinkles, not to worry. But any large ones, push to the back of the head and neck. Later these can be hidden under the hair.)
14.) Before embroidering the eyes and mouth, take three ball-headed straight pins and, using your doll’s head like a pincushion, place them where you’d like the eyes and mouth to be. The pins should form an equilateral triangle, with the points of the triangle approximately 1” (2.5 cm.) away from each other. The eye pins should be placed on the eyeline and the mouth should be directly under the nose (see following Pin Placement Diagram).
15.) Cut a 24” (61 cm) length of eye color cotton embroidery thread and divide into 4 and 2 strands. Using the one with 4 threads, thread it onto a dollmaking needle. From the back of the head, come out 1/16” to the right of the right eye pin (#1 in the eye stitch diagram above) leaving a thread tail hanging from the back of the head. Take a stitch approximately 1/8” (3 mm) across, go into #2 and come out again on the right, directly under the stitch you just made (#3 in the diagram). Take a second smaller stitch, go into #4, coming out on the right again above the longer stitch at #5. Finally, take a third small stitch above the longer center stitch, going into #6 and coming out at the back of the head. Do not pull the thread tightly or the stitches will sink into the fabric. Instead, allow the stitches to “float” on top of the fabric with even, but light tension. Repeat with second eye, coming out at the back of the head near the entry thread tail. Tie the two thread tails together in a loose square knot to secure.
16.) For the mouth, cut an 18” length of pink embroidery thread and divide into 3 and 3 strands. Thread one group of three threads onto your dollmaking needle. Starting from the back of the head, come out 1/8” to the right of the mouth pin (#1 in Mouth Stitching diagram above). Take a 1/4” stitch, go into #2 in diagram and come out at #3, under the stitch you just made. The lower stitch should be shorter than the upper stitch. Finally, finish by pushing the needle into #4 on the diagram, through the head and out the back, coming out next to the entry thread tail. Make a loose square knot to secure. Your head is now completed and ready to be added to the doll's body.
© 2005, Kathryn Sheehan. For personal use only.
Please do not duplicate without written permission.
The Silver Penny, Cape Elizabeth, Maine