18 March, 2014

Such a doll

One of the things I've really enjoyed doing this year at school is our after school Co Curricular Activities.  We're contractually obliged to do one.  I'm doing one on all 3 days I work.  The best bit is that for 2 of them, I get to come up with what I want to do (and the 3rd one is the wonderful mural)!  I made a decision right at the beginning of the year that I wanted to work with 6th grade and above.  A day spent running after 4-10 year olds is somewhat exhausting and it's just so nice to be able to hang out with some older kids in the afternoon for an hour.  I started the year doing crochet and needle felting.  The needle felting felt a little difficult as the kids just didn't have the patience to do a little bit every week; they wanted to make a whole project each time.  Strangely enough they had more patience with the crochet.  I now have a girl making a whole unicorn who couldn't even chain stitch for the first few weeks.  Yay.

When I asked them at the end of the last session what they were interested in doing, they resoundingly agreed that they wanted some kind of sewing class.  Now the school has a purpose built textiles room and textiles is offered as an elective, but many kids miss out as only so many can do the class.  Then there are those who LOVE sewing but can only do it once per year.  So a sewing CCA was what they requested.

I thought about this for a bit.  I didn't want to be taking the place of the textiles class and teaching them how to use machines etc., but at the same time I wanted to provide a project to suit all abilities.  So, I came up with the idea of making a basic doll pattern that they could adjust and alter to their own whims.  Now, disclaimer, I've never made a cloth doll before, nor to be honest that many soft toys.  I did some research and drew up a very basic pattern (quite big so as not to be too fiddly).  I showed them inspirational pictures and how they could alter their doll to be they way they wanted it...it could even be an animal.  They had to come up with sketches to show something really original.    I have 9 girls in the class and 3 adults (teaching Assistants and a friend) and they are all so invested in their doll.  3 weeks in and some have only just started sewing some pieces together last week.  I've really made them slow down and think about the planning process; the drawing up of their own pattern pieces BEFORE they start cutting.
Meanwhile I had yet to make a doll.  A week or so ago, Ella (who plays along at home because she can't come to the CCA due to rugby practise) and I had a go of sewing up the pattern.  We did it with the arms and legs stuffed first and all stuffed up inside while we sewed her inside out , or I should say I sewed her as this proved too difficult for Ella.  Which meant we had a problem.
While Ella has had a great time making Esme's face and clothes and doing amazing things with her hair (which is still a work in progress), I had to have a way of putting the pattern together that less sophisticated sewers than Ella could cope with.

So it was time to make my own doll.  In the back of my head it was always going to be a male doll.  I was kind of thinking: hipster, glasses, purple flowery shirt....
 Well, this weekend it rained (hallelujah!) and I had a lovely time working on my doll....

At present he's "flat packed" in that his arms and legs are stuffed, but his body isn't.  This is my new construction method: stuff the arms and legs and mark off holes for them on the back side of the body pieces.  Then sew from the outside corner of one hip all the way around to the other leaving gaps for the arms and all the way across the ...ah...crotch...  
 This is how I will take him to class tomorrow to explain how we can then hand stitch in the limbs, stuff  them and sew up the bottom.  Of course, I made the mistake of sewing together the torso BEFORE I added the glasses which made for some interesting hand sewing positions last night.
 And although I was going for kind of a hipster...he's actually ended up looking like a cross between my own husband and a 70's English teacher (corduroy jacket with leather elbow patches, do you think?)
He's very good at semaphore, though...


  1. he is awesome!!! Ellas is adorable. xx

  2. He's cool, but I don't think he resembles you Matt! What fun, I used to love making dolls & fairies. Is anyone into elves or fairies? mum xx


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