Recently I bought a large doll in a booth at an antiques mall. The doll is listed as being papier mache, but looking at the construction of the doll it is clear it is made of cloth. I thought I would share images here, in hopes someone may have some information.
The doll has what I think is human hair seen on and is about 26" tall. It has a swivel head, and the head is made of cloth. The doll was wearing clothing which appears to be from the 50's, and boots which are much newer. The seller says it came through a distance cousin of the family, and is probably from the 30's. But of course this is vague information.
If you know how to edit photos in Picnik then you can have a great time creating custom fabric for your dolls. It's pricey, but for certain one of a kind dolls it might be just the ticket. At Spoonflower, you upload an image you'd like to make into a fabric design. Beginning today (Thursday noon, August 26th through Friday) Spoonflower is giving away free swatches.
For this post I used a basic graphic of an 1860's dress to create a design. I changed the color of the image to sepia using a photo editor (Picnik).
Here's the image viewer with the design options on the side, showing the graphic as a single centered design.
Next is the basic repeat,
where the image is lined up vertically and horizontally.
Half-drop shifts every other vertical line
one half of the image down.
Half-brick shifts every other horizontal line
one half of the image right.
Mirror creates vertical mirror images.
Depending on the image you use, these options can create wildly different feels....Here's a couple options using a public domain needle and thread image I saved.
Some of you may own antique fabrics that would be fun to upload. The beauty of that option is that you can KEEP the antique fabric for future reference but have the fun of using the design in your antique inspired creation. Also, Spoonflower allows for you to have printed just the amount of fabric you want - from a yard to hundreds. If you order over 20 yards you get a 20% discount. You also have a choice in the kind of fabric you have your design printed on - quilting cotton, sateen, twill, knit, canvas or lawn. I ordered a sample and the quilting weight cotton is just great for doll clothing - not as thick as some quilting cottons are. Next I'm ordering a sample on upholstery weight twill to see how that works out.
The possibilities with Spoonflower are endless for doll designers and doll makers. If you try this process out, please leave a comment here linking to what you did with your fabric. It's quite fun and possibly addicting. Have fun!
A search through Google Books section of public domain books yields a treasure trove of needlework techniques to use in embellishing a plain garment for an antique doll. Trims and braids can be approximated with some embroidery techniques, such as the braid stitch above.
Here are a few books I found with some interesting instruction and graphics. It's best to click on the "contents" at the top of the page and you can browse the book. You can also download them in PDF format for future reference.