Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Dolly's New Body

Poor Dolly's body was looking a bit sorry. She has a solid (though quite soft) head, lower arms, and lower legs, and the rest of her is a stuffed cloth body. Originally she was wearing a nice little sleep suit. But it got taken off, and somehow had disappeared. Since Dolly had been sitting around naked for quite a while, her cloth body was getting quite grubby. The instructions said - do not wash, just sponge the surface. Well, that wouldn't have made a substantial difference appearance wise. (Why don't they make dolls and soft toys more easy to clean or wash effectively?) 

So - I made her a new body. This time, it's a removable, washable one. 

To find out more about it, carry on reading.

This is the sort of shape poor Dolly was in. Her body and arms and legs were covered by her sleep-suit, but once that disappeared, she didn't look very elegant. The answer was  new sleep-suit which would ONLY COME OFF TO BE WASHED (are you listening, little Jane?) and so it would form a second skin, or a new body.

The new body is made or very stretchy flash coloured jersey, and is a pretty tight fit.

I'm only going to give a very general description of how I did this, as it turned out to be more of a faff than I was expecting. So I don't necessarily recommend it to anyone without a lot of patience. Though I'm happy to help with advice to anyone who wants to have a go. (Afterwards, my husband pointed out that buying a new doll would have been cheaper, certainly if I counted my time. My daughter had asked if I could perhaps make two new 'bodies' while I was at it, so there could be one on and one off, or a spare, for once the first one got too tatty. However, after the first, I took my husband's point and told my daughter that it would be a new doll, hopefully identical, if the bodysuit couldn't survive much washing.

However - if you are intrepid enough to want to copy me, here, in general terms, is what I did.

I found some flesh-coloured very stretchy fine jersey. Effectively, I made a tight-fitting body suit / babygro. I did start drawing a pattern (because originally there had been the thought of making two). The doll's (original) body consisted of:

  1. a piece that formed the back of her butt, and the back of her legs (a sort of fat horseshoe shape). I had to sit her down and draw round to get the shape for this.
  2.  a piece that formed her back trunk, that joined on to piece (1) at hip level - actually there was a seam in the middle but I could see no reason for this, so I made her back all in one. I made the pattern for this piece by using some cheap soft fabric to bend around her, cutting around the armholes, sides and the seam that would join piece (1). I left a good bit at the top so I had some to turn down round the neck.
  3. 2 pieces that each formed half of her front trunk and one leg front. Again, I cut round using some thin material, cutting where the seam lines were - but I wanted a front opening that didn't exist on the original body, so each piece had an allowance for a little overlap at the centre front of the trunk. As with the back, I left a good bit at the top so I had some to turn down round the neck.
  4. 2 arm pieces, or sleeves. Again, I cut a pattern from thin fabric on the doll.
To assemble the body, I made it initially inside out, so that all the seams would eventually be inside. I pinned it all together on her inside out, stretching to make sure it was a tight fit. Then I had to go round releasing pins where I had pinned it to her body as well as to itself.

If I'd done it all by machine I would have taken it off her and would have used a stretch stitch or zigzag to sew it. However, I wasn't with my machine at the time, so I hand sewed with back stitch, with it still on her. 

I first joined the back trunk to the back legs, right sides together. I formed a small hem on each edge of the centre front. I overlapped the front trunk at the centre front and pinned it temporarily, then I laid the back inside out on the doll, and started pinning front to back in situ. This meant the sides, shoulders, and leg seams. Then I sewed them together, still on the doll. Because I was stretching it a bit to make it fit closely, I had to be careful to put my fingers in between as I sewed, to ensure I didn't actually sew it to the doll. In fact, I had to trim quite a bit off (another reason why I'm not providing my pattern) because there was a lot of stretch in the fabric.

Next, having pinned the arm pieces on to the doll inside out, I trimmed them a bit, and pinned the underarm seam, and sewed as before. I also sewed round the armscye or armhole. Almost done!

The most fiddly bit of all was turning the neck. The doll is made with a solid head, lower arms and lower legs. Still with the suit inside out, I pinned and snipped as I went, stretching to make sure it would be a really close fit round the neck. I pinned and sewed it towards me, so once turned the right way out this seam would be inside. The jersey doesn't really fray, so I stitched this using herring-bone stitch

Then I herring-boned each hem edge of the overlapping centre front, and added little Velcro strips so the suit could be taken on and off - mainly for washing.

Finally, I took the whole inside out suit off Dolly, turned it the right way out, and put it back on the right way out. Our challenge now is to make sure that Jane doesn't take her new 'body' off - she'll soon figure out there is Velcro. Her Mummy will have to work hard to ensure it only comes off for washing!

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