Dolls' Houses Past & Present

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Making up a doll kit by Barbara King


The doll I have chosen is a cheap repro Victorian kit, but this way of creating a doll can be used for any modern kit. The method I am showing is the one normally found on old and antique dolls so the main principles will apply to any repairs and restorations to an old doll.


1) The kit as received, just five pieces of white porcelain.



2) First stage is to paint the shoes, the hair and the facial features. (Some modern kits are already painted.)






3) Simple squares or rectangles of cotton fabric, with a nipped in waist for the body piece, make up the main body parts.



4) For a more bendy and stable doll fix pipe cleaners to the ends of the arms and legs, a thin pipe cleaner will easily glue to the porcelain. The squares of fabric are wound round the limbs and tied with cotton, the fabric is then pulled right side out and stitched  up the side, (all limbs the same). It is a bit fiddly, but you can always undo it and try again if it doesn’t turn out. It will all be hidden at the end so nothing to worry about. A little cotton wool or other padding will fill out the limbs. 



5) The unfinished tops of the legs can be left un-sewn as they will tuck into the body.



6) Place the limbs in the right place, twist the arms and leg pipe cleaners together.



7) Roughly sew the sides of the body fabric up to the underarm area, turn right side out.




8) Place the legs inside the lower body and stitch across.




9) Stitch the arms in place in the top third of the body, leaving an area of neck. Stuff the body with cotton wool or kapok (older dolls would have been stuffed with sawdust or scraps of rag). Push the unfinished neck end up into the head ( a dab of glue can help here). Stitch through the holes in the shoulder plate to secure.



Some modern doll kits do not have stitch holes in the shoulder plate. Glue will normally be enough in this instance.


10) Here the doll is all together. The head on this kit I thought was a little large, kits vary a great deal.




11) A simple petticoat & skirt are made from rectangles of fabric and gathered at the waist.




12) Two more rectangles are moulded round to make the top of the dress. Two small pieces of white tape are glued on for cuffs. A simple square of lace edged fabric makes an apron with a bit more white tape for the tie. The apron will cover any rough stitching around the waist. A small triangle of fabric makes a shawl and the doll is finished.



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