I love art dolls! They're fun. But, they're daunting, too, until you're an expert. I'm not an expert. So, because I don't want to spend a long time making a doll, only to worry I will ruin it when I do the art, here is my method of making a Simple Art Doll. You can make the basic doll in an hour or so. Then you will have a blank canvas for your art. Should it all go wrong, then you haven't lost all that much. On the other hand, any little girl would love a handmade doll - so you could just give her some hair and make her a little dress, and there you go!
I drew this pattern myself, so please don't make dolls to sell, or sell the pattern.
What you need
A fat quarter (less, really) of calico (in England, muslin in the US)
a sewing machine, preferably with an embroidery/darning foot, and a zipper foot
scrap paper, pencil, scissors
white or natural thread
sewing scissors to cut out the doll, and some sharp ones for clipping the corners
What you do
I drew out my pattern on a piece of paper. I had seen the doll in my head with pointy feet, so I gave her pointy hands, too. And I tried to give her body a little shape as well. You can draw out your pattern, or wait for me to have grown up help to make a PDF, which I will do later.Fold the fabric in half and iron if necessary. Pin the pattern pieces (cut them out first!) to the fabric, and draw around each piece with a pencil.Take off the pattern, and pin the fabric so that it doesn't move. You will see that I have left some space around the pieces, but not too much. I sewed around the pieces, on the pencil lines, using my sewing machine with the embroidery/darning foot, and the feed dogs lowered. This makes it easier to sew around the shapes, and you can make the stitches smaller which will make the doll more secure. Don't sew across the tops of the arms and legs, or the bottom of the body, and also do not sew across the place where the arms will go at the top of the body (you can lift your presser foot and just move over to the next part. Snip the threads when you've finished. I'm not sure if it shows in my pictures, because the stitching is so small, but I always sew a little longer than the lines at the top of the limbs, and the bottom of the body.Carefully cut around the pieces, allowing about 1/8th of an inch. You will need to clip the curves around the head and neck, but for the pointy extremities, just clip slightly closer to the stitching towards the point. Turn through by turning over the tops of the pieces, and grasping the fabric inside. Once you have pulled over an inch or so, you could use a pencil or a paintbrush to work the limbs through. I use a paintbrush for this - you want the 'toes' and 'fingers' to be pointy, but be careful you don't push it through the bottom (which I did, of course. Just make a new arm and try, try again!).
Now you need to push a little stuffing down into the arms. I stuffed firmly up to the 'elbows', and then stitched across to keep it in. Then I put a weeny bit more stuffing in the upper arms before I sewed them into the body, but you might prefer not to do this; it makes the arms more stiff. You will notice that I have changed my foot to the zipper foot, and I have raised the feed dogs. The body has a vague kind of a T shape, so just turn in the seam allowance and tuck the arms in. Pin in place. Once you have lowered your needle, you can remove the pin. Just be sure your arms will be the same length!Here the arms are all sewn in. Make sure you secure the ends by backstitching. Now you need to stuff the head and body, firmly and evenly.And now it's the turn of the legs. Here, one has been 'knee-d', again using the zipper foot.Tuck the seam allowance up at the bottom of the body, insert the legs and pin into place. Check that the legs are the same length and that they will hang straight. Remove the pins once the needle has gone into the fabric. I turned around and went back again, just to make sure it was secure (I swapped the foot over - it's easy!)And now your basic doll is ready for decoration. She didn't take long, and she looks quite cute already.
You need to decide whether she should be 'realistic' or 'artistic'. I am thinking wild and wonderful myself.