Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tutorial-How To Make a Homespun Stress-Relief Doll

Did you know there are dolls which are claimed to relieve stress? You have probably seen some of them on various sites around the web. These dolls are sometimes called by other choice names but, since I run a clean blog here, and since my children, grand-children and friends sometimes read my blog, I will call this type doll a "stress-relief" doll. In today's post, I will be showing you how to cut out and sew such a doll.

I am a peaceful and peace-loving person and I am not into "voodoo" and do not advise poking a doll with needles or anything of that nature. I am not advocating any type of violence or abuse. The idea is that one is to flail the doll around (if that is what helps them). You know, like having a pillow fight, I guess. All sorts of poems and sayings can be found on the net to go along with this type of doll, if you are intending to make one and give as a gift.

The dolls I made are constructed of very soft flannel and filled with polyester fiber-fill. My grand-daughter says that cuddling these dolls provides a lot of comfort and relieves stress. She wants her own now!

The two dolls shown on this post today were made for my sister-in-law, Janet, and her dear friend and work associate, Kelli. So, if they read my blog, they will know they are all ready to be picked up. Janet and Kelli share an office and their jobs can be very stressful. They had a stress-relief doll in their office before and, between the two of them, they wore it out. The girls had asked me several months ago to make them a new one. I thought each of them should have their own personal doll, so I made two. The dolls are identical, except for their yarn "hair" color. I figure the red-head might have a fiery temper, which has probably gotten it into trouble from time to time. The other has gray hair. I suppose that one has seen a lot of stress. If not, it probably will where it is going. Maybe, we should say it is pre-maturely gray!

This is another truly simple project for that person who might be new to sewing. I genuinely want to encourage my readers to be creative. It is my earnest desire to share my love for sewing and other things with you. As I have told you before, it is one of the main reasons I blog. You all possess talents and gifts. I know you do! Some of you are hiding away your gifts and are, therefore,  stifling your desire to be creative. Maybe, you are tucking these things away, far back in your hearts, perhaps because you fear you will fail if you make an attempt to try something new. By hiding away your creative talents and desires, you may be denying yourselves and others much joy and happiness. When you are happy, you will make others happy too! It's contagious! It is as simple as that. Believe me when I tell you that I have made more mistakes and messes than I can remember. Seriously. Tons of them! I could become discouraged, if I allowed it. The point is, I keep on trying new things, again and again and again. I encourage you to do the same.

  If you do not own a sewing machine, you could sew this little doll by hand, if that is the thing that may beholding you back. Just use somewhat small and fairly straight stitches, so that the filling or stuffing in the doll does not fall out. The dolls here are fashioned in a rustic, home-spun, rag-doll  fashion. The fabric used is tightly-woven, decorative flannel and its seams are sewed on the outside of the fabric, so there is no need to "turn" it right-side-out before stuffing it. There are no eyes or other facial features to draw, sew or glue on and these dolls really do not have a neck either. They really are quite simply "plain." Or would that be plainly "simple?"

Materials and/or Tools Needed

A Piece of Fabric or or  Paper (a paper bag will do just fine) at Least 12x17 Inches to Draw Pattern 
One-half Yard of  a Good Quality Decorative Flannel Fabric
Quilting Weight Thread of Chosen Color (You Can Use Regular Thread But Quilting Thread is Stronger for This Project)
Polyester Fiber Fill
Optional: Yarn of Any Type and Color of Your Choice
Sewing Machine or Hand Sewing Needle

Instructions for Cutting a Pattern and Sewing Your Doll

Draw a Pattern:

To get started, you will need to draw the basic shape for your doll onto a piece of paper or waste fabric(muslin, etc.). You will need only this one "pattern" piece. The dolls I made are a finished size of 16 inches tall(top of head to bottom of foot) and 11 inches wide(across the arm-span).

Here's a tip: I used one of my grand-daughter's toys(a sock-type monkey) to draw a very basic pattern shape. This was the easiest and fastest way to do it. I simply laid the toy, back down, on a piece of waste fabric and drew around it and shortened the arms a little bit. The legs should be a little longer in comparison to the arms. Remember, this is a "stress relief" doll  and some people will hold it by the legs. It does not have to be perfect and mine certainly is not, but for the stress-relief doll, especially if you are making it for an adult, you will want to make the dimensions about the same as the one I made (11x16 inches). This is what the pattern piece looks like:

Basic Doll Shape Pattern Which Does Not Even Have A Neck(11x16 inches)
Cut Out Doll and Sew it Together:

I started with pre-washed flannel fabric. Fold(so you can cut both pieces at the same time) or lay out the flannel fabric(right sides out) so that you will be able to cut out 2 identical pieces. Place your pattern piece onto your fabric and cut 2 identical body pieces out of the fabric.With wrong (back) sides of fabric touching or facing each other and right (decorative) sides of fabric facing on the outside, you will now sew the 2 body pieces together on top of the right side of fabric. Using about 1/2 inch seam allowance and starting on the side-top part of head on one side and sewing toward the shoulder, continue sewing all the way around the body until you reach the other side of the head. Leave about 2 to 3 inches open at the top of the doll's head. Remember, your raw edges will remain on the outside of your doll.You will insert the doll's polyester fiber filling through the 2 to 3 inch hole in top of the doll's head. Here is a close-up shot of where to begin sewing at the side of the head.
Here is another shot of the entire body after sewing is complete, except for the top of the doll's head. A contrasting thread was used in hopes that it would show up better on photographs. It still does not show up very well, however.

Now it is time to start stuffing the doll with the polyester fiber-fill. Begin at the bottom of the legs, putting a little filling in at the time. This will be easier if you will use a new or un-sharpened pencil or other long, narrow blunt object to aid in pushing the stuffing. Push the filling down with the "eraser" end of the pencil or blunt end of other object. You will want to put in enough filling to make the doll quite firm, but not completely stiff. Continue filling the doll, including the arms, and all the way to the top of the doll's head. If you want to add yarn " hair," you will want to do so before you sew and close up the top of the head. To do this, you can loop some yarn(as much as you desire) around three fingers of one hand or a small piece of cardboard and carefully remove the yarn, holding the loops together. Loosely stitch the loops together with a needle and thread before inserting into the hole at the top of the doll's head. After inserting the "hair" where you want it to go, either hand-stitch or, as in the case of my doll, machine stitch, the top opening of the head closed. You can either leave the yarn "loops" as is or you can snip each one with scissors, as I did, to give the doll straight hair.

Dolls After Adding Stuffing And Adding Yarn "Hair" & Sewing Up Top Of Head

After completion, I dampened the two dolls and then put them into the clothes dryer to make the raw edges "fray" and give them a little more "home-spun" appeal. These dolls can be washed and dried, as needed, and they will become more rustic looking each time they are washed. I have made quilted baby blankets like this and given as gifts. The edges form a wonderfully frayed look. Maybe I will do a future post on one of those sweet blankets. 

One of these dolls would make a great toy for a toddler to cuddle with and be comforted. A smaller version could be made (probably without the yarn hair) to give to a new-born. There are no small objects to come loose or fall off to become a choking hazard. Remember, it is important to always be safety-conscious when sewing or creating anything for little ones.

Like me, these dolls are NOT perfect. That does not matter. They were not intended to be perfect. 

Now, go ahead. Open up your hearts and give your soul the freedom to be creative and soar. There is no time like the present and now is the perfect time to get started. Be inspired, be happy and give happiness to others, dear friends!

I am linking my creation and tutorial up with the lovely Jessica White's A New Creation Link Party at http://www.ahumblecreation.com/2013/04/a-new-creation-link-party-10.html. Please hop on over there and join us!

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