Click to Print

Fabric Art Doll

Elizabeth Thummel shows how to stitch together a festive art doll.

Materials and Tools:

cotton cloth in various colors and patterns
polyester stuffing
furry fabric
embellishments of beads, ribbons, buttons
sewing machine
thread and button thread
fabric glue
detail drawing markers
acrylic paints
clear acrylic glaze
iron and ironing board
scissors, straight pins
doll pattern, clothing patterns, shoe patterns
doll hair or brown yarn
artist paintbrushes
fusible web
shoe ties

Note: The term "serge/sew" is used in the steps below to indicate that when sewing two pieces together with the serger — it is being sewn and serged at the same time. Most of the inside seams of the doll clothing are serged to finish off the edges. Everything is pressed either after sewing seams together or placing fabric or lace trim on the costume. Each item, as it is finished, is placed on the doll.


1. Pin the doll body patterns, skirt, blouse and vest patterns on desired fabrics and cut them out.

2. The head, torso and arms are cut as one piece and referred to as the body. Sew the body pieces with right sides together. Stitch the two legs with right sides together. Turn all pieces right side out.

3. Stuff the body and the legs with polyester fiberfill.

4. Sew two or three stitches by machine at the elbow area so the arms can bend. Hinge the shoulders by stitching them in the same manner.

5. Stitch the legs onto the torso of the body by hand using button thread.

6. Mark the fingers with a pencil and stitch fingers into the hands using the sewing machine.

7. Construct and attach a cotton-stuffed bra piece to give the bosom shape as desired. Note: This step was not shown or mentioned in the segment.

8. Petticoat:

  • Stitch two gathering lines across the top of the bottom tier of the petticoat and pull the threads to create gathers.
  • Stitch the lower tier of the petticoat onto the upper tier with right sides together.
  • Gather elastic cut to the size of the doll's waist onto the petticoat upper tier using a sewing machine.
  • Serge/sew the side seams of the petticoat with right sides together.
  • Stitch the hem into the bottom of the petticoat.
  • Cut lace to the length of the bottom of the petticoat and sew it to the bottom of the petticoat. Turn right side out.

9. Pantaloons:

  • Serge/sew the front and back of the pantaloons with right sides together.
  • Cut two pieces of lace to go along the bottom of the pantaloons and sew it onto the bottom edge of the pantaloons.
  • Gather the elastic cut to the size of the doll's waist onto the top edge of the pantaloons with a sewing machine.
  • Serge/sew the side seams closed. Turn right side out.

10. Blouse:

  • Stitch a piece of lace down the center front of the blouse.
  • Stitch the same type of lace to the bottom of the sleeves.
  • Stitch buttons down the front of the blouse over the lace.
  • Stitch elastic onto the sleeves.
  • Stitch the blouse front and back together at the side seams with right sides together.
  • Stitch the sleeves into the open armholes matching right sides together.
  • Turn the blouse right side out.
  • Stitch a button on the back neck opening to close the blouse at the neck.

11. Turn under and sew the hem of the skirt. Gather the upper edge of the skirt. Stitch the waistband on with right sides together. Turn the waistband to the inside and stitch it to the inside of the opening of the skirt at the top.

12. To make decorative lace for the skirt, cut strips of colored fabric or ribbon and stitch 1/8 inch from the edge on each side of each strip. Using fusible web, place the strips onto the lower edge of the skirt and iron them in place according to manufacturer's directions. Stitch a piece of lace at the bottom. Stitch the entire decorative lace bottom onto the skirt.

13. Place the shoe pattern on thin leather and cut it out. Stitch together the two pieces for each shoe. Glue shoe ties onto each shoe. Attach the shoes onto the legs. Note: This step was not shown or discussed.

14. Hair:

  • Make a series of long loops from yarn for the doll's hair and cut the ends of the loops.
  • Hold the yarn together and machine stitch through the center of the yarn strands creating a part in the center of the hair.
  • Use fabric glue and a few hand stitches to attach the hair onto the top and back of the doll's head.
  • Or use purchased doll's hair and glue it to the doll's head.

15. Place a pillowcase over the whole doll from the neck down to protect it while painting the face.

16. Brush clear acrylic glaze onto the face and neck to prepare for drawing and painting the face. Let dry for a few hours.

17. Draw the facial features on the face very lightly with a pencil. Using permanent fine line markers, draw an outline around the facial features.

18. Using acrylic paints and detail brushes, color in the face. Use acrylic glaze to make the eyes and lips look shiny. Let dry.

19. Using wire or nylon thread, thread colored beads for a necklace to coordinate with the colors in the costume. Tie the necklace on at the back of the doll's neck.

20. Tie a sash around the waistband with ribbon or a strip of fabric.

21. To make the boa wrap, cut a 5 inch strip from a piece of colorful fake fur or textured "furry" 45 inch wide fabric crosswise. The strip will measure 5" x 45".

22. Cut the boa to the desired length so that it drapes across the shoulders of the doll. With right sides together stitch it along the length of the boa leaving an opening for turning. Turn the piece right side out. Hand stitch the small opening closed.

23. Drape the boa wrap around the shoulders to finish the doll. The doll can be displayed on a purchased doll stand if desired.

Talented artist Elizabeth Thummel of Boise, Idaho, has been creating dolls since she was 17 years old. Her mom was an avid seamstress and when she passed away at an early age — she left young Elizabeth with a room full of fabrics, threads and sewing equipment. Rather then give it all away she decided to create dolls.


Advertisement will not be printed