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Free Cloth-Art Doll Sewing and Sculpting Tips and Faq's Page
What size stitch length should I use to sew the body parts?
I always recommend a 1.5, or 15 stitches per inch stitch length. The only exception to this rule is for any surface embellishment. I recommend a 2.0, or 20 stitches per inch stitch length for this application.
What type of fabric should I use to create my dolls hands?
I only use cotton fabrics for all of my dolls hands. The two I use most are Hoffman Batiks and Quilters Only 200 thread count Memory Maker. This fabric is used primarily for photo transfer techniques. Some of my dolls hands are only 1/2 inch wide and using the following steps I have no problems turning even the tiniest fingers with ease!
Why can't I get the fingers to turn easily?
There are a few of reasons why you may be having problems turning tiny fingers.
1. The tip of the finger is wider than the base of the finger. Use the side of the sewing machines presser foot as a guide to make sure the finger is the same width at the tip, as at the base.
2. You have not clipped the fabric all the way the sewn line between the fingers. If your dolls fingers appear webbed, or pucker after turning this is most likely the cause.
3. You have not trimmed the fabric close enough to the sewn line around each finger. I leave less than an 1/8 inch of fabric around the sewn line. It's really more like a 16th of an inch. Don't worry.... if you used a tightly woven fabric to create the dolls hands and followed the above steps you won't blow out a finger.
4. Try to use the highest thread count fabric you can find to make tiny hands & fingers. Quilters Only Memory Maker fabric used for fabric transfers and cotton batik fabrics are two great choices. Also if you hold the fabric up to the light and you can easily see your fingers through it (behind it), don't use it! I have also use a 90% cotton &10% lycra fabric for some of my earlier dolls. This fabric also works well.
How do I turn the fingers?
I use a very thin tipped hemostat to turn my dolls fingers. I simply put one jaw of the hemostat onto one finger, and the other jaw into the finger next it. Compress the hemostat, but do not lock the jaws. Now grasp the cloth hand with your other hand, and gently pull the fabric over the hemostat. The fingers will still be inside of the fabric hand. Remove the hemostat, and very gently with a pushing, and twisting motion push out each finger. Do not force the finger. If the fabric (finger) is bunched up, pull it back into the hand with the hemostat to straighten it. Then try pushing it out again. This is really very easy, and you can turn even an extremely tiny fingers very easily this way. You can find the hemostat I recommend on my supply page. They are the gold plated and cost only $8.00~5 inches in length. Gold Hemostats. The secret is really using very small/thin tipped hemostats. They fit easily down into even the tiniest fingers and allow the fabric to turn easily over the tips.
Soft Sculpting Questions....
What is soft sculpting?
Soft sculpting is the process of using thread and strategically placed stitching to simulate the muscles and tendons of the face & body.
What type of thread should I use to do the sculpting?
I use and recommend beading NYMO thread in size D for the soft sculpting of the head. This thread can be found at all bead stores and larger craft stores. You can also use hand-quilting thread.
What type of thread should I use to attach the eyes?
I use black hand-quilting, upholstery or beading NYMO.
Can I use the same thread to do the sculpting on the body, arms and/or legs?
I use a single strand of good quality sewing thread that matches the body fabric. You can also use Beading NYMO thread. This thread comes in several colors and it's the one I use most and highly recommend.
How do you create realistic dimples?
Almost all of my dolls have dimples and freckles.... Here is the URL for one page of doll patterns Soft Sculpted Dolls with Dimples so you see what I am talking about.
What is paperclay?
Creative Paperclay® is a non-toxic volcanic ash based modeling material that can be sculpted, molded or shaped and air dries (no baking required) to a hard finish that can be carved, or sanded. It is perfect for artists and crafters of all kinds! Visit http://www.paperclay.com to learn more...
What brand do you use or recommend?
I use Creative Paperclay®, La Doll and Mrs. Lee's Paper Puddy. These are all air dry stone clays.
What does applied paperclay mean?
A line or band of Paperclay is applied to the stitched center seam down the front/center of the head. The paperclay is allowed to air dry and then is sanded and sealed. A layer of acrylic paint is applied to the head and the head is colored in the usual manner.
This technique is one way to cover the center seam of the head and gives the illusion the head was sculpted out of clay instead of sewn from fabric. It is a way of hiding what can be the distracting center seam of a sewn head.
How do you apply paperclay to a cloth head?
Work water into the paperclay to form a paste and this mixture can be painted onto the head. Allow each layer to air dry between coats of the paperclay paste. You can also apply paperclay straight from the bag to add dimension to the head. Slightly wet the fabric to help with the adhesion. After the clay has dried you can also apply a little tack glue to the edges and underneath the paperclay to help bond it to the head.
What do you use to color the clay?
You can mix acrylic paint directly into the clay before applying it. You can paint the dried clay with acrylic paints, chalks, oil pencils, embossing powders and Pearl ex powders. Basically anything you can use to color paper or cloth you can use on the paperclay. If the clay has not been sealed prior to the coloration process excess moisture will soften and rewet the clay so caution should be used. I recommend Super Surface sealer by Design master.
I'd like to try a sculpted clay head, but I am intimidated.
I get this response from many doll makers. My answer is the I design my patterns with you the beginner in mind. I break everything down into simple step, by step directions. I also include diagrams, or photos for most every step so there is never any guess work. Basically the head is created out of very simple shapes... balls, rolls, triangles etc.... It really is much simpler than you think with the right instruction.
Do I need special tools to sculpt the clay?
You can use just about any tool to sculpt the clay. You can even get great free tools that work beautifully from your dentist. Ask for any dental tools they no longer use and are getting rid of. You can also find these at some swap meets for just a few dollars each. You can also purchase sculpting tools from the craft/art store. Look in the cake decoration section. I use several tools that are designed for sculpting gum paste flowers.
I have an already opened bag of Creative Paperclay. Should I use this for sculpting?
Unless you have recently opened this package the answer is no! Paperclay is not terribly expensive. Trying to use even slightly dry paperclay to sculpt with is extremely frustrating and just not worth it. I do have students that store the clay wrapped in a damp paper towel in the refrigerator for extended periods of time although it will mold over time. I personally do not do this.
How should I store an open bag of paperclay?
Paperclay can be stored for a short period of time. Place it into a Ziploc bag, remove as much air as possible and seal it well. You can then place the bag into a plastic container with a lid. This also applies when you are working with the clay while you are sculpting. Open the bag take out just what is needed for that step and close the bag tightly again.
Do I need a very expensive brush for smoothing out the sculpted clay?
No... You do not need a super expensive paintbrush, but you do not want to use a terribly cheep brush either. Very inexpensive brushes will shed tiny hairs and trying to remove these hairs is frustrating to say the least. Also very cheep brushes can be made with very stiff materials. Using this type of brush will leave lines in the Paperclay. A $3.00 brush made of synthetic sable, or a genuine sable will work beautifully. Keep your eye out for sales at the craft stores.
Should I keep the paperclay very wet while I sculpt?
You actually want to keep the paperclay on the dryer side while you sculpt. Very wet paperclay will get mushy, stick to your fingers and makes sculpting difficult. Washing your hands and tools often during the sculpting process also helps with the mess.
If the paperclay cracks while it dries is this a problem?
No. You can add additional paperclay to the cracked area. Simply wet the area surrounding the crack with water. Apply fresh paperclay to the crack, smooth the paperclay and allow the fresh paperclay to dry. Sand the new clay smooth and seal the clay.
My sculpted head seems off balance how do I correct this?
Looking at the head straight on can fool the eye. By looking at the heads reflection in a mirror you are able to see if it is indeed off balance. Add addition clay to the head as needed and check it's reflection again until you are satisfied. I always keep a small standing mirror on my work table for this purpose.
My head is completely dry, but I want to add something to it. Is it to late?
You can add clay to the dry head by simply wetting the area you want to add fresh clay to. Allow the new clay to dry completely, sand the old and new clay until it is smooth.
I have to stop sculpting, but I am not finished. What do I do?
Lay a damp paper towel over the head and cover the head completely with a plastic bag. Make sure it is completely sealed and airtight. Depending on your climate the paperclay should remain moist for several hours, or even days.
What should I use to sand the Paperclay?
You can use a brown grocery bag, very fine sandpaper, sanding disks and sanding blocks used for artificial nails. These are washable and can be sanitized. They can be located at the beauty supply store and some larger grocery stores on the health care isle.
What type of fabric should I use to cover the head?
I use 90% cotton with 10% lycra fabric. It has a very smooth side and a slightly ribbed side. This can be located at higher end quilt stores. It is also dyes beautifully.
Do I need a special glue to apply the fabric?
No. I use regular thick tacky glue and a small good quality brush. Again... you do not want tiny hairs to get stuck in the glue, and under the fabric.
Questions? Comments? Please email Lisa@ryndaoriginals.com
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