A while back when I was taking a sewing class, someone mentioned saving all their little tiny pieces for stuffing and it's like a flip was switched in my head. All of the sudden I really wanted to make rag dolls! I love the idea of using every single little piece of fabric plus I have lots of friends with kids I knew I could make gifts for. I have literally been saving every teeny tiny little bit of everything for a while now. Fabric gets freaking expensive so I'm always thinking about how I can keep doing what I love without having to spend a ton of money.
I spent a lot of time down the Pinterest rabbit hole looking at dolls to get ideas and came across a great template from Black Apple via Martha Steward that you can find here. While I ended up deviating from it quite a bit, it was good to have a starting point for scale and reference.
During my hunt for things to do with my scraps, I found THIS tutorial on making fabric out of scraps using water soluble stabilizer and I knew I'd want to use for something in the future. Once I decided to make a doll, I thought it would be perfect to make a Tinkerbell dress using my green scraps from the clover fabric from the bags I made. One of my friend's daughters LOVES Tinkerbell and she just had a new baby sister so the idea for Tinkerbell and Periwinkle dolls was perfect.
I piled all the green fabric on top of a larger piece of scrap, but first I found it very helpful to iron everything flat. Sewing the stabilizer over a bunch of scraps can be frustrating as everything jiggles around, but ironing it down definitely helped. The first few stitches where awkward, but after a while I really got into it. The idea is just to put a butt load of stitches all over it to keep the scraps secure. It's kinda like quilting except crazy and all over the place. I loved it! I used lime green, dark green, and white thread to mix it up.
|Before the stabilizer was washed off|
|After the stabilizer was washed off|
Once the stabilizer washes off, it took a while to dry which makes sense considering how many layers of scraps are mashed on top of each other here. Ironing definitely helped. Once the stabilizer was off and the fabric was dry, I added in a few more stitches in areas where I could see a few strays.
I kept the template from Black Apple handy just to make sure I was making pieces that were the right size. While the scrap fabric was thick, it was definitely still easy to cut and work with.
Almost everything about these dolls was made from scraps I already had, but I did purchase a few things:
1. Yellow felt for Tinkerbell's hair
2. Blue felt for fairy wings
3. Snowflake fabric that was in the sale section of leftover holiday fabric (woot!)
4. Fabric stabilizer
I made the fairy faces out of canvas and had originally planned on making their arms and legs out of the same thing, but holy cow that was dumb of me. Have you ever dried to make skinny little arms and legs out of super stiff fabric and then attempt to turn them inside out? No? Good. Don't.
This is what my doll arms and legs look like after hours of fighting with them, pinching, tweezing, everything I could think of. Eventually one of them just shredded to pieces because I was pulling on the fabric so hard. Once I couldn't feel my fingertips from pinching so hard, I tossed in the towel and made new arms and legs out of regular fabric I had. The arms I made out of muslin to sort of match the face, but each fairies legs are made of a color coordinating fabric I had scraps of.
Stuffing them used almost all of my "unusable" scraps! I still have more fabric to sort through and I'm sure future projects will cause much more accumulate, but these two little dolls really decluttered a lot for me!
I did Tink first and stuffed her from the top which left the closing stitch around the top of her head. It was kinda sloppy and I almost messed up her little bun. When I did Periwinkle, I decided to go the opposite way and stuff her from the bottom. I liked that approach much better and allowed me to do her weird ass pointy hair a lot easier. It made it kinda tricky to get her legs on, but I made it work and am definitely going to stick with that approach for future dolls.
I had some leftover glitter and some fabric glue from a project several months ago so painted on a layer of glue and sprinkled some pink glitter on each set of wings. Because fairies. Their face details and little white feet dots are just done with acrylic paint. I'm sure they would be amazing to add embroidery details, but I'm not there yet. That's definitely a skill I'd like to work on for the future.
I think I'm going to continue to tweak my pattern and really personalize these, but I definitely plan on continuing to make more! I'm REALLY happy with how they came out. I have a few more friends with kids and I see a few early Christmas presents on the horizon!