Tuesday 26 April 2016

Knitted doll making tips

Tilly has just popped in to give you a tip or two about stuffing dolls. She's heard that some little dollies are looking a bit thin so she hopes her ideas might help you to create plumper ones.

Polyester toy stuffing is very light and fluffy and Tilly is demonstrating just how much you would need to fill her head. You'd need four times as much to fill her body, arms and legs as well. It might seem a lot but it's amazing how much you require to make a nice plump doll. 

If the dolls you make look rather thin then you probably aren't using enough stuffing. Hopefully the following tips might help you to get it just right.

Pictured below you can see a knitted piece from one of my dolls. The head and body are knitted as one. The knitting is then folded in half (lengthways) and the seam stitched. I think you’ll agree that at this stage it bears no resemblance to a doll.

When insufficient stuffing is added a sausage shape is created, and when yarn has been tied round to create the doll’s neck it resembles two sausages! This is definitely not the shape you want.

I've put a face on the sausage shaped doll and you can see that a long thin head and body do not create a cute doll.

The solution to banishing the sausage shape is to add more stuffing and make the doll plumper. However, to avoid unnecessary lumps and bumps I advise stretching the fabric to make it wider before you stuff. If you simply add more stuffing without stretching you could end up with an even longer sausage!

Wait until you’ve stitched the seams and then push your thumbs inside the head and body and firmly but gently stretch outwards to make the doll wider as opposed to longer. Now you can add more stuffing and easily make the doll plumper.

It might seem a bit brutal but it will give dolly a much more pleasing shape and she won’t become limp and bedraggled later on when she’s enjoyed some boisterous play with her new owner.

Continue to stretch if necessary and push plenty of stuffing into the sides of the head and body before closing the end(s). Viewed from the side the doll should appear flattened from front to back.

With eyes and mouth in position you can see the difference made by a bit of stretching and extra stuffing.


Many of my patterns have the head and body knitted as one piece but if I want my little characters to have heads that are wider than their bodies I make them separately (Lucy Lavender and Little Belles are typical examples). If your pattern has the head and body knitted as two separate pieces then stitch the seams and then stretch using the method I’ve described. Remember to stuff each piece really well before joining them together at the neck.

Don't forget to add rosie cheeks to your doll once she's finished. You'll find more information about this in my ROSIE CHEEKS blog post.

I think many of you will know I recommend using Hayfield Bonus DK 'Flesh Tone' as the thickness is just right and the colour isn't too strong. A 100g ball will be sufficient for several very small dolls and two or three medium dolls like Tilly. It's inexpensive and widely available in the UK. Many UK online yarn shops will mail it overseas and you can also find it on Ebay.

If you want regular updates about my dolls and their life in the playroom you'll find them on Facebook - DOLLYTIME

All my doll patterns are available from my Etsy, Ravelry and LoveKnitting shops (see links above left in the blog sidebar).

Happy doll making everyone.