Dollmaking tips, adding shoulders to your pattern.

Let's discuss a little bit how you can easily transform your doll pattern to include lovely shoulders, and add that sweet extra to your doll's appearance. Let's jump right in.

Adding shoulders to your doll pattern, by Fig and me.

One of the simple mistakes you make when you start designing your doll pattern, or when you make a cloth doll for the first time, is to leave the shoulders abandoned. I see so many dolls lacking in this department, and it takes only some thought before sewing and stuffing, to get you the more overall polished look for your doll. 

When you start constructing your doll there are many ways to do it: 

  • The torso and legs in one piece, where you sew the head and the arms separately (in which case you need to make sure there is enough fabric to the sides of where you will sew your head, to accomplish hand-sewing the shoulders).
  • The torso in one piece, legs in separate pieces, and arms and head separate as well (same as with previous type of pattern, you only need to make sure that there is "distance between where you will sew your neck or head, and where you will end up sewing the arms; just enough fabric there to give you a set of balanced shoulders).
  • Then there is the kind where you want to joint legs and arms (with this kind of construction the shoulders can get tricky. Depending on your style of doll, you can either sew two pieces for the front of your torso, giving you the chance to create a protruding belly, with two pieces for the back as well, in which case you can create into your pattern the shoulder. If you only have two pieces, like a teddy bear belly, you will completely lose the shoulders and have to rely on creating very chubby upper arms to carry the shoulder space).

All these kinds of constructing the doll are viable, and they can all achieve the little shoulders, if you only pay attention to the construction of your doll. Why do I think is important? Because when you get to design, or alter, clothes patterns for your doll to wear, you will have a much easier time if your doll has actual shoulders for dresses, shirts, or straps to rest on. I will show you a little photo of my doll Eva, which has a two-piece torso (front and back, very simple). I hand sew the head and arms to this torso so there is ample chance for me to create shoulders, giving of course the fact that I have that fabric space to the sides of the head.

If you would like to find out more on why waldorf-style dolls are constructed the way they are, and a little bit about the philosophy behind them, head on over here: 

Don't forget to leave space to create their shoulders, by Fig and me.

If my torso pattern was extremely tapered towards the head, I wouldn't have enough fabric to create her shoulders, and I would have a much harder time getting her dressed. It would also look less pleasing to the eye, in my opinion.

My doll pattern is tapered towards the chest, but not in an exaggerated way, just enough to create a more realistic proportion with slightly wider hips. In any case, I hope this little tidbit gives you food for thought and you can spend some time tweaking your pattern if you have been leaving your doll's shoulders much unattended.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I do not want to take away from the wonderful process of making mistakes and figuring things out, but there are certainly many things I can lend a hand. Dollmaking is a very versatile topic and we can talk and discuss things for hours, If you are so inclined let me know in the comments what topics you would like to discuss with me, or maybe issues you are facing. These might be small problems I should be able to help you with, and I would be more than happy to. We just got a small videocamera, as my kids seem to be obsessed with documenting their daily shenanigans, so there is the chance that I might be able to actually show you how I go about doing certain things.

I hope everybody had a chance to work on their dolls, and to enjoy this beautiful weather. Spring has definitely arrived to southern Ontario. 

Posted on May 3, 2015 and filed under dollmaking, tips + tricks.