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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Iris and Tea

Our beautiful weather has made it hard to find motivation to return to the sewing machine.  When that happens, I usually find inspiration with bags or dolls.  Although I have a stash of fabrics perfect for bags, my heart wasn't in it.  I found new inspiration with two new dolls made from the old Nola Hart doll pattern that I have used for years.  Iris, the first doll, is entirely based on the Nola Hart pattern, but received a new look at the end.  Tea, the second doll, is my design based loosely on the Nola pattern.  She is jointed and her wardrobe is made of non-traditional materials.  Here are pictures and a few words describing the evolution of these dolls.  


The first doll, Iris, is noteworthy because she had a makeover after I thought she was complete.  

These before and after pictures show the makeover.  the facial features on the left were created using free motion stitching on my sewing machine.  Her face is too dark and the features a bit too large. 

 Her boots are painted and have thread laces.  The gold net fingerless gloves were later replaced.

The Nola pattern makes a doll with head and body in one piece.  There are probably many ways to replace the face, but I chose to remove only the facial features and hair.  This left a stable neck to support a new head. Some of the stuffing was removed so the new head would rest in place. The new head was sewn to the body taking care to place my sewing stitches where they would be covered by hair.  The face was painted with a slightly lighter color of purple than was used for the body. The new head gives the doll a bit of a chin.   Her new hairdo is made with eyelash yarn crocheted together with red and purple embroidery thread.  

After painting new facial features, her new look was nearly complete.  The original gold net fingerless gloves were replaced with black fabric screening material.  I love this stuff!  It is inexpensive, versatile and easy to sew.  I use it for many sewing projects, including interior pockets for bags.

Iris is a younger version of her earlier self!


By the time I completed Iris, ideas for a new doll were keeping me awake at night.  The Nola dolls are jointed at the shoulder and hip. Tea would be jointed at knees and elbows as well.  

Pattern created for jointed doll

Pearls from an old costume jewelry necklace were used at the joints.  Carpet/button thread was used to string all the parts together.  It is a tedious process.  An extra long needle helps, but because the holes in the pearls would not accommodate the threaded needle, the needle was removed each time the button thread was passed through the pearl.  Once through the pearl, the needle was threaded again before passing it through the doll's body part.  The thread was passed twice through the pearl at each joint.  You can expect sore fingers after this step.

The body parts are more easily painted before sewing the doll together, but the painted fabric is hard to push a needle through, so I chose to paint after she was sewn together.  I wanted Tea to look more vintage, so I used a darker paint at the joints and seams.  A lighter paint was used elsewhere.  

Perhaps by now, you have guessed why I call her Tea.  I used an old box of teabags to stain cheesecloth for the skirt.  After the staining process, I had a bunch of used tea bags that seemed a waste to throw away.  Without knowing how I would use them, I hung the tea bags to dry so they would not mold.  After they dried, I cut the the end off and brushed away the used tea, leaving only bag and string.  The small bit from the end was saved and later used for her shoes.  The crimped edges of the bag add a decorative touch, almost like a ruffle.  The strings actually gave me the idea of using them for a corset.  I played with many different folds and fittings, and finally decided that folding in half lengthwise would best suit my purpose.  

 It happened that the size was right to fit one tea bag on each side.  They were tied in the middle at the back and the string wrapped around to the front and tied again.  Once I had in mind how I would make the clothes, they had to be added in a certain order.

I first secured the stained skirt to the doll.  Small cotton crochet trim covered the top of the skirt.  Starting at the waist, the tea bags were added, one on top of the previous.  Once, all were tied in place, I used a mixture of glue and water to stiffen the bodice.  I curled the edges of the bags to give them a ruffled look.  

Flowers at the top front and back of the bodice were made by singeing the edges of small squares of ribbon, then layered and sewn together.  Remaining tea bags were used for shoes. 

Hair was created by crocheting pink and white eyelash yarn together in a circle large enough to cover the back of her head. 

A second piece of trim was crocheted and sewn to the bottom of her skirt.  Lastly, the skirt was stiffened with a mixture of glue and water.  It was a bit tricky to shape the fragile cheesecloth and add glue without allowing the glue to touch her legs and arms.  A lightweight plastic bag and a blow dryer were useful tools.

I hope you enjoyed reading about how these dolls were created.  Please visit again soon to read about my next project.