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Q & A. Where should I start?

Stacy asked our group of doll makers: What doll would you recommend for a first timer? My 11 yr daughter has made clothes, pillows, stuffies that are 2 shapes sewn together like a pillow, and bags. She is wanting to try a doll but I'm not sure which one would be easiest for a beginner.

Joyce DeAngelis said: Hi! Good for your daughter! I suggest the patterns especially for beginners called "Doll Making # 2" or " Doll Making #3". These are the easiest and show basic forms. Good luck to her! I started about her age and was hooked!
Laurie Entze said: Glory or Peaches and Cream.
Carolee Alt-LuppinoGroup Admin Thank you for your great suggestions, Joyce and Laurie. Stacy, I'm so glad Stacy asked this question. Her daughter has a lot of sewing experience, for such a young girl. Doll making #3 would be a small step, as the dolls are 'flatties'. Glory would be perfect for her next project. And, she's adorable! The Peaches and Cream pattern is similar but a much bigger doll. For her next step, I would suggest Apple Cheek Girls.
I think it's great that your daughter wants to learn doll making. It's a wonderful, satisfying hobby that lasts a lifetime.
"Do you have a Hispanic doll pattern?"
Hmmm. Well, yes. We do have one called Nina that represents a pre-teen Hispanic girl. However - a few simple changes and variation of skin tones make any doll any ethnicity you want! It's a snap! And, your child will love having a doll that represents herself. Christmas is a good goal for finishing a special doll for gifting.
Laurie DeKrey Entze I had so much fun with the Asian baby that I decided to make a 'Big Sister' from the Apple Cheeks pattern, my favorite to work with. Her shoes and socks are real baby items. The blouse is the dress bodice extended 2 inches and the jumper is a variation of the dress bodice and skirt. All closures are velcro. 
Image may contain: shoes

Just posted these 3. They are made from the Honeybunch and Baby Andy pattern. Made up so fast and so many options! Just in time for Christmas.

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Joyce DeAngelis
Joyce DeAngelis Laurie, they are so precious! I especially love the little oriental one! So creative! Maybe I will make Angel Baby for my little great-niece. Thanks for inspiring me!
Laurie DeKrey Entze
Laurie DeKrey Entze I used the Pinkie hair pattern piece for the Asian and trimmed the CC13 eyepieces for the slant look. She's my favorite of the three.
Carolee Alt-Luppino
Carolee Alt-LuppinoGroup Admin Mine too, Laurie DeKrey Entze. She's very special
Noel Variation, posted by Joyce DeAngelis

This is the doll that won in the doll contest! This is baby Noel. She was the Christmas Angel but I thought she would make a cute baby so I added little pigtails to her wig, made a simple dress and Katie's pinafore. She is wearing.real baby shoes. I am so excited to win. Thank you to Carolee for making such adorable patterns!

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Laurie DeKrey Entze
Laurie DeKrey Entze Okay Joyce DeAngelis, I need to know how you did the piggy tails. I can't get over how cute she is and i want to try the hair!! :)
Joyce DeAngelis
Joyce DeAngelis Laurie, I cut out triangles and folded them together and sewed them together. Then I sewed them into the seamline at the top of the wig. Oh, I also cut out the wig piece going so the fur went up in the back and on the sides. Hope this helps.- good luck!
Sewing driections

Sewing directions from an old Singer Sewing machine manual. This just popped up on Facebook and I had to share it here to preserve it. If doll making is sewing, then this must apply, right?


My little Amy Doll


I've been sorting old family photos and found the picture of Amy that I had in my mind when I created the Amy doll. I thought you might like to see it. This picture was taken on Amy's 3rd birthday. Amy doll shown next was sewn by Laurie Entze. www.sewsweetdolls.com/amy-set Special offer. You still have time to sew for Christmas. 

Amy is one of the most endearing, enduring favorites from the SewSweet Dolls pattern collection. She is designed to resemble my daughter Amy at age 3, and "yes", her hair really was that long. I just finished a phone conversation with a long time customer who was reminiscing about the Amy dolls she made 20 or more years ago. She is now making them for her great-granddaughters.
Amy 16" & Willie Bear 4"
Little girls always like long hair. (Actually, that's not exclusive to little girls - lots of people like long hair.) Amy loved it, as a little girl, and has her whole life. She was really upset with me when she got her first hair cut, before kindergarten. She looked adorable, but - her hair was never short again until she was a career woman, and decided it might be easier.

Amy has additional clothes patterns that give her a nice variety of styles to pieces to mix and match. She's a fun gift for little girls, and fun to sew. I would make her shoes white if I were doing it today.
The person I mentioned earlier said that she had made dolls for all her daughters and granddaughters. Her son wasn't so sure his son should have a doll but has changed his mind. It seems that they are 'expecting' a baby boy, and big brother has already named him - so she is making a baby boy doll for him.
One last thought. If I had time, I'd make Amy a pair of white shoes. 
Lumpy and Lovable

Now is the time to start planning your doll making for Christmas gifts. Little ones LOVE the dolls you create for them and they are treasured for a lifetime.


This is my sweet baby girl with the first doll I made for her. She was 2 years old. The doll was lumpy, due to the shredded foam stuffing, but she loved it and still has it. www.sewsweetdolls.com/precious-baby .

We didn’t have many good options for stuffing dolls in the early 60’s. Shredded foam rubber made the doll lumpy if you could keep the stuffing in the doll. Because of static electricity, it would come right out with your arm, after you pushed it in. What a mess. Another option at that time was upholstery stuffing. It was dusty and full of debris from the cotton plants. It didn’t have any loft, so it packed in to create a hard, heavy doll. I am so thankful for the wonderful stuffing we have today as well as all the other doll making supplies we can use to make creative, lovable dolls.

This has turned into a Thanksgiving message, accidently… I am so Thankful for you, my doll making family and for all the wonderful doll making supplies. Happy Thanksgiving!


A little 'taste' of our new Newsletter

We will be launching a new monthly newsletter soon, called Carolee's Notebook. Please join our mailing list to stay in touch and get latest news and tips from SewSweet Dolls. 

The story below was shared by Joyce DeAngelis on our Carolee Creations, SewSweet Dolls Facebook group. Join this fun group, if you want to participate in the discussions.

This is the doll that won in the doll contest! This is baby Noel. She was the Christmas Angel but I thought she would make a cute baby so I added little pigtails to her wig, made a simple dress and Katie's pinafore. She is wearing real baby shoes. I am so excited to win. Thank you to Carolee for making such adorable patterns! Joyce DeAngelis

Joyce DeAngelis's photo.
Will clothes from a 17" doll fit other similar size dolls?

This question comes up a lot. I just answered a doll maker who inquired about the Nurses uniform. Since this answer applies to any pattern, I thought I would post it here, too. You may find it helpful.

Even though two dolls are the same height, they may have different body shapes, and different length arms and legs.


Shown above are Faith, Hope, and Gracie, left and Joy, right.

I would suggest comparing the pattern pieces for the dress, with a dress pattern that fit's the doll you wish to make the uniform for. Either adjust the pattern for the uniform dress or make a similar dress using the pieces from the dress that comes with your doll. Does that make sense?

Discussion on pricing coth dolls, copied from SewSweet Dolls Facebook group

I'm just wondering how does one price a doll? I have friends that want me to make a doll for them. Is it per inch and if so how much per inch? Is it the cost of materials times how much? Any input would be appreciated, Thanks

Like   Comment   
    You and 3 others like this.
    Christine Moore Howard I would love to know this too.
    Ruthann Frisby Snider I price my dolls at cost of materials x2 plus an hourly wage for my time to account for the difficulty of the doll... not usually a high wage... but it started out less per hour when it took longer to do, but as I have made more and more dolls, my speed picks up a bit, and my dollar per hour increases. It started out about $3 an hour, but that was when I was a teenager... now, I figure about $10 and hour and I know I am devaluing myself and my skills to do so, but its the price I pay to keep doing what I love and to be home with my kids to do it. I have a business license and other expenses involved, so I have to account for those as well in the costs. We have sew in labels, hangtags, business cards, website fees, and other business expenses that have to be covered in that cost x 2...
    Ruthann Frisby Snider Also, if I am selling through a storefront... they want 35%-50% of the money, so I generally have to add that cost in... Generally, I then increase the price to cost x 4, add my wage, and then hope that I don't lose money on the deal, anyways.
    Diane Duclos Thank you, now I have to go do the math and see what it comes out to.
    Christine Moore Howard If the fabric has been sitting around for awhile (receipts gone for good ) would you simply put an average value for it, or assign it as the current replacement per yard cost, and at a non-specific price? (Even if purchased on sale ) Or do you figure off of actual costs only?
    Christine Moore Howard That said non-sale when I typed it. Silly autocorrect.
    Ruthann Frisby Snider I calculate with replacement costs... The sale prices that I manage to save on, I figure allow me to offer specials from time to time. Like when someone orders three dolls, I might sell the forth one half price or add an item in for free.
    Christine Moore Howard Awesome info! Thanks!
    Catherine Andersen Good info! The last time I tried to sell a doll, a lady picked my doll up and said it wasn't worth anything.
    That was at a church sale!
    Nancy Spencer Blanchard I had the same problem. If you price them for your hard work & materials, people say it's too much. I priced dolls that I made at $60. It consisted of 24" gingham check doll, embroidered face, sewn hair, (w/long pony tails) , dotted Swiss dress & bloomers, trimmed in lace, gingham apron, w/ lace, made shoes, socks. I made 3, a blue, a red & a pink. A friend wanted a diff color & didn't have a problem w/$60. I gave one as a gift & no one wants to pay for the other 2. They are still in their plastic waiting. LOL. These are forever dolls. I made my daughter one when she was 3 yrs old, a lavender & white. She is now 43 & still has this doll. They are beautiful. Good luck to you.
    Diane Duclos I'm thinking 3 or 4 dollars per inch should be pretty fair, unless of course I get too many request and then I' up the price. Maybe I'll set a minimum though. I haven't decided yet.
    Ruthann Frisby Snider Cost of materials are less for smaller dolls, but they are often much harder to make. It is a balancing act. I would be careful to look at what you are making, and look at it critically. Adding lots of special fabrics and special details makes us happy as dollmakers, but if you can keep the costs at a level that people will buy the items by choosing a different fabric, or leaving off one or two details/simplifying the design, then you might find your niche market. Personally, I love to wow people with the details, but when we are starting out, if quality is still developing, or on the other end of the spectrum, we are still making those heirloom quality dolls for an audience that is dipped and dyed in plastic toys... we may need to adjust the price temporarily.
    Ruthann Frisby Snider I have built my audience with my current doll/toymaking business for 5 years, now, and my dolls are priced at $75-$100 a piece. They have handmade wigs, fully soft sculptured bodies and faces with embroidered eyes, and simple outfits. The costs come in with the very detailed hands and faces. My first year, I was completely underestimating my costs, and my time... I sold them for $25 and $35 a piece... Then I did a time study, and I slowly brought my prices up to where they need to be. My audience grew with me, and now, I sell regularly, but I do still have dolls in my care from every level of my business... every once in a while, one will sell to just the right person, for just the right reason. My dolls change up every so often with some new detail, or new style... that keeps them fresh and new, and keeps people coming back. Unfortunately, at the moment... my other toys are the hot seller, and I am not doing as many dolls as I would like, but I still get orders and I have 6 dolls just needing faces and hair...
    Ruthann Frisby Snider Its late and I hope I am not rambling, too much... its tough starting out, because we have to get a feel for what our community is open to, and we have to know prices of comparable items, and once we have an audience that wants them, we need to then keep evaluating and re-evaluating their true cost... such as booth fees, and advertising, and all the other expenses that come up. I choose not to put my dolls in a shop anymore, because they would not let me raise the price to offset the 40% they took... and I was losing too much money. As for the lady at the church sale... those are the worst! And I love church ladies! Usually the church sales are not as good for me.
    Diane Duclos I've been to a few craft fairs and noticed that no one had dolls. So I made 2 and posted pictures on line. I got 7 orders at $55.00, but now wish I had asked for more. When I deliver them I'll let the people that the price is going up. Thanks for the input.
    Sandra Wheeler Try to get your supplies with a coupon. I had a 60% off coupon from JoAnn's Yesterday I got a ten pound box of fiberfil for $14.00!!
    Christine Moore Howard That's a wonderful deal on stuffing!
    Sandra Wheeler I never buy stuffing unless I have a coupon!
How to make Mrs. Santa

Create 16" Joanie doll. You may want to make her hair white. Using dress pattern pieces included on Joanie Pattern, add 6" to dress length, and 2" to sleeve length. (Note: adjust patterns before cutting fabric.) Cut yoke piece, of dress fabric. Assemble dress following pattern instructions, trimming liberally with 1" lace ruffling at sleeve, skirt hem and yoke. See picture for placement, or do your own thing! Sew bow on center front at yoke.

Cut a circle 11" in diameter for cap. Hem edge 1/4" and trim with lace ruffling. Stretch and sew elastic, or gather all around, 1/3" from edge of hem. Adjust gathers to fit doll's head. www.sewsweetdolls.com/mrs-santa-how-to



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