Wednesday, May 13, 2015

putting your ragdoll/softie together: part 2 (embroidering face)

We left off in the last rag doll post (see here for previous post on putting together your rag doll, and here for free pattern for basic doll) of this tutorial at getting ready to embroider the face of the doll or giraffe (depending on which pattern you are using). If you have never embroidered before, don't be intimidated by this pattern. The embroidery is rather simple, and you can totally do it.

So grab your partially assembled doll and let's go. You should already have the head pieces and the body pieces sewn together and pressed. To embroider the face, you will need:

  • Six-stranded embroidery floss (DMC) for the eyes 
  • DMC floss for nose/snout (use 4 of the 6 strands) 
  • DMC floss for the mouth (use 4 of the 6 strands)
  • embroidery needle (I used size 5 needle)
  • Disappearing ink pen
  • Optional: small embroidery hoop

For the basic doll, grab the pattern-piece for the head and place your front-head/body piece over the top of it. You should be able to see the face from the pattern through the fabric. Using the disappearing ink pen, draw directly on the fabric, tracing the lines showing through the fabric from the pattern piece.

Once you have the face drawn on, you are ready to embroider on the lines you traced. Thread your needle with about 18 inches of floss for the eyes, using all six strands. Knot the end of the strand of floss. If using an embroidery hoop, put it on the head-piece now. Beginning on the right side of the circle, and about half way up one of the eyes, bring your needle up through the fabric on the line you traced. You will be outlining the eye using the embroidery stitch called the backstitch. Find instructions from the DMC website here. You will be stitching from right to left, or counter-clockwise. 
image from
The last stitch in outlining the eye will go down into the fabric directly where you began the needle. Do not tie-off the floss because you will fill in the outline using the satin stitch. Use the dmc link above again to read about the satin stitch. It is a stitch used to fill in spaces. Make sure to stay-stitch at the end. 

Repeat the process for the other eye. 

In stitching the nose and mouth, you will only use 4 of the six strands of the embroidery floss. Stitch directly on the lines you traced, making sure to stay-stitch at the end. You can use the backstitch again, but I prefer to use the split stitch. It is similar to the backstitch, but you bring the needle up in the middle of your last stitch, which splits it.

image from

After the face is embroidered, I like to press it with the iron. This will set the stitches and also press your fabric flat again after it has been in the embroidery hoop. 

I like to add pink cheeks to the doll-face. I don't know if this is how other doll-makers do it, but I'll tell you how I do it. I use a pink pastel-chalk; I bought it from an art store. I color the tip/pad of my pointer finger (on my dominant hand) with the pastel. Then I smear my finger on the fabric in a circular motion. I usually have to do this a few times to get the shade and even color I want. 

Now your doll has rosy cheeks!

If you are making the giraffe doll, you will embroider the snout piece first (felt). Using the disappearing marker, draw the nostrils on the snout piece of felt. For the snout, you will use 4 strands of your choice of colored embroidery floss. Start by cutting a length of floss about twelve inches long. Separate two of the strands from the 6, as you will only be using 4 strands (like in the basic doll above). Stitch the nostrils using the split stitch. I used the split stitch on the snout for the nostrils and for the mouth, using 4 strands of floss on the mouth as well.

After the snout is embroidered, place the snout on the front head piece, using your pattern as a guide of where to place it. Pin it in place. Then thread a needle with either matching thread or embroidery floss (two strands) to hand-sew  (whip-stitch) the snout on the face with about 1/16 inch seam allowance. Leave about an inch un-sewn at the bottom of the snout to stuff later, but make sure you end with a stay stitch still. Press with an iron to set your embroidery stitches.

With the snout sewn on, now add the eye patches (once again using the pattern piece as a guide) and pin. I use the machine to stitch them on the face, but you can hand-sew those on too if you prefer.

Now that the eye-patches are attached, it is time to embroider the eyes. Using the disappearing ink pen, draw the eye shape on to the felt eye-patches. I use all 6 strands of floss and use the backstitch (see above) to outline the eyes, and the satin stitch to fill them in. I then embroider (using all 6 strands of a piece of white embroidery floss) a french knot in the upper right portion of each eye. Here is the link again to the embroidery stitches:

image from
This makes the eye seem to sparkle a bit. You could add it to the basic doll face as well.

The doll is starting to get a little personality of it's own! Doesn't that make you happy? It makes me happy.

In the next rag-doll post here, I'll go over sewing the limbs, stuffing them, and putting the doll together. Yay!!

No comments:

Post a Comment