I like small, delicate hands. They can seem daunting to make, but with the right tools and a little patience, you can make perfect little hands for your dolls.
I just made a batch of finger turning tools, and they are available on my ETSY shop.
If you would like to learn more, please visit my shop here.
Here are the step-by-step instructions:
How To Sew and Turn Fingers
You will need freezer paper, an iron, finger turning tools, pipe cleaners, stuffing, stuffing fork and wire cutters or another tool to cut the pipe cleaners (an old pair of scissors will do).
Freezer paper is a doll makers’ friend. It is used as a template for hands in order to simplify the sewing of the small fingers. It has a waxy coating on one side, which is ironed onto the fabric you are sewing (hand). The other side is not waxy, so that surface will not stick to your iron, and you can easily draw your there. This technique is like having a stabilizer and can be very helpful in facilitating control.
Note: Freezer paper is optional. Please don’t feel that your doll won’t come out well if you don’t use it. I find it very helpful when the fabric I’m working with is thin. This is how it’s done:
1. Trace two hands onto the non-waxy side of the freezer paper. They do not need to mirror each other.
2. Cut the freezer paper hands out on the tracing line.
3. Cut a piece of fabric approximately 5 ½” X 3½”. Fold, RST.
NOTE: unless you are using a printed fabric, there will probably be no RST.
4. Lay down the hands (which you have cut out on the freezer paper), waxy side down, onto the fabric.
5. Iron the hands on, using a low temperature setting. ￼
6. Set sewing machine stitch length to 1.5. Beginning from the wrist, carefully sew along the edge of the freezer paper, around the fingers and down to the other side of the wrist. When passing the web of the fingers and fingertips, always be sure to take at least one stitch across. If you just pivot and create a “V” shape, then the hands will pucker in that area when you turn them.
HINT: An open toe foot on your sewing machine will make it easier to see the line as you you sew. If you have a clear plastic foot, that might be helpful as well. ￼
7. Leave the wrist open. Be sure to reinforce your beginning and end stitches so that they won’t begin to open when you turn the hand.
8. After sewing, carefully remove the freezer paper pattern and reserve for later use.
Note: If you are not using freezer paper, then just trace the pattern directly onto the doubled fabric, and sew on your tracing line.
In order to prevent the stitches from popping or the fabric from unweaving under the stress of turning fingers, there is something wonderful that we can use- FRAY CHECK. I always use fray check.
9. Cut out hands, using a small pair of scissors.
Take great care not to cut your seams. You will need to get very close!
HELPFUL TIP: Some people find it useful to create a “Y” cut between the fingers. It can help reduce puckering between the fingers. It is really a matter of personal comfort. Using tiny scissors, take a cut toward the seam. Then make two more tiny cuts from that point, so you form a “Y.” Be sure not to touch the seam.
10. Lay the hands out on a clean surface. Apply fray check all around the edge of the hand. Allow to dry.
Now it’s time to turn the fingers. Here’s how:
1. Insert hollow tube into finger.
2. Place rod on seam allowance at tip of finger, from the OUTSIDE.
Gently push on the rod so fabric goes into tube and finger begins to turn. By doing this over the seam allowance, you allow yourself to apply more pressure to get the fingertip into the tube without poking a hole. Be careful and gentle- you do not have to turn the entire finger down to the base. If you feel a lot of resistance then stop, so you don’t poke a hole.
Note: Start with the pinky or the thumb finger, and turn fingers consecutively until you have completed all five. For illustration purposes, I used the middle finger because it was easiest to draw that way.
Let's see it in action:
￼￼To turn the entire hand, reach in with hemostat and grab the middle finger or two fingers at once. Gently pull until the whole hand turns. Be patient and careful, and do pull the other fingers also if you need to. You may lock the hemostat to gain control.
When the whole hand is turned, gently insert rod into each finger individually to shape them. Press hand.
Isn't it cute?