Saturday, July 26, 2014

Boo Boo Dolls

Ever sewed and stuffed what you thought was a great cloth doll pattern  - only to come up with a blob of weirdness?

I'm onto a new project - fixing what I call a "boo boo doll."  

Boo boo dolls are dolls that didn't quite turn out the way you wanted, but still have potential to become very "happy accidents."  It takes a bit of extra patience, skill and risk tolerance, but the effort can be very rewarding.

Meet Salvage Sally, my new friend in the making.  

We're off to a great friendship because I'm not giving up on her despite fact that she's quite "challenged."  And besides, I've spent waaay too much time on this doll already.... sound familiar?

This poor doll is the product of a vintage pattern with many unusual darts. For those of us who enjoy making our own doll patterns ir improvising on what's already familiar, it's always nice to learn something new. Vintage cloth doll patterns are so different than most of what's trending today in the cloth doll world.  They are full of the most intriguing darts, folds and cut-outs.   It's fascinating to see how they can "sculpt" the shape of a cloth doll's body.

Naturally, I thought it would be a great learning exercise to try one of these old patterns.  I've dabbled in old patterns before, and although I find that it can be necessary to "doctor up" the pattern a bit in order to improve the finished doll, it's worth the effort.  I've done this for Betty Boop with success, and I had another itch to try something "new" and see what I can learn.

I chose a vintage pattern with tiny little feet, and a flat face whose head is already attached to the body. Generally speaking, most "mainstream" modern cloth doll patterns require the doll's head to be sewn onto the body separately, so this seemed like an interesting twist.  The legs are also pre-attached to the body, and I thought that would be fun as well.  What kind of "seat" would this doll have?  This isn't a baby doll, it's a woman. The pattern itself is so "different," like nothing I'd ever seen before, and I just had to see how it comes out!

What came out is a poor soul in dire need of salvation.

Side View

Back View
She looks like a turtle with a tushie. 
Her chest and shoulders are broad, and her thighs look too skinny for the rest of her legs.  A real boo boo doll!

One redeeming quality that I really do like on this pattern is the teeny little pointy feet.  They're so dainty.   I'll have to figure out how to *not* put shoes on her!

The head is kind of interesting, too - but I'm not sure yet just how I'm going to deal with that giant tree trunk of a neck.  I'll probably try narrowing it a bit, but may end up leaving it alone and hiding it with a high - collared neckline on her dress (or whatever she decides to wear).  I'm not sure yet, but I'll figure it out as I go.

Side View of Head, Looking Left

Again, this doll is the product of a bizarre set of darts.  I'm pretty confident it's not me, but nevertheless, now comes the real challenge - modifying the existing doll and creating a suitable foundation for a work of art.

To repair this doll , I plan to use the following  techniques:
  • Ladder stitching to manipulate excessive areas
  • Adding a wire armatureto correct posture and curvature of body and limbs
  • Adding more"skin" and stuffing underneath to add to areas lacking substance 
  • Sculpting pliable clay over cloth to hide "surgery"
  • Painting to make her look beautiful and bring out her best

Stay tuned to see how Salvage Sally evolves!

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