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Author Topic: China doll stuffing  (Read 10201 times)
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Eileen Hook
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« on: November 21, 2011, 03:30:17 PM »

I've got a couple of china doll heads and want to make bodies for them - what do I stuff the bodies with? I think regular polyester or organic cotton fiberfill is going to be too soft and not strong enough to support their heads.  Suggestions?

Thanks!
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Eileen
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Mrs. G.W. Spring
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2011, 06:32:29 PM »

I think fine sawdust was often used.  I have some old dolls that are fairly heavy and seem to have sawdust in the bodies.
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Heidi Hollister
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2011, 09:38:34 PM »

Wheat/oat bran was also used.  I don't know about china doll bodies, but wool was another stuffing used.  And like Mrs. Spring said... sawdust.
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MrsPeebles
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« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2011, 10:02:43 AM »

some old original dolls that I've seen had cotton rags of calico stuffed into them. Sometimes, the fabric is quite lovely when you get a good look at it. Wink
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Eileen Hook
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« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2011, 10:12:19 AM »

So bran or sawdust for the body, and perhaps wool or cotton for the arms and legs? I'd like the limbs to be more flexible.
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Eileen
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TerryCoriell
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« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2011, 12:56:44 PM »

I have doll bodies that are stuffed with sawdust, (which is usually very acidic and can deteriorate the cloth), cotton fiber, horse or cattle hair, fabric scraps (sometimes quite lovely and also instructive about sewing methods and seams etc.), and moss (appears similar to peat moss).
In the interest of sanitation or hygiene it is possible to stuff them firmly enough with cotton or wool to support the heads, or to use a sturdy cardboard roll or small dowel in the center of the body to provide support. I have seen both used.
Flexibility in the arms can be achieved by lightly stuffing the fabric portion and leaving a space "unstuffed" at the top as has been done on extant antique dolls.
The same can be done for the legs, with stitching across at the "knee" area to allow the knee to bend.
I hope this helps.
If you have more questions please feel free to ask.
Terry
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Eileen Hook
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« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2011, 03:09:46 PM »

Terry - If I use cotton or wool stuffing and add a dowel inside the body (I've done  this with with rag dolls whose necks are too thin to hold their heads up) does the dowel need to go up into the hollow head? I was assuming I'd make the body from the shoulders down and attach it to the head with crewel thread through the holes in the 'shoulder' front and back plates. I suppose I could just sew the body very tightly around the dowel poking through into the head cavity? Am I making sense?

Thank you!
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Eileen
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Heidi Hollister
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« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2011, 03:25:44 PM »

If I am not mistaken, I think Terry is talking about cloth dolls with sticks in their necks.  The way you were planning to do it is the way that I've seen on many china dolls.  I have not seen a china doll with a stick in it's neck, but then I've never seen all the china dolls there are either.  Perhaps someone will tell me otherwise. The "shoulders down" approach is how I've seen most china dolls with various ways of attaching the heads, some of which seem completely incomprehensible to me.
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2011, 03:34:04 PM »

If you use wool, you will be able to get density. It's just a matter of how tightly you pack things. I prefer dolls with upper arm unstuffed, as they do move better that way. Bran, wool fibers, wool scraps, cotton fiber/scraps, really all the stuff mentioned above, get used. I do prefer bran to, say, sawdust, but any of those sorts of fill are going to stain if the doll gets wet, so that's a consideration. (I've also had good results with polyfil, if packed VERY firmly.)
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Eileen Hook
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« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2011, 04:37:15 PM »

I don't expect the doll would ever get wet, so staining isn't an issue - I'm more concerned about bugs in the bran or sawdust! I've got lots of polyester fiberfill that I use for rag dolls and I can stuff it pretty solidly if I use a lighter weight cotton canvas for the body and muslin for the lighter stuffed limbs. I'm afraid the muslin wouldn't be up to the strain of the solid stuffing. But perhaps she will need something heavier in her posterior to make her sit nicely? Maybe a 'sandbag' of clean reptile sand in her posterior? Hey, 'junk in the trunk' is period, right? Grin
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Eileen
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mmescher
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« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2011, 05:44:14 PM »

If you are going to the trouble of making a body for your china doll and you're going to use loose fibers,I'd recommend using cotton or wool over modern synthetic fiberfill.  I know, you'll be the only one to know, but . . . .

Michael Mescher 
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Donna Rowan
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« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2011, 08:46:09 PM »

I have done the dowel up in the head, trick a few times. I put a bit of Elmer's on the dowel then I wrap it with a bit of fiberfill and some cloth so it doesn't strike the sides or front/back of the head if it moves a bit. On one I actually sewed it with a few stitches to the dolls center back body like a back bone. Also have you considered a french fashion type jointed body? They were made up in kid or cotton and you find bisque fashion heads on them and regular china heads on them also. There not that hard to make in cotton. A bit of a learning curve perhaps, but having made a few. I'm spoiled and hate to use the plain old ordinary rag doll style  body any longer. The fashion body give's a doll such a nice figure.
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Eileen Hook
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« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2011, 10:00:31 AM »

Donna - would you have a photo of the type of French fashion doll you're referring to? I intend to give the doll some figure shaping and that sounds perfect! If you want you can contact me off list (ehook54 - at - comcast.net) or you can share here so others can see as well.

Thanks,
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Eileen
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Donna Rowan
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« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2011, 10:07:36 PM »

This is the "type" of body I use. http://www.ebay.com/itm/FRENCH-FASHION-KID-BODY-DOLL-PATTERN-ORIGINAL-22-/310204138937?_trksid=p4340.m263&_trkparms=algo%3DSIC%26its%3DI%252BC%26itu%3DUCI%252BIA%252BUA%252BFICS%252BUFI%26otn%3D15%26pmod%3D310204249863%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D4413194290091298341 Please don't read that as a recondition of these people, or this pattern. Mine was copied from a library book eons ago. I have no clue the name of the book or author. Only that the book is late 1950s or early 60's. Not quite sure where my box of doll patterns is right now. I'll have a look around over the weekend and see if I can locate it. I wouldn't mind to trace and share it with you. It enlarges or shrinks fine I've done it in size's from my repro of Daisy who is about as tall as a 2year old to a 15in tall china head doll. It's adaptable. I'll see what I can find.
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TerryCoriell
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« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2011, 10:41:29 PM »

In reference to a dowel, I had envisioned it as supporting the waist area of the doll from "folding over" and so it would not go into the head of the doll just up to the shoulder seam as the china doll neck and shoulder plate would be rigid. Also I usually use twill tape to go through the shoulder plate holes and then stitch to the body itself. I have several antique dolls with home made bodies and they  have the twill tape attachments.
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Eileen Hook
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« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2011, 08:50:51 AM »

[quote author=Donna Rowan I'll have a look around over the weekend and see if I can locate it. I wouldn't mind to trace and share it with you. It enlarges or shrinks fine I've done it in size's from my repro of Daisy who is about as tall as a 2year old to a 15in tall china head doll. It's adaptable. I'll see what I can find.
[/quote]
That would be great Donna! This looks just perfect!

Terry- twill tape? Do you mean the twill tape is sewn to the doll body and then threaded through the holes on the shoulder plate and then sewn to the body again? I can't quite picture this....
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Eileen
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TerryCoriell
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« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2011, 05:15:22 PM »

thread the twill tape through the holes in the shoulder plate then position the doll head (using pins in through the twill tape into the body, until you get it positioned the way you want it) and stitch both  ends of the twill tape to the body. this gives a larger area of support than just floss or string and does not put so much strain on the body fabric. 

The two dolls on the right in the rear, show the twill tape method. (sorry for the blur) these dolls were done by my 87 year old friend. They are reproductions that she poured, painted and made.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2011, 05:25:14 PM by TerryCoriell » Logged
Eileen Hook
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« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2011, 12:10:31 PM »

I get it! That looks pretty simple, and I even have 100% cotton twill tape to use. Thank you!
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Eileen
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Donna Rowan
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« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2011, 07:33:23 PM »

I'm still looking for the pattern. I've eliminated quite a few places where it isn't. And it has been a busy weekend. Don't give up hope. It's here someplace. Wink
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Eileen Hook
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« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2011, 09:51:10 AM »

I'm still looking for the pattern. I've eliminated quite a few places where it isn't. And it has been a busy weekend. Don't give up hope. It's here someplace. Wink
Thanks Donna - I'm patient (sometimes!). I've got a bunch of modern sewing to do for a big craft show this weekend, so I won't be in any position to do anything with the pattern until mid-December. 

But, I have to admit those doll heads without bodies keep staring at me......... Grin
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Eileen
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