Monday, July 20, 2020

Sock Dolls - A Baby Lock Summer School Project!

Welcome to week two of Baby Lock's Summer School! I know you enjoyed Lindsay Conner's stuffed Manatee project - that was adorable, wasn't it?? I'm tickled to be included in the second week's fun, and I've got a great project for you that's just perfect for a mommy & me (or Gramma & me) sewing adventure - sock dolls! 

Squishy, sweet, and so fun to sew! That's what I love about sock dolls. 😊 Recently Kate crawled in my lap and said, "Let's sew something, Gramma!" After a teeny inside squeal of delight I asked, "Machine or by hand, dear?" She gave me a look and said, "Machine, of course!" (Girl after my own heart!) So, we made a sock doll. Mom didn't have any stuffing, so we filled her with dried beans. Here's Kate with her first sock dolly, A.K.A. the prototype:

Oh, my goodness - that was too much fun. Kate had a few suggestions for "improvements" ...mainly a nice MACHINE embroidered face (we did the first one by hand) and a dress with real armholes that she could take off and on so dolly could have more than one outfit to wear. Gramma got busy, of course!

I'm betting that you have some orphan socks floating around your house, am I right? Want to make a sock doll too? Let's do it! Here's what you'll need: 

Materials for the Doll Body
  • 2 tube socks (ladies' or men's - size large)
  • Fiberfill stuffing
  • No-Show Mesh Stabilizer
  • Tear-away Soft Stabilizer
  • Dissolve-Away Mesh Self-Adhesive Stabilizer (for the face)
  • Assorted yarn for hair
  • Top stitch or 12 wt. sewing thread in a color to match socks and a color to blend with yarns
  • Sewing thread (top & bobbin) to match socks
  • Face embroidery design from A Bit of Stitch (see NOTE below); hand and machine embroidery versions are both available
  • Fabric for "shoes" (optional) - approximately 2" x 4" per shoe

NOTE! Machine embroidery designs for the girl's face (large & small), boy's face (large & small), and buttonholes - plus patterns & instructions for a pair of panties, t-shirt and pants - are included in a single download HERE! (This download was free during the first week of publication.) 

If you don't have an embroidery machine, hand embroidery patterns for the faces are available as a free download - click HERE to find it.

Looking for materials for your sock doll? Click HERE to find some kits!

Now pull up your socks and let's get started! 😄

1. Embroider the face before beginning. Read the directions included in the hand or machine embroidery design download to do so.

2. Cut the ribbing off both socks. Cut a 6 ½” piece from the open end of the un-embroidered sock and split in two. These two pieces will become the arms.

3. Gather your supplies. It’s fun to include at least three different types of yarn for the hair if you have them, but keep in mind that you can also use other fibers that will lend themselves to hair – narrow ribbons, skinny strips of scrap quilting fabric or knit fabric, etc. 

Thread your sewing machine with matching thread in the top and bobbin (the thread color should match the sock). 

Cut a slit in the sock with the embroidered face; the slit should begin at the straight, open end of the sock and end at the doll’s crotch. Depending on the length of your sock, this may be between 6.5” to 7” long. These will be the doll’s legs.

4. Turn the arm sock pieces inside out so that right sides are together. Sew each arm as shown in the photo above marked with the blue dashed lines. You will want the arms to be about 1.5” wide when finished, so adjust your seam allowance as necessary. After sewing, trim the seam allowance to ¼” and turn the arms right side out. Set the arms aside for later.

Beginner’s Tip! Trace a curved “hand” end on one side of the folded sock fabric arm to make it easier to sew. Place a piece of soft tear-away stabilizer under the fabric as you sew the curve to help keep the fabric from stretching.

5. Cut a piece of No-Show Mesh Stabilizer about 6” x 8” and place it on your work surface. Cut 10” to 12” lengths of yarn and place them across the stabilizer as shown in photo #1 above.

The more yarn you layer, the thicker the doll's hair will be! Just be careful not to make it so thick that it will be hard to sew into the sock!
The width of the stack of yarn (meaning up and down according to the photos above) should be no wider than the opening on the sock doll's head as shown on the right.

Use masking tape or painter’s tape to secure the yarn bundle to the stabilizer; most of the hair should be on one side of the first piece of tape and approximately 1/3 of it should be on the other, as shown in photo #2 above. (That short side will be the doll’s bangs.) Sew two lines of stitching, very close together, through the bundle – photos #3 and #4 above.

6. Remove the tape. Carefully trim away as much of the stabilizer as you can, leaving a tiny bit behind the stitching to support the yarn. Fold the bangs up and over toward the longer portion of hair and insert into the opening in the doll’s head.

7. Slip your hand into the sock and grasp the top of the head and the hair. With your other hand, pull the sock over the hair until the sock is wrong side out. Align the edges of the head opening with the stabilizer on the hair. Clip together as shown in the top left photo above. Sew through all layers. Sew just deep enough to catch the stabilizer on the hair – probably about ½” to 5/8”. Turn the sock right side out and check your work to be sure the seam hides the stabilizer.

8. Shoes are an option! If you’d like your doll to have shoes, cut two pieces of any suitable shoe fabric 1.5” tall by the width of the leg (when the leg is opened flat). Draw a line across the bottom of each leg, 1” up from the raw edge as shown in the photo above on the left. 

Place the shoe fabric WRONG SIDE UP against the right side of the leg, aligning one long edge of the fabric with the marked line as shown above on the far right. Sew the fabric to the leg with a ¼” seam. Fold the shoe fabric down over the seam and press. (Note! When using quilt weight cotton or woven fabrics, leave the leg fabric behind the shoe fabric. When using knit shoe fabric, you may wish to trim the leg fabric away to reduce bulk in the foot.)

9. Turn the legs wrong side out – aligning the long, straight edges – and clip or pin together as shown above. Sew each leg: Start about 1” down from the crotch, continue down the leg, and round out the foot to finish as indicated by the blue dashed lines in the photo above.

See Beginner’s Tip in step #4 for the arms, and repeat the same process to help sew the curved feet!

Trim the seam allowances to 1/4". Turn right side out.

10. Stuff the head area of the doll. Do not over-stuff, and keep in mind that the head should be roughly 1/3 of the body (not including the legs). Thread a hand sewing needle with 12 wt. or top stitching thread and sew running stitches around the neck area as shown above.

11. Pull up the running stitches to tighten the neck. Wrap the thread around the neck a couple of times and secure in place with a few small stitches.

12. Stuff the rest of the body and the legs. Do not over-stuff the legs, and do not stuff all the way up to the crotch. Leave about 1” space between the stuffing and where the leg should bend when the doll is sitting. Sew up the opening by hand or machine.

13. Sew across the top of each leg to create a crease.

14. Find the doll's arms that you set aside earlier. Fold back 1" of each arm as shown above. Stuff both arms. Do not over-stuff, but DO apply more stuffing in the hand area than in the upper arm. 

15. Unfold that 1” at the top of each arm and refold it down into the arm. Sew the opening closed, gathering the seam slightly by pulling the stitches snug as you sew. Sew the arms to the doll about 1” down from the neck on each side of the body.

16. The head will be a little pointy on each side because of the way we applied the hair. This might not bother you, but if it does, it’s easy to fix! Thread a nice long needle with strong sewing thread, secure to a point at one side of the head, and poke the needle through the head so that it comes out at the opposite side. Draw up the thread to suck in the needle's entry and exit points as much as you need, and sew the thread snugly to secure.

17. Your doll’s bangs will need a trim! Pull the short ends of the hair (they should be in front) down evenly and give them a trim. Then, on the back of her head, use a hand sewing needle and sturdy thread that blends in with her hair to sew across the hair, weaving the stitching in and out of the layers of yarn until you have secured some of it to the sock. Give your doll ponytails, braids, or a bun if you wish!

Get wild with your hair! All kinds of ribbons, trims, yarns, and other fancy stringy things can be used for hair. You'll have a hair-raising adventure! 😅

Read "Dress your Dolly" for a super easy little sock doll dress - coming up next on this blog! And stay tuned for more fun with Baby Lock's Summer School with Alex Sorensen and Candice Ayala. More pretties to sew!

Thanks for reading!

Dress Your Dolly!

Have you made a sock doll or two or three? I think I've got about a dozen here, eep! They are just that fun to make! Now it's time to make some little dresses, and that's just as fun as making the doll. Here's what you will need:
Materials for the Doll Dress
  • Fabric* for the dress, cut according to the measurements below.
    • For a dress without a ruffle: 7" x 21" dress fabric (for a doll made from a men's or size large ladies' sock) OR 6" x 18" dress fabric (for a doll made from a size small ladies' or size large children's sock)
    • For a dress with a ruffle: 5" x 21" dress fabric and 3" x 41" ruffle fabric (for a doll made from a men's or size large ladies' sock; 41" strip may be pieced) OR 4" x 18" dress fabric and 2.5" x 36" ruffle fabric (for a doll made from a size small ladies' or size large children's sock; 36" strip may be pieced)
  • No-Show Mesh Fusible Stabilizer (or Evy's Sheer Cut-Away Fusible Stabilizer)
  • Tear-Away Soft Stabilizer 
  • 10” length of ¼” wide elastic
  • 3.5” length of ½” wide hook & loop tape
  • Sewing thread to match fabric
  • Buttonhole embroidery design from A Bit of Stitch (Click HERE to find the download containing the buttonhole designs as well as the sock doll face embroidery designs and patterns/instructions to make a pair of panties, t-shirt and pants; this download was free during the first week of publication.) If you don't have an embroidery machine, hand embroidery patterns for the face are available as a free download - click HERE to find it.
*Quilt weight cotton is a good choice! One fat quarter is plenty of fabric for either dress option; if you are making the dress with a ruffle, you can simply cut two strips the length of the fat quarter and sew them together to make one long strip for the ruffle.
There are two options for this super easy doll dress - one with a ruffle and one without. The directions include both, outlined together. If you don't want to make a ruffle, just skip over those parts.
For the dress without a ruffle, serge or zigzag the raw edges of the dress fabric block on all four sides. Narrow hem the lower edge. If you wish to add trim such as rickrack, pompoms or lace, sew it to the lower edge either as you hem or after it is hemmed and before proceeding.

Next, fold the short ends under 3/4" and press. Then fold the top edge under 3/4" and press. Now sew along the top edge 1/2" from the fold to create a casing for the elastic.

For the dress with a ruffle, serge or zigzag the short ends and one long edge (the top) of the dress fabric block, and serge or zigzag two short ends of the ruffle fabric strip.
Hem the other long edge with a narrow hem. This is a great chance to use your narrow hemmer foot!

Fold the short ends of the dress fabric block under 3/4" (including the ruffle area) and press. Fold the top edge under 3/4" and press. Sew along the top edge 1/2" from the fold to create a casing for the elastic.
Use the ruffle foot on your serger to easily attach the ruffle and serge the raw edges in one step. Otherwise, gather and sew the ruffle onto the dress fabric block as desired with about a 3/8" seam allowance; then serge or zigzag the seam allowance selvages.
I discovered that a great big buttonhole makes fast and easy ARMHOLES for these little dresses! Unfortunately, my buttonhole foot didn't allow me to make a buttonhole quite big enough... so my embroidery machine came to the rescue! I created a buttonhole design for you to use with this dress - the download also includes embroidery designs for the doll faces and PDF patterns & instructions for some additional doll clothes. You can find the download HERE if you haven't already. (Free for a limited time, so snag it quick!) You can also use the onboard IQ designer features on your Baby Lock embroidery machines to make your own buttonhole, or you can draw a simple rectangle and just use a tight, wide zigzag stitch to create your own with your sewing machine. The buttonhole will need to be big enough for your doll to get her arm in easily; I found that a buttonhole almost 2" long and almost 1/2" wide worked nicely.
Fold the dress in half (short end to short end) to find the center point. Measure from the center point to the inside edge of the 3/4" fold of fabric at one short end. Divide that segment in half again and mark that point on the right side of the dress; this is where one buttonhole will go. Mark the location of the other buttonhole by finding the halfway point between the center point of the dress and the inside edge of the 3/4" fold of fabric at the other short end.

Mark the placement area for each buttonhole (one for each armhole) clearly. The buttonhole should begin 1/4" below the casing stitching line as shown above.

Hoop a piece of No-Show Mesh Fusible Stabilizer fusible side up in the hoop. NOTE! If you use a 5x7 hoop and rotate and move the first buttonhole design toward the top, you should be able to fold the fabric in the middle of the dress and easily embroider both buttonholes in the same hooping as shown below.
You can see that I've pinned the dress to the hooped stabilizer - making sure the pins are well away from the stitching area - and folded the excess dress fabric into a roll between the two buttonhole placement lines which are indicated in blue above.
Before you begin embroidering, slide a piece of regular tear-away soft stabilizer under the hoop. 

If you are using your IQ Designer onboard software to create buttonholes, follow the same hooping and stabilizing tips as listed above.

If you are zigzag stitching, place a piece of tear-away stabilizer under the fabric before sewing the buttonholes.
Rip off the tear-away stabilizer and then trim away the no-show mesh (sheer cut-away) stabilizer. Carefully cut out the area inside each buttonhole. Press from the wrong side with a press cloth.
Use a bodkin or safety pin to insert elastic into the casing at the top of the dress. Pull the elastic until the other end is just inside the opening on one end of the casing. Sew across the casing through the elastic to secure.
Pull up the elastic and gather the fabric until the top of the dress measures about 6" as shown above. (Fit to your doll's neckline; keep in mind that the dress will need to overlap 1/2" in the back.) Sew through the casing and elastic at the other end of the casing to secure. Clip off the excess elastic tail. (If you pull the elastic tightly, you can clip it off closer to where it is secured, and the end will be hidden inside the casing.)
To close, the dress will flap over itself at the center back, secured with hook and loop tape. Looking at the back of the dress (right side out), the left side should overlap the right. Sew the hook tape inside the dress left side along the center back edge on the 3/4" folded area. Sew the loop tape onto the outside of the dress right side on the 3/4" folded area. NOTE! Straight stitching and zigzag stitching both work well; straight stitching will look a little neater, but if you have an energetic doll owner, zigzag stitching may be a bit sturdier! 😉

Sock dolls don't really need underwear - and if your little one is like my granddaughter, those generally end up under the bed anyway - but if you'd like to make your sock doll some panties, the pattern and instructions are included in the same download where you got the buttonhole and sock doll face designs!

I hope you enjoyed this project! Dolls are not just for little girls... make a few for the little boys you know too! The previously mentioned download also includes boy face designs in two sizes, as well as patterns with instructions to make a t-shirt and pull-on pants as shown below. Aren't they adorable?

Thanks for reading!