Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Calico Gals

I think these came from Prima magazine - but I'm not sure! It's a practical magazine full of gardening, cooking and making ideas, and features well-designed pull-out garment and craft patterns, which I think anyone can follow successfully.

This is a sleeve from the binder where I keep my patterns. Tracing paper can be hard to find, but I use airmail paper to trace doll patterns, and paste it onto cardboard for strength. They stay in the file from year to year, and if I tear something, I can retrace it.

Here's my Calico Gal. My youngest brother's twin boys were six when I made her: I thought they'd rather have a funky angel than an airy fairy.

She's a traditional soft-bodied doll with no awkward corners, darts or gussets to contend with; her face is done with felt tip; and that's the easiest head of hair I've ever done! If you'd like to do something similar, look out for a pattern with a keyhole-shaped head and body section, and long slim arms and legs. Or be brave, and make your own paper cut-outs, trimming them until the arm and leg sausage shapes are in proportion to the head and body shape. This naive style has spread into shaped and painted tin (Magrudy's have stocked them for a couple of years now.) so a little window shopping will help you to clarify the style you're looking for.

There are only two potentially tricky areas:

1. When you've sewn the arm and leg seams, you'll need to take the wrong end of a pencil or knitting needle, and first poke them inside-out (actually inside-in! - so that the seams are turned inside), and then poke stuffing in, and tease it out til it's evenly spread. This may sound silly, but don't make the legs too thin, or you'll never turn them or stuff them!

2. With the keyhole shape, the narrowest point is the neck, and tight curves are quite challenging: make it easy on yourself: keep the curve shallow, and snip little 'v's out of the finished seam allowance after sewing; that way, when you turn the head and body inside out, the side seams will be smooth.

If you look at the photo - and at the pattern piece in my file, you can see the shallow curve from shoulder to head. Mind you, if you get it wrong, you can always tell your children that you've made them the Hunchback of Notre Dame. If they're so impressed that they beg for an Esmeralda, remember that she has long hair which can hide any little neck problems - though of course, you'll know exactly what you're doing by then!
As I said, practice makes perfect - or confident, at least!

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