Monday, October 23, 2006

Christmas angels from the felt doll pattern

I think these are gorgeous. They make me happy every time I unpack them. I followed the felt doll pattern, but only used felt for the faces and hands: the dresses and wings are made of fabric scraps, sewn together with a running stitch. Since these are decorative and naive, no hemming or finishing is required.

I started off with the idea of making a trio to hang outside the front door of our apartment, largely to appeal to the children on our floor. I placed various felts, fabrics and embroidery silks together until I liked what I saw, and then worked each one out as I went along. Common sense meets happy afternoon in!

I used cheap white pipe cleaners for the arms and legs, colouring the legs with felt-tip pen.

These angels are airborne, so no big boots!

Before drawing or stitching the face, I suggest you try out different faces on paper, to balance the features, and find the expression you like. I spaced the eyes of my first Christmas angel too far apart, making her look either stoned or psychotic, depending on which angle you saw her from - most disconcerting on top of the tree!

I wanted more delicate features than in the original, so I used coloured sead beads instead of large black beads, and left out the nose stitch. You can buy small packets of seed beads from FIDA, or most other haberdashers in Satwa, though if you are planning a project that requires lots and lots of beads, crystals or artificial flowers, the little shops around Naif Square in Shindagha sell larger quantities more cheaply.

For me, the most challenging aspect is often the hair. I fold hanks of six-strand embroidery silk (called floss in the States, I believe) and wrap and pin them around the head until I'm happy, before stitching them down with matching sewing thread. These dolls are so small that you can afford to be generous. Since the stitches for mouth and eyes start from the back of the head, the hair will cover the start and finish knots, and the gather in the back of the head.

If you are making a dark-skinned doll, the eyes tend to disappear into the face; so however you make the eyes - French Knot, bead or marker pen - if you start with a dot of white-out, it really brings the face to life. I learnt this after I'd finished the angel on the left!

The banners are rectangles folded over to hide the backs of the large straight-stitched letters - I imagine that Stem Stitch or Chain Stitch plus French Knots would be better for the curves of Arabic.
The pipe-cleaner arms are stiff enough to hold the banners taut.
The wings are two circles of metallic cloth folded over to give a little stiffness, overlapped and stitched to the dresses, and frayed a little to suggest feathers.
The three angels are tied together with gold thread, with a hanging loop at the top.
Definitely not rocket science!

OK. Can't persuade Blogger.Photo to upload the other front and back views, but you can probably enlarge the trio photo with a click of your mouse. Have fun! I did!

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