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Article: 01 Choosing the right fabric

Fabrics for doll making

01 Choosing the right fabric

Choosing the right fabric is essential in doll making, as it significantly affects the appearance, texture, and durability of the soft toy. In this article, I will discuss the best fabrics for doll making and explain why they are ideal. Additionally, I will share my favorite fabrics and provide some addresses where you can find them. This article is the first in a series of eight, covering everything you need to know about doll making. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter so you don't miss the upcoming articles.
 

First, let's introduce some commun fabrics used in doll making. 

Cotton

Cotton is the most widely produced natural fiber on the planet, valued for its softness, ease of sewing, machine washability, and wide availability. Its versatility allows it to be woven or knitted, providing numerous possibilities for crafting garments and textiles. There are various types of cotton, such as poplin, muslin, corduroy, flannel, twill, and many more, with fabric weights ranging from light to heavy.

Linen

Linen is a natural textile made from plant fibers, renowned for its durability and sustainability. It softens and fades beautifully over time, making it a popular choice for garments and homeware.

Linen's characteristics are easily recognizable due to its crisp texture and unique appearance. It tends to wrinkle, adding to its distinct look. Although it may appear sturdy because of its thick fibers, it smooths and softens with each wear.

The weight of linen fabric varies, ranging from lightweight (90-130 gsm), to medium-weight (140-190 gsm), to heavy-weight (200-300 gsm).

Blend of both 

Linen blended fabric refers to linen that has been mixed with a certain percentage of cotton. The cotton content in a linen blend can vary widely, from as little as 5% to as much as 70%, depending on the intended use of the fabric.

Felt

Felt is a non-woven fabric made from compressed fibers. It is soft, sturdy, and easy to work with, ideal for crafting doll accessories and small details. It Doesn’t fray, comes in various colors, and can be glued or sewn.

Minky

Minky is a type of fabric that is made from 100% polyester fibers. It is plush and luxuriously soft, almost resembling animal fur, though it is completely synthetic. Minky fabric is typically only plush on one side and can be made in different thicknesses. It washes very well and will stay soft even after many washes. There are different types of Minky with different pile lengths.

What are my favorite fabrics for doll making ?

For bodies

In designing and crafting my dolls, I rely on high-quality, medium-weight fabric with a slight cross-grain stretch and a tight weave. This type of fabric allows me to create nicely rounded heads when firmly stuffed. I avoid fabrics that are too lightweight or heavy; thin fabrics may not be durable and might not be strong enough to withhold the stuffing, while thicker fabrics can make turning small parts like legs and arms challenging. A tight weave is also essential for doll bodies, as fabrics with a loose weave fray easily and are more likely to tear when stuffed. For my patterns, I recommend avoiding knit, jersey, fleece, or any stretchy materials, as they won't maintain the doll's shape properly and the clothes may not fit well.

While I occasionally use 100% cotton, I prefer blends of cotton and linen for the body of my dolls. These blends are more supple, less prone to creasing, and have some of the desirable appearance of linen while being more affordable than pure linen. They truly combine the best qualities of both fabrics. Pure linen, on the other hand, tends to be too fluid for doll bodies, resulting in less defined features. But, If opting for pure linen, Look for a medium-weight tightly woven variety.
One of my favorite fabrics to work with is Essex linen from Robert Kaufman, a blend of 45% cotton and 55% linen weighing about 190 g/m2. It's readily available in a wide range of colors. It has a tight, even weave which is durable and easy to work with. It is sturdy without being too thick to get a neat finish.

In Canada, you can find a wide range of Essex linen at the beautiful shop Elegante Virgule. They ship worldwide and offer free shipping within Canada and the United States. The owner is incredibly sweet and has an excellent eye for printed cotton, making it also a great place to find beautiful fabrics to dress your doll.

For clothes
For doll clothing, I prefer using woven fabrics like cotton and linen. Lightweight fabrics work well here since they don't require stuffing. I appreciate 100% cotton for it's myriad print options and ease of sewing, while 100% linen offers fluidity and unique texture. For items like sweaters or beanies, I turn to knitted fabrics such as sherpa, fleece, or jersey, but keep in mind that stretch fabrics are harder to sew and require special needles.

 

Some of my favorite designer brands for cotton fabrics include Liberty London, known for their beloved and bestselling Tana Lawn cotton, and Dear Stella, especially the designs by illustrator Nina Stajner. As I mentioned above, you can find all my favorite fabrics at Elegante Virgule. They carry Liberty Fabrics, Rifle Paper Co., and all the collections from Tilda, which I have recently discovered. If you love florals, soft colors, and gingham, this is definitely the place to go.

 

I also love using linen. Its texture and fluidity create a stunning look for any doll garment. For hair bows, collars, and puffy sleeves, I prefer light linen, while for dresses, jumpsuits, and pants, I opt for medium-weight linen. The fabric becomes much softer after the first wash, so remember to wash it beforehand!

I recently fell in love with Yorkshire linen. Its texture is beautiful, and its weight and tight weave make it very easy to sew. I particularly love the blush and banana colors, which have an ice cream vibe that’s perfect for summer. I ordered these from Fabric Wholesale Direct. They offer a variety of bright and neutral linen colors. The quality is excellent, and you can also find felt, faux fur, and many other types of fabric there.

For accessories:

When it comes to color patches or accessories, I opt for wool felt. Its aesthetic appeal and non-fraying nature make it ideal. Wool felt is widely available and comes in a vast array of colors. You can easily find it on Etsy.

For textured ears:

For ears, especially for animals like bunnies or dogs, I prefer to use super plush Minky to achieve a cuddly appearance. When selecting Minky, I prioritize high-quality varieties with a luxurious, long pile look. It can be challenging to find this type, as many shops tend to carry bubble Minky rather than long pile Minky. Your best chance is often Etsy, where it may be listed under names like long pile Minky, caribou, or super plush Minky.

Remember to take into account the purpose of your creation and the care it will require over time. With a thoughtful approach to fabric selection, you'll be well on your way to creating beautiful, long-lasting pieces that reflect your craftsmanship and creativity.

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Thanks 

Ariane
xx


1 comment

Thank you for all of these advices. I love Elegante Virgule and I spend too much money when I visit their incredible boutique…

Lucie Bernard

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