Soft Sculpture Instructions

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Soft sculpture style granny dolls with their arms outstretched.
Soft sculpture style granny dolls with their arms outstretched. (Image: Granny Dolls image by Bohanka from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Soft sculpture refers to a class of sculptures that are created using soft materials like fabric and stuffing. These sculptures range from dolls to fanciful creatures. Some are considered fine art and some are considered toys. Many stuffed animals or dolls are both stuffed and sculpted to create the look of the animal's face, hands and feet. Sculpting is achieved through sewing into the body of the figure to create shape, indentations and expressions on the outside surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Pattern
  • Fine cotton muslin
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Polyester fiberfill
  • 14-gauge wire
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Needle and thread
  • #3 sculpting needle
  • Monofilament thread

Select a pattern for the soft sculpture doll you want to try. Pin the pattern to the fabric and cut out. Select a fine cotton muslin. These fabrics are sold in flesh tones specifically for doll sculptures.

Sew each body part with right sides of your fabric together. Sew back and forth at the beginning and ending of the seams to keep the seams from running. Trim your seams down to 1/8-inch and clip your seams around all curves, corners and points.

Invert and fill small and pointed areas first in order to achieve the proper shape. Use a shaped wood dowel to get into tight corners and to add fill in those corners. Stuff the doll part until it is firm. Insert 14 gauge wire into any part of the body that you want to bend. Bend the wire so that the ends are rounded to prevent poking through the fabric. Stitch areas closed using a whip stitch to close each body part.

Cut your hand or foot shape out of fabric. Sew the hand together with the fabric's right sides together. Clip your corners and curves and turn the hand right side out. Mark the location of lines to define fingers and machine stitch those lines. Cut pipe cleaner twice the length of a finger plus 1/2-inch. Fold the pipe cleaner in half and insert the pipe cleaner and stuffing into each finger. Stuff and finish the hand or foot. This will make the hands bendable.

Once all parts are stuffed and stitched, join the legs to the lower body and the arms to the shoulders and the head to the body. Shape the facial features by using a #3 sculpting needle with monofilament thread. Draw a nose shape on the face with a disappearing pen. Pierce the top of the head and bring out your needle on the top of the right side of the nose. Sew a small stitch in place. Take your needle inside and under the nose and come out on the opposite side. Pull slightly to raise and squeeze the fabric and stuffing together. Take a stitch in place and then back under and across to the other side. Continue to the bottom of the nose.

Sculpt your remaining features using the same opposition pull technique. The monofilament thread is clear and virtually invisible, and you will quickly see how to stitch to create the shapes you need. Remember that each lifted or rounded shape is a thread underneath pulling the two sides toward each other.

Tips & Warnings

  • Dress your doll in fabrics suitable for the scale and theme of the doll. Hair can be made of threads or yarns, or drawn on with permanent markers. Add color to the face of your doll by lightly brushing makeup onto the fabric.

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