Reclaimed Wood Abstract Doll

I’ve always wanted to try making an abstract doll of some kind, but had no idea where to even start. Four months ago, I experimented and drew a simple shape on a piece of scrap wood I found in our basement and asked my husband to cut out the drawn shape. Although the shape was simple, it was also a bit crude as the shape had a round head (no neck), a squarish torso and a bell shaped skirt bottom for the lower body. The doll measures 17 inches tall (including the base on which she is perched) and 11-1/2 inches wide (at its widest point of the wood skirt/body).

I thought I’d make the doll’s arms with wire and envisioned bending her wired arms, attaching a small bouquet of flowers to her hands and her (wire arms) holding them up near her face as if to smell them. That’s when I thought of painting her face with closed eyes as if she was taking in the fragrance of the flowers. I did paint the doll’s face with her eyes closed, but the plan to use wire arms did not work out, so I ended up leaving the doll’s face painted with her eyes closed.

I wanted to make some kind of outfit for the doll using as much of my reclaimed fabrics as possible. Looking through my old fabrics, I found a very pretty light pink (polyester) fabric that was perfect because I had so much of this fabric that if I made any mistakes on any part of the outfit, I could start all over again without worries of running out of fabric.

I held the fabric up to the doll’s waist, pinned the fabric a half inch longer for the hem allowance at both ends, cut the fabric and held the fabric against the doll, roughly gathering it to get an idea of how full/wide to make the full length skirt. I tripled the width and then cut the fabric. I made a simple running stitch hem at the waistline and ran a bigger basting stitch at the top edge of the waistline so I could pull the fabric, gathering it at the waist. The skirt began to fully gather and take a beautiful shape. Once the fabric was more or less evenly gathered around the waist, I knotted the thread to hold that tension. For a closure at the waist I sewed a very small snap (base), then sewed the other snap (top half) to the other end at the waist. I left a two inch opening at the waist below the snap closure, hand sewed a quarter inch hem straight down to seal both open fabric panels at the back of the skirt and then sewed them together to complete the skirt. I ironed the entire skirt and surprisingly the fabric turned out very nice and full ,considering I did not use a petticoat underneath.

Because the skirt was so plain, I decided to crochet a pretty beige trim about an inch from the bottom edge of the skirt and continued crocheting all the way around. I used a 00 size crochet needle and crocheted the trim with three double-crochet stitches. I pinned the crochet trim to the skirt as I continued to crochet the trim all the way around the base of the skirt. I removed one pin at a time and hand sewed the trim to the skirt with matching beige thread.

I ended up making the doll arms from two square pieces I cut from my old black sweatshirt. I rolled up the squares, pulling on the stretchy fabric and hand sewing them into a rough arm shape. Since the doll had no shoulders, I hot glued (and tacked down) each of the arms to an approximate place where they looked best on either side of doll’s torso. I made the little hands from polymer clay and pierced a hole in the top part of the clay wrists before baking them so that I could later sew (attach) them onto the (sweatshirt) arms.

The jacket was made from two squares of the same pink fabric. I measured the two squares by eye, cut and then sewed them together, cutting the front square down the middle so the jacket would be open in front. I left two holes on either side near the top of the squares so I could sew on sleeves. The sleeves were also squarish in shape and very loosely made so that I could put the doll arms into the sleeves. I later crocheted the shawl around the doll to make it look like she had shoulders and to cover the loose fitting clothes.

For the doll hair, I used a roll of brown woolly trim that I found in my yarn box. I cut six 4″ long pieces, and with needle and matching brown thread loosely sewed the six pieces together to form a head cover that resembled hair. The furry wool is so wild, it really looked like hair, and I painted the doll’s wood head in a matching brown color so you can’t really notice the open spaces throughout the sewed hair piece.

The Accessories
The hat is made from a scrap piece of thick interfacing leftover from a purse project. I had several jar lids, and placed them on the doll’s head to find the right hat width for the doll’s head. With a pencil, I traced around the lid onto the interfacing, cut the round shape and then by eye, another round hole in the center to rest on the doll’s head. For the crown, I cut a rectangular strip of interfacing and hot glued it from one edge of the center hole to the other edge of the hole. I covered the entire hat with the same pink fabric, and hot glued it to the interfacing. I also crocheted a trim for the hat (sewed it onto the hat) and embellished the hat with a little rosette (from the same pink fabric) and hot glued the rosette to the center front of the hat.

The little purse measures 1-3/4″ wide by 2″ long and is made of the same pink fabric folded into a little rectangle and then hand sewn to shape. I also cut and sewed a small narrow piece of the same pink fabric for a tiny purse strap. Later, I also crocheted a matching trim near the top of the purse and added a tiny rosette.

The parasol measures 7″ long by 2″ wide and is made from plastic skewers that I had saved from a gift fruit arrangement. I used one skewer as the main center post, tightly wrapped a rubberband (wound around many times) near the skewer bottom end, took six more skewers and tucked them into one strand of the wound rubber band, spacing them evenly around the main center skewer. I was surprised that this worked and the six skewers remained in place evenly around the center skewer. Using wire cutters, I trimmed the six skewers shorter than the main center skewer. I then measured and wrapped the same pink fabric around the length of the skewers and added four inches to the total fabric width. I then hot glued the bottom (folded) edge of the pink fabric to the skewers one at a time making sure to pull extra fabric in between the skewers so it would mimic the look of a semi-folded umbrella. I repeated the same process to the top end of the parasol.

To make the parasol handle, I used three plastic hook-shaped pieces (saved from the top of three packets of socks) and hot glued them together. I also hot glued the main skewer to the hook handle. I later wrapped the handle with the crochet thread to make it look like one uniform piece and repeated that process around the bottom end of the parasol.

Making this doll was a very challenging experience, but very rewarding upon completing all of the accessories. And the most fun part of making this doll was that there were no rules because this was an abstract doll that I made from scrap wood and leftover reclaimed materials.

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