Friday, January 09, 2009

Introducing Fern

Introducing Fern

Last January I thought that making LittleA a waldorf style doll would be a great birthday present...her birthday being in April and all. I still agree that it was a great idea, although it was one that took me the better portion of year to complete. I really wanted to follow the instructions and make something as I pictured it in my head. And for the first time I think I did it. I really became attached the this one as I was constantly working on it. It was almost hard to place her underneath the Christmas tree. What if LittleA didn't fall for her?

After searching online I found a pattern that I thought I could manage. So I ordered the e-instruction book from Dancing Rain Dolls. For the most part I found the instructions to be easy enough to follow...although there were some parts that I got hung up on for a while. The owner, Amy offered to answer any questions I had via email.
I opted to pick the necessary supplies out myself at my local art/craft supply store (you can order everything from Dancing Rain Dolls). Although the selection was limited for natural materials, I filled a small basket on my studio table with pieces that were all deliberately chosen (with love). I loved looking at this basket on the corner of my table. I did hunt all over town for the real wool roving/stuffing - and I will add that this seemed like a hunt well worth the effort. The doll does warm to the touch and feels more real. I managed to find my stash by calling the local Waldorf school and then realizing I had a mommy friend whose children went to school there. She was kind enough to help me get some wool for this project.
When making the doll you can start one of two ways. You can either purchase a ready made head or make your own. Amy informed me that this was the most difficult part. I thought about it and figured I would take a chance on it and try to make the whole baby from scratch - worst case scenario I could always order the head later. This part was tricky but not impossible. I imagine with more practice that are even easier. Between the instructions I had and the photo tutorial at the Silver Penny - all worked out well. Adding the nose really made the project begin to take on life.
 After the head the arms and legs were easy-peasy! Just waiting around for their body...and that my friends is where things really got sticky.
I followed the directions (I think). My trouble may be from the fabric that I chose for the outer did not allow a ton of give for stuffing.
So I ended up with a doll that had a really baggy neck. I could not stuff the head any further into the the neck fabric bunched up and then I couldn't stitch the skull closed. This was also starting to compress the head into a funky shape (long instead or round). I took a few days break and recreated the pattern pieces for the torso and added some more wiggle room. 
The face was stiched on and a real doll started to exist. Now the trouble was - the torso was too long. I ended up ripping out the bottom seams, unstuffing a bunch, and then stitching back up. After that I learned how to crochet in the round from a video on You Tube. 
The pattern itself did not give directions for the skull cap. The website did feature a .pdf wig making instriuction manual - which states that a person who was picking up a crochet hook for the first time ever should have no worries. So I jumped in and gave it a go. I can't say it was beautiful - but it turned out and I think I might just like crocheting.
Each piece of hair was woven into the skull cap which was stitched to the doll head. I picked three types of yarn for the hair. I cut large portions and mixed the strands up as I went along. This part reminded me of latch hook rugs. It was an enjoyable portion of the project - and kept my mind and hands busy as I sat at the hospital waiting to hear how my dad was going through surgery (as a side note: he did real well!).
Here she is with her shorter torso and her long flowing locks. Her arms and legs are jointed so that LittleA can pose her. It was at this stage that I learned how simple and fun it is to cover buttons! Why have I not done this before? Off to the left shoulder you can see the four buttons I made to match the skin fabric.
The custom buttons were used to cover the stitches where I attached the arms and legs.
So after my pattern alterations and much stuffing to get my fabrics to take shape - the poor thing ended up with a crooked back. But there is a stitched heart to show she was made with love!
When she was done I showed her to Tim. He declared that she needed a belly button - and so back to the studio I went. I agree it was a great addition.
Well at this stage of creating she was done...but naked. Christmas was fast approaching and I was tired. But I knew she needed to be dressed. So I followed the simple instructions for the undies and sewed a pair out of some green flannel I had laying around from an older project. Now I was I headed to Etsy to see if I could just buy her some clothes. 
 Instead of buying an outfit I was hit with inspiration (and maybe guilt) and headed back to the studio (it was now nearing midnight or 1 am). I knew I could quickly whip up a sort of pillowcase style dress/top for this little one. So the above outfit was created. Funny enough it was fabric I had intended to use last summer to make a shirt of dress for LittleA.
She was tucked into a wicker basket and tied with a lime bow. She ended up being the last gift opened and LittleA did love her as much as I did. Phew! I told her how I had made her with love - just for her. We talked about how she needed a real special name that would suit her well. At that moment Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer came on the stereo and LittleA declared "this song gives me an idea...we can call her Rudolph"...I encouraged that we should try something that would be uniquly hers. So she ran to her toy room and choose a tiny Winnie the Pooh book which she told me was a baby name book. I left her to her plan. She returned to tell me that she thought Fern would be the perfect name. I could not have agreed more.
Welcome home Fern!


allthingsjennifer said...

I LOVE Fern! What a sweet, sweet name!

I think this baby doll has to be the new Gma Baker stocking for the children...


Love you so!

Gift of Green said...

I am seriously, seriously, seriously impressed!!! I am so proud of you!

jk said...

How inspiring! I've often thought it would be rewarding to give a Waldorf doll project a try...

Brenda said...

wow. I love it. you're amazing.

Sophia Sunshine said...

Wow, Fern is so beautiful! I've been looking around for tips and ideas on how to make my own "waldorf" doll and I love how you shared your process. Thanks for commenting on Paxye's site ( today so I could find you!

Sophia Sunshine said...

Sorry, that would be a blond moment. Paxye's site is

Dayna said...

Thank you all for the lovely comments. This was a really fun project for me. The fact that my little one loves her so much has made it all that more rewarding too.

Jen - I know...I just LOVE that she came up with the name Fern...and yeah, I think I could learn to knit stockings way faster then make these baby dolls.

Amy - THANK YOU!!!

JK - Give it a go. It was a lot of fun. I would be happy to answer any questions if you got stuck in the process.

Brenda - Thank you!

Sophia Sunshine - Thanks so much for stopping by. I am glad we can meet through these posts! Thank you also for the kind comments on Fern. She was a very fun project to have to work on. I will have to hop on over to your place and see what your blog is all about.

Jess said...

fantastic job! i'm so impressed with how hard you worked on it, and the results are beautiful. what a treasure for littleA!

Kelly said...

Dayna- this is so awesome. I know that this will be a well loved heirloom that she will pass on to her child some day!