Monday, August 27, 2007

Tips for Making EFA Dolls (from one who's been there!)

I had such a nice comment from a new reader (Hi Dana!). She asked if I use muslin to make the EFA dolls. That made me realize that I could probably offer even more help than just the fabric choice. I wrote to Dana and shared some tips with her and now I will share them here.
1. Muslin is fine, but can be rather pale. The quilters cottons come in beautiful shades. Also, if you wash and dry the fabric, but don't iron it, you will find that it has some nice give.
2. Experiment with different fabrics. Edith herself preferred a Japanese chirumen which at that time (1930's), was rather stretchy. Personally, I have a cotton sweatshirt knit that I love. I made Baby with it and I love how dimensional she turned out. Sadly, my supply was a gift from a friend years ago, so I don't know if you could find it today. But try another knit. Try a heavy tee shirt that your husband has stained! The cool thing about EFA bodies is that they are quick to sew and stuff.

Baby. This one was made with sweatshirt knit. Ironically she has no neck wrinkle!
3. Don't bother being "traditional" and stuffing your doll with cotton. Do you really think that if Edith were alive and making dolls today, she would be using cotton? I truly believe she would be using fiberfill like the rest of us. One of the best reasons for using fiberfill is that it eliminates the need for an internal neck support. If you have read Edith's original instructions, you will know that she used matchsticks and nails (!) to support her dolls' necks! Yikes! Fiberfill is so bouncy, you don't need to worry about the poor dear's neck flopping over! The other filling I like is wool. If you use wool, just take a good size hank and twist it until it is a plug and use that for the neck. It should be strong enough to hold up the head just fine. Wool is nice, isn't it?
4. While we are discussing necks, let us touch upon that delicate subject of "neck wrinkles". Some dollmakers are totally phobic about having a crease across a doll's neck. Sometimes it is worth bothering over, but not with EFA's. They are charming, simple dolls and they usually have a neck crease. Let it be! Your doll will still be darling!
Edited 11/9/07: I learned last week that Edith's dolls did not have neck creases and so I have been working on my techniques. I have posted a tutorial of sorts at the website of the Yahoo! group, Edith Flack Ackley Dolls, why don't you come and join?

Rose. She has a neck wrinkle. Do you care?

That's it for now. I'm getting a little punchy! As I think of more tips, I will make a note and perhaps do a future post with more.

In the meantime, hugs to all!

8 friends said....:

  1. That was brill Bettsi. I've only just made my 1st doll. I feel I want to re-do her face as she lacks expression. All tips are so needed here! Thanks. I love your dolls.

  2. Excellent tips, Bettsi! Thanks! Josephine

  3. Cool. I made one EFA with muslin. Didn't like it. Knit adds to their charm somehow. I also started putting a stitch in the chest after I made a doll for a neck crease hater. lol I still like neck creases though!

  4. I will try a knit sometime, thanks. The last EFA I made from my old beige linen dress. The dress was soft and worn and my doll was very flexible and nice. I enjoy this subject so much. I think they are the sweetest little dolls. Dolly Dilettante

  5. Bettsi, thank you for your quick response by email last night.

    Glad you mentioned stuffing...I was hoping that polyfil would be a good modern substitute...the prospect of using cotton and trying to get it "just so" wasn't thrilling to me!

    From the photos, it looks as though most of your dolls' hair is made using perle cotton (#5, or possibly #3 for the largest dolls). Is that correct?

    I'm rethinking the muslin issue. Might go to JoAnn's in the morning to look for something more suitable. Even if just a good cotton in more of a flesh tone. I have unbleached muslin as well, but I have my doubts about that even looking realistic enough.

    Looking forward to my adventure into EFA dolls!

    Thanks again,
    Dana :)

  6. Nope! I don't care! I personally think Rose is just about the cutest gal I've ever laid eyes on and her neck wrinkle (which I don't see, by the way) makes her ever-so-charming! Now WHERE is this little Rose and her sweet friends for sale????

  7. First, I have to say - your dolls are beautiful and I love the pen and ink sketch, too.

    I have made a few EFA dolls and some others, and have found that if they are played with at all the heads do start to droop. (I'm not in the expert category here.) Anyway, I have been putting popsicle sticks in mine, and I feel it has worked beautifully. They never show and the dolls never droop. I am way past worrying about a neck wrinkle.


  8. Your dolls are so very lovely. I agee, I don't think Edith would be using matchsticks and nails today! She'd be in awe of what we girls have today to workwith. I can't wait to make my first doll and post my picture, I hope it comes out half as good as all of yours, I'll be happy.
    Warmest Regards,


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