A Doll Story - Mixed Media Art Doll Making with Danita
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A Doll Story - Mixed Media Art Doll Making with Danita

Learn how I create my art dolls from scratch, starting with a pattern, some fabric, thread, paint and lots of love.
5.0 (12 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
140 students enrolled
Created by Danita Art
Last updated 9/2014
Current price: $10 Original price: $95 Discount: 89% off
5 hours left at this price!
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  • 5 hours on-demand video
  • 9 Articles
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • I will teach you how to create an art ill like mine from scratch, starting just with fabric and fill, we will create an amazing doll with a story. Your own doll story.
View Curriculum
  • Sewing machine
  • General sewing tools
  • Acrylic paints and supplies

Have you ever dreamed of making your own, one of a kind, special doll? Then keep reading, because I created the perfect workshop, just for you.

Besides from painting, doll making has always been a lifelong passion of mine. When I was little I used to cut the models from my grandmother’s JC Penney Catalog and pretended they came to life as something I could touch and hold, not just look at.

Making a doll fulfilled that desire, creating something out of nothing brings joy to my heart like nothing else. It's a very different feeling from painting, because my idea gets to be something much more tangible and real than just an image you look and fall in love with. You can touch it, play with it and love it. I love that feeling, and I want to share how I feel with you.

Join me in this amazing workshop as I guide you through the process I go trough when I sit down on my studio to create a doll. From tracing the pattern into the fabric to the final embellishing touches. I'll show you how I use an alchemy of mixed media techniques when I sew, paint, dress up and embellish my creations, and by the end of the workshop you will be able to create your own beautiful one-of-a-kind doll.

I will give you the basics and with that, the power to transform the doll into anything you want it to be. To each doll, its own story.

Who is the target audience?
  • All skill levels are welcome!
Compare to Other doll making Courses
Curriculum For This Course
48 Lectures
5 Lectures 06:08
Before We Begin

A little introduction about this workshop

Welcome to a doll story

Recommended books and links
The making of a doll story
13 Lectures 01:41:01

In case you missed something, here's the full list:

The basics (You’ll use this for doll making and can be used many times)

  • Sewing machine. As long as your machine can sew a straight and zig zag line, any kind will do. You don't need an extra fancy one but if you do you can use the nice embroidery stitches to embellish the clothing.
  • Fabric scissors.
  • Paper scissors. Don't use your fabric scissors for paper and don't use your paper scissors for fabric or they'll lose their sharpness!
  • Pins
  • Cotton rags (you can use an old t-shirt instead)
  • Stabilo BLACK colored marker pencil if you like hard defined edges. You can use BROWN if you're going for a more subtle look.
  • Pencil with eraser on top. Besides using it for tracing your pattern, you can use the eraser to push poly-fil inside the doll.
  • Thread in beige and black and other colors that coordinate with your fabrics. You could get one heavy duty beige or white thread for closing the dolls.
  • White acrylic gesso. Any brand is fine.
  • A set of acrylic brushes. Try to get a set that has a flat brush for general painting and a small round one for details.
  • Fine sanding block or sand paper. I use 3M sanding blocks: Yellow 320 Fine and Black Coarse 160.
  • Hemostats in sizes (12,10,8,6 inches set. If you can only get one get the 8 inches one)
  • Odorless paint thinner
  • Red and deep brown soft (chalk) pastels
  • Oil paint in burnt umber
  • Acrylic fixative spray, I use krylon. Hairspray can work too but you won't be able to antique and rub as much as with the fixative.
  • Acrylic paints in raw sienna, red, black, and any other colors you may want to use for painting the body, the shoes and the details.
  • Dritz Fray Check.
  • Embroidery thread in black.

You’ll also need these materials per doll you make:

  • Your choice of fabric for the dress (approximately 1/4 yard or less)
  • Embellishments (fibers, buttons, beads, charms, ribbons, etc)
  • Polyester fiberfill (I like the brand Poly-fil)
  • Muslin (about 1/4 year makes a doll, but I recommend getting at least a yard so you can practice and make more dolls)
  • 2 small buttons for arms and 2 smaller ones for shoes plus more for embellishments. The size of the buttons for the arms depends on the look you want. If you like the look of the buttons get XXmm ones, you can go smaller for a more discreet look.
  • 2 beads (size 8mm for legs and 6mm for arms) per doll.
  • Mohair or yarn for hair. There are many types of hair for dolls out there. For the sample doll I used Mohair.
  • Lace (3-4 yards)
  • Tulle (about 1/8 yard)

Optional Materials:

  • Pinking shears. Get them if you plan to make a lot of dolls. They will not prevent fabric from fraying but it will fray considerably less.
  • A piece of beeswax. To coat your thread and prevent it from tangling.
  • StazOn ink pads in black and rubber stamps. For embellishing fabrics and the doll itself.
  • Turning tool kit. Specially useful for small arms and legs.
  • Stuffing fork. Makes stuffing your doll so much easier. I use Barbara Willis Stuffin forks and I also have a dowel with an incised cross on the bottom that helps to push big chunks of stuffing into the doll.
Preview 11:08

This is the pattern we're going to be using for this workshop. Feel free to use it for your doll creations as long as you don't modify it, it's not for commercial or mass production, and you give credit to me if you publish or sell it in your personal shop. I recommend you print it on cardstock or similar so you can reuse it many times. There is no seam allowance as we're going to be sewing everything and cutting it at the end. You don't need to resize the pattern. It's meant to be printed in a 8.5x11 (letter size) sheet. Using it as it is will give you a doll approx. 16 inches tall. But if you want a larger one you can resize it ;) Please download it from the link in the "Downloadable Resources" section. Now let's begin
The Pattern

A few reminders before you start:

  • Remember to draw the body across the grain, it's not as important for the small pieces because they don't have enough space to stretch.
  • I'm using dark marker so you can see better what I do, but I usually use a light pencil to have a fine line to follow while I cut. However if you prefer to use the marker remember to follow the line inside, right in the middle or outside, but don't wave around the line or you will end up with weird creases on the doll.
  • Don't forget to trace TWO of each upper and lower arm and upper and lower leg and just one body in a DOUBLE piece of muslin.
  • I recommend that you watch this week's videos first and then make your doll. Don't get discouraged if you doll doesn't turn out as you want the first time, and don't throw it away! Many things can be fixed in the embellishing part. Or they can be sewn again to correct little mistakes. Remember than practice makes better!
Drawing the body

A few tips before you begin sewing:

  • Using a sewing machine is like driving a car. All cars are basically the same but they're all different at the same time. Get to know your sewing machine. Oil it regularly if it needs oil (mine doesn't but the one I had before did). Play with it. Use some scrap fabric and try to practice a bit before sewing the doll. Know the best speed for the machine and yourself and don't forget to change the needle regularly. They loose sharpness very easily.
  • Try to use the same thread in the bobbin and in the spool so it runs more smoothly.
  • Practice using different stitch lenghts and widths and see the results you get with them. Some muslin fabrics are thinner than others so a smaller stitch will be need it.
  • Also practice sewing curves. Draw a few on your scrap fabric and try to sew them as close as possible to the line.
  • ALWAYS start and finish with a backstitch to secure the ends. Also do a few backstitches in the neck to prevent it from burst open when you stuff it.
  • The pattern I used for filming the workshop was handdrawn (that's why my machine was going straight and my pattern didn't hehe). But I modified it for you in the computer so you won't have any troubles.
  • I have a lot of practice sewing the dolls but if you're a beginner you can pin your fabric together so it doesn't move and it's easier for you to sew.
Basic sewing

  • Use as many pins as you need them for securing the pattern to the fabric.
  • This method works better if you transfer the pattern to a light paper (like parchment) But it wasn't showing in the videos so I use the heavy cardstock.
  • This works also for the legs and arms, and it's specially helful if you are doing a lot of dolls (it's a shortcut).
Sewing the body, an alternate method

  • Clip the curves so when you turn the piece around they look nice and flat.
  • Fray-check will leave the fabric stiff so don't use a lot. But it will save you from a lot of trouble if you're inexperienced.
  • Clipping makes all the difference between a well made doll and poorly done one. It takes time but it's so worth it! Same with the pencil check. turn all your pieces the right side out. Go around ALL the stitches with the point (very lightly) and then correct anything that needs to be corrected. A few minutes of preparation will save you a lot of trouble later!
Cutting And trimming

Turning everything inside out

  • Stuffing forks and hemostats are the doll making best friends!
  • Don't push too hard on the corners or you may tear apart the fabric, but don't leave it unstuffed. If this is your first doll is better to leave it unstuffed than overstuffed ;) You'll get the hang of it with practice.
  • Remember to leave space in the upper part of the legs and arms. Specially in the upper legs. Too much stuffing there will prevent your doll for sitting straight. Try different stuffing levels until you find the one that works better for you. Doll making is very personal, experiment and find what YOU prefer.
Stuffing the pieces

  • Be specially careful with the head and neck. It helps to add a bit of fray-check to the neck if you don't feel very secure about stuffing it.
  • Remember to do the neck test. If you move the doll from the base and the head goes back and forth it's because the neck needs more stuffing.
Stuffing the body

Closing the body pieces

Remember, this is your last chance to correct any mistakes you made while stuffing/sewing your doll. Grab a cup of tea and take your time. Make and treat your doll with love and you'll get rewarded with the results :)

Inspecting the stitches

This is the last step before gessoing your piece.

Aren't you excited? Please share your progress on our Facebook page ;)

Attaching the limbs

Gesso and sanding
Painting your doll story
14 Lectures 01:52:21
Welcome to part 2

  • You can treat the doll at this point the same that you would treat the canvas. You can draw with your regular pencil and erase it, you can correct mistakes with more gesso and you can paint it, stamp on it and even paste paper.
  • The acrylic color I'm using for the hair is EcoGreen in Rose, Liquitex Brilliant Purple and white gesso.
  • The face is painted with Raw Sienna and White Gesso.
  • Remember to paint around the eyes, nose and mouth withouth covering them so you can trace them later if you don't feel confident on drawing the face from memory.
  • Before you draw the face, watch the next video and decide which method works better for you.
First coat

  • If you are having trouble getting the face drawn on the doll as you want, I have another method to give your doll a face. We'll trace it using a pattern instead of drawing it free hand.
  • Use the attached face pattern on the files for downloading to print your own face template and trace it into your doll using the instructions on the video.
Transfering the face

Here are some examples of past doll's shoes I've made. You'll have countless options to make your doll's feet special! You can even let her go barefoot and draw her little toes ;)

Painting stockings

Don't be afraid by this step. You can do it!

  • You can use the same stencil that you used before if you covered the lines completely with your paint.
  • Don't use the stabilo pencil until you're sure you like the face you drew.
  • Be careful with the stabilo pencil, it's very easy to smudge it and you can stain your work.
  • Use the workablec fixative after you're done with the face and you're plan to move to the next part of the body. I like to use that kind of fixative because you can add more layer of work on top, so if you think you're done and you fix it and then you think it needs something else you can go back and work on it. Just fix it again when you're done.
  • I use Golden Naptol Red Light for the mouth.
  • The cheeks are done with soft pastels, the same for the shadows. I don't have the exact colors because my set doesn't have them, but I use a red and a deep brown.
Painting the face and the body

  • I use Winton oil paint in Burnt Umber diluted with Low odor thinner and an old rag.
  • If you're in a hurry use Walnut ink or Diluted Acrylic Burnt Umber paint, just prepare to work really fast because they dry really, really fast.
  • Try to use gloves for this step.
  • For the hard to reach parts you can use a brush, thin the paint with the thinner, it's easier to remove that way.
Painting the body with an antique effect

  • Gather all your materials before you begin assambling your doll.
  • Remember to be careful when you use pins, they will make a hole in the doll and it will be permanent.
  • Use a little bit of fray-check at every knot you make to make it stiffer.
Joining the arms

The lower legs

  • You can use basic buttons to attach the arms or use beautiful decorative ones that enhance the overall look of your doll.
  • This step will be so much easier if you use a doll needle.
  • The arms will push the shoulders inside a little bit.
Attaching the arms to the doll

  • Prepare your fabrics, embellishments and hair because she's ready to get dressed!
  • The hair I used is actually Mohair and I get it on Etsy. Here's a store who carries many types and colors of doll hair: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HidowFiberFarm?ref=l2-shop-info-name
    There are many others, just make a quick search on Etsy or Ebay and then decide what would be fun for you. If you want a cheap alternative you can use wool yarn and just pull the threads to give it texture.
  • The tulle I used has little specks of glitter but you can use the regular one instead.
Preview 04:04

  • I'm using tulle for this step but you can use ribbon, silk or any other type of thin fabric or combine them and use a different type of ribbon for each part of the doll.
  • Don't forget to add a dot of fray-check at each knot.
Adding embellisments to the neck, arms and legs

  • If you can't find the hair color you want, you can dye your own using inks, diluted acrylic or fabric dye to white mohair.
  • Use heavy weight thread (but not embroidery thread) for sewing the hair to the head.
  • After sewing in place (and before making the final knot) pull the hair to make sure it doesn't have any loose threads.
  • Again, you can get as creative with the hair as you want. Maybe give her some piggy tails instead?
The hair

The skirt and the front ruffles

Congratulations! You have finished your first doll!

Please share it with us in our Facebook page!

The finishing touches
Our Second Doll Story
15 Lectures 01:20:45
Starting our second doll

In this video I will show you how I start with a rough sketch or an idea for a doll, and how I develop the idea into a plan for a new, beautiful doll.

Starting with an idea

A coat of paint

Embellishing with paint

Tips on body painting

Body details

Painting the face

Shading the face

Making shoelaces

  • You can use any type of stamp, but try to use permanent Staz-on or similar inkpads for a permanent look.
  • Try to mix several ink colors or intensity for a more organic look.
Stamping fabric

  • I used the same techniques we used to create the first skirt on our doll.
  • Get creative and make changes in the fabric and texture to create a doll of your own.
Making a skirt

In this step we are gathering the fabric to give the skirt volume and flare.

Gathering the skirt

  • had something else in mind for her, but I decided to decorate the boots with a set of pompons I found while I was rumaging my drawers.
  • Try to find objects around you that you can incorporate in your doll for a hand made, original look.
Preview 02:54

  • The same steps we used on our first doll will apply here.
  • Pick your favorite hair texture and color and create a special hairstyle for your doll.
  • I'm using uncombed brown mohair for this doll.
Adding hair

  • Well, this is it. Our doll is finished! Isn't she beautiful?
  • I hope you had a great time making your dolls, and that you are ready now to show me what you are planning for your next doll.
The final touch
Everything that has a beginning has an end.
1 Lecture 00:42
A doll story comes to an end
About the Instructor
Danita Art
4.9 Average rating
17 Reviews
225 Students
2 Courses
Mixed Media Artist

My Name is Danita Art.

I Have been working since 2006 in Mixed Media Art, from paintings to doll making and everything you can think of in between. I have a unique style that you can recognize by the eyes of my characters. There is something special about them. They have a sweet melancholy deep within their colorful surroundings, maybe because that's how I feel when I paint, my emotions pour down the canvas and wood and I infuse everything I make with my heart, my emotions, and my soul.

I am a maker of things, a dreamer and a mother. I love creating things in the wee hours of night and I spend almost all of my free time creating or thinking about creating.

Art is my gateway. When I create, I travel to a word where everything is possible, dreams come true, animals are your friends and you can fly on top of a paper bird, just because you want to. It keeps me sane in a crazy world that spins faster that my head can, it keeps me away from the ugly, the bad and the things I can't understand.

This peaceful wonderland is dying to escape into our reality, and it does it trough my art, dying to show us that all we need is love. Every time you look at my paintings, you leave a comment or you take one home, you share a piece that dreamworld with me.

And I thank you for it, deeply, from the bottom of my heart. Because you let me know that a dreamer can dream, and that my dream is not that crazy after all.


My art is the hands of private collectors all over the world and some of my mass market greeting cards and posters are published by La La Land in Australia, and I am a frequent contributor to the Somerset Magazine publications.

You will find my latest work on my online Etsy Shop, and you will find my latest rantings on my blog and my Facebook Fan Page.