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The Ideal Fabric

You may think you have sculpted your best doll ever, if you don’t use the right fabric for it, the final figure may look out of proportion. Then what is the right fabric for a doll?

I like to use old fabrics or the best quality natural fibers for my dolls. I enjoy collecting vintage fine silk handkerchieves or delicate brocart. On the other hand, I confess that, as many people do, I bought many fabrics without asking myself if I really needed them. And, frankly, I don’t know if I will ever use them to dress my dolls. That’s why I have decided now to choose the best ones (those I won’t ever find again!) and leave the rest behind.

Where can we find great fabrics?

In most cases, you are surrounded by Ali Baba’s caverns and you don’t know it. Your grandmother’s armoire, garage sales and flea markets, local antique shops, the nearest arabic or persian fabric store, all these places can reveal wonderful or unusual stuff. And you don’t have to pay much. The most beautiful things I found and collected over the years (even before starting to make dolls) were the cheapest!

1. The right fabric for a doll is the fabric that fits it. First, it must be on scale and belong to the right fashion style or history period. For example, if your doll depicts a young teenage girl of the 90’s, you won’t use dark velvet to dress her. A better choice would be to use cotton and colorful fabrics, as all youngsters wear these days.

2. Being in scale means also light material. To drape a dress properly and make the outfit look natural, the fabric can’t be too thick or heavy. Otherwise, it can spoil the balance of the dolls.

3. Colors and textures of the fabrics, or accessories
such as buttons also contribute to the whole composition. Costuming is by far my favorite part of doll making but also one of the hardest for me. I admire those who combine several colored fabrics and/or material and let the doll’s soul emerge through it. Personally, to make the best choices, I cut small pieces of each fabric and place them together to see if they fit together. I usually don’t draw lots of sketches before dressing a doll but I get interesting results with draping. I drape the doll, try things and try again for several days or weeks before making a final decision on what it is good for the doll.

Being too impatient has often led me to ruin a doll’s costume, forcing me to start all over again.


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