Basic Fabrics for Dollmaking are the foundation fabrics such as the solids used for doll bodies and include all of the other types of fabrics used including silks to dye, batistes, etc.


TINY PRINTS SUITABLE FOR DOLLMAKING
It is no longer economically feasible to keep such a large quantity of fabrics in stock as I have been for many years (because we are not thought of as a fabric shop and thus do not get the necessary traffic to justify the inventory), but since there is definitely a need for those hard-to-find tiny prints so necessary for dollmaking, I will be introducing new fabrics as mini collections (fat quarter bundles). These will change from time to time and is dependent upon collections being available to me when I can afford to invest in them. When available there will be a link here. In the meantime, I am selling off small bundles of leftovers on my Garage Sale page (see menu at left).



DOLL BODY FABRIC HINTS - It is important, actually critical, that you observe a few rules about sewing doll bodies when working with old-fashioned style dolls where flat weave fabric and a good hard-stuffed body are needed. The first rule is to use a good fabric that is strong, a good color, and has a good hand. Then, make sure of the grain. In a recent class of 50, about 15% (these were experienced dollmakers) made their dolls on the wrong grain and so ended up with bodies and heads that were much longer and thinner than intended. This is a high percentage of errors amongst experienced dollmakers. So pay attention to the grain markings on the patterns and if there are none, assume that the grain is up and down, or parallel to the selvage. If you do not have a selvage to identify the grain, then pull crosswise and then lengthwise to see which way has the least stretch - this will be the grain. Mark leftover fabric with tape if selvages will be cut off. Some of us remember being taught that there is not any significant difference between crossways and lengthways on plain fabric. But there is, and the bigger the doll, the more this difference can show up. Here is why. The lengthwise (parallel to selvage) is the direction the looms are threaded (warped) These threads are taut. Then the crossways threads (weft or woof threads) are woven up and under the warp threads and to do this windy trail across the tight warp threads, they have a bit of slack. So when you pull across the grain, there is some give. The larger the doll, the more stretch that can happen, so you may see a huge difference in shape on a larger doll than on a small one. One hint, not often considered is to stick to one fabric over time for all your dolls of this type so that you will know the particular stretch of that fabric. It does not make good sense to conserve money using up odd bits that may backfire after all your intense effort. If you are designing your own doll bodies, it will be important to use the same brand of fabric on later models as on your prototypes so that your results will be the same.

SUM UP:
If your doll's body is one where you are attaching molded or wooden parts to cloth, the fabric used is not so critical since you are only usually stuffing to "full" and not determining a shape by stuffing "hard" where you will be defining a shape, especially the head.

USEFUL GENERAL HINTS FOR DIFFERENT SIZED DOLLS - After 35 years of creating doll bodies (I am talking about old-fashioned dolls, not needle sculpted dolls or other contemporary styles), my own personal advice is this:

• Whether or not you are painting or antiquing your cloth doll in some way later, I recommend that all doll body fabric be initially paint overdyed. (See my paint overdye below - it is easy and fast). The paint overdye gives stability and smoothness to the fabric, plus makes it fray less, if at all. It is easier to draw and sew on, very easy for accurate cutting as well. Plus, it can add a bit of color/patina to the fabric taking away that brand-new look. Do this to the fabric when it is flat.
• For nearly all dolls up to about 16-18", use a good quality, plain, tight weave cotton with a bit of stetch when pulled cross-grain that will allow rounded heads to be formed if stuffed well and strong enough to take stuffing firmly with stuffing that will be packed hard such as wool roving.
• For dolls larger than 9 - 10" tall, Kona cotton is a good choice. Kona has a larger thread which will have a bit more body (stiffness) and less overall stretch so that larger dolls may benefit from using it. Plus, it is available commonly. If your doll is to be painted, it will have more visible weave, which may not be desirable, but you can use a layer or two of gesso underneath to smooth the surface. And of course, if you want a coarser look, this is it. Just do not try it on smaller dolls as its stiffness does not lend itself to small turned places like hands or individual fingers or thumbs.
• For very tiny dolls of 3" or less, use paint overdyed batiste. You might think its weave cannot take turning and stuffing, but with the paint overdye as a stabilizer, the very fine weight will make the most delightfully detailed parts perfectly and about as accurately as could ever be hoped. The thinness of the fabric allows it to turn RS out easily and the valley in the seam is that much less due to the scale of fabric, so that is why parts can come out so accurately. It would not be good on dolls much larger however, due to the lumpiness of stuffing that would be obvious on a bigger surface. This is a new find for me and I am pleased to share this with you.

SOLIDS FOR DOLL BODIES AND PLAIN COTTON NEEDS

NEW BASIC DOLL BODY FABRIC - I have finally found a new and really good doll body fabric in a basic tan. I am thrilled with this cloth and it far surpasses any other including the basic doll body fabric I used for over 25 years (and then it was discontinued). This new one is all cotton, made in the USA, has a very tight weave (less fray on tiny curves) and is just the right color. I love it!
NEW BASIC DOLL BODY FABRIC $7.50/yd Add to Cart

FOR LARGER DOLLS (read info above)
KONA BODY TAN $7.50/yd Add to Cart

OTHER SOLIDS
BASIC OFF-WHITE PLAIN $7.50/yd Add to Cart
BASIC PLAIN BROWN $7.50/yd Add to Cart
BASIC BLACK $7.50/yd Add to Cart

NEW ~ PAINT OVERDYE FOR VINTAGE CLOTH DOLL BODIES- This new color can be used on any light cotton and unlike factory dyed fabric, does help to add to the true age as any hand dyed fiber does, which are the good things out of the bad. The color you arrive at is intended for dolls where the cloth shows (although you could paint on it) so that it looks old and aged in color. The added benefit is that it crisps up the fabric some, preventing fraying, and is easier to draw and sew on while also giving a slightly smoother surface when stuffed without losing the stretch you need in stuffed doll parts.We also have used this as a darker overdye on some fabrics needed a darker cast.
2oz. jar $7.50 Add to Cart
8 oz. jar $10.25 Add to Cart

FABRICS THAT HAVE SOME CHARACTER (TEXTURE)

UTILITY MUSLIN (must be washed and dried in a dryer for the soft, crinkled look) $3.75/yd NOW BACK IN STOCK AFTER A LONG SEARCH Add to Cart

OSNABURG - Sorry, this has been discontinued by the manufacturer. The kind I carried was not the modern kind that you see everywhere with all the little "natural" flecks in it. I had a source for the real osnaburg, which in its day was a fine even weave for men's shirts and had no flecks. By the way, I learned that those little flecks were put in because fabric manufacturers figured we all liked the crude look. Until another source is found, I recommend the homespuns below. Or, go to Hemptraders.com and look at the Hemp Linen for an alternative.

HOMESPUNS - good for primitive animals and other applications needing a bit of woven texture.
OFF-WHITE LINEN LOOK HOMESPUN $7.75/yd Add to Cart
TAN HOMESPUN $7.75/yd Add to Cart
FEED SACKING - Our supply in the nice linen weave look (from antique stock) is now gone and I do not approve of the replacement stock being sold, so it is no longer available, which is too bad, but so typical. Use the Off-White Linen Look Homespun above - same look.

MISCELLANEOUS

COTTON BATTING - This is Warm & Natural Cotton Batting which is used (usually overdyed for whatever it will be used for) in my Cotton Batting Characters and Ornaments. Sold by the yard (35" wide). $2.25/yd Add to Cart

WOOL FELT - Brown - 18"x36" (1/2 yd) $12.00 Add to Cart

COTTON KNITS for Dollmaking
White is an all purpose cotton knit that may also be dyed. Can be used in Izannah Walker heads where knit is being used but I recommend instead the Knit-Over knit below instead. 1/2 yard of 45" wide. $3.95 Add to Cart
Black, Brown and Off-White - These are the colors I use for all of my doll stockings. All cotton with the tiniest rib and good stretch just right for even small dolls 56" wide.
Buy a set of fat quarters of all three colors $6.00 Add to Cart
Buy by 1/2 yard cuts $4.25:
Black Add to Cart Brown Add to Cart Off-White Add to Cart

NEW Knit-Over Knit ~ Very special and impossible to find is this extra fine cotton knit with high stretch in both directions useful for applying to molded doll heads for the knit-over technique. Color is a light tan. Fat quarter (18" x 28") $4.50 Add to Cart

FINE COTTON NETTING
Perfect for aprons, caps, overskirts for Queen Anne types or even dolls like Hitty. This is very fine cotton netting (19 holes per inch) with very nice drape. Edge with fine lace and paint overdye all to look old. Can also be embroidered or applique small lace motifs on it.
$13.75/fat qtr (21" x 18") Add to Cart


BATISTES
This is the fine weight necessary for doll underwear and bonnets and if overdyed with my new paint overdye, gives a look that with equally treated lace, looks authentically old and moreover is so fine that it drapes and gathers perfectly even on the tiniest of dolls. I cannot speak highly enough of it for doll's clothes. It used to be that I had two types offered. The Fine Batiste pre-hemmed squares was the finest weight available, but fairly transparent although less so when overdyed. It was my favorite, though only available in the pre-hemmed squares. These squares are being discontinued at the source, so to replace it I have located another - Batiste by the Yard. It is actually a better quality fabric, but this also makes it a tiny bit denser. This is good news for pinafores or dresses, which previously had to be lined when using the batiste squares, but it is still great for all other uses and maintains an excellent drape for even small dolls. It is also far less expensive, so I highly recommend it, though I am still fond of the old squares and wish they were still available.

BATISTE BY THE YARD The finest grade of fabric available. It has good drape, overdyes well, and is very affordable. $8.00 yd Add to Cart
Pre-overdyed for aged look - No longer offering this but it is easy to do with any of the paint overdyes which are just mixed with water, fabric swished in, squeezed out and left to dry, drying in minutes. Scroll down this page to choose paint overdyes. Additional Tip - besides my paint overdye for an aged look, you can use deep colors of paint in the same steps which will yield a soft pastel of that shade.

NEWLY FOUND BATISTE - Like the old hemmed squares above.
EXTRA FINE BATISTE ( 54" wide)
This has the quality of being drapey even on the smallest of dolls (meaning dolls that are about 2” tall) and has a vintage look when overdyed. This is that much loved batiste mentioned above - a bit more expensive even considering its much wider width, but dolls do not need much, so the cost is worth it. This batiste overdyes well if you want it to look old (or more off-white) and I recommend using my paint overdye* for this. Consider over dyeing any lace or other trims at the same time. It tucks well and even the tightest of gathers turn out beautifully with little bulk, so it is perfect for doll underwear, pinafores, bonnets or dainty tucked dresses. Lace dyed to match makes it ideal.
Tips: Prewashing recommended. Semi-transparent, so plan to use an underlayer if to be used on an outer garment. $12.00 yd Add to Cart
Pre-overdyed for aged look - No longer offering this but it is easy to do with any of the paint overdyes which are just mixed with water, fabric swished in, squeezed out and left to dry, drying in minutes. Scroll down this page to choose paint overdyes. Additional Tip - besides my paint overdye for an aged look, you can use deep colors of paint in the same steps which will yield a soft pastel of that shade.

SILKS
DYEABLE SILK
- There are many places where certain dolls require silk because there is simply nothing like it. It happens that silk is the easiest of all fabrics to dye and like wool (both are protein based fibers), dyes well because the fibers soak up dyes readily, evenly and are fairly colorfast (unlike cottons). So, this silk can be used as is, an off-white, or easily dyed using just Rit dyes or any other dyes useable on silk. One effect that is easy to achieve is soft muted colors and these are nice for very small dolls, Hitty things or to make a Queen Anne, but silk is also easy to dye in deep colors, including black. I always have some handy for various projects and it makes a good lining too.
Choose from the weights and types below and then see the packets of Gail's actual recipes in her color palette below. Choose your color or recommended is the Starter Set.

SILKS BELOW SOLD BY THE HALF YARD - If you want a yard and a half (for example), then in your shopping cart, change the number 1 to 3 which will be a yard and a half.

Even weave silks (Habutai):
Light Weight (12 mme) Good for sewn sashes, bonnet ties, bias trims, linings or general use such as doll dresses. $10.50/half yd Add to Cart
Medium Weight (16 mme) This is an equivalent weight to taffeta, but more affordable. Good for doll dresses, especially dolls 10" and up and accessories. This silk is good to use for the drape and scale of silk, but it can also take on a look of a nice old-time solid color, so does not have to be thought of as fancy. A truly fancy look is best had by using Taffeta below. $13.50/half yd Add to Cart

Taffeta - This is my best recommendation for doll gowns or best dresses. Taffeta is a crisp silk and has a dominant vertical (warp) thread that is slightly different than the horizontal (weft) thread allowing for a slight sheen (desirable) and in colored taffetas, sometimes a different color is used creating a shadow or irridescent effect. Taffetas are expensive, but worth it. (Or use Medium Weight above as a substitute). Note: If you are interested in dressing your dolls in solid color fabrics but do not necessarily want the fabric to look dressy, but more everyday, then use the Medium Weight silk above. Bad news - the kind of taffeta I like, described above has become frightfully expensive. Now $29.00/half yd Add to Cart
Note: I tried regular silk taffeta, but not the same and really similar to the Medium Weight above with a bit more body. You may order this kind yourself in small quantities from www.dharmatrading.com (it is about $24 for full yard 55" wide).

OTHER DYEING POSSIBILITIES
Using my Utility Muslin, pre-washed, will give a soft, hand dyed and old look. Colors may fade slightly over time, but the effect is very authentic. It is harder to get even results with no tiny spots of off-dye, but the fabric is so reasonable, if you dye some extra, you can usually cut around, or in most cases, ignore as part of the charm. Likewise, using any tissue weight linen has similar effects. If you can only find a soft color in linen, you can still overdye it and alter the color to something you like - the original color will enrich the new color, but if it is a pastel, you can dominate it with the dye.

Check "Dollmaking Notions" in the Supplies sub-menu for more dyeing and antiquing options to use on fabrics.