Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Moodie Flip Doll: A Tutorial (Kinda)

My sweet niece turned 7 today! She is unique in many ways, and therefore it is often a challenge to find a gift for her. I just couldn't settle on anything, either store-bought or handmade, until this morning...4 hours before we hit the road for her birthday party!

Meredith's nickname is "Moodie"; I'm not sure where it originated, but it's what we all call her. When I woke up, it came to me that I had to create a Moodie Doll for her.

I started out with a pattern for Emily Martin's Black Apple Doll, times two, and minus the legs (complex mathematics)! I freehanded the faces, one happy and one sad. For the eyes, I used satin stitch, then small back-stitches around the iris.
Close-up of satin stitch (basically, filling in an area with long stitches)

Tiny backstitches  define the filled-in area and tidy up the edges.

The completed faces, with hair laid on!

I used backstitch for the eyebrows, lips, and around the eyes as well. Follow Emily's instructions for sewing the hair onto the face, then the head, arms and bodies. At this point, I had two Black Apple Dolls with no legs.

She is very sad, wondering where her legs went.
For the skirt, I cut a length of fabric about three times the width of the doll's body, and long enough to cover the doll from head to waist. Choose a print that doesn't have a "wrong" side. I ironed up a hem, and sewed some rickrack onto the turned-up side to cover the hem.

I sewed a seam to connect the two short ends of this rectangle, creating a tube. I did my own version of a French seam along this side seam to make it look finished on both sides. I then added a loose gathering stitch along the top of the skirt, and gathered it until it fit onto the doll's waist.

I sewed this onto the "happy" doll, the way you would a skirt to a top (right sides together). This is how it looked at this point, with the doll's body stuffed:

I then took the "sad" doll, and ironed a hem up into her waist. I stuffed this half of the doll, flipped the other half upside down, and hand-stitched the sad half onto the happy half. This covered the rough edge where the skirt joined the upper half.

Please be reminded that I called this a "Tutorial (Kinda)"...I was making this up as I went along, with a clingy child leaning on my arm as I worked. Email me if you seriously want to attempt to follow my half-assed instructions and still have questions (I can't imagine how you would...!)...I call this kind of rudderless creating "organic" evolves as I work, and I just trust that as problems arise, I'll deal with them. I do like the fail-proofness of following a formula, recipe, or pattern. But honestly, this project gave me so much satisfaction, to bring a seed of a plan into fruition! What have you got to lose, besides time and a bit of fabric?
Here is what she looks like in mid-flip.

I made the sad doll's torso a bit too long. I also sewed her hands together in front (as if clasped in shame!) because they were causing the skirt to stick out too much when flipped.

Curiosity got the better of Miss Violet and she had to check out what was going on under that skirt!

While I did learn to sew from patterns, "winging it" is much more my style. I love how this doll turned out, and love how her name is so fitting for our sweet Moodie. She fit perfectly inside one of those skinny wine-bottle gift bags which made me giggle. Let me know what you think, and if I ever make another I'll take more pictures to give clearer instructions! For now, just go for it...winging it just might bring a little thrill to your life.


  1. I'm sure Moodie will see the two expressions on this doll!what a unique gift. you are truly talented.

  2. Adorable! What a precious and unique gift. I am so amazed you only started making it 4 hours before you left!! You are one talented lady!

  3. This is BRILLIANT. Not only are you skilled in so many arts of the hands (not to mention your talents in singing, music, bellydance, teaching, parenting, friendship, and all the stuff I'm forgetting), but you're *also* so clever as to come up with wildly creative and successful ideas!!

    Blessings and light...

  4. Meredith LOVES her new doll especially since she isn't going to bed tonight and will be up until midnight. I am telling her that the doll is sad because she also needs to poop (the reason why Mer isn't going to bed right now). Thank you for the handmade, thoughtful gift for our Moodie.

  5. oh this is SO cute-too bad I have 3 boys :) but I do have friends with girls! I noticed you are doing handmade Christmas-is this your first year? We are all handmade and thrifted this year for Christmas. Feels kinda weird but good!

  6. Adorable! I have a drawer full of puppets that the kids played with tons when they were little but...none were homemade. I love yours and they remind me of special times at Grandma's house.

    I bet the kids are loving them.

  7. love it, dolls should be able to be moody too!!! love that you are empowering dolls in this way.


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