One piece doll from head to toes!
As announced few weeks ago, it is time for little lesson on how to make doll in one piece.
There are several ways on how I do it. In this, first lesson will try to show you, which I find, the easiest way on making such doll.
It is started from head and worked downwards.
This simple way can be adjusted and worked few different ways, but this post is on showing you the basics and giving you ideas on what you can do, and how it can be done when crocheting doll in one piece.
I didn’t try to write the exact pattern, but rather tried to show you the way, leaving you to try and work your own one piece doll.
It is very simple and I am sure after reading this post and seeing all the photos you will know your way and will be able to make you doll from the first try.
So how it is done?
As always, you have to have general picture on what size or kind of doll you wish to make. Size is more important, I think, because the size of your doll will determine number of stitches used for the head, arms, body and legs.
Before you start, think of what size doll you wish to make. Try to remember some nice patterns you worked on before or doll’s you liked to make, and based on that, write down these, approximate parameters.
how many stitches you will use on widest round of the head,
how many stitches you think on working for the arms
do you wish your doll to have improvised thumb or you’d like to make fingers instead
how many stitches you think on making for the body
what shape your wish body to be (oval, cone looking…)
how wide you wish your legs to be
do you want doll with feet…
Important is to have idea on size of the head compared to the body.
In my case, I like making smaller size dolls (around 25 cm, 9.8”), with big heads compared to their bodies.
I know it must sound to much to think about before starting your doll, and for some must seem pretty terrifying but it is not so.
Imagine your doll, write what you think is important for you and start. Once you’ll have the work in front of you and all those stitches to count and work with, will be easy as breathing🙂
As said at the beginning of this post, the work is started from the head and worked downwards.
Remember that you’ll need to add all featured on the head before starting to work on neck and further down.
If using safety eyes:
Add eyes as you go. If you are not sure where to place eyes, I suggest you stuff the head first, check how different sizes work with the head you made.
Place them different positions and see where you like them the best. You wish to make nice looking doll, without mistakes, so take your time. There’s no rush to place eyes that will completely destroy the look of your doll. Or to choose different size. Not stuffed head looks different from stuffed one. You are designer now, and you need to decide how your doll will look.
Once you are sure with where to place the eyes and which size to use, take the stuffing out, place eyes on, and stuff again.
Now you have doll’s head looking exactly as you imagined, right!?🙂
You can embroider nose and lips. Try to add as many details as you wished there would be on the head.
Done and moving forward.
Make sure head is stuffed nice.
Making neck and shoulders
After you finished with head and decreased to certain amount of stitches for the neck, repeat one or two rounds to make neck visible.
After neck is done, continue evenly increasing each round for that many rounds until you reach, at least, the same stitch count as used at repeating middle rounds of the head (in most cases these are the widest rounds of the head as well).
In my case, those counted 48 sts.
My neck was 12 sts wide. After neck was made, I increased each round evenly (using 6sts increase count) until I reached round counting 48 sts.
Important, when working at doll in one piece, is to plan your stitches in advance. That is why I told you to think before you start, on how wide you wish your body to bee, arms …
You need to know approximate size(s) in order to increase to right stitch count where needed (as in this case was increasing to shoulders width. Shoulder round will soon be divided into three parts. Two for arms and one for body opening.
We increased to shoulders. At this point, you can repeat this round one or two times. Repeating round will give you nice round shoulders and will keep your arms closer to the body. Will also circle this shoulder part nicely.
I haven’t repeated this round, and later you will see how arms on my doll are flying away from the body. It is charming for such small dolls, but if you prefer arms closer to the body, repeat shoulder round two times before proceeding with making arms.
It is time for some stitch count. Time to mark stitches where arms will be created.
Do not cut yarn . Secure the last stitch while stitches are counted and marked for the arm openings.
Flatten the shoulders or upper body part. Flat sides have to be parallel with front and back face, while corners of this flatten piece will point to the sides of the head.
Look at photos for better understanding.
Now count both sides, of this flattened shoulder piece, even number of stitches for doll’s arms.
In my case. My shoulder round was 48 sts. On each side I counted 9sts (for each arm). Marked them all, for easier crocheting later.
Same way count your stitches, mark first and last stitch of each arm opening.
As you have marked your stitches for arm openings, start working on first arm, or one where your last stitch of previous round was made.
Now this might sound confusing, but I have to mention it…
Depending on how you flattened the shoulder piece, your last stitch might end up on body opening instead on arm. In that case, make the body first, and then return to finish with arms. Nothing to worry about!🙂
Whichever part you make first, or whichever order you choose to do is the right one. You can work body first and then make arms, or in my case arms first then body. You can even work arms at the very end, after body and legs are finished. Marked stitches are there. All you need to do is to work them in rounds, and in that many rounds as wished for arms length.
In my case, arms are done first, so let’s see what happens next.
Continue working where you last round ended and work in rounds. Make sure to connect both sides, or both of the marked stitches for each of arms.
when connecting sides, I like to slip stitch and pull that stitch a little in order to bring sides very close to each other, in order to avoid wholes where connections are made.
If you choose not to, and wholes show later, you can always sew them closed with same color yarn, so no biggie, just my suggestion.
Once first round is closed and prepared to work in rounds, work as many rounds as you wish for your arms to be long.
Depending if your arms will be finger-less, with improvised thumb or with all 5 fingers made, make sure to make them appropriate size.
I know that many of you will wonder, on how to determinate arm length. I have no idea what to tell you on this one!🙂 Really, I have none!
And again it depends on what you like, what you wish to make.
I can tell you what I like and how I count most of the times.
Like said, I like heads to be bigger compared to the body. If the head counts 20 something rounds, I like to keep my body few rounds shorter, and at least 3 increasing rounds less wide. Does it make any sense to you? That is when it comes to body.
For example, if my head was 48 sts wide, I like to keep widest body round at 30 sts the most.
If head was 20 something rounds long, I will try to keep body few rounds shorter (that would be 16, 17 or 18).
Arms and legs, most of the times, will try to keep same length as body. This is nice ratio, and you can try working with one like this on your first doll.
Now, let’s get back to our tutorial and see how arm is done and looking so far.
I’ve decided to make hands with improvised thumb.
After reaching the wrist length, I increased one round to fist width and on next round added cluster on the inner side of the arm (or the side closer to the body).
The same way you can make fingers. Sharon Ojala @ Amigurumi To Go has great tutorial on making fingers this way, towards the fingertips which will help you greatly if you decide to make fingers on your doll.
Here is the link with the pattern and video to check it needed
One done. Don’t forget to stuff it before making last round and closing. Fasten off leaving tail for sewing last round closed. Hide end inside the arm.
Prepare for next arm.
This time, we have to attach the yarn. I like to add it on one of the stitches on the back side of doll. This way, if I make them “not so nice” they keep hidden on the back😀
Once attached and first round closed and prepared to work in rounds, work the second arm same way as first.
Both arms are done!
Here you can see how arms are “flying” away already. Missed to make one or two repeating rounds on shoulder (what I mentioned and talked about earlier).
Before continuing stuff head, neck and shoulders well. It will be very hard to add stuffing to these areas later.
Now there is body opening that needs closing and finishing.
In my case, my body opening remains with 30 sts around.
Whichever stitch count you decided to work with, connect all of the remaining stitches left for the body and work the body desired shape and length.
I decided to work on simple cylinder shape with slight decrease on the bottom. My whole body was made with 30 sts in each round.
I planned to make legs 12 sts wide. In order to reach this count I decreased on second last round to 24.
Count in advance. Know what your leg count will be, and plan your body ending and last round in advance.
Body is finished and some more stitch count are required in next step. We need to make openings for legs, or to divide last round into two openings with same stitch count each.
You can do this two different ways. The most simple way is to count equal amount of stitches each side (and again flatten the body piece, edges facing sides, while flat sides facing front/back of the head).
Mark first and last stitch of each leg and simply continue by working on first leg, or the one where your last stitch on the previous round was made (this way you don’t need to tie off).
As you can see from above photo, this way is very simple. Each leg will be simply connected by one stitch in the middle and continued downwards in rounds.
This method is really the easiest, and the most simple one, and I am sure you won’t have any problems making it. The above connection I like to call hugging stitches connection. Nice and easy way to make legs on small dolls with few stitches on each leg.
I decided to work different way. One I like to call bridge connection.
Bridge connection leaves space between legs which is much better for bigger dolls, long legged dolls or dolls you make with more than 12 sts in each leg round.
Let’s see how the bridge is made.
And again you need to count. The bridge will determine how many stitches you wish to increase or decrease for the legs (depending on stitch count you have on the last body round).
How is that?
For example; My last body round ended with 24 sts count.
I like to make legs 12 sts in a round each, but I also want to make this gap between legs.
I decided that 3 sts between each leg is nice gap to leave. That means I have to take off 3 sts on front and 3 sts on the back of last body round (front/back= flattened sides of body piece). Taking off, is working them into bridge and closing them this way so they can’t be worked on when I start on with legs.
So where and how to add those 3 sts back?
We will add them over bridge, making bridge 3 sts wide and 3 sts long.
Wide side is our front and back, but long (depth) side where we will make new stitches for our legs.
This way you can make bridge longer, shorter, wider, more narrow….adding or decreasing stitches this way Hope it makes sense🙂
Once stitches are counted, slip stitch to first of your bridge stitches (either side, back or front) and work as many rounds as you wish to add or decrease for your legs.
As you can see, I worked 3 stitches each side, and worked them for three rows.
Once you made your bridge, cut off the thread and sew it over the marked bridge stitches opposite side
Bridge is done and we can start making legs. At this point stuff the body nice and firm. It is very important to stuff it best possible now. It will be very hard to add stuffing later.
As you can see, I didn’t fasten off the yarn. I used small amount of other yarn for the bridge. This way I tried to keep my work of one piece doll really, as much as possible, one piece.
It also looks nicer not to keep attaching yarn all the time. No matter how neat your work is, good eye can always tell where work was fastened off and started again.
And I like to keep my work as clean and as neat as possible.
Whichever way you decided to make your openings for legs, it is time to make them.
Work one leg at the time.
Make them desired length. Decide in advance how you wish to make the feet. Simple cylinder ending, nice round, improvised feet or complete feet with all toes on….
I’ve decided to go for middle solution, and make nice round improvised looking feet.
I know many of you will wonder how to shape feet working backwards, or from top to toes. Well…you work backwards!😀 And I am not joking!
For example, if you have nice foot pattern you worked on earlier, but worked from bottom up, you can simply use that same pattern to make your foot, but this time using the pattern backwards.
Let’s say your pattern was like this:
(using Fairy doll’s leg pattern)
R1: 6 Sc in magic ring (6)
R2: 2 sc in each st around (12)
R3: *2sc in one st, sc1* x6 (18)
R4: 18 sc
R5: dec6, sc6 (12)
R6: dec3, sc6 (9)
What you will need to do is work backwards and instead of starting at R1, you’ll start at R6 (if your leg stitch count is 9. If different from 9, adjust the stitch count accordingly, it is easy, you’ll see).
In this case your backwards work would look like this:
R1 inc3, sc6 (12)
R2 inc6, sc6 (18)
R5 (dec, sc) x6 (12)
R6 dec x6 (6)
Hope it makes sense. When working backwards, for increase work decreasing stitch and vice versa.
For small feet, you will never go wrong if you will simply increase 2-3 rounds over 2-3 sts each, and those stitches have to be centered in the front part of the foot. Will explain it little bit more further below.
To make sure doll’s improvised toes will point front, you need to count stitches again. And again some flattening the pieces.
Prepare your leg for foot making. Flatten the piece, but this time flattened sides, facing body sides, while edges are facing back/front
This front edge you see on above photo is crucial. This is where increases need to be centered in order to face foot right direction.
For the most simple foot shaping, like earlier said, increase this front edge of doll’s leg by 2-3 sts for two or three rounds. This is the most simple way for all of those who dislike counting stitches by number (not good if you wish to write the pattern though😀 In that case you will have to make sure and count exact number of stitches on each round, as count exactly where these increases will be made. For your first trial, simply flatten the bottom of leg piece like shown on photo above and for each of the next 3 rounds, increase top two to three stitches. This way doll’s foot will grow longer and foot will form.
Once increasing rounds are done, repeat round or two to shape the bottom of your leg before starting to decrease.
I like to make my first decreasing round in the back loops only. This way bottom of the foot folds nicely and stays flat.
Before working last decreasing round, stuff leg nicely. Finish last round, tie off and sew last round closed. Hide yarn inside the leg.
One leg down. One more to do!
Working on remaining stitches on the body, work them all in round the same way done for first leg.
And doll in one piece is finished.
Add her clothes, hair and prepare for playing🙂
I know this was very, very long post….hope you enjoyed it and hope you learned something new.
Also hope I have covered everything so you can start making your doll in one piece right away. In case you’re missing any info, please feel free to write and ask.
I will try to make next tutorial on how to make one piece doll from toes to head soon.
Like said many times during this post, think in advance. Plan your stitch count and know what you’ll do next. I hope all the photos I made will help you enough to overcome all doubts when making your first one piece doll.
Looking forward to see your one piece dolls soon. Many of them!
Thank you all for you time with me today.