Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Best Pattern Ever

My favorite pattern in the whole, wide world is McCall's 4186. A quick glance at the cover of this pattern doesn't do it justice. It's an incredibly simple pattern that makes a wonderful doll. For about six hour's worth of work, you'll end up with a soft, cuddly doll that will fit any of the popular 18" doll clothes. If you cut out several dolls at once, you can make them via assembly line, which is great news for someone with a daughter and five nieces. It doesn't get any easier than that.
The first time I made this doll was for my daughter, in 2009. This was before I had an embroidery machine, so I hand-painted the face. One of my only complaints about this pattern is that the iron-on transfer face that comes with it is a bit bland and devoid of personality. Here, I swapped it out for a doll face I found in a dollmaker magazine in the 1980s. 

The second time I made this pattern, I enlarged it by 126 percent, so it would be the same size as the My Twinn dolls. My daughter wanted a Hermione Granger doll that she could cuddle at bedtime, so I tried my hand at copying Hermione's face. This doll has been well-loved, and has played a lot of quidditch with my daughter. She's probably ready for a new wig. I always assume that doll wigs will eventually need to be washed or replaced, so I glue them on with hot glue and secure them with a couple of tacking stitches. They stand up to heavy brushing, but they're easy to remove when the time comes.
Recently, I've been making dolls for my nieces. I haven't taken pictures of all of my finished dolls, but my daughter caught a snapshot of this one before we wrapped it and sent it to her cousin. As you can see, I've had a lot of fun digitizing doll faces and stitching them on my embroidery machine. I've been using cut-away, iron-on stabilizer when I embroider the faces. It makes them feel a bit sturdier. I was recently thrilled to discover that Floriani makes a peachy-colored stabilizer that blends quite well with both light and dark flesh-colored fabrics.
The only other complaint I have with this pattern is that it tells you to hand-gather the neck edges after you've stuffed the head, but it doesn't specify how to do that. You need to use two strands of embroidery floss when you're gathering, because regular thread will break. Other than that, this is a wonderful pattern. In fact, I have three more of them cut out and ready to go!

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