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Thread Dolls

Many of our customers have asked us about thread dolls. We digitized 2 doll designs in the photo stitch technique and put together instructions on how to make the finished dolls.

To make a doll you'll need a piece of light-colored felt, preferably white, and medium-weight iron-on tear-away stabilizer, permanent fabric adhesive and a stapler. For the dresses you'll need organza, water-soluble stabilizer, and magnetic tape, which can be acquired in a crafts store near you.

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Step One: Iron 2 layers of stabilizer onto a piece of felt. Hoop all three layers (felt along with stabilizer) and embroider a doll. If you have never worked with photo stitch before, we strongly advise you to read our lessons.

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Step Two: Cut out the embroidered doll and melt away the edges. Staple the doll 7 or 8 times with the stapler, placing the clips in the middle of the body and as close to each other as possible. Press the clips in the back with scissors to flatten them. The staples need to be ironed, because this is what the magnetic tape will stick to. Test it first!

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Step Three: Prepare another piece of felt, preferably of a dark color. You can also re-use the scraps of felt left after the first embroidery. Spread the felt on an even surface, e.g. a table, but cover it with a piece of vinyl to prevent damage.

Spray (or spread if you use a tube adhesive) permanent fabric adhesive on the back side of the doll and place it on the felt. Press with hands and leave to dry.

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Step Three: After the adhesive dries, cut away the excess felt and melt away the edges.
This is what the back of the doll will look like. We covered the sharp ends of the staples for safety.

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Making Dresses
Step One: Hoop organza along with 3-4 layers of medium water-soluble stabilizer. Embroider a dress. Cut away excess stabilizer. Place the dress into a bowl of water. After the stabilizer dissolves, rinse the embroidery under running water and leave to dry. Iron. Cut away organza and melt away the edges.

Step Two: Cut off a length of magnetic tape, approximately 1" long. Pull away the paper on the back to reveal the adhesive and press it to the back of the dress so it corresponds approximately with the staples on the doll.

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If you don't want to use magnets, you can use the traditional method: don't do anything to the doll itself and paint or spread a layer of repositionable glue on the back of the clothes. Let dry and paint again with a second layer (two layers work better than one thick one). But in this case you will have to keep the dresses on non-stick sheeting, because the repositionable glue will collect lint and debris.

Make all dresses in the same way.

Our magnetic clothes can be kept in a box, or stuck onto a magnetic surface, like the door of the refrigerator.

There are other ways of making the dolls, of course. One of our customers, Nikki Tomlinson, shared her method:

"In order not to mar the beautiful stitching on the dolls and to protect my 3-1/2 year old daughter, instead of stapling the dolls, I glued a fender washer between the stitched doll and the felt backing.

On the dresses, I glued an extra strong magnet (Hobby Lobby calls them power magnets) to the back of the dress and then backed the dresses with black fabric. The black fabric finishes them nicely."

Thank you very much, Nikki. This is a very valuable tip.

Your doll is ready to play with! Here are some pictures of Ann and Kathy in their fancy dresses.

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