First Try at a Doll Re-Paint


What fun!  I tried a doll re-paint for the first time. I picked up four raggedy orphans at the local Goodwill, then bathed them and washed their faces off with acetone (nail polish remover). After watching several different Youtube videos and checking out the advice of world-famous re-paint queen, Sonia Singh of Tree Change Dolls, I gave it a try, too.

I didn’t go into as much detail as some of the other doll artists, but it worked pretty well. I didn’t use a pre-treat coating, and had no problem getting the pencils to work on the vinyl. I used watercolor pencils (a really cheap set from the craft store) to draw in the eye, brow, and mouth details, then a few dots of white acrylic paint for highlights. I dry-brushed a bit of pinkish chalk pastels on the face for blush.  Last, I sprayed a clear acrylic matte sealer on the face. No smudging or coming off (yet!), so I guess it is a success. Tomorrow I’ll do her cousin and the other two faceless friends. Then to work on that ratty hair.


Working on DIY Dolls book

Laurie Carlson Crafts Felt Doll

Here are some of the simple dolls I’m working on for the next book. I’m trying to keep them very simple, but still fun and cute. The felt wig is interesting and it’s a cute way to do a little bob haircut, too. I have way too much yarn, so can indulge in wild yarn wigs for now.

My goal is to do hand stitching for the projects, thinking most girls may not have sewing machines at hand. It’s been challenging to keep my stitches orderly, but probably a great cognitive eye-hand workout.

Laurie Carlson Crafts Felt Dolls


Copy a Doll Face onto Fabric

Laurie Carlson Crafts - Photocopy Doll Face on Fabric
Top: My drawing on paper; Middle: fabric sheet out of the copier. You can see it is lighter than the original; Bottom: the copy on fabric, after adding some highlights and details with pens. 

For cloth doll makers it’s always tricky trying to make the right face on a doll and some of us find it very difficult to draw features evenly onto the fabric. This technique lets you draw onto paper first, then transfer it to muslin fabric. You can also use this technique to print photographs onto muslin, then stitch them into dolls.

Draw something you like onto paper.  Color in the features darker than you want them to appear on the doll, as when it prints onto fabric is is somewhat muted. The photocopied image on cloth will not be washable, so either spray it with a sealer, or add and define details with permanent marking pens, crayons and acrylic paints. That’s what I did for the final product at the bottom of the photo above.

You’ll need:

  • Lightweight Pellon — iron-on interfacing
  • Muslin or other lightweight fine woven cotton fabric
  • Photocopier with inkjet ink
  • Scissors
  • Fine-tip permanent marking pens, colored pencils, crayons
  • A drawing of the doll face — made with markers, pens or whatever
  • Steam iron

Using a piece of copy paper as a template, cut out a piece of muslin and a piece of lightweight Pellon interfacing, both 8 1/2 ” x 11″. Follow the interfacing directions to iron the interfacing to the fabric. Let cool. Trim the edges if needed so they are smooth, straight and have no loose threads hanging that can get caught in your printer.

Laurie Carlson Crafts - cut pellon and muslin
Cut muslin and interfacing — both 8 1/2 x 11- inches to fit the copier. 


Laurie Carlson Crafts - iron interfacing onto the muslin sheet
Press the interfacing to the fabric and trim the edges so they are even and will feed easily into the copier. 

Place the face drawing on your printer screen, then insert the fabric sheet into the paper holder, with the fabric facing the side that will print, and the interfacing as the backside. In my printer, I place it upside-down, yours may be different. I also make sure there are a few blank papers under the cloth sheet so it feeds in with out moving sideways.

Make a color copy. Ta-da!  It should look just like your drawing, but a bit muted.

Inkjet inks aren’t permanent or waterproof (at least my HP inks aren’t) so if you plan to give it to a child, use permanent marking pens to go over the details. I added a bit more color and detail with pens and markers to give more definition to the features.

That’s it!  Now to get sewing and finish a doll or two. Or more. . .


Make Your Own Doll Dress Form


Want to try your hand at designing clothing for your doll? You’ll probably want to do like the pros do, and use a dress form. Make a few extra mannequins (a French word for dress form) so you can display your doll’s clothing, too.  This project is designed for an 18-inch doll.


  • Plastic doll
  • Plastic food wrap (like Saran Wrap)
  • Duct tape — if you choose a tape with a pattern printed on it, wrinkles won’t show up as much in the finished form as plain gray–and it looks a lot nicer in a pretty design.
  • Scissors
  • Plastic grocery sacks (about 20)

Stand and base:

  • Candle holder (from a dollar store or resale shop)
  • Wood dowel to fit the holder (usually a 3/4-inch dowel, about 12 inches long)
  • Paint to cover the candle holder and dowel (spray paint, acrylic or latex paint)


  • Cardboard paper towel tube
  • Tuna can
  • Hot glue gun (with adult help)
  • Acrylic paint or spray paint for the stand and base

Use an undressed doll for the form. Wrap her tightly in a couple layers of plastic wrap. Be sure to wrap it over the shoulders and across the back and front at the neck. Wrap around the arms, but don’t cover the arms. Wrap across the bottom at the hips. The wrap will keep the tape from sticking to the doll and from getting any of the tape adhesive on the doll.


Tear or cut duct tape into short pieces, about 4-inches long, and begin wrapping the doll, covering the plastic wrap. Keep applying tape to cover with at least 3 layers of tape. You want it to be firm once it’s off the doll, so the more tape, the less likely it will get dented and out of shape. Press firmly to smooth out any wrinkles.


When the doll’s torso is covered with the tape, use the tip of the scissors to begin snipping through the layers of tape and plastic wrap in the back. Cut from the bottom to the neck, being careful not to nick the doll. Slip the form off the doll and carefully tape the back together. Add more tape strips to cover the arm and neck openings. Trim the bottom edge so it is even all the way around.


You can attach the form to a base in several ways. If you have a candle holder and dowel, paint them first, then slip the dowel into the form while stuffing and push it gently up to the neck area, stuffing bags in to hold it in place. Tape across the base to hold in the bags and finish the bottom. Adjust the dowel for height and finish taping everything securely.




If you are using a paper tube and can to make the base, you can paint everything once you are finished.  Stuff the form with plastic bags until it is firm, then tape several layers across the base to finish it completely. Use a hot glue gun to attach the tube to the center of the form’s base. When cool, hot glue the other end of the tube to the top center of the can. Paint the can and tube base and let dry. I have used spray paint to cover the entire dress form and it turned out nicely.

Gluten-Free Donuts

Gluten Free Donuts by Laurie Carlson Crafts
Gluten-free donuts after a bath in chocolate icing.

I’ve yearned for donuts more than anything–so for the past year I’ve been perfecting my gluten-free baked donut recipe. Here is one version. Actually, I nearly always tweak a recipe, as I view recipes as general suggestions. There are a couple of must-do’s however, such as greasing the baking pan really well (I use coconut oil), and lifting the hot donuts gently out of the pan with a silicone spatula. It just fits smoothly down beside the baked crusty edges and doesn’t scratch the baking pan.  This recipe makes two pans–12–baked donuts.  (Need donut pans? I found pans at Bed, Bath & Beyond and JoAnn Fabrics, also Walmart online.)

Here’s what usually works for me:

2 cups gluten-free flour (I use a mix of oatmeal flour, rice flour, and sometimes baking mixes–just depends on what I have)

1 cup granulated cane sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup oil (can be avocado oil or melted coconut oil, or butter, or 1/2 cup mayonnaise)

3/4 cup milk (I have to use almond or coconut, but it still works)

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla or lemon oil

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees. Grease the donut pans well.

Mix the ingredients well, then spoon into the greased pans. Bake about 13 minutes. Remove the donuts from the baking pan to a rack immediately, using a silicone spatula to lift the edges and pull the donuts out without breaking them or scratching the pan.

While warm you can shake them in a bag of powdered sugar, dip them in granulated sugar, or let cool and dip in a frosting glaze made of: 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 cup powdered cocoa,  2 – 3 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon vanilla. Hold the donut by the sides and dip the top into the glaze. Let harden on a plate or rack.

Gluten Free Donuts by Laurie Carlson Crafts
Gluten-free donuts just baked — use a silicone spatula to gently lift them from the baking pan.

Bendy Dolls

I’m busy working on the DIY Doll book, so had a fun time with these little characters today. For a fun non-messy craft that you can do with kids just about anywhere, try pipe cleaner dolls. Not that they even know what a pipe cleaner is — does anyone still call them that? My craft store sells them as “chenille stems” or “Fuzzy Sticks.” The felt scraps and yarn are easy to find, so let’s go!

Laurie Carlson Crafts Bendy Doll

Fold one pipe cleaner in half. Wrap the ends of another pipe cleaner, then flatten it for the arm section. You’ll need a 1-inch wooden bead for the head.


Slip the arm section inside the first pipe cleaner and twist above and below to secure it. Leave about an inch extended to go inside the bead to hold the head on.

Laurie Carlson Crafts Bendy Doll

Use a dab of craft glue on the end, then slip the bead in place.


Wrap the bendy body with yarn,  making it as thick or thin as you want. Change colors for shirt and pants, or do the body in black if you want to put a dress on. The black will look like tights on the legs.  When you get to the feet, bend the wire back about 1/2 inch and fold it to make a foot. That will keep the yarn from sliding off. IMG_0488

When you’re through wrapping, thread the yarn onto a yarn needle and make a couple of stitches into the body to secure the yarn. Clip the yarn and hide the end inside the body.


Make a little hat from felt scraps. One circle for the brim, with a center cut out for the head. The other circle for the cap part, cut a bit out of the circle so it won’t have a thick fold. Apply craft glue to the head, then hold the cap in place till it sticks. Run a bead of glue around the edge of the cap and slide the brim in place. Let dry.

For hair, wrap yarn around your hand about 20 times, then gently slip the loops off, trying to keep them all together in order. Tie the loops together with another piece of  yarn. Pull the loops straight and cut through the other end of the loops. Apply craft glue to the doll’s head and press the little wig in place. Hold it there until the glue takes over.

Make simple clothing that can be glued or hand-stitched. Maybe a tiny scarf, too.

It’s fun to make them without faces, but just add some details with fine-tip pens or acrylic paint and a toothpick.


Spool Knitting DIY

spool knitting

Here’s a project from my book, Knit, Hook, & Spin. These little gadgets have been around since before people began knitting with needles (called “pins” –now you see why). You can buy them in craft stores, but it’s a simple project to put together in a few minutes and can keep kids busy for hours (maybe days? — I’m an optimist). The knitted yarn drops down through the spool in the form of a cord. Use it as a hair tie, necklace, or even shoe lace. Or, make a lot of it and sew it into a coil for a hot pad or even a rug.

I’ve got a rainy day here on the coast, and lots of leftover yarn in the stash, so let’s put one together and get started.

You’ll need:

  • 4 nails, each about 3 inches long
  • Cardboard bathroom tissue tube
  • Duct tape
  • Yarn
  • Scissors

Build the loom by securing four nails to one end of the tube. Position them equally apart from each other on the outside of the tube, with about 1-inch sticking out past the end of the tube. Tape them in place securely with duct tape. Then begin wrapping the entire tube with tape to make it stiff.

Wrap more tape around the nails, pressing it tight to hold them in place. When the tube is solid and sturdy, you’re ready to begin. Work loosely, so you can lift the loops easily. Begin by dropping the end of the working yarn down through the nail end of the tube. Pull the tail through the other end of the tube and hold it against the tube with your thumb while you work the first row, so it won’t come undone.

Drop the end of the yarn through the tube. Hold the end in place with your thumb to get started.

Wrap the working yarn clockwise around each nail, moving counterclockwise around the tube until all four nails are looped. You won’t wrap loops around the nails from here on. Instead, lay the yarn across the front of the next nail, just above the loop that’s on the nail. Then pick up the loop that’s on the nail and pull it up and over the new yarn and off the nail. Leave the new yarn on the nail as a new loop. Do the same to the rest of the nails, continuing counter-clockwise round after round. The stitches that you pull off and drop into the center become cord, and it will begin to emerge from the bottom of the tube.

Once you get going, you can make miles of lovely cord. You will want to bind off when the cord is as long as you want it, so here’s how to do that without unraveling your work: Take the last loop you made off its nail and put it on the next nail, above the loop on the nail. Pull that loop up and over the new one. Keep moving loops around, until you have only one left. Use scissors to cut the working yarn, leaving a tail about 3-inches long. Pull the end of the yarn tail through the last loop. Pull it up tight to knot it securely.

Use the cord you  made for ties, or loop it and stitch to make flowers. To make a headband, slip a plastic headband inside the center of the cod, then stitch or knot the ends securely to keep it in place.