Doll Crafts has Arrived!

Chicago Review Press did a fine job making sense of my ideas, as they always do. Thankful for editors! But, after starting doll making years and years ago, I finally have a finished product in print. And tons of prototype dolls in boxes all over the house.   We received pretty good reviews so far — Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal were pretty positive. Kirkus was unpredictable, as they usually are. But, remember, they raved about Hook, Knit & Spin, so I’m content. So glad it’s finally out there. Here’s a link to Barnes & Noble for more information.



Doll Crafts


Everyone’s ready now. Photo-op for the new book, “Doll Crafts” which is going through the editing process right now. These are all featured in the book, plus other stuff, so it’s going to be good to see it come together. Thanks to Lisa Reardon at Chicago Review Press, who makes sense out of my projects!

DIY Doll Cake — Gluten-free & Dairy-free. Time to party!

Doll cakes are a decades-old delight. Appearing during the heyday of Barbie dolls, the doll cake has staying power. While it’s not a culinary masterpiece, try telling that to a group of 7-year olds at a birthday party. (This will be included in the next book, DIY Dolls, so if you have suggestions, please email me.)

Terry and I were the only ones here to eat the cake, so I dressed ours in plain brown chocolate frosting. Maybe a pre-Thanksgiving Pilgrim? Halloween witch? Anyway, ours wasn’t that lively, in her modest homespun, so I searched the web for something more glam. Here’s a nicely done doll cake from  another blog at:

doll cake

Doll cakes require simple equipment and supplies. First, a new plastic doll that will look good in a full-skirted gown. Dora the Explorer just doesn’t fit here. Think of those lovelies at the Dollar store. Perfect. Remove the clothing and wrap the legs with plastic food wrap (so they will slide easily into the cake), and wind some wrap around the hair to keep it clean during the process.

Figure out how many skirt cakes you need depending upon the doll’s size and height. Assemble pans and measure if necessary. A 12-inch Barbie-size doll needs an 8-inch round pan, an 8-inch wide oven-proof bowl and a 5 1/2-inch wide oven-proof bowl. Other doll sizes can be made using different sizes of bowls, custard cups, and muffin pans. Tiny dolls can just slip into a cupcake.

You’ll need two cake mixes and two cans of frosting. Additional decorator icing and sprinkles, as desired. Prepare the pans by greasing and dusting with flour so the cakes come out of the pan easily. Get out the cooling racks, too, as the cakes need to sit on those after baking.  Prepare the mix according to the package, or use the version I made up, which most everyone can enjoy. If you want to use my gluten-free, dairy-free cake mix (below), you’ll probably need to make two batches.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 1 cup milk (dairy, coconut, or almond)
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Mix all the above ingredients together. Blend in the dry ingredients listed below, until batter is smooth.

  • 1 1/2 cups rice flour
  • 3/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum

When the batter is completely smooth, spoon into the prepared pans, filling each 2/3 full. Bake at 350-degrees for various times. The bowls may take an hour to bake because they are filled so deeply; the muffins or cupcakes may take about 20 minutes. Check often and test with a knife for doneness: insert a clean knife blade into the center of the cake, pull it out. If batter sticks to the blade, more baking time is needed. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Turn the cakes out of their pan and let cool on a rack.

Use a long-bladed bread knife to cut a small circle out of the center of each cake. It should be no wider than the doll’s hips. Stack the cakes, lining up the centers, on a serving plate. As you stack them, put a layer of frosting on the top of each layer before placing the next cake.

Brush off the crumbs and begin spreading frosting over the skirt. Use a knife tip to draw pleats or designs. Add sprinkles and designs with a decorating tube.

Slip the doll into the cake and cover her waist and chest with frosting: flowers, squiggles, whatever. Pipe icing straps over the shoulders.

When all is done, sit back and enjoy the accolades. Or take photos. Cheers!



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.

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.


Make Yarn Hair for Dolls


It’s almost like the 1970s again if you’re talking about doll hair. Thick and long — you almost cannot have too much of a good thing. And talk about color–the sky’s the limit here, just like in “real life.”

You can make luxurious yarn hair very easily. The challenging part is deciding which yarns to use. The best hairstyles are made using a variety of yarns: boucle, mohair, handspun, embroidery thread, worsted, sock-weight — all combined in different colors and textures to make a lively crowning glory for any doll. Stitch the wig in place on cloth dolls or glue to a plastic doll’s head.

You’ll need: yarn in at least 2 colors and textures; needle and thread; scissors. And, to use as a base, a hard-cover book. Size of the book will vary, from 8 x 10-inches for an 18-inch doll, to smaller for smaller dolls.

Wrap all the yarns at one time so they are evenly distributed. Wrap around the book cover, the longest side, at least 20 times. With needle and thread, stitch across the yarn loops right through the center. Use a backstitch and go over it twice to be sure all yarns are secure. Turn the book over and cut the loops right through the center along the middle of the book. Lay the “wig” flat on the table and sew down any loose yarns along the center stitching.




Position the wig on the doll with the stitching acting as a center part. Sew it to the head along the stitching line, going over it twice to make it secure. Style the hair in ponytails, buns, or braids if you want. Pull a few yarn strands forward over the face and trim for bangs. Trim any scraggly or uneven ends across the rest of the wig. If you need more hair on a doll, just make another wig and sew it over the first.