Here is my finished doll....and a tutorial for you!!!
|Crown creation by talented Amy
This is the vintage china doll piece I found on Ebay:
She was a curious find - someone had sewn her upper body to a circle of cardboard. Perhaps this person originally had a similar project in mind?
I got the idea to attach this cardboard base to a 'cage' in order to create my own Santos cage doll.
I decided to mimic the base that is on the Santos cage doll I already owned, formed of simple hollow circles. What better choice to use for this than wood embroidery hoops? I bought two sets of hoops large enough to hold my doll. The top hoop is 5" diameter and the bottom hoop is 8" diameter. I also bought a 7" diameter flat wood circle. These all came from AC Moore craft store.
As you can see in the following photo, I chose to remove the outer circle (with the tightening screw) from the large hoop. I left the outer circle on the smaller embroidery hoop for added stability on the top (plus I knew the screw wouldn't be seen in the back).
First I glued the flat wood circle evenly onto the smaller embroidery hoop (sorry, didn't take a photo of that). You can choose to do this now, or wait until after you've attached your slats to the hoops.
Next I needed wood slats for the 'cage'. I bought three 24" x 1/2" wood slats, also at the craft store. I sawed each in half to be lengths of 12". (You may find these in lengths of 12" at the store. I bought them longer, not knowing how tall I wanted my cage just yet). Sand the sawed edges for smoothness.
Here's where I made my first 'misstep'. I attempted to glue these slats to each embroidery hoop, evenly spacing them around both the large and small hoops. The glue didn't hold well and the structure was a bit wonky. So....brads to the rescue! These are 5/8" long brads I found at the scrapbooking section of the craft store:
I drilled 6 small holes evenly spaced around each embroidery hoop, and the top and bottom of each wood slat. Then I fastened each brad through both the wood slat and the hoop. Here is the finished wood structure, which is much more stable:
Next I painted the whole wood structure a creamy white (except the top of the circle, which I knew would be covered).
Here is a closeup of the china doll as she was attached to the cardboard. Since I found my doll this way, I didn't have to do anything here. But if you find or already have a china doll (or parts), you can have fun with re-structuring her. This would be a great way to recycle an old doll whose legs have detached. Simply sew on the cloth body to a sturdy cardboard circle.
I trimmed my doll's cardboard circle to exactly fit my flat wood circle on the top of the cage structure. Next, I wrapped a circle of muslin fabric around the cardboard. I simply placed the doll on top of the fabric and gathered it up around her bodice, gluing it in place. Then I glued the bottom of the doll to my wood circle on the cage:
So here she is, assembled and in her simple state. I placed her against my dining room wall with a stenciled crown above, giving her an aura of royalty:
Okay friends, here comes the fun part - fancying her up! I wanted her to have the option of wearing a gathered white tulle skirt when she feels like it (she'll let me know). I gathered up soft crushed tulle on my sewing machine, measuring the height of the cage and about 2-3 times the length of her waistline:
I simply set the skirt around her waist:
This china doll needed a bit of 'fancy' up top, so I decided to add ruffles to her neck and elbows (where the fabric seam met the porcelain arms). I had some white crepe paper lying around, which I stained with tea and crinkled up to look aged:
I measured out various lengths of the crepe paper - two pieces at 3 times the length around her elbow and one piece 3 times the length around her neck. I folded each piece in half lengthwise:
Next I gathered up a loose seam down the center of each piece on the sewing machine:
I carefully gathered the crepe paper by pulling gently on the threads at each end. The resulting gathered piece is shown:
I gently tied each of these gathered crepe paper pieces around the elbows and neck of my doll, using the loose threads to tie with. You could also hot-glue these pieces in place, but I know this may be a seasonal look for my doll (she'll demand a change of outfits in the future, I'm sure):
Voila! She's done (for now). Here's my Santos china doll, wearing a regal crown made by the talented Amy of Vintage Marketplace.
And here she is again, with a simpler look sans skirt:
I do hope this tutorial inspired you to go out and make one for yourself.
Be creative - we're never too old to play with dolls. I'm already dreaming up ideas for her Christmas attire - miniature bells, a banner for her hands to hold, some sparkle...such fun!
If I find more of these dolls, I'll be sure to make some for my Etsy shop!
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