Remembering deceased loved ones, Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead for a few days from Oct 31st each year. No matter whether you enjoy this somewhat spooky time of year, the colours and patterns of this festival lend themselves perfectly to a beautiful and unique embroidery project for this month’s doll from around the world. With dark eyes and colourful floral designs, follow the step by step pattern to create your very own Day of the Dead handmade doll.
what you need:
- Paper pattern download
- Light pencil or air erasable fabric pen
- Piece of white base cotton, approx. 22” x 22”
- Small ball of wool for hair
- Rectangle of patterned floral fabric, approx. 28” x 8”
- Embroidery hoop, 6” or 8” will work best
- Embroidery threads in dark grey, red, yellow, blue and green
- 3 or 4 small pompoms for hair decoration
- Embroidery needle
- Large, sharp scissors
- Sewing machine with white cotton thread
- Polyester stuffing
- Dressmaking pins
As with all the dolls, first use the free download to get the paper pattern, then trace the body, arm and leg pieces onto your piece of white cotton fabric. Make sure there are no creases in it before you start. Trace the embroidery pattern and face onto the front body piece using an air erasable pen or light pencil but don’t cut out yet – you need the fabric to be large enough to fit in the embroidery hoop.
Now for the embroidery. Place the front body piece into your embroidery hoop with as much of the pattern as you can get into it showing. Follow the pattern download to do the following stitches:
i) To do back stitch
Backstitch is used for most of the embroidery pattern, along the lines on the face and for the floral stems.
Go up through your fabric and then back down, following the line, to make your first stitch. Come up again through the fabric, still following the line but leaving a gap of about an equal stitch length. Now push the needle down again through the exact same hole as you made the first stitch. Keep moving along the line like this, going back on yourself to make a continuous line of stitches the same length.
ii) To do satin stitch
To start, push the needle up at shape’s edge. Then do the first stitch by pushing the needle back down on the opposite side of the shape, and come up next to where you first started. Repeat to fill the shape with a gorgeous block of stitches.
iii) To do woven wheel stitch
This stitch forms the circle at the centre of the flower. It looks tricky, but it’s so simple to do.
First, make five stitches, all from a central point that look like spokes of a wheel. They should be an equal distance from one another. Now push your needle up through the fabric in the middle of the wheel spokes and simply weave over and under them until they are full. Easy!
Next cut out your pattern pieces. Place right sides together to sew arm and leg pieces, then stuff with the polyester filling, just as for the Paris doll tutorial here. Continue to follow steps 3 to 5 for the Paris doll tutorial to make the arms, legs and body.
Once your doll is stuffed, it’s time to make her hair. To do this, cut lengths of wool, approx. 10” in length. Lay them all out in a block, then stick some washi tape down the middle of them to hold in place and carefully zig zag stitch down the washi tape on a sewing machine. Gently pull away the tape and you will be left with a “wig” to lay around the doll’s head.
Carefully lay the “wig” over the doll’s head and start to manipulate the hair into place with small hand stitches. You can sew it down wherever you like to create plaits, a side of the face style, or anything else you like. Add the three small pompoms for her hair decoration, again with tiny hand stitches.
The final part is to make the skirt. Take your rectangle of floral patterned fabric and hem along both long edges. Once that’s done, and with right sides together, sew along the short edges to make one continuous loop of fabric. Put your doll in the middle and now simply use a running stitch along the top edge, pulling it as you go, to gather the skirt around her waist. When the skirt is tightly gathered enough, simple knot off your cotton.
With her long, tangled hair, beautiful patterns and pretty skirt, your Mexican handmade doll is ready for her fiesta!