Thursday, 1 August 2013

Making Peg Dolls

And now, as they say, for something completely different!

I'm a member of Huddersfield Miniatures Club and every August we exhibit at the Council-run produce and handicrafts show in the town. As a Club, we produce a new display piece every year - more on that in a later blog - but this year, as a means of encouraging more involvement by children, I was asked to prepare and teach a Peg Doll workshop to children visiting the Show.

Now it must be 30 years if it's a day since I last made a peg doll and I have to say that the patterns I found were rather less than inspiring. So I made my own and it was lots of fun! The only downside was having to limit myself to a simple design which was straightforward to make but which still gave a pleasing result.

In case any of you are in a similar position I will share my design with you. All you need is a small amount of cotton fabric (patterned fabric is a little more forgiving than plain when it comes to glueing etc), about 6" of narrow lace (1.5-2 cms wide is fine), a traditional 6" pipecleaner (not chenille), wooden dolly peg and a length of knitting yarn in a suitable hair colour. I used Tacky Glue throughout as it 'grabs' instantly and dries clear and flexible without marking your fabric.

From Peg to Peggy in 6 easy stages

1. Cut a bodice from cotton fabric measuring 2" x 1.5" and glue around the peg so that the seam is at the back (ie in line with the divide in the doll's "legs"). Concentrate on making the front neck edge as neat as you can as most of the rest will be hidden. See PICTURE 1.

2. Cut a scrap of lace measuring 1.5" and trim off the straight edge if your lace has one. Place between the doll's "legs" and glue the front and back in place. Cut a further length of lace measuring 2" and glue around the body with the seam at the back to simulate knickers. See PICTURE 2.

3. Cut a 3.25" diameter circle (I drew around a mug from my kitchen) from your fabric using pinking shears, if you have them, for a decorative edge without the bother of having to glue or stitch on a trim. If you want a really full skirt, fold the circle in half and then half again before snipping off the point to make a hole just big enough to ease onto your doll's body. I preferred a more conservative effect so, after snipping off the point as previously described, I also removed about a quarter of the circle. Fit around the waist of your doll and glue the overlap in place at the back. See PICTURE 3.


4. Cut a scrap of lace sufficient to fit around your doll and glue in place with the seam to the back, so as to hide the join between the bodice and the skirt and hold it all firmly in place.  See PICTURE 4.

5. Cut 2 sleeves from cotton fabric; they need to be a kind of cone shape: 1.75" long with one side measuring 1.75" wide (the cuff edge) and the other 0.75" wide (the shoulder edge). Again, cut the cuff edge with pinking shears, if you have them. Spread glue over the 1-1.5 cms nearest the shoulder edge and down one side (the latter only needs a thin line of glue). Take a 2" length of pipecleaner and fold over a small piece at one end to make a hand. Lay along the centre of the sleeve with the hand protruding from the cuff edge. Fold over the sleeve so that the two long edges meet neatly and press together. The other end of the pipecleaner should be held in place inside the sleeve by the glue you spread at the shoulder edge of the sleeve.  Bend the arms into a pleasing shape (with the sleeve seam facing downwards!) and then glue the shoulder edges of the sleeves to the back of the bodice, just below the head. Leave to dry for a few minutes before proceeding - I used a bulldog clip to hold them firmly. See PICTURE 5.


6. Cut about a dozen 4" lengths of yarn. Spread glue over the whole of the area you want the hair to cover. Starting at the front hairline, lay a length of yarn over the head, working from shoulder to shoulder. Continue, until you have reached the neckline. Allow to dry for a few minutes then draw the yarn gently back into a ponytail and secure with a length of matching yarn. Add a tiny silk ribbon bow and trim the ponytail to the desired length. I chose this hairstyle because the ponytail cleverly hides where you glued on the sleeves, but you could do bunches or plaits if you prefer. Add 2 tiny beads for earrings (if desired) and draw in the facial features using a fine tipped marker pen. See PICTURE 6.


I'm quite pleased with the results; not quite so pleased with the unbelievable amount of time it has taken to cut 50 of everything (or 100 in the case of arms and sleeves) and make up little packs to give to each child who takes part in the workshop. Am trying to remember exactly who thought that 50 was "a nice round number" when I agreed to do this 6 months ago.

I can think of lots of variations on the peg doll theme and particularly like the idea of making my own Christmas peg dolls to hang on my tree such as angels, elves, santa etc. Well it is only 4 and a half months until the big day, people! In fact I drove past a hotel only last week displaying a huge banner asking if I'd booked my Christmas party yet....No I haven't; and now I can add Party Pooper to the burgeoning list of my inadequacies, so thanks for that.

So until next time, when I must warn you that - despite the best efforts of my children, pets and garden hedgehog (that's a whole other story!) -  I have Finished Some More Projects. I have also started some more to take their place. But we'll gloss over that.

Bye for now

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