Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another Hand-made Doll Done and On Her Way!

 There's always such a feeling of accomplishment when I get an order done and out to the Post Office.  It's really important to me that I do my best, and I will not lower my integrity by offering a soft-sculpture doll that is not my very best.

This latest  hand-made doll turned out really cute.  As I've mentioned before, I feel a bit as Michelangelo did...the doll's face and expression is already there...I just move things around and allow it to come out.  NOT that I'm comparing my art with that of Michelangelo....sheesh....

This order wasn't just a doll....also a bunting, and a baby sling.  The bunting I had done before, although one smaller than this one, but I had never done a baby sling before.  I followed the directions (I read them over about 5 times ) but the finished product just didn't deliver what was promised.  So, I was able to alter it in order to do what it was supposed to be designed to do. Now, there's always the possibility that a sixth reading of the directions might show me where I went wrong...but I was able to fix the situation, so it is all good.
Now, I start work on an 11" newborn.  These go together fairly quickly, with no real surprises, and I have made maybe over 100 of them.  To see some of the newborns I have presently, you can go to my etsy store .

When this order is done, if no other custom orders come, I plan to make a couple of Scottie baby patterns.  This is a limited edition pattern, not for sale, so few people actually have it.  It's a bigger version of the 11" newborn, and chubbier as well.  I also have several outfits for the dolls cut out and ready to sew, and I'll do that as well.  When I have these ready to post in   my etsy store I will let people know.

So, for now, I relax for awhile, then cut the new doll out later tonight.  Until then....

Happy dolling,


This is the machine I use.  I love the even stitch, and even though it took awhile for me to figure out how to thread it, it proudly sits next to my regular sewing machine, and it used almost daily.  It's a great machine for the price!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


What a ride the last few days have been!!!  I had classes to teach, a grad party to attend, came 2 secs away from being hit head on by a drunk driver (he totaled the truck right in front of us--he died, the other driver in critical condition...) hubby hurt (his back) and all that in addition to "normal life" smile!!!

I continue to work on my handmade doll orders, though...I finished one Angie Baby pattern doll, the size of a real baby, and shaped a little more lifelike.  Tonight and tomorrow I'll be working on the Alexa Rose doll, and if no crises (smile) I may even get her done in the next day or two.

So, despite near misses and extra on my "to-do" list...progress.

It amazes me how I never get tired of making these  soft sculpture dolls....maybe because the patterns are so varied....but I think it's because each doll, as I sculpt its face, has a personality that emerges through the process, and that's something I never tire of.  Also, there are so many different groups of steps needed to complete a doll, that before I can get bored of machine sewing, it's on to the hand sewing...before I get bored with that, it's on to the sculpting....and when that's done it's the hair, the clothing sewn, a new one cut out....and so it goes.

After the Alexa Rose doll is finished, then my next order doll is an old standby, I love to do...the 11" newborn doll.  I can almost do the sewing of this baby in my sleep--I've maybe made 100 or more of them, smile.  But they're still one of my favorites, smile...

Well, okay, back to work for me. I'm still working on time management, to make the most of the "little moments" to do bits and pieces of things.  Like I said.....progress....

Happy dolling,

If you want to see what's in my etsy store...go ahead and click on the link!

If you would like to order a custom doll, shoot me an email at my business email address!

These self-healing mats are great!! I use mine when I cut out things like the baby blankets, where I want a straight edge, and even though my rotary cutter is razor sharp, it never leaves a permanent gouge.  Also great for strip quilters!! 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Soft Sculpture Doll Fabric--pros and cons

For many years, there were two main options for making soft-sculpture dolls--either using muslin or "dolly cloth" which is a skin-toned, very thin knit fabric.  In my early years of dollmaking, I found the muslin to be more sturdy, but less than satisfactory for sculpting fat cheeks like I wanted.  It was fine for your Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, or your Sunbonnet Sue's.  The dolly cloth made beautiful dolls, but one had to be careful, because if you looked at it crosseyed it would run.  And run.  And run.

Now, after more than 25 years of making soft-sculpture dolls, here's my viewpoint/hints on doll fabrics.  Maybe even a few websites, smile.  You just  never know....

Muslin--You must use a pattern that specifies muslin or cotton cloth.  Most patterns for soft-sculpture dolls requires a one-way stretch, and muslin has a no-way stretch.  I tried doing a doll, cutting it out on the resembled a "Conehead" by the time it was stuffed and sculpted. Best sewing machine needles to use with muslin is either a good Universal needle or Sharps, if  you can find them.

Dolly cloth--It has gotten better over the years, but you still have to be careful.  This fabric makes beautiful dolls, more like the collectibles that I used to make, but not quite as child-friendly as what I usually use now. Use a #11 Ballpoint needle in the sewing will push the fibers out of the way instead of cutting them.  When stuffing the doll, use big pieces of fiberfill at first, then move them to the outside and continue to add stuffing to the middle, push to the outside, etc...that way you won't have lumpy babies.  I used this fabric for my "Chubby Chuckie' doll in my etsy store.

The new kid on the block--The majority of my babies are made from this material--it's called "Craft Velour" and it is wonderful!  It's soft, like a velour would be, it has a one-way stretch to it, is very forgiving, sculpts beautifully, and is a dream to sew on.  I still use a Ballpoint needle, just because it IS a knit of sorts, and it just adds to the durability of the dolls.  The dolls machine wash and dry beautifully (pin them into a pillowcase first, please, smile) which makes moms of little ones happy. 

This fabric, sad to say, can't be bought at your local Joanne's Fabrics...I wish!  But I do have two websites where it can be purchased.  One is the Dinky Baby site, and the other is CR's Crafts website. 

Well, there you have my take on fabric.  The good, the bad, and in the case of the muslin baby cut on the bias....the UGLY!!!

Happy dolling,,


It's called "repurposing".  Saves money, less trash.  Good stuff.

To see the dolls I currently have for sale, check out my etsy store

If you would like a custom doll, you can email me at my business email

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Starting again!

 Today I began work on two new dolls for orders.  One is from the Angie Baby pattern, that looks like a real baby sizewise and the way the doll is shaped.  The other is a doll from the Alexa Rose pattern, which means she is a chubby baby with jointed arms and legs.
When I cut the dolls out, I almost never only cut one out.  It takes almost no extra time to cut out a few extra arms and legs, and many body parts only need one, so I just cut out two at the same time.  I often will do this with order dolls, so I have one for the order and one to put in my etsy store.  I don't make the two dolls look the same...just the same pattern.

I learned a neat little hint too...only took me 3 years to figure this out, sheesh...when cutting out arms and legs, instead of just having one pattern piece for arms that I use twice per doll, I have traced four "sets" of arms and legs, so that I can lay out and cut all the parts I need for 2 dolls without having to take an arm, unpin it, pin again in another place, etc...

So, the journey begins again....I wonder what the faces on these babies will look like......

Happy dolling,

I wonder if these would work on my ballerina dolls?  Hmmmm....

Want to make money on your own craft blog?  Check out

If you want to see what dolls I have for sale in my etsy store, go to

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I finished the 4 dolls that were one order....wahoo!  All four of them were more intricate than the normal babies I make, but they all turned out good!  Two are monkeys--one big, one baby--one is a toddler doll and the last is a ballerina.  It was my first time using that pattern and although it took longer than my dolls normally do, it still wasn't hard, just a little bit of a challenge, smile....

Well, here they are.....

On the left, is the bigger monkey, made from the "Danny G" pattern.  He's about 19" tall.

On the right is the little, baby monkey from the "Jingles" pattern.  These are both for a boy, so they are boy monkeys, smile.

 This is a toddler doll made using the "Lil Beth" pattern.  She is about 16" high, and her dress/bloomers outfit is hand made.  Also, her hair is stitched to the head one yarn at a time, with double thread for durability. The right picture is a closeup of her face.
This is the ballerina doll.  She's around 17" high, her skirt has 10 layers to it. Again, the hair is stitched, and she is full of frills, lace, and ribbon, smile.

So, soon these will be off in the mail to a very sweet grandpa who likes my dolls and gives them to his grandchildren.  Safe journey, little to start on the two babies...two different orders.  Will post pix when they are finished and ready to be shipped.  Until then...

Happy dolling,


I have heard that these are very excellent machines.  Easy to learn on, very "user friendly"...(excuse my

Monday, May 17, 2010

Playing Favorites

Now, I know it isn't right for moms, grandmoms, or any other kind of mom, to play favorites.  With my kids, I have been extremely careful, and it wasn't hard to do--after all, they are a great bunch and very easy to love.  Of course, I love my dolls...I wouldn't make something that I didn't like...but there are some that just tug at the heart strings more than others.

A few years ago, a close friend of mine was foster-parenting her 5 nieces, while the mom was trying to get her act together.  Our entire congregation took these girls in, and my friend was never in want for clothing, babysitters, or help around the house.  My friend had them for over a year, and they became "our girls" as well. 

The time came that the mom was going to get her girls back, so before it happened I made 5 baby dolls, one for each of them (the 6th one there, in purple, was for another girl in our congregation who was close to them...didn't want her to feel left out). I signed their names, my name, and the date on the behind of each one.  We still see the girls on occasion, they are growing up fast...but they still have their dolls and remember their time with us.

My husband is my biggest fan...and close to being my best customer, well, except that he doesn't BUY's more like an annexation, smile.  Often I'll make a doll, and it always has to pass my hubby's "hug test"...once in a while I don't get the doll back.  I think he has 6 that he's confiscated.
But not this one...I made this one just for HIM.  It's a big, chubby, jointed baby, and I made a Raider Bunny Suit for it.  My sweetie is a Raider's fan, and I thought of the irony of a bunny suit....he named it Baby Toos, after his favorite player, John Matuzak. On the back, the bunny suit has a flap like the old style drawers men used to wear.  I made the flap out of the Raider's emblem, and placed the bunny powder puff tail right smack dab in the middle. I think now this is the family "rally" doll...but I don't think it helped much, smile.

 Sometimes I make a doll and I can't sell looks like someone I know.  It would be like selling my I end up giving them away.  I wish I had pix of the two friends these went to...and it wasn't just ME who thought they looked like these women...several people saw the dolls and said, "Hey, that looks just like ________!" So they now have homes with their human look-alikes.

This was fun....I have lots more stories like this....I'll sprinkle them sparingly around the blogsite, smile.
So until next time..
Happy dolling,


(by the way, these are the BEST scissors!  They are a bit pricey, but well worth it!  They stay sharp for a long time and are sooo sturdy!  I've had my pair for over 20 years and still going strong!)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Simple Mule-ishness

I don't know why, but there are certain steps in doll-making that I tend to put off.  Doing the fingers and toes, sewing the head on the neck, hair...none of these are particularly difficult, nor are they skills that I lack in any way.  Maybe I view them as taking longer than other steps?  I know that it takes me around 5 min to do the fingers on a hand, or toes on a foot.  It takes me maybe 15 min to sew the head on, since I go around twice with doubled thread.  The hair time depends on what kind of hair, but none of it is terribly time consuming.

Right now I'm sitting here, ballerina finished except for hair and clothes.  The clothing is doubt about that.  The hair is all ready to attach...and there it has sat since yesterday evening.  Now, to be fair, I have had a sinus infection for the last week, which has dampered my enthusiasm a bit.  I have felt a bit like the French idiom for a  hangover..."the eyes are not behind the holes." But I went to the doctor yesterday, got meds, and although the headache isn't gone, I don't have that "punched in the eyes" feeling that I have had for the last week

My 'remedy' for this malaise de hair, is to give myself a reward.  Get the hair done, and I can play making the clothes.  Plain and simple.  I'm like the proverbial rabbit with the needs are simple, smile. I go, ready to give the poor girl some style, and then dress her up to the nines.  Fun stuff.

                                                        Happy dolling,


This is what I use for the body, arms, and legs of my dolls...and the second one is what I use for the head.  It's denser and holds its shape well for sculpting.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Have you ever noticed how certain professions take on their own lingo, and only the fairly initiated in that profession know what they are talking about?  We have things like psychobabble, governmental doublespeak, Eduspeak, technobabble, just to name a few.  Well, I want to add one to the ranks.....DollyBabble.

There have been several times, in different dollmaking groups I have belonged to, where we have said things to each other that someone on the outside looking in would think there was something seriously wrong, if not criminally insane, with us.  To the DollyBabble Uninformed, we would seem as if we weren't working on all thrusters, as it were.

Here is one example, that happened to yours truly awhile back.  I was talking with a good friend, who also makes dolls, and we were out in a public place.  Well, I may be Deaf, but there is no way ANYONE could ever ever EVER call me mute!!  I lost my hearing many years after acquiring speech, so with people who are less acquainted with sign language, I tend to use my voice.  I also tend to be a little LOUD since I can't gauge my volume.  At any rate, we were talking about our plans for the weekend.  She was going to be busy doing "other" things, when I let her (and the immediate vicinity) know:
"Well, my sweet hubby and son are going up North to pick up Gram, so I'm going to use the time to stay home, and have fun making babies." my friend, that made perfect sense and was a very innocent, very sensible and wonderful thing to spend my weekend on....making my dolls with no family interruptions.  Doesn't happen often, wouldn't want it to, but when it does, I capitalize on it, and it keeps me from getting lonely and missing them.  But to the people who were around who heard that and had NO context whatsoever...well, let's just say that my friend couldn't breathe for a few minutes, and had a rough time staying vertical, as she saw the expressions of horror and disgust on their faces.  I was a bit slower on the uptake, but then my friend said between gasps of laughter, "Vicki....replay and think about what you just said...."

Have I ever mentioned that I blush easily?

Another incident happened with another dollmaker.  She was with family members, not close ones, who would know what she meant, but out of state inlaws who had no idea what her hobbies were.  Well, she was talking with a family member who DID know, and was commiserating about how she had gotten all the way to the  end of a doll only to realize she had one arm sewed on backwards (something allll of us have done, along with both arms backwards, and ending up with two right feet...that's another story, smile).  Anyway, my dollmaking friend was so frustrated that she told the family member, "I'm just going to go home, rip off the head, tear out the arms and then do it all over again."  The entire room became eerily quiet...with other dollmakers, that pronouncement would have been met with sage nods of the head and her case, the relatives decided that they just had to take a trip to Walmart at that moment.  And that wasn't the end of poor friend put her foot in it the next day, when she pronounced to one and all, "I have to go home and clean...I have baby body parts strewn all over the diningroom table and we can't eat with them there."  Come to think of it, I think she told me those particular relatives have never been back...

All this to say, that it is best not to judge others by the superficiality of what they say, be it technobabble, Eduspeak, or any of that.  If you aren't part of the initiated, just assume that there are forces going on behind the scenes that you are unaware of, smile.

Now please excuse me, while I go rip a leg off a baby monkey....

Happy Dolling,

  These are great for using to reinforce bunny ears on the bunny suits I make for the dolls...                                    

Friday, May 14, 2010

New Skills!!

It's always so refreshing to make dolls that are "out of the norm."  I love making the baby dolls, and they are what most people buy.  They go together quickly, and I'm able to focus more attention on their clothing and blankets and accessories.

But I forget how fun it is to challenge myself with something new or that I don't do often, and I've had that opportunity recently.  I have orders that include 2 different monkeys and a ballerina.  I've made a few monkeys, but not many, and they are still different enough that I feel a tad challenged.  And this is my first ever ballerina!  She is completely different than the dolls I have done thus far, and although she is not hard, dressing her in her frills is going to be so much fun!!

She is almost finished except for her fingers, wrists, and hair, and then will start on the clothing.  She should be done by this weekend.  I will post pix when she is all done.

Ok, back to work to finish the ballerina doll.

Happy dolling,


These looms are what I use for making doll blankets.  They are really easy and faster than traditional knitting!

To see my dolls in my store:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Safety First

Many of you probably don't know this, but a couple years ago there was a problem with stores selling toys with harmful chemicals in them, notably lead and phthalates.  When the government got wind of this, they put forth stringent guidelines for toymakers to comply with.  Initially, all manufacturers of toys for children under the age of 12 were to submit all of their separate kinds of toys to laboratory testing and certification that they were free of harmful chemicals.  Now, for the big toy manufacturers, to send in a toy for testing for $400 is no big deal...they will recoup that in just a month's sales.  But not so the small, hobby toy maker.  There was great outcry that this legislation would put the small home-business toy makers out of business. 

Well, there were those who said that it didn't apply to the hobbyist, and those who said it did, both sides supposedly knowledgeable.  So, what does the home-business, soft-sculpture dollmaker do?  There was talk that as long as the toymaker had chemical-free certifications on every substance used in the making of the toy, it would be acceptable.

I decided to comply in this you have any idea how many different materials goes into the making of the dolls?  I made a list, got the manufacturer websites off of packaging, and began to send emails.  Some of the companies didn't even know what I was talking about, but on further investigation, realized this was in their best interest as well, had their materials tested, and sent me certification.  It took me about 3 months of daily correspondence, but I now have a file folder marked "Materials Certification" that has certifications for every single item I use in my dolls.

Why did I do this?  Well, after raising 6 children and having 7 grandchildren, I feel that safety in children's things is non-negotiable.  I make sure my dolls (not counting their clothing) are made so that nothing will come off.  They are double sewed with doubled thread.  I make sure all knots are buried within the material. They are made so that they can be machine washed and dried (just pin them into a pillow case) so that they can remain sanitary.  And now, I can say with confidence that they are free of lead and phthalates (smile....I knew they were before, but now I have PAPER!!)

So, whether it's my dolls, someone else's, or something from the store, know that you have the right to ask to see certification if you suspect something might not be safe.  If you don't protect your children, who will?

Happy dolling,


To see my dolls in my store:

Welcome to Oooooh Baby! Dolls and More...Blog!!


My name is Victoria Graves, and I am the master dollmaker for Oooooh Baby! Dolls and More...I have been handmaking soft-sculpture dolls for 30 years, and it is a craft that I absolutely love to do.  For many years I had to juggle making the dolls with working full time, but I am now able to spend much more time making and selling these one-of-a-kind, hand-made dolls.

I look forward to being able to use this blog to share my dolls, as well as hints on making them. I also plan to talk about how important it is for children to have simple toys that they can use their imaginations with, and to have their toys be safe and made from materials that are "child-friendly".

I hope you enjoy this, and you can ask questions in your comments, as well as possible future blog subjects.

Happy dolling,

To visit my doll store:

For a Work At Home Quiz: