Joel Henriques is an artist and toy designer who lives with his wife and three-year-old twins in Portland, Oregon. He is author of the blog Made by Joel and is currently writing a modern toy/craft book that will be published in Autumn 2011 by Trumpeter Books. Joel’s paintings can be seen on his personal site.
Fabric Nesting Dolls
I love nesting dolls and always thought it would be fun take the element of hidden surprise and use it in a toy more suitable for the 0-3 age group. A friend of mine, who is a nesting doll aficionado, came up with the great idea that I should make some out of fabric. They’re very easy to make and fun for older kids, too. You can stand them up or even use them as hand puppets. My kids had a great time acting out scenes with the dolls and also tucking them inside one another.
Below are some simple directions if you want to try them out. They could also be a fun gift idea for the holidays.
Fabric (I used a natural denim for the front and fleece for the back.)
Scissors and/or rotary cutter
Sewing machine (or hand sew)
Fabric pen (I use Painters Opaque Paint Markers by Elmer’s. They’re non-toxic and great for fabric.)
1. Cut two rectangles of fabric for each doll. Round the tops if you’d like. (From largest to smallest, my rectangle measurements were about 9.5″ x 6″, 8.5″ x 5″, 7.5″ x 4.5″, 6.5″ x 3.75″. For the denim leave an extra 1/4″ at the bottom for step two.)
2. On the denim pieces, fold a 1/4″ at the bottom and sew across. This will keep the bottom edge from fraying.
3. Stack the two fabric pieces for each doll, right sides together, and sew around the edges of the sides and top, leaving the bottom edge open.
4. Turn the dolls right side out.
5. Using a fabric pen, draw a figure on each doll. (Your child may draw the figures if he or she is old enough, or you can even use previous drawings as a template and draw it yourself. You may also use the figures in my paper city for design ideas, which is what I did for these.)
6. Using a hot hair dryer, blow the pen ink dry. It will then be permanent and even withstand washing.
7. Start nesting!
Thanks, Joel! Visit Made by Joel for more enticing projects for kids.