Sep 012016

kris kinderfather dolls (1) kris kinderfather dolls (2)

Wow, this post is WAY overdue. My sincere apologies for taking so long to get this out. Late last year Kris K. shared with me the profusion of dolls that she made with my Topsy-Turvy doll pattern.

kris kinderfather dolls (3)

As you can see she got quite busy and made a whole bunch of them. Anyone who can make TWENTY of these dolls has my respect and admiration.

I love all the different colors, they are all so adorable and she did a wonderful job.

kris kinderfather dolls (4) kris kinderfather dolls (5)

If you’re looking for a nice gift to make for someone special, perhaps for the upcoming holidays, you can check out my free Topsy Turvy doll pattern  Kris says that my “directions were perfect!” So that’s nice to know. 🙂

By the way, someone pointed out that on the pattern the waking doll’s eyelashes are on her eyebrows! Silly me, how did  I never notice that? Anyhow, I know YOU know where they go. 😀

Happy creating, all!

Feb 172013

Hey all!  I hope you’re having a great weekend.  We got yet more snow today, but at least a lot of the white stuff from last weekend’s blizzard had already melted.

I spent the afternoon working on a little project for you guys.

Do you remember this project?

topsy turvy doll awake

Here’s the topsy turvy doll I wrote about in a four-part blog series back in 2010.

This has been a very popular project.  I’ve gotten pictures from several folks who have completed it.


Like these cuties, made by for Christmas last year by a very creative reader.  (I’m so sorry, but all my old emails are temporarily missing and I don’t have her name to give credit.)


She managed to get Mary, Joseph AND the angel all in one doll.  Move Joseph’s kerchief and you find Mary hiding back there.


Flip the whole doll over and you find the angel.


The little animals are held on with velcro so they can be taken off and played with.  So utterly adorable and cute!

Anyhow, back to my project for the day.  After fielding several questions about printing out the directions from the blog posts, it occurred to me that it’s likely a pain for anyone to have to print them out from the four different posts.  

So today I made them all into a single pdf, including the patterns.  I also took the opportunity to rewrite some of the directions, hopefully making them more clear.  🙂

Here’s where you can download the Topsy Turvy Doll Pattern and Directions.

I hope it makes life a little easier for you.  It’s a fun, though involved project.  I you do try it, please be sure to send me photos of your results!

Happy creating!

Nov 212010

Welcome back to the final day of our Topsy-Turvy doll directions.  For the previous days, see:  part 1, part 2, part 3.

Today we’ll make the yarn hair for our doll.  I used Red Heart brand in worsted weight, but you can use whatever you like or have on hand.  You’ll need to find a book (or a rigid object) that is 14″ across.  Wrap the yarn around this object 80-100 times.  (I got a little overenthusiastic and wrapped mine 130 times!  As a result, my doll’s hairs is a bit thicker than strictly necessary. Ah well.)  If you have thinner yarn make more wraps, or use less wraps for thicker yarn.


Once your book is all wrapped, find the center of this bundle of yarn.  To hold the yarns in place for sewing, place a piece of painter’s tape slightly to one side of center and another to the other side of center, leaving a 1/2″ gap.  Do this on both sides of the book.


Now, gently slide your yarn off the book.  (This is the tricky part, just take your time.  Don’t worry if it gets a little messed up while sliding.)  Your yarn bundle should look something like this:


Lengthen the stitch on your sewing machine and sew down the middle of your bundle of yarn, right between the two pieces of tape.  To keep the yarns from getting caught on the presser foot and feed dogs, sandwich your bundle between two pieces of waxed paper while sewing.  Make sure to backstitch to secure both ends.  Gently remove the tape and waxed paper.


Hand stitch the seam to your doll’s head.  This seam becomes the center part of her hair.  Since mine was so thick, and difficult to sew, I also lifted up the hair on either side of the part and applied a line of glue to further secure it.


Repeat this wig-making process to make hair for the other side of the doll.

You can now style your doll’s hair as desired.  If you want to trim the yarn loops, that’s fine.  I left in the loops because this doll is going to a two-year old and I don’t want her to be able to pull out single strands of yarn.  My day doll’s hair is pulled back and the night doll’s hair is in ponytails.

If desired, hand sew the nightcap to the sleeping doll’s head.  Now is the time to add whatever other trimmings you like.  I gave the day doll a ribbon rose and sash for her dress and flowers for her hair.


The sleeping doll got  a ribbon rose on her bodice, ribbons on her pigtails and a teddy bear.  I had to carefully position the bear so that it didn’t show as a big lump under the day dress.

And here she is, once again.  Hope my granddaughter loves her!

topsy turvy doll awake

topsy turvy doll asleep

If you decide to make a topsy turvy doll of your own, please send me pictures.  I’d love to see what you’ve done!

Nov 202010

We’re continuing on with our Topsy-Turvy doll.  If you missed the previous posts, you can find part 1 here  and part 2 here.  Hope you’re having fun with this project!  We’re making this little lady.  Her sleeping counterpart is underneath her dress.  Kinda fun!

topsy turvy doll awake

topsy turvy doll asleep

For the skirts of the dresses: (10″x40″ pieces)

Topstitch lace 2″ from one long edge of each skirt.  Lace will be towards bottom of skirt.

Sew center back seams of skirts, leaving 3″ unsewn at top.  Press this seam open and continue pressing back 1/4″ on unsewn section.  Sew skirts together along bottom edges.  Press this seam open, then fold along seam and press, creating a double-sided skirt.


Treating skirts as one, gather top edge.  This is very heavily gathered so I like to zigzag over a cord (like crochet cotton) to make my gathers.


Gather the skirts to fit the bodices and sew the waistline seam, matching center backs and having gathers even all around.  (The skirts will be sandwiched between the two bodice sections.)  Check to make sure the seam is satisfactory, then remove crochet cotton and trim seam to reduce bulk.

Now it’s time to dress your doll.  Make sure you put the nightgown on the side with the sleeping face and the day dress on the awake face.  Hand sew the open center back seams on both dresses.

We’re coming down the home stretch!  Tomorrow we’ll give our ladies their hair and finish up.

Click here to go directly to the 4th and final part.

Nov 192010

Welcome to part 2 of our Topsy-Turvy doll.  If you’re jumping into the middle, you can find part 1 here.

This is what we’re making:

topsy turvy doll awake

topsy turvy doll asleep

At this point your doll faces should be complete, the bodies and arms should be sewn, stuffed and handstitched closed.  Now you need to bring the arms to the sewing machine and stitch three lines on each hand to make the finger divisions.  As long as you stuffed this lightly, you shouldn’t have any problems.  Start sewing at the edge of each hand and stitch up towards the shoulder, then backstitch on the same line all the way back to your starting point.  If your machine balks at stitching through all the thickness, you can hand sew these lines or skip this step altogether.

To sew the arms to the bodies, use very heavy thread and a long needle, like a doll needle.  The thread I like to use is labeled “Extra Strong for Buttons, Carpets and Crafts.”  Use doubled thread to go through the dots on the arm, then through the shoulder and back.  Go around 3-4 times.  Bury the knot in the doll. (In this photo I have the thread loose to show the path it needs to take.  You’ll have to pull it tight as you sew.)


To make the clothing:

With right sides together, sew lace to necklines of both bodices.  Match the raw edge of bodice to the gathered edge of the lace.  If you wish, press seam toward bodice and topstitch to hold in place.


In the same manner sew lace to the edges of the nightgown sleeves and the nightcap.

Finish sleeve edges of day dress.  Fold on line and stitch to make a casing.


Use 4 4.5″ pieces of 1/4″ elastic.  Use a zigzag stitch to sew one to each nightgown sleeve 1 1/2″ from finished edge of lace.  (Tip:  Leave the elastic long and mark at 4.5″.  This gives you something to hold on to while sewing.)




Insert the remaing 2 pieces of elastic into sleeve casings on day dress, tacking in place in seam allowance.

Cut a 13″ piece of 1/4″ elastic.  Zigzag stitch this to the nightcap, 2″ in from finished edge of lace.

Sew all sleeve and underarm seams.

Well, that’s plenty for today.  Phew!  Tomorrow we’ll decorate the skirts and get our dolly dressed.

Click here to go directly to Part 3.

Nov 182010

I used to sew so many so many of the Christmas gifts for my family, but as my boys got older I did less and less.  However, now that I have a granddaughter, it feels good to get back into it!

This year I’m making Cady this topsy-turvy doll.  On one end the dolly is awake, flip up her dress and she’s asleep in her flannel nightgown and cap.  I’ve made several of these over the years, and it’s always fun.    There’s something quite charming and magical about them.

topsy turvy doll awake

topsy turvy doll asleep

If you’d like to make your own dolly for someone special, you can find the patterns here.  (When you print out the patterns, make sure to tape together the two body sections along the thin line, matching the marks.)

For materials you’ll need:

  • 1/3 yard flesh tone fabric for head/ body and arms
  • 1/2 yard fabric for day dress
  • 5/8 yard flannel fabric for nightgown and cap
  • 2 yards lace trim for day dress
  • 3 yards lace trim for nightgown and cap
  • 1 yard ribbon to trim waist of day dress
  • 1 yard 1/4″ elastic
  • polyfil stuffing
  • permanent markers or embroidery floss for faces
  • yarn for hair
  • additional trims such as ribbon roses, ribbons for hair, teddy bear, if desired

Start by making the faces.  I often embroider them with embroidery floss.  If you do so, I recommend you just trace the head/body pattern onto your fabric but don’t cut it out until after the embroidery is done.  This gives you material for your hoop to grip onto.   Or you can do like I did this year and color in the faces with markers.  Make sure to use permanent markers that won’t run if they get wet.


I used my Pigma Micron Pen set in size 01 for the black outlines and red for the lips.  I used the brush tip end of a Marvy Le Plume II in Salvia Blue to color in the eyes.  Don’t forget to add a tiny bit of white for the catchlights in the eyes.  Acrylic paint on a toothpick will work nicely for that bit.


Cut out all pattern pieces from the indicated fabrics.  In addition to the pattern pieces in the pdf, you’ll need to cut a 10″x40″ piece from each of the day dress and nightgown fabrics for the skirts and a 13″ circle from the nightgown fabric for the nightcap.

The head/body patterns in the pdf need to be joined together before cutting out.  In the photo below you can see the shape you will have (weird, huh?)  (You DO NOT need to have a seam at the waistline like I do.  I had some small pieces of fleshtone fabrics that needed to be pieced this way.)


The bodice/sleeve pieces are a little confusing.  They are cut on TWO folds.

*****Update 1/25/2012******

Several folks have been confused by this step, so I’ve added some photos that I hope will clear it up.

First, make a fold in your fabric that is a little deeper than the pattern piece, about 4.5″.


Next, fold the fabric again, this time perpendicular to the first fold.


Now you have two adjacent folds, at a 90° angle to each other. Place the pattern piece on the fabric with the long “place on fold” edge along the long fold, and the shorter “place on fold” edge along the shorter fold.


Here’s a close up of the corner when the folds meet. As you can see, you will be cutting through four thicknesses.


The resulting piece looks like this:


You will need to cut along one of the short folds to make the dress back opening.

Hope that is clear!  Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

A 1/4″ seam allowance is used throughout, unless stated otherwise. (Seam allowances are included in the patterns.)

Once the faces have been completed you can sew the two body/head sections together, meeting right sides and leaving an opening where indicated.  Also sew the arm pieces to make 4 arms.

topsy-turvy-doll-armHere’s a great trick for any time you need to leave an opening for turning:  Sew perpendicular to the seam from the raw edge in to the seam line, then sew your seam.  At the end of the seam sew back to the raw edge.  Now, when you turn your piece right side out, it’s very easy to find where you need to sew up the opening.


Clip all curves, turn all pieces right side out and stuff with fiberfill. When you stuff the hands, stuff the fingers only lightly, as later we’ll be machine stitching in lines to make fingers.

Here’s a tip for smooth stuffing:  Whichever side of the project you want to look smoothest (the faces in this instance) have that side DOWN while you are stuffing.  Don’t know why it works, but it always does.

Once all the pieces are stuffed, hand sew the openings closed.

I’m off to finish stuffing now, and then to bed.  Check back tomorrow for more of the directions.

Click here to go directly to part 2.