In between mask making, I've been working on a new "Cecelia" doll - this one representing the nurses, providers, and RTs working in the time of COVID-19. This one's got quite a ways to go, but here's progress so far.
Saving this here, as sometimes things disappear from websites. Please visit Dollmaker's Journey for all your doll making needs.
DYEING MOHAIR HIDES FOR DOLLS
By Bonnie B. Lewis
Here is the method my good friend Ellyn Voss uses to get wonderful dyed mohair fleece for doll hair.
CAUTION! This method works best with bleached hides because they stay supple when dyed. Unbleached hides become stiff and brittle, difficult to work into a wig. It is bleached if the fleece is white and not off-white or yellow.
Other terminology: A skin tanned WASHABLE dyes beautifully. A skin tanned DRY CLEAN will harden.
1. Cut skins into about 12" square pieces (or as tall as your pitcher by 18" long (see step 3). Larger pieces are more difficult to dye using this method.
2. Dissolve 1/2 package Rit dye (powdered dye works best) in 1 cup very hot water. Stir to dissolve. Cool to lukewarm. Make sure you have adequate ventilation when using the powdered dyes.
3. Add 6 to 8 cups tepid water to dye mixture in two-quart pitcher. (This is very important, because fleece can be shocked if subjected to extreme temperature variations. Hot water will cause the hide to
stiffen.) Pitcher may be glass, enamel or plastic, but NOT metal. Mix dye thoroughly, using wooden or plastic stirrer. You can also use a 9 x13" glass or enamel (NEVER metal) pan, but pieces of fleece must be cut to fit pan. IMPORTANT *NEVER* use any of these utensils or containers for food again.
4. Wet hide in lukewarm water. Loosely roll into tube with fleece side out.
5. Immerse fleece in tepid dye bath in the pitcher until you are satisfied with the color. DO NOT agitate; just make sure fleece is completely covered with dye. You can push fleece down into dye with handle of stirrer. Remember that the fleece will look a lot darker when wet, and will lighten in color when dry. This step can take from ten minutes to several hours to overnight, depending on how dark you want the mohair. You can use the dye several times, but the color will lighten and you will have to leave the fleece in longer for good results.
6. Gently rinse out excess dye under tepid running water. It helps to wear plastic gloves so your hands won't become dyed in the process. Some people are also allergic to the dyes; better safe than sorry.
7. Place wet fleece on an old white towel and roll up, gently pressing to remove excess water. You can do this several times.
8. Hang fleece with nap going down on a clothesline and dry by turning on a powerful fan. Dry the skin side first for about an hour, then turn fleece around and dry the mohair side. Using a fan will speed up drying time and help the mohair to fluff. Be sure and place an old towel under the drying fleece to absorb any excess water that might drip. This method of drying is preferable to using the clothes dryer because it eliminates agitation, which can create felting.
Realistic colors: For a wonderful redhead color use Rit Pumpkin. Use Rit Tangerine with a tiny bit of Golden Yellow for a bright carrot top. Rit Tan makes a good very light brown (almost blonde) color.
Rit Cocoa Brown with Yellow is a light brown. It is impossible to get a good dark brown or black color using Rit dye.
Fantasy colors: For fantasy pink hair use Rose Pink and Tan. Rit Golden Yellow by itself is a good fantasy color for a very bright yellow. For fantasy fairies try Rit Seafoam, Purple, Blue, and Kelly Green. HINT: If the color is too bright, try over dyeing with Rit Tan to dull the color.
Always wear a mask when working with powdered dyes. Liquid dye is not as critical. You can buy masks at any good hardware store, pharmacy or craft store for $3 -$4 a package. Check the paint department.
NEVER use utensils for food after using with dye. Always dissolve powdered dye in small amount of water before adding lots of water. SLOWLY pour dye into jar so particles don't become airborne. This is the same principle as putting down the toilet seat before flushing. You can put powdered dye and hot water in a quart glass jar, add lid and shake well.
You must have good ventilation when working with powdered dyes. Use a stove vent, open a window, use a fan, or do it outside.
Protect your hands. Wear rubber gloves.
Leave the fur on the hide, cut the hide into smaller pieces, if you want, by cutting on the raw hide side only. Draw a line, cut close to the surface when you cut so that you don't cut off too much fur on the other side. Boil some water, put it into a large enough bowl to submerse that section of the hide. Before putting the hide in, thoroughly mix in some liquid RIT dye the color you want. Don't use Cocoa thinking you are going to get brown, it turns purple. Put the hide into the boiling water with the dye in it and stir it around for 5 minutes. Take it out, run clear water over it to rinse out the dye and hang it on skirt hangers to dry. That's it. If the color is not what you want, you can re-dye it after it is dry. Do not use a blow dryer on it. Sometimes it takes two dyings to get the desired color.
Mother-Maiden-Crone: I used to belong to a wonderfully active doll club that met in St. Helens on a monthly basis. This was one of our projects. Everyone picked a theme, created a page template, and made the cover and back of a fabric journal. This was passed from one member to another, each adding a page (front and back). We included notes about our additions to each journal.
A few of our other projects can be found on my website:
While I yearn to create something more artistic - a doll, or an art journal page, I find myself unable to stop making cloth masks and surgical caps.
I started out making masks for my husband and myself, then my parents, siblings, their spouses, their kids, my kids, grandkids, etc. That soon expanded to friends and coworkers, neighbors, etc.
And now, nearly 90 masks later, I'm still making them. I have not visited a fabric store, as I have so much to work with in my studio. I have, however, run out of iron-on interfacing, 1/8 inch elastic, and white thread (I have received donations of thread from friends). I found interfacing and elastic on eBay, and spent a small fortune on those items (I would have paid about the same amount on Amazon, which a shipping date that I found unacceptable.) JoAnn's was out of these items.
I've been making pleated masks, as those fit a variety of face shapes and sizes and could also act as N95 covers. But I've also tried a couple other patterns as well. Some have pockets for filter material. Some have elastic for the ears, some have ties.
Surgical scrub caps aren't typically worn in my Emergency Department. Now that we're caring for COVID positive (and potentially positive patients), it's just a good idea to keep our hair covered. So I've made at least a dozen caps, which take considerably more time (and fabric) to make than masks. These I'm also giving away to my coworkers.
But I think I just might start on a doll this week. ODACA Day (Dallas TX in July) has been cancelled due to COVID, so it seems reasonable to start prepping for next year.
I've started a second Cecelia doll, since I hadn't yet put the fabric and pattern away. While sewing, I thought it would be worthwhile (to me) to determine how much time it takes to complete this doll.
Layout and sewing the doll ~ about 90 minutes:
Stuffing and closing ~ about 50 minutes:
Needle sculpting finger and toe divisions, ears and face ~ 2 hours:
March 11 - Jointing the arms/legs and covering buttons ~ 45 minutes:
Below: I eliminated the indentation from joining the head to the neck (filled the area under the circular patch with stuffing), as I plan to stitch yarn hair similar to the previous Cecelia doll - I think this will make sewing the yarn in this area a bit easier.
March 15 - Coloring the face ~ 60 minutes:
March 27 - Hair ~ I lost track of time, but probably 3 hours:
Cecelia just had her photo shoot! It took several hours to finish her hair. I used a textured yarn for her hair, and stitched it in place. It takes a little planning to keep it symmetrical, and I used 4 needles as I worked in sections.
Her clothing is removable, and this time I gave her a narrow belt to break up the print and line of the dress. Her shoes are also removable.
I think her hears are just a little too big, so I'll decrease the size slightly the next time I use this pattern.
This week I started working on my Helper Doll for ODACA Day in July. Helpers are the raffled items during the ODACA Luncheon. This year the event is in Dallas, TX.
Because Cecelia is one of my simpler dolls, she's a logical doll to make to donate. I tweaked the head pattern a little, so the ears are incorporated (i.e., no need to sew them on separately), like the head pattern for my "Amity" pattern.
I've not yet decided on hair. I'm also thinking about shoes. With luck, I'll finish her dress today.