***Disclaimer: This is a OOAK doll and I only made one and only will ever make just that one.
Her son loves the Disney show Sofia The First and his favorite character is Miss Nettle. Now since I do not have small children anymore and my grandson lives so far away I wasn't familiar with this show. Miss Nettle seems to be a misunderstood fairy, a lot like Maleficent but in a more happy Disney way.
My first step in designing any piece is research.
I hopped on my computer and did some research on the character, and then I thought sure I can make this doll. Also during my research I saw that no one makes this doll, even Disney isn't making a soft doll version that I could find.
So I pulled some pics of the character from the internet and watched some video clips of the character singing and moving around to get a sense of who she was.
I wish this show was around when my kids were small, they would have loved it!
Then my client and I went over the details of pricing and size of the doll.
My second step is ordering supplies.
I packrat felt like, well a packrat! So I do have a lot of felt but I'm slowly moving into using all wool blend felt which I only have a few colors of and none of the colors I needed for this project. So I made a list and ordered felt.
My felt order came and I was happy with the dress and hat colors but not the hair color. So back to my computer to order more felt. I also got a swatch chart ( which I know I have somewhere but can't find since I moved my studio into this room ). Tip: Always get a swatch chart! It can be a bit expensive but it's the best way to make sure you are getting the color you think you are.
I have my swatch chart pinned to my bulletin board so I don't lose this one!
Now the hair color (bottom) and the cape color (middle) are right. I originally intended to use one color for the hair and cape but changed my mind since I had to order more felt anyway.
The 2 colors in the first pic that weren't right are perfect for Halloween projects so I will absolutely use them.
My third step is getting down to the business of designing the doll.
While I was waiting on the felt to arrive I started the doll design. Since this is a doll for a child and not an art doll, I approached the design steps very differently. Sturdiness, durability and recognizing the character were the 3 most important things. This being said, the final doll really ended up being a combination of child's doll and art doll.
This character has a very specific hair style which I had to figure out how to do without making her too top heavy. A real person with that much hair wouldn't be able to stand upright with such a tiny neck!
I designed the head first because it was the most detailed part of the doll and would take the most time. Getting this part right would make the rest of the doll so much easier.
I used lower grade felt to do a prototype of the head so I had all the details and shapes worked out before I cut into my lovely more expensive wool blend felt.
Then I realized the body pattern I planned to use (the same as my fairy tale dolls) wouldn't hold up the to weight and size of her head, so I had to give her a thicker neck. Plus I had to re-design the torso 3 times before i got it right.
Once the torso was to my liking I had to increase the length of the arms and legs to keep the doll in proportion, all while keeping the agreed upon size in mind; partially for pricing and partially to fit in my custom sized shipping boxes.
The did the face in my own personal big eyed style. It's meant to give the idea of the character but not look exactly like the character.
I was originally going to do the hair like my fairy tale dolls (below), with the details stitched on very simply. And quite honestly that's how I quoted the price.
But I was feeling nostalgic about my son whose birthday is coming up and he's all grown up with a son on his own now and I just felt like doing more for this sweet little boy and his mom who wanted to give her son the doll he wanted.
I decided to make the hair more dimensional than I originally intended. I stuffed and stitched her curls to get the exact look I was hoping for. I also stuffed and stitched curls on the back of her head too. I'm glad I went the extra mile because the end result made me so happy! It also went a long way in making this doll look like the character.
In the original prototype design I planned on the hat being part of the head like this doll below.
But the character's hat is a very big part of her and an 3D version was the way I had to go. A lot more work but completely worth it!