Diary of a Mad Dollmaker

Mimi's Weblog – Let's Talk About Dollmaking

Mimi’s Mannequins – First Look

I have been working on samples of new dolls for my next DVD. The patterns are finally done after 15 attempts. They are a pair of adult dolls, a 15½” female and a 17″ male. They are very easy dolls to make. They just took a long time to design.

Mimi's Mannequins, Front View

Mimi's Mannequins, Front View

Mimi's Mannequins, Face and Chest Profiles

Mimi's Mannequins, Face and Chest Profiles

Mimi's Mannequins, Rear View

Mimi's Mannequins, Rear View

Easy is not the same as simple.

I do complicated very well. It only took 30 years to figure out how to simplify a doll pattern from 36 pattern pieces down to 8 or 10 and still have the same form – in muslin. Anyway, a simple doll is a cookie cutter doll – a doll with 1 pattern piece. Some of my pin dolls have 2 pattern pieces. A simple doll is usually easy. The Mannequins are EASY-TO-MAKE complex dolls. The shape is built into the pattern and the technique is built into the instructions.

When I make a doll in micro suede or other fabrics with more stretch, I feel as if I am cheating because I can take a one-dimensional pattern and make it look three-dimensional with the way I stuff it –  it is so much easier for me. But I also like the look and feel of a really good cotton muslin. I have had letters, (way back when), from folks who saw my dolls in a magazine and asked where I get my molds.

The body requires little or no needle modeling – just a stitch or two to pull the breasts in and make the crotch V-shaped so the legs will fit. The face doesn’t need to be needle modeled at all. (You can if you want to, or paint eyes, or just leave it blank.)

The interesting thing is that except for the torso front, the directions for the male and the female are exactly the same! The female has two upper front  torso pieces and one lower front torso piece to get the breasts. The male has one upper front torso piece and two lower front torso pieces to get the abs. The rest of the doll construction is exactly the same – the shapes of the pattern pieces are similar but different. The pattern pieces even have the same numbers: F1, M1, F2, M2, etc.

Jim says I have to get the dolls all on one disc. They are actually mannequins but I gave them legs and heads because I know whoever purchases the discs will want to make dolls from these patterns. The arms are not sewn on because the body must be draped before the arms are stitched in place. I put the bodice on the doll, then sleeve the arm, roll back the sleeve and stitch the arm in place then stitch the sleeve to the bodice, the second disc will teach you how to drape patterns and create clothing to fit any doll.

The second disc is a class on how to drape the bodies and feet to make basic contemporary patterns for bodices, shirts, skirts and pants, and shoes as well as wigs. I hope there is room on the disc to show how to create a doll’s tailored jacket. I am tired of seeing “male” dolls wearing jackets that do not fit properly and look as if it has been slept in for months. Once you understand how to drape you can drape anything, even a horse. The reason we have to keep it to one disc for the dolls and one disc for the draping and clothing is to keep the price down so it’s more affordable.

The bodies are quite nice. I am happy with them. They have a new easy to make leg armature that allows the doll to stand alone and a new way to make the foot stronger without using a piece of cardboard. Both dolls have bare feet with (optional) needle modeled toes. The samples are naked, of course, because they are mannequins. (Also because I haven’t done the costumes yet.)

I would like to do a series of DVD classes on how to create patterns and sew period costumes for these mannequins. If the costume requires a certain style of shoe I will include a new leg for each doll that will have the foot shaped as if it were already wearing the shoe for that outfit. Then it can easily be draped to cover the “shoe” with cloth or leather.

I have had a couple of requests for early 20th century patterns. I enjoy both Italian and French Renaissance, and English Elizabethan court clothing. Wigs will have to be included. Each “class” will be limited to two discs to keep them affordable.

If there is a particular period you prefer let me know and I will add it to the file I keep so I can do the ones you want most next.

I would appreciate some feedback on this. Please let me know what you would like to have in a DVD Mimi class. (I let Mimi out of the suitcase from time to time – only my Grandchildren and all kids call me Mimi. Family and friends call me Gloria so I keep Mimi as a public persona and that way I can be myself and not have to put up with her all the time.)

Happy Dolling,

Love,

Gloria (“Mimi”)

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Sunday, September 25, 2011 - Posted by | Mimi's Mannequins, new patterns | ,

12 Comments »

  1. I have just bought two of your dvd’s from Dollmakers, I cannot wait for them to arrive and will definately be ordering this one too. Thank you for being so generous with your knowledge. Regards Pamela From Australia

    Comment by Pamela | Sunday, September 25, 2011 | Reply

  2. Oh Mimi! These two are wonderful! I can’t wait for the release of this class. I have been wanting to learn to drape clothing on the dolls so they don’t look silly. I agree about the male jackets. It seems all patterns have either a vest or a simple “slept in” jacket.

    I do hope you can get all of your instruction on one DVD without cutting anything out. I love the way you teach. You talk as though your students are right there in the studio with you.

    I would love to see late 19th and early 20th century clothing. I love steampunk, so that would be right up my alley! 🙂

    Thanks so much for letting Mimi out of the suitcase!

    Juanita

    Comment by Juanita Lanaux | Monday, September 26, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Juanita,

      Late 19th and early 20th century clothing is not exactly the same as steampunk. Steampunk uses it as a basis, but the modern variations are based on things like the anime “Steamboy,” the anime “Castle in the Sky” (by Oscar-winning director Hayao Miyazaki) or the online comic book http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/ (click “the Comic”). My question is do you want the original look or the modern fantasy reinterpretation?

      Happy Dolling,

      Mimi

      Comment by Mimi | Tuesday, September 27, 2011 | Reply

      • Hi Mimi,

        I want both and I believe I could have it by learning to make the original. Once I learn the original, the only limitation will be my imagination, right? 🙂

        I am excited about the draping lessons!!!!

        Comment by Juanita Lanaux | Tuesday, September 27, 2011

  3. The mannequin dolls are wonderfull! And just about the right size for my needs. I do some early 19th to early 20th century costume copies, and would like to make 1/4 scale copies as well. Just waiting to find the right doll pattern…
    Are the doll patterns really made for woven cotton? If so, that is very good news, as a lot of the stretchier doll fabrics are very difficult to find in my part of the world.
    Am I allowed one wish? I know it will never be more than a dream, but it would be so nice to have dolls with period profiles (like the regency high bust and the edwardian s-shape)…..

    When will the mannequin patterns be for sale?

    Comment by Hilde | Monday, September 26, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Hilde,

      The doll scale is 1/4. The male at 17″ would be 5′ 8″ (170 cm) and the female at 15-1/2″ would be 5′ 2″ (155 cm). My Victoria Rose pattern has a reshaped body in Victorian fashion and authentic Victorian period costumes. (I had to reshape the doll to account for the corset.) I will research the Edwardian shape. The basic draping for clothing instructions should give you some ideas on how to modify the doll patterns to change the silhouette, but it takes a lot of trial and error.

      My doll patterns are made for Southern Belle muslin by Spring Mills (available from http://DollmakersJourney.Com or any good quilt shop).

      We are hoping to have the DVD set ready for sale around the middle of November, 2011, just in time for a Christmas present.

      Happy Dolling,

      Mimi

      Comment by Mimi | Tuesday, September 27, 2011 | Reply

      • Hi Mimi,

        how lovely to know that your patterns will work with the kind of fabric I can buy locally!

        Victorian and Edwardian shapes are not so very different. I think Victoria Rose will be fine for a project I’m planning.

        Hilde

        Comment by Hilde | Wednesday, September 28, 2011

  4. hello mimi,, I love love and million times love your work and so very much love your personality, these dolls are beautiful as always. Please consider stud muffin on a dvd class very soon. leotha.

    Comment by leotha king | Monday, September 26, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Leotha,

      I want to do Studmuffin, but it will require a 6-disc set which makes it pricey. Jim is objecting because he doesn’t think it will sell enough at the price we would have to set.

      Here’s the problem: you can take an “online class” which includes six lessons for $60. (Typically $10 per lesson.) What you get is 6 printable files for a total of 50 pages and an online discussion with the teacher and an online art gallery. (Some sites call these “online tutorials” or epatterns.) The online discussion and art gallery are just Yahoo or Google groups with membership limited to the class.

      or

      You can buy my 6-disc Mermaid set and get 6 DVDs and get almost 13 hours of video instructions for $60. Then join the (FREE) Screaming Mimis yahoo discussion group with art galleries for free and have access to not only the current class, but to dollmakers working on any of my patterns. (See the web site, http://Mimidolls.Com for information on joining the “screaming Mimis.”)

      or

      You can buy one of my “Paper” patterns in any of three forms: actual paper ($12.95 plus postage), CD printable (11.95 plus postage), or email download ($9.95) and get a 32-56 page (depending on the pattern) instruction book plus pattern sheets.

      We think we’re a better buy, but many dollmakers are scared by the complexity of my dolls. That’s why we’re working on EASY-TO-MAKE right now, and hence Mimi’s Mannequins. That’s also why we’re publishing free EASY-TO-MAKE stuff like “An Elf Named Stretch” and my pin dolls. (See the web site, http://Mimidolls.Com to download free copies.)

      Happy Dolling,

      Mimi

      Comment by Mimi | Tuesday, September 27, 2011 | Reply

  5. oh mimi, YES i for one will love pattern draping, to me you are always coming up with ways to help other doll makers thank you for sharing your talent . leotha

    Comment by leotha king | Monday, September 26, 2011 | Reply

  6. what a beautiful dolls
    I find them very beautiful
    I look forward to the DVD
    I’m a fan of your work mimi
    friendly regards Isabel

    Comment by Isabel | Tuesday, September 27, 2011 | Reply

  7. Hi
    Mimi I would love to see an indepth tudor and elizabethen video there are so many amazing refrence paintings a personal favorite is the Ditchley portoriate of QE1

    Comment by Alex | Monday, July 30, 2012 | Reply


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