Mimi’s Elves Attend ODACA – Turning Fingers – New Free Video Tutorial

Prince Elvin and Trilby will be in attendance at the Original Doll Artists Council of America (ODACA) convention at the Anaheim Hilton, Anaheim, CA on Sunday July 24, 2011 from 2-10pm. A lot of mermaids will be there too. (rooms CL AVILA A and B)

Prince Elvin

Prince Elvin

Prince Elvin



There will be a get-together to meet Mimi in Oceanside, CA on Thursday August 4, 2011. For more information call Lois Boncer, 760-438-3431 or email Lois@AardvarkToZebra.Com.

Turning Fingers for Cloth Dolls.

This new demo is chapters 3 and 4 of Lesson 6 Posable Hands from Mimi’s Modular Mermaid. It takes ten minutes and discusses making and using finger turning tools and turning fingers for cloth dolls.

To see the previous videos, please visit Mimidolls.com. they are listed on the front page or under the “Video Tutorials” button.

Don’t forget to subscribe by email by using the button over in the right column.

For more information, click Mimi’s Modular Mermaid!



Making & Using Templates for Doll Patterns – New Free Video Tutorial

Making & Using Templates for Doll Patterns. This new demo is chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7 of Lesson 1 Introduction from Mimi’s Modular Mermaid. It takes nine minutes and discusses making and using templates from pattern pieces and how this relates to precision sewing. We hope you enjoy it!

To see the previous videos, click here (Intro and Wefting) and here (Sewing Machine).

Don’t forget to subscribe by email by using the button over in the right column.

For more information, click Mimi’s Modular Mermaid!


The Screaming Mimis Workshop – New Free Video Tutorial

The Screaming Mimis Workshop is a free Yahoo Group established by Sandra Bejster especially for folks making my dolls. I am a member and I try to visit and answer questions whenever I am needed.

From the opening message that created the group:

“The Screaming Mimis Workshop is a group dedicated to the dolls made by Gloria “Mimi” Winer’s patterns.

“In this group, we will be able to post questions regarding workshop “homework” and dolls we are making from non-workshop related patterns. My hope is that we can use this group to post pictures of our progress, areas we are having trouble with and finished products.”

The group members are currently working on the High Priestess, Drawing Down the Moon which is still being tested in classes around the country, and the free Mimi Pattern, An Elf Named Stretch which you can download from Mimidolls.com. The Screaming Mimis Workshop will soon be adding Mimi’s Modular Mermaid and other Mimi patterns.

The group has a file area where revised pattern sheets and instructions are posted, a photo gallery where each dollmaker can display her dolls (and if she wishes, ask for critiques), and a general discussion group where the members help each other solve problems, receive encouragement, and learn to be better dollmakers.

There are two ways to join. If you already have a free Yahoo account, You can sign in to
Yahoo and go to this link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheScreamingMimisWorkshop/ and join from there, or you can send Sandra an e-mail at sbejster@yahoo.com
and she will send you a personal invite.

New Free Video Tutorial

Using Your Sewing Machine for Dollmaking. This brand new demo is Chapter 13 of Lesson 1 Introduction from Mimi’s Modular Mermaid. It takes six minutes, discusses presser feet, cover plates, stitch size, needle visibility for precision sewing, and all of the other things you need to know to use your sewing machine more effectively for dollmaking. We hope you enjoy it!

To see the previous videos, click here.

Don’t forget to subscribe by email by using the button over in the right column.

For more information, click Mimi’s Modular Mermaid!


Summer Show Displays

The easiest way to pack up your display for a sales table is to use folding boxes.


8" by 8" by 4" Box Set Up

This is an 8″ by 8″ by 4″ white gloss gift box that you can order online from anyplace that specializes in packaging materials.


8" by 8" by 4" Box Folded Flat

It comes folded flat in a package of 100 for about $50 or less. You set them up in an interesting arrangement and cover them with a piece of fabric. Then you pose your dolls artistically.

Here are some mermaids from my new Dollmaking Workshop on DVD, Mimi’s Modular Mermaid. The full 5-day workshop is condensed into a few hours on several DVDs. It will be available soon.

Blue Mermaid

Blue Mermaid

Red Mermaid

Red Mermaid

Green Mermaid

Green Mermaid


Finger Turning – An Ah-Ha Moment…

Jim and I are working on our next DVD, Mimi’s Modular Mermaid. I have enough
body parts stitched and mostly stuffed to complete 14 mermaids! So…yesterday I spent the afternoon turning hands and fingers and stuffing them.

I noticed that when I used the turning tools I had made it was difficult to get the fingers turned. But when I switched to the set of turning tools made for me by a student’s husband while I was teaching in Australia those fingers turned immediately, without exception. It was time to determine what differed between the two sets of tools.

The ones I made consisted of a bent doll needle with the sharp point stuck in a cork and a brass tube. I learned this from a student who learned it from Noni Cely many years ago. The needle’s point is pushed into the cork for about an inch, which left the eye end 2-1/2” long. The brass tube had been cut in half and was six inches long.

Original Tools

I then examined the ones made by the Australian wood turner. The lovely wood handles aside; the brass tube was set and epoxied into the handle. It had a flat bottom so it fit comfortably against my chest when working with it. The ergonomic wooden handle that holds the needle is comfortable to hold and the eye of the needle sticks out of the handle only for 5/8th “. I also noticed that the needle was thicker with a larger eye and that the top of the eye was a tiny bit broader than the eye of the doll needle.

Austrailan Student's Tools

I went searching through my needlebook and discovered that this was a chenille needle used for embroidery, especially for stitching with ribbon or narrow tapes.

I then replaced the doll needle in one of my corks with a chenille needle and tested it. It works as well as the fancy hand tooled one. I also cut off one end of the tube, (which flattened that end), and now I have to buy a bottle of wine to get a nice cork to glue the cut end into. I will make several sets for classroom use.

Chenille Needle Vs Doll Needle

So if you have made finger turners with doll needles and brass tubes from the model-railroad shop, as I have been teaching for years, replace them with chenille needles and put the tube into a cork s well. Your doll’s fingers will turn more easily and quickly.

Now, for those of you who haven’t read how I turn tiny fingers here’s how:

Continue reading

Letters to the Editor – What Goes on Behind the Scene?

Both Mimi and Jim are writing this post, Basically, Jim is the active voice (me) and I will indicate things Mimi has said.

We got a very small number of complaints about various aspects of our Needle Model a Pretty Face DVD. If you want to understand the complaints you’ve got to understand the players. So, here’s a quick rundown of the Entire cast of three characters:

Mimi’s a double genius! She’s a genius at designing and making dolls, and she’s a genius at teaching others to learn techniques they can apply to their own doll creations. Mimi’s an Artist. Mimi is also the originator of doll class conventions. Back in the 1990’s Mimi wanted to study with Lisa Lichtenfels (NIADA). Lisa was willing to teach a class to make the travel and time away from her work palatable, and Mimi was too broke to pay Liza’s fee and her own travel expenses, and so the first Master Artist Class at Dollmaker’s University took place in Mimi’s basement. Mimi found nine other dollmakers who wanted to take a class with Lisa. Mimi extended the idea to some of the NIADA (National Institute of American Doll Artists) artists trying to find a way to pay for their trip to the NIADA Conventions and helped set up the teaching programs at NIADA. She took the same idea to magazine editors, and store owners, and others, and soon there were dollmaking conventions open to the general public and advertised in major crafts magazines where you could go to take classes from other well-known doll artists.

Jim’s a computer nerd and a writer, and an illustrator, and a photographer, and anything else technical that you could think of. Jim’s currently available. Project Managers should visit JimWiner.Com to find out how to get good technology writing to the people who need it, when they need it, and how they need it.

So there is an Art Versus Technology “issue.”

Cassi’s the third person. Her job is to talk electronically to dollmakers and quilters in places where we don’t already know about them, and where they don’t know about us. We used to have 50,000 cloth doll makers a few years ago Maybe we still do, but most of them are not on the Internet? What will happen if we work together as a family? Can we get more people interested in the hobby of cloth dollmaking?

Mimi is an Artist. She has specific ways of working. She is not a Television Actress. She gets involved in what she’s doing and gets off her mark and you can’t see her for a while. I tried actually operating the camera when we started. She moves too fast! I can’t follow her fast with a close-up – she out runs the camera, and worse, it tries to autofocus because she’s moving. Shooting over her shoulder with a video monitor in front of her, we had two choices: 1) use a wide field of view which would let her move around more, but what she was doing would be very hard to see because it was too far away and small, 2) use a narrow field of view (that means we have to lock the autofocus because she gets her head in front of the camera) and she gets out of her spot where you can’t see her occasionally because she forget’s to look at the monitor. The compromise we got worked fairly well. It prevented Mimi from moving around too much and we got a pretty good DVD.

The sound could have used some improvement, but it’s the first time I actually edited the sound as well as the picture and the story.

So, basic technical and artistic issues aside, here are some of the comments we got and Mimi’s answers to them:

Q: I want the doll face to be of the same fabric as the rest of the doll.

MIMI: It takes a knit or quite stretchy fabric to stitch a face with lots of detail. However, until last year, I never used an overlay.

My dolls were mostly all muslin. If you put the face pattern on the bias of the woven fabric you will have a bit more stretch. You will be able to do a closed mouth but not an open one – it takes a great deal of stretch to  create an open mouth. Most folks do not like a seam down the front of the face, but that is not why I began using the overlay. The knit or spandex overlay allows me to get much more detail in the face.

Without an overlay you will need a center front seam on the head or you cannot have a profile or even a nose that actually look like a nose. That is why I have a “skull” under the overlay it has a seam so the face will have a
realistic nose. If the seam allowance is kept narrow , evenly trimmed and straight the seam will not be noticeable. To make the seam “disappear” be sure the seam allowance is even, notched and snipped so it follows the curve of the head. if the seam allowance becomes twisted it will cause a bump, usually on the forehead or at the tip of the nose and that is the first thing one sees when viewing the doll.

My patterns of Jazz and Victoria Rose are made from muslin and have faces of muslin, They are “stump” heads, which are part of the torso, the face is added after the torso is stuffed but the face is also muslin. needle modeling instructions are included.

You can use the DVD instructions on a doll face without an overlay but use the directions for a closed mouth. Use the nose on the skull and the eyes and mouth for the overlay. It is quite doable,

Q: I like movable joints, including the neck.

MIMI: I used joints on my early dolls, The Universal Toddler and Earth Angels. but for the past 20 or so years I have preferred head and arms stitched into the pose I want. Unless the dolls are to be toys for a child
who will constantly repose them, joints are not necessary. (In my opinion.)

Q: I want the naked bald doll to be as beautiful as the finished doll with clothes and hair.

So Do I, That’s why I like to do dancers with as little clothing as possible.

High Priestess

Mimi's High Priestess

Moon Dancer Side

Drawing Down the Moon

Michael Dances Spartacus

Michael Dances Spartacus

After working for many years to perfect my realistic human bodies I hate to cover them up. You can have a bald head, but you have to use the directions on the DVD for covering the back of the head. The needle modeling of the face usually distorts the back and top of the head. I simply cut an oval of knit or woven fabric (cut on the bias) and stitch it to the back of the head. Before I finish stitching the covering closed I stuff a bit of fiberfil inside to re-shape the back of  the head and the top if it needs it.  If you look a the photos of the heads on my DVD cover you will see that my hairless head looks just fine. It does not have to be lumpy and ugly. That’s why I shape the overlay pattern to fit the head not just use a circle or oval of fabric and glue the overage to the back of the head as some do.


Q: I would like more information on differences in the face for a male
face, a child face, a baby face and different emotions.

MIMI: A baby face has all the features in the lower half of the face, the lower the features the younger the face.

A male face has a square jaw, slightly longer chin, a wider mouth and a larger and often longer nose. Eventually I may do a DVD for where to put the dots for masculine and ethnic faces as well as children. The technique is exactly the same, the difference is where you put the dots and how you design the skull shape.

There are several sections in the DVD that show how to get emotion by moving the brows, cheeks, and corners of the mouth.

Incidentally, if you sign up for an email subscription using the button on the bottom right of the screen, we’ll tell you by email every time something new is posted.


Mimi’s Christmas Sale has Started!

We’re a day late as usual in getting out Christmas Sale started. Right now you can order any of my ten electronic patterns by return email for 25% off. Instead of downloading like we have been doing, it seems much easier to just send you the instruction book file and the patterns file as email attachments. (Be sure your email address is correct in PayPal.) That way no passwords or tedious downloading, and maybe it will be a little bit quicker. To see more about the patterns available, click on the pictures. A NEW TAB will open and you will have to switch to the new tab to see the description. Close the new tab using the red “X” to come back to this page.

Mimi's Annie Agnes

Mimi's Blossom

Mimi's Father Christmas

Mimi's Happy Birthday Honey

Mimi's Jazz

The Queen's Jester

Mimi's Child (Non Interactive - 25% off)

Mimi's Child Interactive Computer Pattern - 50% off

Mimi's Mr & Mrs

Mimi's Victoria Rose

Mimi's Bertie

Mimi's Bertie

We’re also offering the Mimi’s Child Interactive Computer pattern at 50% off because we have discovered that most dollmakers do not have their computers in the same room with their sewing machines which makes using it difficult. So if you’re a pattern collector, this may be your last chance to get this one.

We will be posting some new items each week (we hope) so check back. We might even get the Mermaid done.

Happy Dolling,