Building a Character – How To Make Your Dolls Come Alive

Here are pages 109 – 116 of Mimi’s Earth Angels Storyboard Workshop.  This section begins with how to build a character and ends with picture-by-picture instructions for fitting the clothing to your particular doll.

Building a Character

A doll becomes alive when it is “somebody” instead of “something.” To a child, with a free imagination, a handkerchief doll, a clothespin doll, a pipe cleaner doll or a Raggedy Ann doll is “somebody.” Each doll has a name and a life of its own. The child invests its own emotion into the doll to make it live.

To an adult, a doll must invoke an emotion, or the memory of an emotion to seem alive. If the doll invokes a memory of times past, or of childhood dreams unfulfilled, it will live only in a collection on a shelf with the faded memories of childhood. If the doll’s life is strong enough to bring out the child within the adult, it can lead to fulfillment of those lost dreams. But if the doll creates an emotion and life in the present tense, through a sense of empathy and wonder, by recalling and recreating the human condition, then It becomes sculpture or Art. Then has the doll’s creator gained immortality by communicating beyond the bounds of time.

Let the Doll Come Alive

She was a dollmaker.
She made what she could of the doll,
until it came alive in her hands
and made what it could
of itself.

Creating a living doll is like creating anything else: at some point, the doll will take over and shape itself. The wise dollmaker knows that there is a time for discipline to enforce the basic shape of humanity, and a time to let go and let what will be, be.

Planning a Character

As an artist, you have a certain idea of what you would like to create — what it looks like, what it feels like, what it says to others. It is easiest to control the appearance of your work, for that you shape directly with your hands. You can plan the appearance of your doll by selecting the skin, eye, and hair colors, the racial features of the face, and the cut, colors, and style of the costume. This book has tried to show you how to make your doll dreams into reality.

A living character is more than appearance. You plan a character by giving it a name, a biography, a pose, and a costume. If the sum of these things forms a whole and evokes an emotion in the viewers, your work has life

If you are sensitive to it, your work will tell you its name and biography as you shape its body. Then you need only add pose and costume to help it express itself.

Naming Your Character

Like a person, a character has a name. For our children, we look through books for the meanings of names in the hopes that our children will live up to the name we give them. More primitive peoples wait until the child is older (to be sure it will survive), and base the name on the character the child has already shown.

You may name your doll before you begin, or you may wait until your doll tells you who she is. If you choose the name first, your doll will try to live up to her name. If you let your doll choose her own name, you will learn something from her.

Biography Builds Character

A biography expands on your doll’s name by giving her a past and a future. A student of psychology will recognize that the past controls the body language of the present and the expectations of the future. The past shows in our pose, expression, costume, and image. It dictates both how we perceive and treat ourselves, and how others perceive and treat us. By giving your doll a past, you determine her future.

A biography need only be a sentence or two. Where does she come from? Who were her parents? What are her aspirations? Then pose her and dress her accordingly.

Posing and Expression

We recognize expression by the shape of the eyes and the mouth, by the tilt of the head, by the bend of the elbow or knee, by the curl of a finger — by all those things which reflect our inner state of mind upon our body. You must sculpt the shape of Earth Angel’s face when first you make her. It is one of the things that will tell you who she is, To make her body match, you need only put the same expression on your own face and allow your own body to flow Into the matching position. Then copy the body language Into Earth Angel’s pose. Her head will twist and tilt. Her elbows and knees can be ladder stitched in any position. Her wrists will twist and turn. Her fingers will curl and close.

Costume and Image

A costume and its accessories merely refines the image of the character and makes it more obvious to the viewer. The right costume accentuates the character, even when the character is hiding behind the costume.

Princess Askara looks regal without her costume. “Princess” is built into her face and her posture. The costume merely tells you why she is regal.

Similarly, an Angel of Punk Rock tells you that she is hiding and afraid to let the world see who she really is, because the world might see her as nobody. Her costume says: “Look at me!” but her body language says: “I am just like all the others — you can’t tell I’m not really here.”

Earthbound Angel

born not of the Families,
must abandon her wings,
bid freedom to Pegasus,
and become an Earthbound Angel
In whose life
the Seeds of the Wheel are sewn.

Diana de Los Angeles

Diana de Los Angeles was born with a golden spoon in her mouth and a silver chalice at her side. She lives in Marina Del Mar on-board a 48 foot Choy Lee trawler. She can tell you to the last monel screw why she thinks the Choy Lee is better than the Grand Banks trawler, and why none of the other trawlers are worthy of the name. She also owns a 51 foot Morgan Out Island ketch that she charters in the Caribbean. It is rigged for single-handing from the cockpit. She has participated in the Around-The-World Solo Sailboat Races. She is at home with a LORAN or a computer, or doing a major engine overhaul at sea. She has survived a hurricane at sea by lying awash. She has been knocked down and rolled over, but never defeated.

Betty Mae Bearcat

Betty Mae Bearcat was born and raised in Florida. She discovered at an early age that she couldn’t compete with the Golden Girls and didn’t want to spend her life as a supermarket checker or live in a ticky-tack town. During her adolescence, her best friends were alligators, and she learned more about poachers and swamps than it was safe to know. Now she holds the Unofficial Women’s Title in Unlimited Class Air Boat Racing and works for the Drug Enforcement Administration. She still knows more about swamps than it’s safe to know, but she’s awfully fast.

Rusty Rhinestone

Neither Rusty nor Rhinestone are her real names. When she grew up in a small town in Texas, her flaming red hair earned her the name of Rusty. She moved to the East Coast to find her fortune, working for a time as a dealer in an Atlantic City casino where she added Rhinestone to her name and two children to her responsibilities. Cursed with both beauty and taste, she never thought of herself as intelligent because nobody valued her for those qualities. She moved to The City to try her luck as a model, but neither Ford nor Elite found her exotic enough. She survived as a pattern model, furnishing her wardrobe from the samples that were pinned on her. When attending the Fashion Institute of Technology, she became fascinated with electronic design machines and computer graphics. She now has a degree in Computer Science and a new career selling Digital Video Effects machines to the television industry. She hopes to join the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers soon. And she still wears her West Texas cowboy boots.

Princess Askara

Princess Askara is a real princess from a tribe in West Africa. She came to the United States to study Political Science at George Washington University in the District of Columbia. Her beauty and regal poise soon attracted attention and she became a top cover model earning valuable foreign exchange for her country. She will be returning home soon, and hopes that the symbology of the spear and the flowers will help her people understand that there is more to the world than a small, proud, but impoverished country.

Costume and Accessory Notes

The sunglasses and earrings for Diana de Los Angeles are children’s toys found in a local pharmacy. The straw hats for Diana de Los Angeles and Betty Mae Bearcat were found in a local craft shop where they are usually used with flowers and ribbons.

The costume pieces for Rusty Rhinestone are completely described in this book.

Princess Askara’s spear is a 1/4 Inch wooden dowel rod cut about 30 inches long. The end has been partially pointed in a pencil sharpener and then sanded smooth. It has been stained with a mixture of Burnt Umber and Raw Sienna artists colors (in tubes) diluted with water and rubbed in with a paper towel. Her earrings are real wooden earrings with the ear wires removed and are sewn in place. Her necklace, bracelet, and anklet are assorted beads found at craft shops. The flower is selected from the artificial flowers at the craft shop. Her copper snake arm band is made from a piece of the same copper wire used for a neck support with the plastic insulation removed. It is fitted to her arm before cutting the ends, and the ends are filed smooth to prevent snags in the fabric before it is put into place.

If you are sensitive to it, your work will tell you its name and biography as you shape its body. Then you need only add pose and costume to help it express itself.

Altering Clothing Patterns to Fit

One of the beauties of cloth dolls is that no two dolls are exactly alike. Your doll may be thinner or fatter than mine. It is easy to adjust the clothing patterns to fit your doll exactly.

  1. Begin by tracing the pattern pieces on a paper towel or pellon. Mark the stitching line, not the cutting line. Cut out the traced pattern leaving lots of extra space around the stitching lines. On a pattern piece with a fold line, don’t leave extra where the fold will go.
  2. Pin the traced pattern to the doll. In the case of the tank top shown here, the fold line goes down the middle of the doll’s back.
  3. Now pin the pattern on the doll so that it fits properly. Tear or cut the edge, or make darts as necessary. Add extra by using transparent tape on both sides of the pattern piece (so that it sticks to itself, not to something else). Using a soft pencil, mark the new stitching line. On a chubby doll such as this, the new stitching line will be outside the original stitching line.
  4. Flatten the pattern piece back out. You will see both the old and new stitching lines (left). Trace the new stitching lines onto a piece of tracing paper (right).
  5. EA-Sample_html_236fc323If you place the new pattern piece on top of (left) or next to (right) the old one, you can see how different they are.
  6. If the pattern piece you are adjusting has a dart, make the dart in the paper or pellon pattern and adjust it also as needed.


  • Make a test garment from inexpensive fabric to check fit before using your fashion fabric.
  • You may have to make multiple pattern fittings and possibly multiple test garments.

Mimi’s Earth Angels
On Sale Until 12/31/13 – $25.00 (Reg $30.00)

Download Electronic PDF files

The electronic files are approximately 105 MB. Most high-speed Internet connections in the United States or Canada download the files in 5 minutes or less. We haven’t heard of any problems with downloading time.

When you order Mimi’s Earth Angels by download, you will receive a return email with download links as soon as we can send it out. Please be sure that your email address listed with PayPal is correct.

Please be patient. It’s just Mimi and Jim and we have to process each order by hand.

Download Files Anywhere in the World $25
Please Use this Button (opens a new tab):

To order a CD instead of a download, please visit http://Mimidolls.Com

Mimi’s List of Costuming Books, One Of A Kind Doll Sale

Drowning in Mermaids:

We’re over run with mermaids. I made 14 of them for the DVDs, and I’m drowning in mermaids.  It’s time to clear some space in my studio. There are still four (as of this writing) left that are sale priced at $99, so if you want an original Mimidoll, take a look at the sale page:

DVD and E-Pattern Sale

The DVD and E-Pattern sale is still going on. Visit to save 20%,

Costume Books:

I have over 60 costuming books, but these are the ones I use the most.
Most of the patterns are 1/8 scale. (Enlarge to double size for 1/4 scale dolls.)

You can download a printable copy of this list from http://Mimidolls.Com. The link will be on the front page for a while, but if it’s not still on the front page, look under the Downloads (Other Free Stuff) button, the Classics button, or the Free Stuff (Other Free Stuff) button.

UPDATE: 12/8/2011 – Most of these books are available at http://DramaBookShop.Com.

Most Useful Costume Books:

If you can only afford one, this is the one to get or start with:

Katherine Strand Holkeboer, Patterns for Theatrical Costumes – Garments, Trims, and Accessories from Ancient Egypt to 1915, ISBN: 0-89676-125-8

A collection of hundreds of basic pattern shapes which allows the designer’s creativity free range. Kathherine Strand Holkeboer presents the general characteristics of male and female dress from the early Egyptian to the beginning of the 20th century. Gowns, tunics, headdresses, jackets, robes, breeches – the patterns will produce an accurate silhouette for each time period, leaving the costumer free to explore variations of cut and surface embellishment within an historic framework. Plus – there are even patterns for Far Eastern outfits, ecclesiastical clothing, animals and fantasy figures.

This is also a “must have” book:

C. Willett and Phillis Cunningtom, The History of Underclothes, ISBN: 0-486-27124-2

In a well-documented, profusely illustrated volume combining impressive scholarship with an entertaining, often humorous style, two distinguished clothing historians consider undergarments worn by the English over the last 600 years. Beginning with the Middle Ages, the authors cover centuries of clothing history including the Tudor period, the Restoration, the Victorian and Edwardian eras and the twentieth century up to the eve of World War II. Drawing on extensive, well-documented research, the Cunninghams illuminate the role and function of underwear: it protected the wearer against the elements, supported costume shapes, served as an erotic stimulus, symbolized the class distinctions and fulfilled other social, sanitary and economic functions.

Get these next two only if you need information about costumes from these periods.

Jean Hunnsett, Period Costume for Stage and Screen – Patterns for Women’s Dress 1500-1800, ISBN: 0-7135-2660-2

A comprehensive guide to creating women’s dress through three centuries. As well as being historically accurate, Jean Hunnisett’s patterns have been adapted so that they can be readily made up using today’s fabrics and sewing methods, and to fit the modern female figure. The book includes complete scaled patterns for each costume as well as step-by-step instructions and 250 detailed working drawings. Patterns are also included for all the correctly shaped corsets, petticoats and pads which are essential to make each costume look right for its period.

Jean Hunnisett, Period Costume for Stage & Screen – Patterns for Women’s Dress, Medieval – 1500, ISBN: 0-88734-653-7 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.)

A comprehensive guide to creating women’s dress through five centuries. As well as being accurate, Jean Hunnisett’s patterns have been adapted so that they can be readily made up using today’s fabrics and sewing methods, and fit the modern female figure. The book includes scaled patterns for each costume as well as step-by-step instructions and detailed working drawings. Patterns are also included for all the correctly shaped undergarments which are essential to make each costume look right for its period.

Note: Diane Keeler buys the costume patterns by Butterick, Vogue, etc. when they are on sale and photo copies the layout on the direction sheet (not the pattern). Then she enlarges it to fit her doll.


These three books are listed in the order I recommend that you read them:

Timothy J. Alberts & M. Dalton King with Pat Henry, The Art of Making Beautiful Fashion Doll Shoes, ISBN: 0-87588-561-6 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.)

The author began developing his techniques for making shoes in the early `990s, when he was creating his doll Chloe, and participating in the beginnings of the Gene project. Chloe is a doll that is dressed in the height of 18th century fashion. Since he was designing the clothes, buying the fabrics, and looking for accessories, it became very clear to him that he wouldn’t be able to find shoes to equal the quality of the outfits he was making. The obvious solution was to make his own… He researched how shoes are actually made and adapted the big foot methods for miniature feet… This book will take you through all the steps required to make beautiful doll shoes, starting first with lasts, after that, heels, and then the actual shoes themselves, with demonstrations on how to make both fabric and leather shoes. Along the way, he’s included lots of pictures of the shoes he’s made over the years and some of the lovely dolls that are now wearing those shoes… You will, simply by following his techniques, be able to produce shoes that are works of art in themselves. (This book is a must for most dollmakers.)

Iris Brooke, Footwear – A Short History of European and American Shoes, ISBN: 0-87830-047-3 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (For reference only. No Patterns.)

A leading authority on historical costume and particularly costume for the stage, Miss Brooke here produces a witty survey of shoe fashions enlivened by her own drawings. Beginning with actual Roman sandals found in the mud of the Thames River, through medieval samples, both practical and elegant, drawn from sculpture on cathedrals, to the diversity of Renaissance fashions and of every century since, she shows how footwear was fundamentally shaped by practical needs, by materials available and by methods of cobbling and manufacture. But she also demonstrates, sometimes with examples she has herself discovered, how footwear, like costume in general, reflects not only social and economic conditions – war, depression, peace, and prosperity – but architecture, painting and the other arts. She has combed the literature of each period for telling and often amusing descriptions of what was being worn. (Human sized shoes, but techniques for dolls are exactly the same.)

Sharon Raymond, Crafting Handmade Shoes – Great-Looking Shoes, Sandals, Slippers & Boots, ISBN: 1-57990-192-1 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.)

Make shoes that look and feel great. Once you create your first beautiful pair, you’ll want to make another and then another! The basic techniques are simple enough for beginners. Once you learn how to choose the right leathers – and fabrics – and the many decorative options, you’ll be ready to make shoes that are distinctively yours. From sandals to boots, these projects will introduce you to cutting and stitching beautiful colored leathers, adding simple binding to create interesting touches, and finishing your shoes with eye-catching embellishments. And once you know the secrets of pattern-making, every pair can be custom-tailored to your feet so that they fit perfectly. Now how many store-bought shoes can you say that about? (Human sized shoes, but techniques for dolls are exactly the same.)


Listed in the order you should read them:

Lyn Waring, Hats in Miniature, ISBN: 0-8069-4265-7

These charming miniature hats are perfect for dolls, teddy bears, and gifts… and just to show off! Only basic sewing skills are required to complete: elegant Top Hats and fancy flower-lined Boaters, whimsical Berets and sophisticated, close-fitting Cloches, extravagant Easter Parade and Race Day fashions, darling Peewees with over sized bows, baseball, jockey, golf, military or hunting caps, and even something for the chef. 18 different styles in all. Complete patterns, along with instructions on equipment, collars, seams, cutting, notches, batting – even directions for making a hat stand to display your lovely designs!

Edited by Clare Blau, Hat Making for Dolls 1855-1916, Revised Edition with Patterns and Illustrations, ISBN: 0-87588-141-6

Reprinted from old books and periodicals with additional patterns and instructions by Sandy Williams. This book contains a rich variety of 18 doll hat patterns with instructions sure to aid the doll’s hat maker in creating mid-19th century to early 20th century hats. The hat maker will find many illustrations with helpful hints and suggestions. Also included are additional illustrations and descriptions representative of children’s and adult’s hats which can be utilized by hat makers to trim and make their own period millinery.

Timothy Alberts, M. Dalton King, and Pat Henry, The Art of Making Miniature Millinery, ISBN: 0-87588-616-7 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.)

The same basics, caps, toques, wide brimmed hats, turbans, berets, and hoods have appeared over and over again throughout history, one day the height of fashion, the next relegated to closets and drawers. This book will take you … through the hat making process, demonstrating, three basics: felt, straw, and, a buckram hat, plus one which is somewhat more complicated, a hat made on a wire foundation. This book will discuss why one foundation may be preferable for a particular style over another, how to find, make, or adapt head blocks for small heads. This book will talk about scale and even provide suggestion as to how to refurbish pre-existing or “store bought” hats. This book will cover practical hats, service hats, dress, formal, or occasional hats, and specialty hats or headdresses. This book stresses  a need for historical accuracy and understanding of time and place, paying attention to scale, knowledge of hat making materials and techniques, and we don’t want you to forget the creativity you bring to the process.

Stella V. Remiasz, Hats – Design and Construction, Second Edition, ISBN: 0-9617414-0-6 (This is a text book for Milliners.)

This book, presented as lesson plans, is used by many teachers as a basic textbook for teaching millinery classes. However, the making of hats is not just the designing of them. The actual experience of working through the lesson plans in this book should give you a working knowledge of the design and construction of the basic hat styles.

Denise Dreher, From the Neck Up – An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, ISBN: 0-941082-00-8 (A complete course in Millinery.)

From the Neck Up is the most complete and unique book on hatmaking to date. It can be used as a method of self-instruction, as a classroom textbook or as a reference guide. All of the hatmaking techniques are explained step-by-step and clearly illustrated by more than four hundred photographs and drawings. Professional methods, materials and equipment are described and illustrated in detail with substitutes and improvised methods included for those with limited resources and budgets. Even if you have never held a needle and thread before, you can, through careful application of the lessons , make a complete hat either with or without the aid of a sewing machine.

Children’s Costumes

Robert Harrold and Phyllida Legg, Folk Costumes of the World, ISBN: 0-7137-2056-5 (For reference only. No patterns.)

Folk costumes express both the character of communities and their ethnic origins. It is in the folk costumes of a people that tradition, in music, dance and ritual, is colourfully displayed; and just as climate and physical geographical features have influenced attitudes, they have also given rise to a wealth of variety in dress.

Ruth M. Green and Jack Cassin-Scott, Costume and Fashion in Colour – 1550-1760, ISBN: 0-7137-0739-5 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (For reference only. No patterns.)

These were turbulent times of war and intrigue, which spanned the reigns of some of Europe’s most memorable monarchs: Elizabeth I, James I, Charles I, Henry IV, Louis XIII, Louis XIV, and Philip of Spain. The fashion lead was taken up first by one country and then another, with Spain, France and England in the forefront, each leaving its mark on the costume styles it originated, and adding variety and flamboyance to contemporary fashions.

Estelle Ansley Worrell, Children’s Costume in America 1607-1910, ISBN: 0-684-16645-3 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (For reference only. No patterns.)

For the first time in a single volume, here is a comprehensive survey of three centuries of children’s wear in America. The book shows over 300 individuals in full-page group illustrations. Ranging in age from babyhood to the teens, they represent every period of American history up to the twentieth century, when commercial production of clothing began. The book also covers toys, furniture, carriages, sleds, and other equipment.

Albert Racinet, Illustrated History of European Costume – Period Styles and Accessories, ISBN: 1-85585-724-3 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.)

From the formal apparel of the Middle Ages to the fanciful women’s fashions of 19th-century France, the Illustrated History of European Costume presents and describes the wide variety of costumes worn by all sections of society, male and female, rich and poor, civilian, religious and military. The book traces original and revival styles – for example, ancient Greek and Roman dress and their reappearance in the Neo-classical fashions of the 19th-century. It includes detailed coverage of accessories such as head-dresses, shawls, shoes and jewellery, with examples from antiquity to the 19th-century. A “patterns” section presents illustrated guidelines on the cut of some of the most important costume styles covered in the book.

Men’s Clothing

Norah Waugh, The cut of Men’s Clothes 1600-1900, ISBN: 0-87830-025-2 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (This is the best men’s fashion book.)

This book traces the evolution of the style of men’s dress through a sequence of diagrams accurately scaled down from patterns of actual garments, many of them rare museum specimens. The plates have been selected with the same purpose. Some are photographs of suits for which diagrams have also been given; others, reproduced from paintings and old prints, show the costume complete with its accessories. Quotations from contemporary sources – from diaries, travelers’ accounts and tailors’ bills – supplement Miss Waugh’s text with comments on fashion and lively eye-witness descriptions.

John Peacock, Men’s Fashion – The Complete Sourcebook, ISBN: 0-500-01725-5 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (For reference only. No patterns.)

Charting the development of fashions for men, this encyclopaedic survey covers every area of clothing and appearance: day wear, court and evening wear, leisure and sports wear, underwear, knitwear, accessories and hairstyles – from the unkempt, earringed “incroyables of late eighteenth century France to the American hippies of the 1970s; from Victorian top-hatted gentlemen to the sixties leather-jacketed rockers; from the plus-foured golfers of the 1920s to the tracksuited joggers of today. Over 1000 full color drawings.

David Page Coffin, Shirtmaking – Developing Skills for Fine Sewing, ISBN: 1-56158-015-5 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (Modern – today’s fashions. For human shirts, but excellent for learning to make really good doll shirts.)

With the skills you’ll learn in Shirtmaking, you can create elegant, custom-fit garments for a woman or man that look like the best money can buy. And, even more important, once you learn to make and fit a shirt – whether you’ve sewn for weeks or years – your sewing skills will be dramatically improved and changed forever. You’ll learn how to create, with a few simple changes in pattern and detail, a wide variety of garments that are entirely different from the classic dress shirt on which they’re based – garments as varied as dressy silk blouses and rugged woolen overshirts. You’ll find full-scale patterns for collars, plackets, cuffs and pickets, and complete instructions for developing custom-fit shirt patterns.

Jim Harter, Men – A Pictorial Archive from Ninteenth Century Sources – 412 Copyright-free Illustrations for Artists and Designers, ISBN:0-486-23952-7 (For reference only. No patterns.)

Over 400 carefully selected illustrations of men in an enormous variety of poses, costumes, attitudes and activities: playing baseball, dancing, roping steers, mining coal, playing chess, hunting, flirting, courting, wrestling, shoveling, running, reading, talking, praying, thinking, gesturing, fencing, etc. Spanning a variety of geographical locations and historical periods, these delightfully old-fashioned renderings depict: Eskimos in kayaks, medieval knights, Roman gladiators, magicians, firemen, soldiers, miners, beggars, fops, dandies, Prussian generals, shepherds, artists, acrobats, bullfighters, doctors, mythological and religious figures, monks, prisoners, and more, representing nearly every masculine occupation and activity imaginable.

Douglas Gorsline, What People Wore – 1800 Illustrations from Ancient Times to the Early Twentieth Century, ISBN: 0-486-28162-0 (For reference only. No patterns.)

Spanning nearly 5000 years of clothing styles, this splendid sourcebook presents a fascinating panorama of wearing apparel, beginning with the ancient Egyptians and continuing through the early decades of the 20th century. Over 1800 drawings depict garments ranging from diaphanous gowns of Egyptian royalty, ornate robes of Byzantine dignitaries, and elegant dresses worn by 18th-century Parisians to picturesque outfits of American frontiersmen and the revolutionary 1920s wardrobe of the American flapper. Here also are informal portraits of Byzantine commoners and religious figures, Elizabethans in lace collars and ruffs, upper-class Venetians, English dandies and French gentlemen of the mid-18th century; as well as detailed illustrations of 19th-century New York farmers, western fur trappers, cowboys, mountain men and lumberjacks; sodhouse pioneers, Klondike prospectors, Mississippi rivermen and many more.

Henry Shaw, Dress and Decoration of the Middle Ages, ISBN: 188544024-3 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (For reference only. No patterns.)

Originally written in the 1840s and published in 1858, Henry Shaw’s book is an essential work for the study of the life and history of the Middle Ages. More than simply dress and decoration, Shaw presents intimate portraits of the important people – royal, political, and ecclesiastical – of the Middle Ages, as well as conveying an understanding of the popular tastes of the common people of the times.

Peter Klucina, Armor from Ancient to Modern Times, ISBN:0-7607-0475-9 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (For reference only. No patterns.)

The author and illustrator have drawn upon the world’s most renowned collections, both privately owned and in museums, to tell the complete story of the development of defensive armor. The armor of each historical period is carefully described, with considerable attention to how the armor evolved and its practical functions in the battlefield tactics of the time. A detailed account is given of how European armor was influenced by, and in turn influenced, armor from the Middle East and Asia.

Charles Ffoulkes, The Armourer and His Craft from the XIth to the XVIth Century, ISBN: 0-486-25851-3 (For reference only. No patterns.)

Valiant deeds performed by knights in armor have long been a staple of medieval life and lore; seldom, however, has a book offered such a meticulously detailed and thorough discussion of the armor itself – how it was made, what materials and tools were used, how it was decorated, cleaned, and maintained, who were the great craftsmen, how the wearer put on his suit of armor, how he was able to move and joust in it, how much it weighted, how much it cost and much, much more.


Join Mimi for an Online Chat! – Sale Goes On

Mimi’s Christmas sale is still going on. Get 20% off DVD sets and most E-patterns.
(Opens a new tab.)

Mimi will be online for a chat with dollmakers on:

Friday, December 2, from 7-9 pm Eastern time and

Sunday, December 4, from 6-8 pm Eastern time.

We have two NEW FREE videos to show you how to get to the chat room.

Join the Screaming Mimis Workshop Step 1 of 2 shows you how to get a FREE Yahoo! account that can be used for groups and email.

Be sure to put in a birthday that shows you at least 18 years old or you aren’t allowed in the chat room!

Join the Screaming Mimis Workshop Step 2 of 2 shows you how to join the workshop when you already have a Yahoo! account.

You need to sign in to Yahoo! with your Yahoo! account ID and not your regular email address to get to the chat room!

Check them out and come visit with Mimi Saturday, 12/2, and Sunday, 12/4/2011.


Mimi’s Basic Dollmaking — Our First Online Tutorial!

Complete 2-Day Dollmaking Workshop
For Beginning to Intermediate Dollmakers
Realistic Cloth Dolls

Mimi’s Basic Dollmaking tutorial uses a very easy pattern for a four to five-year old child. The doll is about 10-inches (25-cm), and can be a boy or a girl or neither (and have wings or a fish tail). It uses Mimi’s easy, modular technique for full posing.

  • This doll is so simple that a first-time dollmaker can make it easily and successfully in just a few hours.
  • The Basic Dollmaking doll is the perfect canvas to showcase your needlework by decorating wings, or fins, or clothes, or paint, or embroidery, or beading, or your own favorite expression.
  • There are only six basic pattern pieces, plus a few optional choices such as pointed toes, pointed ears, and flukes and wings.
  • The well-shaped head has a choice of human or “pointy” attached ears, and does not need a face when the doll is made for the display of your needlework.
  • For the more adventurous, there is a fully needle-modeled face. It’s easier than you think with my new directions. There is an easier way to stitch the eyes and make that cute mouth.

Use this body design to create the doll of your dreams, a child, a faery, an elf or a mer-kid to display your favorite form of needle-art on the wings or flukes.

How it Works:

  • 34 video demonstrations.
  • Go at your own pace. (It’s all accessible immediately. No week-by-week handouts.)
  • You don’t have to worry about the class ending before you can participate in the discussion group. The Screaming Mimis is a permanent discussion group.
  • You don’t have to wait for a new class to begin. Start when you’re ready.
  • Everybody on The Screaming Mimi’s is working on Mimi patterns (or their own projects based on what they have learned) and can help you.
  • Jim and I read the discussions every day and help out whenever we are needed. We also schedule live chats with Mimi.
  • The tutorial gets updated as we shoot new video or find easier ways to explain things. If you come back and do it again after a few months, you may find a lot of new things. Just check the “What’s New” chapter in the “Introduction” lesson for a dated list of changes.

What You Will Learn:

  • How to photograph your dolls
  • How to make and use templates
  • What to look for in stuffing materials
  • How to work with knits
  • How to determine fabric stretch
  • How to clean hand sewing needles
  • How to set up your sewing machine for dollmaking
  • How to take care of air soluble markers
  • What kind of thread to use for dollmaking
  • How to clip seams
  • How to ladder stitch
  • How to select hemostats
  • How to make and use a stuffing tool
  • How to stuff a doll smoothly
  • How to make wired hands
  • How to turn fingers
  • How to wire ears
  • How to pin doll parts together with a smooth fit
  • How to attach wings to a faery and flukes to a mer-kid
  • How to locate features on a face
  • How to be sure your eyes are on the same plane and the same size
  • How to needle-model a nose
  • How to needle-model lips
  • How to make dimensional eyes
  • How to color the face
  • How to make needle lace
  • How to make thread paintings

Mimi’s Basic Dollmaking Online Tutorial
10 Lessons, nearly 100 Chapters
Only $30!

Click Here to Buy Now!
(Opens new tab)

You will receive an email in 1-3 business days telling you how to log on, and providing your UserID and Serial#.

Making Posable Hands that can Grasp Objects – New Free Video Tutorial


This is Chapters 6, 7, and 8 of Lesson 6 Posable Hands from the new Mimi’s Modular Mermaid Classroom on DVD. It takes eleven minutes and discusses and demonstrates how to make and pose doll hands that can grasp objects.

To see the previous videos, please visit 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!


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 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 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: and join from there, or you can send Sandra an e-mail at
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