Today’s blog post on “taking care of your handmade doll clothes” is actually a re-post of an article I wrote a little over a year ago. However, this topic is one I seem to get questions about, so maybe, while I’m on vacation, it’s a good time to revisit it…
Nobody likes to see a naked doll laying around, but did you know that leaving your doll dressed in her clothes can actually stain her body over time?
You’ll see this kind of thing on eBay when buying vintage dolls. The doll will have red stains around her feet because someone left her in her red plastic boots for a number of years. The dyes in fabric can also seep into the dolls’ “skin” and leave stains over time too.
Not only that, but certain dolls like Kenner’s Dusty doll, have been known to expel melted chemicals onto their clothes as the plastic ages. The chemicals can then leave an oily-looking stain on the doll’s clothing, especially where joints come together on the doll’s body. You can clearly see this problem in this video by Terrific TV Toys, entitled, “Dusty Doll By Kenner.”
So it’s a good idea to keep your doll nude when she’s not on display or being played with. I keep my dolls nude in a plastic tub. If I’m worried that the doll’s joints may expel chemicals, I also wrap her in acid-free material to prevent this from damaging other dolls which share her storage container.
I’ve had people ask me whether or not they can wash a doll’s clothes in a washing machine, and the answer to this question varies.
Cotton clothes can shrink when washed, as can wool and some other fabrics. An experienced sewist knows to pre-wash fabrics before making doll clothes, to avoid this problem. But before you wash any doll clothes, always identify the fabric it’s made from and do a little homework on whether or not the fabric will be damaged when washed.
Doll clothes made with felt, silk, satin, beads, or sequins can be especially fragile and may need to be hand washed or even dry cleaned.
Once you’ve determined that the fabric is washable, I recommend washing all doll clothes in a lingerie bag before throwing them in a washing machine with other items. This will avoid the problem we often see with missing socks. My aunt used to say that a lost sock went to “Sock Heaven” in the washer and dryer…
You don’t want your doll clothes to end up in “Sock Heaven!”
Velcro closures can make tiny doll clothes get stuck to the inside of a sweater or other fuzzy garments, for example, and you may not be able to find it in your laundry basket after washing it, if you don’t use a lingerie bag to separate the doll clothes from the “people clothes.”
Lastly, when making doll clothes, we tend to press them rather than ironing. If you want to know what the difference is, I actually have a tutorial on that. Click here for my “How to Iron Doll Clothes” tutorial.
A lot of people don’t realize that you can actually buy doll-sized irons online to help you press and iron tiny doll clothes. I actually use my mini ironing board to help me iron tight corners from time to time, with a tiny iron like the ones I’ve listed here:
- The Tulip mini iron (pictured in many of my videos)
- The Dritz Petite Press (I LOVE mine!)
- The Darice mini crafting iron (similar to the Tulip)
- Arch Deluxe mini-iron (this one gets very hot)
When buying a mini iron, be aware that it may not get as hot as a regular iron, and it most likely won’t offer a steam option. But you can always use a squirt bottle if you need to use moisture. Avoid using moisture on certain fabrics, though, as it can cause the fabric to look wavy.
The key, here, is to KNOW what fabric the doll clothing is made from, and understand the nuances of that fabric’s individual care.
Also, children who are using an iron need direct adult supervision. Keep the iron setting low for children, and always warn them that they shouldn’t touch the part of the iron that gets hot.