Attaching a doll head to the doll body

Probably the number 2 question I get, after how do I do the faces on my dolls, is how do you attach the head.  In my patterns and books I explain it, but it does help to have photo's.  Thus this post.

DollHeadAttachment1 After filling the body with stuffing, firmly, I slip a pipe cleaner down the spine and have a bit of it sticking up out of the neck.  You can barely see it in this photo.  The neck on this particular doll body is quite long so the pipe cleaner doesn't need to stick that far above the neck opening.

Using a pair of hemostats grasp the neck firmly and squeeze it small enough to insert into the opening at the back of the dolls head. 

On the sample I've locked the hemostats so I could take a photo.  Generally they are in my hand.

DollHeadAttachment2 With my free hand I rock the head onto the neck.  Using the hemostats I push the neck fabric up into the opening at the back of the head.

Nearly all dolls have an opening in the back of the head, but check with the pattern designer you are working with.  Theirs might be different from how I do doll heads.

DollHeadAttachment3 After I have the head placed as I'd like it, I pin it in place.

Thread a needle with about 1/2-yard/meter of strong thread and anchor at the back of the head, or neck.

Ladder stitchDollHeadAttachment4 the head to the neck all the way around.

A ladder stitch is the same as a hidden stitch.  You don't want your threads to show as you get to the sides and front of the head.

Once around anchor the thread and cut.
You can see the sample to the right how the stitches don't show.  Click on the photo and you'll get a larger image so you can see it a bit clearer.

DollHeadAttachment5 When attaching the head angle it in a way that gives her more of an attitude.  This dolls head is turned slightly to her left, your right as you are looking at the photo.  When she's finished she'll look more interesting rather than a straight on attitude/look.

This doll is a work in progress.  She'll be a new pattern once she's dressed, wigged and accessorized.  I've not come up with her name yet.  I generally don't until they are completely finished.  Sometimes a name I've chosen beforehand just doesn't fit her when she's done.

I hope this little tutorial gives you a better idea of how I attach heads.

One final note.  I can't live without a pair of hemostats (forceps).  I use them for turning, stuffing, adjusting, grabbing things, you name it.  I have turning tubes for little fingers and Barbara Willis' small stuffing fork for small places, but my number one tool is the hemostat.  Thought you'd like to know.

Also, and this is my final note, I can't live without my Bernina sewing machine.  They have a magical foot, #37, that allows me to see my drawn lines as I sew, yet keeps the fabric stable. 

Happy doll making!

9 Responses to “Attaching a doll head to the doll body”

  1. Dolores says:

    Many thanks for the visuals. It really does help even if the written instructions are quite well written.

  2. Jo says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I agree with Dolores, the photos really help.

  3. Oh yes that’s a great foot for the Bernina! One of my favorite things about them is the huge selection of fun feet. 🙂

  4. Freebie Friday – Keep your Head On

    It feels like my head is not attached to my shoulders at the minute. It may be that I’m still not used to the fact that I’ve quit my day job and I get to make dolls all day or…

  5. Candy says:

    Thanks for sharing. This really helps. Such TALENT!!!

  6. DK says:

    This was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks again!

  7. Jill says:

    How do you reattach a doll head? My mother in law put my daughters CBK in the dryer and the head is coming off. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

  8. Patti says:

    Hi Jill,
    What is a CBK? Is it a cloth doll of some type? If it is cloth, you can generally re-attach the head with needle and thread. I’d have to see a picture of the doll to see what the problem is.

  9. Thanks so much for posting the link to that great tutorial. I had good fun this afternoon making a basket and, like an earlier commenter, can say that the slightest difference in square size makes a basket of rather different proportions. I’ll follow the instructions *to the letter* next time!

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