If you are going to go through all the work and effort of making a dress for a doll, you want to have the best quality doll you can find. The look of the doll can make your dress look less than what it could be on a more attractive one. Although your first instinct is to get the regular 13″ doll that looks like a shapeless child, there are far more options than this. And if you aren’t afraid to look beyond the craft store, than you might find something really worth it.
Whether you crochet, knit, bead, or sew, there are countless ways to make dresses for fashion dolls or those of the larger variety. Let’s start with the bigger dolls typically used for displaying crocheted or sewn creations.
Fiber craft offers a number of 15″ or more dolls. The “Classic” version is $3.00 and comes in blonde or brunette hair (and sometimes auburn). Their hairstyle is fairly outdated-close to a mullet cut but with slightly curly hair. It doesn’t look very attractive unless you plan on covering the do with a hat. The limbs are moveable in their joints, but the arms and knees are not flexible. The plastic is somewhat cheap and hollow and you can sometimes find flaws in the sealing of the plastic at their feet; this is not visible unless you remove their shoes, however. If you are planning on giving it to a child than it won’t be very useful for play because the hair isn’t meant to be combed and isn’t very soft.
The next version at this price range is the “Music Box” doll. She comes in blonde or brunette, and true to her name, can hold a music box in the cavity of her back. These dolls are a great idea if you are giving your dressed doll as a gift and want it to be musical as well. You can choose from a variety of music boxes to insert into this cavity, and find that perfect familiar tune. Each doll has a ‘fro’ hair do that kind of sticks out in undefined waves. But in this case it is acceptable as this would not be a toy; you can top it with a hat and some cute outfit and have no problems keeping the ugly hair do a secret. The face paint on the Classic doll has a retro blue eye shadow, but the Music Box doll has a muted face that is more agreeable.
But the real deal in larger dolls is the Victorian Doll. This doll stands about 15″, with an exaggerated small waist, a plastic molded corset and bloomers, and an elegant bun hair do with a curl hanging on either side of her face. On her feet you’ll find black granny boots, and her face paint is exquisitely done. The hair is soft and can be shaped back into position easily after taking her out of the package, and she is made from a very sturdy plastic. Only her arms are posable (besides her standard neck swivel) at the elbows, where they can be moved outwards or inwards. Her legs don’t move at all, but this is advantageous for display. Although she isn’t a good playing doll, her display possibilities are endless. You will expect to pay about $5.00 for this exceptional doll.
In the 7″ range we have a unique, almost pleasantly plump pig-tailed girl-the Cindy doll. Cindy comes in blonde or brown hair, with two pig-tails braided on each side of her face, and tied up with pink bows. Her facial expression varies a little, with one that has a opened “o” mouth, to one that has a more relaxed look. Her cheeks are round and rosy and she’s perfect for small designs and small girls to play with. She comes with underwear that covers (unlike other dolls that have sheer tulle underwear) and shoes with socks. Get her for about $2.00 and you have yourself a cute little bargain for any original creation on this small scale.
In the fashion doll category, you will find a few ways to obtain a good display doll. Fashion dolls are 11 ½” tall and are about $2 for the cheap, low quality craft doll type. If you are going to spend all that time using crochet thread or working in such a small scale in knitting or sewing, than you need to display it on something longer lasting than a $2 craft doll. Your best bet is to go to KB Toys or your local Walmart/Kmart and go to the Barbie section. Here you’ll find the ‘basic’ Barbie that is usually about $5-6; she’s usually dressed in a bikini or a small dress. You can’t feel too bad about removing her from her box, and you can also re-use the box to give as a gift. Barbie’s facial paint is generally well-done, and her hair is workable into a variety of styles to fit the outfit you’ve made. Another option for this size doll is the more pricey craft dolls sold by Paradise. The Paradise Ladies are made for use with their period clothing crochet patterns. Her hair can be styled, and her body is molded more realistically than Barbies, with natural shaped breasts, and a torso that flows into the hips without a disconnecting twist waist. You will expect to pay $13.00 plus shipping and handling for this beauty, but her look is superb, and she’s far more unique than Barbie.