If ever there was a doll made for tea parties, it is Sharon Rohloff's dolls. They come dressed to sip tea in a beautiful flower garden and talk about their recent trips to art museums and Europe. They are delightful, retro, cheerful and timeless.
The bright vintage style fabrics, old fashioned hats and bright hair give the dolls an ethereal charm of early 20th century paintings. her dolls can be found at Pink Ginger Kitty.
Sharon has been sewing soft toys for less than two years, but she read a lot, and experimented a lot.
"In January 2014, I found a copy of Stuffed magazine by Stampington in a thrift shop. I took it home and devoured every article over a weekend. I was amazed to see so many unique, fun dolls and read about artists thriving as doll makers. Encouraged by those artists who drew their own patterns, I decided to give doll making a try. I set up my grandma’s 1970’s Singer sewing machine and started playing around with fabric I found at the thrift store. My first toys were a wonky blue donkey and a pink cat with kittens. I was smitten with them and soon sewing all sorts of softies.
"My Garden Party Girl dolls came about because I love to mix fabric patterns and I wanted a doll I could build a story around. This doll has a ladylike style reminiscent of the 1920’s. I imagine them all as friends and neighbors that live and interact in the same small village. Their colored yarn hair, patterned dresses and bendable arms and legs was a look that lent itself to endless variations. This was important to me because I get bored without variety."
"I am inspired by many things: the seasons, flowers, colors I see in décor magazines, museums and art books, the fashions in PBS series such as Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and pretty cotton fabrics in fabric stores.
"I also love going to thrift stores looking for pretty items that remind me of my grandmother’s home. She was a sewer, a great cook and loved pastel colors. I like finding old notions and ribbons, floral vintage tea tins from England, vintage fabrics such as tablecloths from the ‘40’s and ‘50’s, colorful vintage hankies, toys and children’s books from the ‘50’s – ‘60’s, pretty much anything with colorful graphics. Many of the vintage tablecloths and fabrics that end up at thrift stores have light damage or staining. That makes them perfect for up cycling into doll clothes! Its really fun turning something discarded as old and tired into an elegant, cheerful toy that’s truly one of a kind.
Sharon's Doll Making Tips:
- Sew two seams all the way around your doll’s body to make a sturdy toy. This anchors arms and legs and helps keep the seams from bursting as you stuff the doll. I also use a second layer of muslin behind the face of my dolls so the knots of my embroidery thread won’t show through.
- Check your seams on both the front and back of the unstuffed doll to be sure you caught all the layers before turning it right side out.
- If you are just starting to make doll clothes, break down your clothing ideas into basic shapes. Many pieces can be developed from a “T” or arrow shape. Skirts are often a square or trapezoid, gathered at the top.
- Lay your doll down on a piece of white drawing paper and trace around it for a body pattern. I use rolls of white paper from the kid’s section of craft stores. You can use the body pattern to draw top and skirt patterns on tracing paper. Once you have a top or skirt pattern you like, cut it apart and make a mockup from inexpensive fabric like muslin or a vintage sheet. You can also try adding variations such as a ribbon tie at the neck, an elastic waist or a ruffle at the bottom edge.
Sharon and her dolls can be found: