Thursday, April 26, 2018


Hi all,
I just finished my "FOLLIES SHOWGIRL" pattern.

It's a digital e-pattern you can download in a PDF file.

She stands about 17 inches (22" with headdress), and dressed in a vintage style showgirl costume--- although, I think this would make a great "basic doll" pattern for anything you wanted to design for it.

The legs are cut "in one" with the body, while the head and arms are separate pieces. (I had to make 3 samples to get the pattern right!) There's a wire armature inside the body & legs to help her stand up, while glued to a wood base.

I've included instructions for both feathers and a non-feathers (ruffles) costume, as I thought it might be a problem for some people to get a hold of some feathers if they don't have a craft store in their city.

This pattern is listed both on my ETSY site (ArleyDollDesigns), and my WEB SITE (ArleyBerryhill).

Ooooh, I've been watching "Penny Dreadful" on Netflix, and I think I have an idea for my next pattern! (Victorian Gothic anyone???)
Have fun!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


Hi All,
I've just finished converting another old pattern of mine, the ART DECO TASSEL doll, to a new digital pattern in PDF form. You can purchase this E-Pattern from my website or my Etsy site (Arley Doll Designs).

This is one of my older (and favorite) patterns. I made this pattern 14 years ago, back in 2004! I only had this pattern in printed form, as the computer copy of it was lost long ago.  (Now, I'm learning how to convert printed work to a word document -- which is pretty good for a 60 year old guy!)

Anyway, this is a wonderful pattern for anyone who enjoys EMBELLISHING! (And, who doesn't enjoy embellishing???) Especially if you like making beaded dangles & swags. Here's one I made in purple:

I designed this pattern after looking at some of ERTE's work (a designer who was very popular from the 1910's to 1930's) I saw a drawing of a handbag he designed in the shape of a little Turkish doll.

Here's my initial design of the doll before making it (You can see the influence):

I've always love the Art Deco & Art Nouveau periods. And, I especially love the Eastern and Turkish influence of that period (at the time, this style was called "Orientalism"). Here are some other examples of Erte's work in splendid Orientalism that inspired me:

Have fun!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Hi All,
I've been working on a new pattern, titled "Follies Showgirl". It will be a vintage showgirl from the first half of the 20th century (1920-1940). I've been making samples to get the pattern right. Here's one I finished:

This sample is for sale on my Etsy site (here).

I'm having fun designing her. There is a trick to designing a doll pattern verses a one-of-a-kind art doll. With a pattern, you have to simplify it a bit. And, when I'm dressing her, I can't use vintage jewelry or hard-to-find items. Everything I use has to be easily found.

I'm doing two versions of this Showgirl-- one with feathers, and one without. I realize that feathers may not be easily obtained in all areas of the country/world, and that there are people who are unfamiliar with working with feathers.

So, this one is made with bridal tulle & ribbon ruffles.

Here's my first sample, using feathers.

I did a lot of tweaking to this first sample, and ended up making a few changes.

I would like to make one more sample before releasing the pattern. I'm thinking the next sample should have a black & gold costume -- or, white & silver? The new pattern should be out in a few months!

Have fun! -AB

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Hi All,
No, it's not a new rock group. It's what I call my new "Day of the Dead" sugar skull busts. I made two of them at the same time, so they share some of the same fabrics & materials.

The Dead Sisters:

I've been making "Day of the Dead" dolls for quite a few years now, but recently a friend asked why I wasn't making the faces like the painted sugar skulls -- the way most people make up their faces when celebrating "Dias de los Muertos".

Up to that point, I had been making "dead dolls" to look like a "Catrina" or a basic skull.

For a long time, the sugar skulls were a separate thing from the "Catrina's" dolls that people made. But more recently, I've noticed that the sugar skull (calaveras de azucar) image has become more popular in representing the festival of the dead.

Here's a little background on "sugar skulls": Historically, people made skulls of sugar by pressing sugar and starch into a mold and decorated them with cake icing, foil, & beads. These decorated skulls are displayed on tombstones or use as offerings on alters (offrendas). These offerings celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed on. Decorating the skulls made them look more festive and less scary.

People would also paint skulls made of paper-mache or ceramic:

Very quickly, the sugar skull became a graphic image in print, on fabric, embroidered, and even tattoos:

So, instead of making "Day of the Dead" dolls that looked like other "dead dolls", I'm making dolls that look like people made up to look like sugar skulls.

Have fun!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Hi All,
Yes, another witch doll. This time it's a "birdcage" witch doll.

I call her "Griselda".

She's a bit nasty. She is whipping up a new potion, using a little troll as it's main ingredient. The troll doesn't seem to mind -- he thinks he getting a bath.

Like most of my dolls, Griselda is an all cloth doll (well, "torso" doll). I found this Halloween birdcage at Michael's a few years ago, and it has been waiting for me to be inspired. The thing about doing a "birdcage doll", is you have to put something IN the birdcage to make it relevant.

The little troll dude is also cloth -- made of craft velour. I had fun needle-sculpting his face. (I stuck my hand in the photo so you get a sense of scale.)

Notice the little skull beads and hot glue "drips" I added to the plastic cauldron. After I glued all that on, I sprayed it all over with "texture spray", then painted the whole thing.

Here's where I started: A head & torso with arms and a birdcage.

I start to add clothing to the doll. Most of the fabric was dyed gray or purple (or both). I tried not to use much black in the costume (as black does not photograph well).

I added a short petticoat of netting to smooth out the drop from the doll's waist to the top of the cage. Over that, an underskirt of spider web netting.

More skirts are added. The arms & sleeves are almost done, but I won't attach them until they are finished.

I completed the arms & hand separate from the body, and add them after both are done.

Here, I add the wool vest to tie the whole look together. I wanted her to hold a wand, so I stuck a piece of dowel in her hand until I made the actual wand.

Next, the face.

Add hair and the beginning of the witch hat. Also, made a wand out of Apoxie Sculpt over a bent wire.

Okay, that's all for now.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Hi All,
I've been working on this fiber collage for almost a year - squeezing in a few hours every so often between paying jobs and doll deadlines. It's a large piece - done on a 24" x 24" stretched canvas.  (I don't know if I'll ever do something this big again!)

I call it "Turkish Delight":

I was inspired after looking at some wonderful folk art from Turkish artist. But, as I'm a "fiber person", I couldn't be satisfied with just paint!

Once all the fabric was stitched to the stretched canvas, I had to embellish it as well.

I started with some basic shapes -- just a large circle for the turban, a half oval for the face, and a neck. Even though the entire turban would be covered in fabric, I wanted to block out the basic colors first.

After adding detail to the face (acrylic paint) I had to plan out the layers of fabric, as most pieces overlap the piece next to it. I glued & stitched down rows of trim on the forehead and neck.

From there I added the panels of fabric to make the turban. To add more dimension, some of the panels are backed with felt, while some are backed with quilting batting. I wanted to show the roundness of the turban. 

Most of the trim is machine stitched to the fabric before adding it to the canvas.

I added eyelashes to the face by stitching down fringed cotton to the eyelids.

As you can see in the close-up shots, I added more trim, beads, stones, and appliques to the fabric. I even gave her some spectacular dangly rhinestone earrings. (The piece in the middle of the turban is part of an old choker someone gave me. )

Believe it our not, the only thing I bought for this project was the stretched canvas! Everything else came out of my stash. (I've been building my stash of fabric, beads, trim, and jewelry for 35+ years, so now my job is to USE IT! ---It ain't doing anyone any good sitting in boxes all over the house and garage.)

I wanted to finish it this month, so I can enter it in this year's Fiber Fiesta the local quilt, fiber, and craft guilds do every year here in Albuquerque.

Have fun!