Monday, September 2, 2019


Hi All,
Just a brief post letting you know I've finally converted my "LA MODE ORIENTALE" costume pattern into a digital PDF pattern. So now, it's available for purchase as a PDF that is emailed directly to you for you to print yourself.

Years ago, my computer crashed and I lost everything on it, including some of my earlier patterns. Some of them I've been able to scan the paper copy and get it back into the computer. But, some of them looked terrible when I tried to scan them (including this one).

So, I've been slowly re-typing all the instructions, re-coloring and scanning all the illustrations, and putting it all back together again. I also had to re-do the patterns themselves and put them on 8.5 x 11 computer paper (instead of the old 11 x 17 paper) so it would be down-load-able.

The new costume pattern is on my Etsy site (www.etsy.com/shop/ArleyDollDesigns) for $10.
This pattern is a COSTUME ONLY for my "La Femme" doll. (doll pattern is NOT included with this pattern).

Have Fun!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Hi All,
I have been making dolls to sell at a home & garden store in California, called Roger's Garden. They do "special boutique events" 3 times a year for Christmas, Halloween,  & Easter/Spring, where they sell one-of-a-kind art along side their seasonal merchandise.

They asked me to make dolls for the Halloween event last year, and this year asked if I would make 3 specific dolls to help advertise their Halloween event, titled "Malice in Wonderland" (An "Alice" theme with a darker look to it). I was to make the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, and Alice. I started working on this project in February.

So, I thought I'd share with you one of the character dolls I made, the "Mad Hatter".

First off, I started with a sketch of my ideas so everyone involved can see if I'm on the right track with their thinking.

They liked the sketch, but asked to make the colors darker (black, brown, & gray) and to make him a bit more shabby and raggedy.

The store also asked that the doll be about 3 feet tall. Making a 3-foot tall doll out of cloth, with legs, wearing a large top hat would be tricky to keep upright and balanced. I knew I had to have a strong armature inside, especially the legs. My plan was to use a thick wire armature that went through the legs, out of the bottom of the feet, and into a strong wooden base. I used a 9-gauge wire that I had to cut with bolt cutters and bend with pliers and a vice.

The next thing to do was to make the pattern. After several tests, I came up with a pattern with the height and proportions I thought would work. I stitched and stuffed all of the body parts and pinned the whole thing together, to see what it would look like. (I sent the store's art director a picture of me standing behind the doll to show the scale and height.--- I'm never happy when I have my picture taken.....)

After unpinning all the limbs, I started dressing the arms and legs as much as I could before putting them together. Each of the limbs had wire inside, with the ends poking out of the top of the legs and arms. I punched holes in the torso where the arms and legs attached and fed the wire from the limbs into the torso before stitching them together. (The torso also had a wire "spine" armature.)

Dressing a doll with a strong wire armature NOT made to bend, is tricky. Most of the clothing had to be made with seams open in the back that was hand-stitch together after it was on the body. To make it look ragged, I ripped most of the edges and did not finish them. I stitched patches on the pants and jacket and aged the fabric using stampers ink. On some of the clothing, I stitched yarn or chenille trim on the edges to make it look worn.

The jacket was made of several layers of different fabric and black gauze, all stitched together with free motion embroidery. To get it on the body after the arms were attached, I left the back seam open and put each side of the jacket on the doll separately. I hand stitched the back seam, then hand stitched the collar on. (Sorry, I forgot to take close-up photos of the jacket)

I gave the Hatter some props: a tape measure around his neck, and a tea cup in his hand. The tea cup is cobbled together using a small plastic bowl and the handle from a child's plastic tea pot (a child's size tea cup was too small.) The tea spoon is in his hat brim.

After sewing the Hatter's head together, I needle-sculpted the features. I even made ears! (I don't usually make ears, but the Hatter is always rendered with large ears). The face was colored with acrylic paint, colored pencils, and chalk. The hair is fake fur. His hair was going to be a pale gray, but was changed to black with gray streaks. (Without his hat, I think he looks like Jonny Depp as Sweeny Todd!)

I made the top hat base out of wired buckram, covered in an embossed velvet. Because the hat is so big, I wanted it to weigh as little as possible (but still be strong enough to withstand shipping and handling). A request from the art director was that the top of the hat be hinged so it can open. I decided to put a backward clock-face on the inside of the top of the hat with the dormouse curled up, sleeping (or dead) inside the hat.
Roger's Garden is in Corona Del Mar, Calif. The Halloween event runs from Aug 30 to Oct 31.

 I'll post more about this project, making Alice and the Queen of Hearts. Stayed tuned!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Been Busy

Hi All,
Sorry about not posting last month, but I've been busy! I just got back from Santa Fe, where I have been working in the millinery (hats) department for the S.F Opera. (Photos of the hats are at the end of the post.)

Also, I have been gearing up for the Halloween season at Roger's Garden:

I'm still putting together some glamourous ghosts. I have all the components and am working on putting them together.

And, I finished a funny little witch. Don't know what her name will be, but she looks like a "Gladys" to me. (Don't know why.) But, I want to try to come up with a more "witchy" name for her.

Here are some of the lovely bonnets I worked on  for the opera, "La Boheme", which is playing now in Santa Fe. (These are just a few of the 98 hats needed for this opera!)
This opera was designed by Camellia Koo.

Thursday, April 25, 2019


Hi All,
I belong to a mixed media art club, and we recently had a challenge to find a thrift store item and turn it into an art piece. So, I went to my local Goodwill's and saw an old jewelry box for $7. I knew would be perfect. It looked exactly like a miniature wardrobe for a doll (at least to me, it did). It's about 15 inches tall and has glass panels on the doors with a mirror on the inside.

I painted it red with gold trim, added some wood filigrees to the top, and painted the glass panels with mirror spray. I took out the mirror in the back and covered the inside with black felt.

Now, I had to create the doll and the wardrobe to go with it.

I remember seeing a doll by Friedercy on Pinterest that inspired this idea. I made a simple rag doll and dressed it like an old-fashion clown. I wanted the colors to be neutral, so I created the costume all in grey with black trim.

That was the easy part. The next part was more of a challenge for me. Instead of clothes for my doll wardrobe, I wanted to make MASKS! This would be very theatrical. I researched 18th century "comedia del arte" figures and masks (this art form came from Italy, and was the origin of our modern theater company).

I created masks of polymer clay (I used "Super Sculpey"). I made a second cloth head so I could use that as a form to hold the clay shape while it baked (you can put cloth and stuffing in the oven, as long as it's on low temperature).

I decided to first make a thin shell of clay that would be the base of the mask. I rolled out a thin piece of clay, cut it in an oval shape, and draped it over the cloth head. I baked this shell for just a few minutes, as it was very thin and I didn't want it to burn. When the piece was cooled, I sculpted the mask face over the shell. I baked the finished mask again. I colored the mask using acrylic paint and chalk.

I had originally intended to tie the masks on to the head with ribbon -- that's why my clown has ears (to stop the ribbon from sliding down the head). But, I decided the masks needed some hair or a hat to finish the character of the mask. I decided to make simple hats out of felt. I made the hats in the style of the "comedia del arte" period to complete the look.

The final mask is a skeleton mask. --Sort of a "death mask".

This is Friedercy's doll art, titled "The Wardrobe". As you can see, hers is far more detailed and elaborate than mine.

She is such a talented artist. I hope she doesn't mind my piece being inspired by her great art. To see more of her work, click here.

Friday, April 12, 2019


Hi All,
I haven't posted for a while. It isn't because I haven't been busy -- I have. But, I can't share what I'm working on until fall. But, I have started on my Halloween dolls. I've been working on some more "Dearly Departed" Ghost dolls.

So, for my ghosts ladies, I start with a wooden candlestick and glue a large base to the bottom for stability. I've patterned the torso in a way that makes it lean forward slightly. (Just to make it easy for me, I glue on pom-poms to make the breasts.)

I make a tight "slip" of some stretchy silver fabric that helps hold the torso to the candlestick, and helps hide the base. Then comes a tulle petticoat to help hold out the skirt.

Over that, I start to build the dress. I am building the skirts with multiple layers. The first, and longest layer is gray. Next is a silver or iridescent color. These photos are all of various phases.

Over that is a white sparkly layer, and finally a sheer layer of the finished dress.

I love using lots of textures, mixing sheers with opaque fabrics. I want my ghost ladies to be "sparkly iridescent visions" floating about, looking for their final home. I'm looking for an "incandescent" quality to my fabric choices.

More later.
Have fun!

Monday, February 25, 2019


Hi All,
I've got a new pattern -- I call her "PENNY DREADFUL".

She is an 18 inch tall cloth "stump" doll with a bustle dress. PENNY DREADFUL is perfect for a "gothic", "vampire", or "steampunk" look. Or, she can be a pretty Victorian lady out for a stroll in the park. -- It's all up to you and your fabric choices.
The doll body is simple to make. With no legs, the body is all-in-one (with added head and arms). She wears a "bum pad" to help hold up her bustle.
Her hair is made of a yarn fringe you make. The dress is designed in many layers, so you can eliminate some elements, or do them all.

Here she is in a "gothic" look:
Pale skin and dark eye make-up. A black velvet and red satin print dress with lots of lace. A saucy top hat completes her look, giving her an air of sophistication.

Or, if you prefer, a "steampunk" version, all in browns and rust.
Her hat has gears and watch hands on it.
A key hole and tiny buckles decorate her bodice. And, keys, chains, gears, and a watch hang from her waist.

I go the idea for this doll after watching the Netflix show of the same name "Penny Dreadful" (which was originally on Showtime). It's about a group of Victorian characters who become involved with Dr. Frankenstein, Dracula, Dorian Gray, and other witches and demons. This doll is inspired by the lead character, Vanessa Ives (played by Eva Green).

The name, Penny Dreadful, is not the name of a character, but was the name of a popular magazine in England during the Victorian era (late 1800's) that cost only a penny. There were several publications besides "Penny Dreadful"-- with names like "Penny Horrible" and "Penny Blood", but eventually, they were all given the generic name of Penny Dreadful. These cheap magazines were sold in weekly installments and published crime dramas (both real and fiction), and "sensational" horror stories involving witches, monsters, and demons -- which became a writing style known as "Gothic Horror" (defined as a combination of horror, tragic death, and romance).

To purchase my new pattern, go to my ETSY site: