One of the biggest challenges in doll crocheting – and actually in any art medium to make dolls – is to shape the faces an bring out the features.
It is mainly the face that gives the doll it’s personality, so you want to perfectly select and harmonize the entire head. Whow, that sounds complicated! But it really is not.
Every time I have an big task in front of me God showed me I have to break it down into one step at a time and before I know it the whole thing is easy as can be.
So here you go: A head is round or oval, never square. Divide the head into 3 parts. May be count out the rows of your crochet head fabric and mark it lightly.
Now you have 2 markings and 3 parts. The first markings is the eye placement. The second the mouth placement.
Next divide the head in half vertically. Now you have pin pointed the middle between the eyes, the middle of the nose and the middle of the mouth. In the patterns I made for dolls so far the placement of the NOSE signifies the center of the face, but I am writing as if you have no other pattern to follow.
If you embroider your features on your doll face, which is child safest, the best thing to do is using felt templates pre cut in the shape of the eyes and mouth. Your sew on the felt over the marks you just made on the face, than embroider evenly and accurately over the felt. But of course for older children’s toys or as collector items you can affix commercial eyes, beads or button eyes. If you are working with a large doll, you even can crochet your eyes and give them nice expressions that way. Always have a highlight in the eyeball, that gives a little “twinkle” to the eye. And of course depending on doll type, you can add lashes, eyebrows, wrinkles…. In any event: USUALLY the eyes are the focal point of the face.
The nose of course is the center of the face, but don’t over emphasize the nose. Let it always “blend” into the features. Only if you make adult dolls like my Bible Action figures, you need to have a prominent nose. Old farmer or sailor dolls need a prominent nose to let the ruggedness show. Baby dolls may need just a cute little round “stub” or a little embroidered curve to give a “hint” of a nose.
Mouth: make it as simple as possible. Use basic embroidery stitches. Possible enhance all the features with 2 similar tones of embroidery floss, so it kind of looks more realistic. Like the nose outline with a darker tone around the nostrils and the mouth divide with a darker tone to upper and lower lip.
If you like to shape ears use flesh tones to make little curvatures. If you can’t get a good flesh tone going with the embroidery floss that is available to purchase you can blend your own flesh tone with white, apricot and raw umber, one strand each to make it 3 ply. OR white and apricot and white and raw umber to make it 2 ply. That can shade facial features nicely, make wrinkles or may be you even want to add some freckles with French knots?!? Some rouge for the cheeks? If you use rough , you might want to spray it with a gentle touch of clear varnish, else it will vanish, sorry couldn’t help the play on words. I get silly instead of frustrated.
The main thing is: DO NOT let your cat play ball with your heads. That is the reason I have hardly any dolls in my pattern repertoire. I am trying not to be mad at her about this. She really is a cute and cuddly kitty.
Here are the other parts of this series: