DIY fabric dolls from your kids drawings

This post was written in partnership with Spoonflower. They provide the custom doll fabric that I used to make the dolls from Olivia’s drawings.

For a while now I’ve been trying to think about what to do with the girls best drawings – I really hate to see these pretty pictures pilled up in the box….because let’s be honest, friends, given the industrial amount of drawings the girls make there is no way I can proudly hang them ALL on the wall. Our walls just don’t have that square footage :) I’ve also been wanting to show the girls the many ways that our imagination can come alive, how their pretty pictures can become so much more.

A couple months ago I was playing around on Spoonflower trying to design my own fabric (more on that later I promise!), and it hit me – I realized I could easily just print some of their best drawings on fabric and sew little dolls out of them! Olivia’s birthday was coming up, and I thought these would make awesome party favors for all of her friends.

When I told Olivia the idea she was SO excited! The result = awesome! All of Olivia’s friends LOVED the dolls and Olivia is already planning which dolls she wants to make next for her friends birthdays – and Madeline is asking for some for her friends too!


Making these little dolls was definitely a learning process for her and me! When we first got the fabric with her princesses and swans, she looked at it puzzles and said: “But mama, these are flat! I thought you said we were making dolls?” It was amazing walking her from the process and the different steps, for her to see her drawings come to life! The girls helped with as many steps as they could – their favorite part was stuffing the dolls 😀  

If you want to make your own dolls, below is a detailed. I broke it down into three parts: 1) Scanning your kids drawing – which is super useful if you want to print your kids drawing in a book or just save a digital copy of them, 2) designing the doll fabric and 3) sewing the dolls. Have fun!

WHAT YOU NEED

– Scanner
– Computer with photoshop & internet connection
– custom doll fabric from Spoonflower – this tutorial shows you how to make/order it.
– Fabric for the back of the dolls – this project is perfect to use leftover fabric from other projects!
– Sewing machine, neddle and thread.
– Batting
– Option: Ribbon and transfer paper to make labels.

WHAT YOU DO

Scanning your kids’ drawings

1. Pick some of your kid’s best drawings and scan them at high resolution (ideally 300 dpi). Don’t worry if your child drew other things on the page, I’ll show you how to deal with that.

2. Open the scanned drawing in Photoshop. You might have to rotate the drawing in case it’s upside down, in that case go to Image > Image Rotation > pick the rotation that you need. 

3. Next step is very important: you want to make the background of the drawing as white as possible. There are two ways to do that, for best results I usually do a combination of both of these methods.

Method A: Play around with the levels of your drawings. Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels…

You will notice three pointers right below the curve. Grab the pointer that the most to the right of the levels curve, and slowly drag it towards the left. You’ll see your drawing progressively become brighter. Them, play around with the pointer that’s at the very left below the curve and drag it slowly towards the right. Once you’re happy with the image, try and move the middle pointer a bit to see if you want to change the contrasts at all.

4. Once you are happy with the results, click on OK. The background is probably all white now, but if you still notice some tan/beige lines from when you scanned your document (sometimes these are easier to notice for me if I tilt my screen a different angle), you can play around with method B. Go to image > Adjustments > Replace Color.

With the color selection tool, click on the color you want to change – in this case, the beige/tan spots. Set the fuzziness anywhere between 25 and 40 (but no more than that or you’ll start loosing details), and then move lightness all the way to 100. Before you click on OK, you can play a bit with the fuzziness until you get the best results. Once you’re happy with it, click OK.

5. Save your scanned drawing. I have a folder for each of my girls and save up their art as they make it….not sure what I will do with all of that, but it’s so nice to have a digital copy of my favorite drawings of theirs!

 

Preparing and ordering your custom doll fabric

1. I know this step might be intimidating to you, but really it’s super easy! Create the file which you will use to print your custom fabric. I made mine 42 inches wide by 36 inches (one yard) long because I wanted to order the cotton fabric from Spoonflower. Resolution should be 150 or 300. PS: Spoonflower prints on many fabric type – you can check them out here, and it will give you also the width of each fabric when they get printed out. For example, if you want to print on the eco canvas (one of my fav!), you’ll have to set the width of your file to 54″ 

2. With the selection tool, select the part of your drawing that you want to make the doll, and copy it and paste it on your new file. Paste your drawing on to the fabric. You can make it smaller if you want, but don’t make your drawing much bigger than it is or you’ll end up with a doll that is all pixelated.

3.  With the eraser tool get rid of anything extra  in the drawing. If there are any tan spots left from scanning, you can also get rid of them then. I asked my “creative designer” if we should get rid of the parts where she went outside of the lines, and she said yes so we got rid of these too :)

4. Repeat these steps as many times as you need to add other drawings to the fabric – you’ll end up with one layer per character. Make sure to leave enogh space around (at least 1 1/2 inch) for sewing. I printed 5 different dolls on the fabric, ad the dolls were quite big but we could have printed many more if I had made them a bit smaller.

5. Save your image twice, once as a photoshop file so you can go back to the layers and make changes whenever you need, and save it a second time as a high res JPEG – you will use this file to order your fabric.

6. Go to Spoonflower.com and upload your JPEG in  their upload tool. Once it is uploaded, you can play with the repeat and size of your design. For this you’ll want to  pick the no repeat box – 4th one. It will give you the preview of your fabric. If you are happy with it, pick the type of fabric (again, some fabrics are wider than 42 inches so watch for these!) and how many yards you want, and place your order. The fabric usually arrives at my door within one week of ordered.

 

 

Sewing the dolls. 

1. Cut around each character on your custom fabric, leaving 1 and 1/2 inch all around it.

2. Match each doll with fabric of your choice for the back of the dolls – I used a mix of fabrics I had on hand. Place the doll back to back with the fabric and cut around to match the shape.

3. Flip the two pieces of fabric front to front and pin in place. PS: If you are an experience sewer, you can directly pin your back and front fabric together and then cut them to save time. I was afraid I wouldn’t cut the dolls right if I did that :)

4. Optional: I added little tags on the dolls that said “design by OLIVIA BEDELIA” to make her extra proud of her work :) I made these tags using ribbons and used transfer paper to write the label. Then, I pinned them inside where I wanted them to be – the text against the front of the doll….sorry, I don’t have a picture of that step so hopefully that’s clear, but if you have issues with it just email me :)

4. Sew a 5/8″ seam all around the doll, leaving an inch opening at the bottom of the doll so you can flip the doll inside out and stuff it. Before turning your fabric inside out, cut little triangles whevere your fabric curves – so that your fabric doesn’t wrinkle at the curves.

5. Once you doll is all stuffed, close the opening by hand-sewing it shut. Voila, you are done!

Disclaimer: This post was written in partnership with Spoonflower. They provide the custom doll fabric that I used to make the dolls from Olivia’s drawings. No compensation was received.

You might also like:
polka dots, flowers & rock 'n roll
DIY modern tartan blanket basket with West Elm
DIY giant animal wall stickers (with free printables)
DIY Eiffel tower ring dish {guest post by Aileen from At Home in Love}
Comments
27 Responses to “DIY fabric dolls from your kids drawings”
  1. Elizabeth says:

    What a gorgeous idea, Audrey! Definitely keeping this idea!

  2. Line says:

    Great idea, Audrey.

    Just for inspiration; http://www.ramn.dk
    They make great frames for all the drawings the kids produce.

  3. Ananda says:

    I bumped into your post and I am in love with it! I can totally see my 5 year old daughter creating her own princesses too.

    What a beautiful written post and lovely photography! Thanks for sharing!!!

    • audrey says:

      Thank you so much for the sweet words, Ananda! Hope you make some beautiful dolls with your daughter!

  4. Gabie says:

    That’s really cool ! I don’t know if I will ever make it (not sure there is a provider for fabric like that in Europe) but it is very tempting

    • audrey says:

      Hi Gable! Spoonflower actually ships internationally – and definitely covers Europe- so check them out!

  5. Marian says:

    Hi, there’s one little thing you might like to change- In one step you say: For this you’ll want to pick the no repeat box – 4th one. It will give you the preview of your fabric. If you are happy with it, pick the type of fabric (again, some fabrics are wider than 42 inches so watch for these!) and how many yards you want, and place your order.

    BUT the ‘no repeat’ box, is actually ‘make one single centered image’, so if you order more than one yard, you’d get just one printed image no matter how much you order. It would be better to choose the first box, the ‘basic’ repeat so if you order 2 yards, you’ll get 2 sets of the print, and so on.

    • audrey says:

      Hi Marian! Thanks so much for the feedback :) The no repeat is actually just for that a yard, so if you order more than one yard you’ll get the printed image on each yard ordered. That’s what I did and it word perfectly :)

  6. Debbie Viola says:

    Wow! I just stumbled upon the Spoonflower site, which led me to your blog. My daughter and I were just brainstorming about how we can start doing something with her three year-old’s art, which is quite good for her age. As a seamstress and an artist, I was more than thrilled to see your process. Thanks for sharing!

    • audrey says:

      So glad you like it, Debbie! I agree with you, it’s sad to see a child’s beautiful art stay in a closet. I hope to find even more ways to use it! With this process you could really turn her drawings into anything – pillows, clothes…..if you make anything using this process please share I’d love to see :)

  7. Anna says:

    Love this! Thank you.

  8. Angel says:

    Love ❤ love ❤ love ❤ the doll idea. That is absolutely awesome and your baby

  9. Angie says:

    Just curious what you suggest for someone that doesn’t have photoshop?

    • audrey says:

      Hi Angie – it’s always a tricky one. You could go to a place likeFedex/kinko’s, they often have computers with Photoshop, or you could try an online image editing program like GIMP – it’s free and I’ve heard good things about it. It is supposed to have many of the same features as photoshop, although I’ve never tried it myself. Good luck, let me know if you find a way!

  10. Rosemary Benson says:

    i can’t wait to try this. Looking for drawings I saved now. Thank you so much for all this input on this project.

Trackbacks
Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] This Little Street showed us how to make fabric dolls from your kids’ drawings. […]

  2. […] DIY Fabric Dolls from Drawings by This Little Street […]

  3. […] DIY Fabric Dolls from Drawings by This Little Street […]

  4. […] into a fabric tea towel or pillow by designing your own custom fabric on Spoonflower. I love this DIY of hand drawn dolls made with Spoonflower […]