Over the years, I have made hundreds of dolls. I keep a few favorites stored in bins and every once in a while I sort thru the collection. These dolls show my progress in skill and are useful teaching tools. A recent visit to the bin led me to decide to winnow the collection and reuse & sell what I could. One of the figures chosen is the Townsend's Solitare shown at left. This fellow was featured in 500 Handmade Dolls, but he is showing some wear and no longer reflects my artistic standards. This was one of the first bird dolls I made and has a stuffed cloth head into which a leather beak was sewn. The eyes were needle-sculpted and additional color was added with textile paint. I decided he needed a new head and clothes; his body and joints were fine.
The boots/feet were sound, but needed a visual upgrade. I removed the stitches at the toe, removed the cardboard inside, then refinished the feet with a covered sole. (Watch a tutorial here.)
The old head was removed, and although it seems like a scary job, it was quite easy to do. Only two rows of hand-stitches hold the head onto the neck and the neck is undamaged by the process. I made a new, solid wool head with a new beak, in this case suede and foam (another video tutorial!), and sewed it into place.
This is Towsend's Solitare 2.0. Much better! The clothes are neat and trim and the expression is life-like and attentive. Its difficult to believe this is the same doll. Well, I guess it's not really, but reworking this fellow highlights the advantages of createing cloth dolls. If you don't like something, its easy to change it! After all, its only fabric.