Friday, September 21, 2018

paper dolls pattern

Hi Everyone! Thanks for joining today and reading my blog. I truly appreciate your curiosity and your support. 

A couple of years ago, I came across a foundation paper pieced pattern (FPP) from Mary McGuire featured in Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks. I loved the block so much, I redrew it in EQ8 and asked my bee mates to make blocks for a bee quilt. I was quite happy with the result.

There as so much excitement and rapport, that I took the idea a little further. I envisioned a whole community of girls and started working on adapting the blocks even further giving each one a nice outfit and different hairstyle. During one of my patchwork retreats, I sewed together most of these and then put them away. They seemed to be rather small and even I was a little discouraged to sew them at 4" x 6".

Then I had another idea. What if you could mix and match the dolls to make your very own "paper doll" just like when we were kids? So, I had to go back to the drawing board and design the dolls to be interchangeable. I divided them into three segments - head, torso and legs and increased the block size.

I designed and sewed together Emily, the reddish-brown girl on the far right followed by Mia on the left followed by the innocent and bashful Jasmin. With each doll block, I improved my own designing skills and understanding of my quilt designing software to design foundation blocks. I decided to increase the width of all blocks to 6" x 9" instead of 5" x 9" which gave the possibility of adding hands to Mia (both dark haired girls). I liked how it gave the illusion of dancing.

Since there was such a great interest in the dolls, I started writing a pattern for a mini collection. Yes, my dream is one day to have an extensive pattern with many dolls, but pattern writing takes time, a LOT of time. Not only must you know how to technically write, you must know how to utilize your computer programs to fulfill your ideas which are clear enough for everyone to read and understand. I want to stick to my philosophy of simple, easy and practical especially in my patterns. If you have too many details in the pattern, your customers will lose interest. If there is not enough, the finished product will not look like it is supposed to and your patterns will never be bought again. I truly wanted to design easy, do-able patterns for everyone with a little bit of foundation piecing knowledge.

When writing the pattern, I added a bonus hairstyle - a pretty shorter cut, because not all girls have long hair. 

I also wanted to set the dolls apart from other doll or girl patterns and designed a "Girl Power" quilt with a whole community of girls. I tried to create movement and flow between the dolls by adding a simple Log Cabin Block between them allowing the color to radiate towards the middle. 

Originally, I worked out a grid of quilting over the entire quilt that would not interfere with the doll faces and speed up the quilting time, but when I started marking my quilt, the lines started to interfere way too much. I sprayed the whole quilt with water and started again! 

I worked on a new design to eliminate the intrusive quilting over their faces. As with all designs, it usually gets changed slightly during implementation due to moods, brain gas and time restraints. : )

The center of the quilt, quilted up very nicely. I am not totally content with the outer parts of the quilting, because when I sprayed the quilt, the fabric lost its shape and the marker was not cooperating. I was afraid to iron the quilt again with the risk of having the lines reappear. I am currently unhappy with ALL quilting markers. If there is one thing that I am displeased with the way the quilt turned out, it is the quilting and the background fabric. I should have sent the quilt to a long arm quilter and should have used more of a contrasting background or darker skin colors for the girls. Another fabric other than a solid such as a low volume light printed fabric would work very nicely as well.

And, at the very last minute (the eleventh hour so to say), I had a revelation to design hands for Mia! Now, you can have a whole string of paper dolls holding hands. Not only that, but there are also three options for an ending hand - open, closed and partially open.

To finish up the quilt, I added some lovely 2 1/2" Double-Folded, Continuous Machine Binding. It was the first time that the binding came out exactly the way I wanted it too without "beauty flaws. "

Honestly, I just couldn't stop designing. My mind kept going and going with ideas for new dolls! I had to keep reminding myself - this is the MINI collection. "You have to come to an end, Karen."

Here are some of the noticeable design differentces from the original to the pre-edited Mia. I made the torso and legs longer and pepped up her hairstyle. I found the feet to be the most challenging. There are at least four different versions of the feet and legs that I sewed together, before I really found one that I loved. You will find those in the final version of Mia in the pattern booklet. 

So, I am proud to present this wonderful 16-page foundation pieced collection featuring three different dolls, one bonus hairstyle, four different hands for Emily and several ideas including instructions for the cover quilt. There are more than 200 different dolls you can make not including the hands for Mia. You can find it for sale on Etsy in the easypatchworkSHOP. You can also find it at these local stores in Germany: einfach bunt quilts & Quilt ét Textilkunst. If you wish to carry it in your patchwork and quilting store, please write for wholesale purchases.

I really look forward to seeing what you do with this pattern. Please send me an email with your doll or share on social media for all of us to see under the hashtag: eppaperdolls. 

Thank you for joining me today and reading all about the Paper Dolls Mini Collection. Enjoy your week(end).


  1. I'm amazed... of course I knew it's hard work to design a pattern, but I didn't know how hard !
    I finished my paper doll and am really happy with it, you've done a great job with this pattern . Congratulations !

    1. Hi Heidi and thanks for stopping by! It takes an incredible amount of work to write a pattern. That is no lie. Fortunately, I have a technical background that helps me. I look forward to seeing your paper doll! Please share. Thank you again. Kind regards, Karen

  2. Are you kidding me? This is one magnificent pattern. You are truly amazing!

    1. Hi Karen, I always get tickled having you stop in. Thank you!

  3. Some years ago, I tested a similar mix-an-match paper doll pattern for Christine Thresh called Kate and Friends—you can see her effort at the top of this page: I loved paper dolls when I was young and had such fun paper piecing paper doll blocks..

    1. Hi Sophie, Thanks for stopping by! I checked out Christine Thresh's paper dolls. What an incredible set of mix and match family members. As always, I am a day late and a dollar short. <>

  4. You sure are amazing! Great pattern well done!!

    1. Thanks, Kiwi for stopping by. "Amazing" is a pretty big word. I hope the pattern is well written and no one complains. ; ) I would love to see more paper dolls too.

  5. I was very thrilled to find this because our sewing group is doing a quilt to auction off to raise some $ for a friend's 6 yr. old granddgt. who has brain cancer and had surgery. She is now going through chemo. I was also wondering about doing a girl with no hair because that is also a reality for children going through cancer, and the other survivors. Also, with other diseases like sickle cell treatment. Just an idea. Thanks so much! God Bless! Be safe! xo... Peg Hambrecht in Pa., USA


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