Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Monster Doll--Step by Step

My kids love Ugly Dolls. They are pretty cool characters. My kids also love to draw monsters of their own. For Christmas we have to have presents for 10 nieces and nephews. I thought it would be fun to make monster dolls in the style of Ugly Dolls for their cousins that my kids designed.

Here's my first:
This monster was designed by my oldest son for his cousin who loves purple. He was super simple to make. Here's how I did it.

First you need to get your kids to draw you some monsters. Have them draw lots of them so you have some to choose from. Some monsters are easier to copy than others, of course, and you want to start with something simple. I started with that red ink monster in the top left. You will also need pattern tracing fabric, which is available at most fabric stores. I use a product made Pellon that I buy at JoAnn for $1.99/yd. I love the stuff and buy 4-5 yards at a time. JoAnn keeps it with the interfacing, so check there. I also found my flexible ruler to be a huge help. That I got at Staples in the drafting section and I love it. It's very useful for a lot of projects. It's the blue and white tool in the top center. And of course I used scissors and a good pencil (gotta love my Dixons.)

Mark your pattern fabric at the outer edges of the size you want the monster to be. My monster is 14" tall by 14" wide at the outermost points, so I made four small marks at each end. These reference points helped me keep my drawing sized correctly. Next, mark the center point of your fabric, also as a reference point.
This particular monster is symmetrical, so I started creating the pattern by drawing one side of the monster's body. The original monster your child drew may have to be modified. It will be very difficult to stuff narrow sections smaller than 1/2" wide. Keep your sewing skills in mind, but try and stay close to the original.
Curves and circles can sometimes be harder to draw smoothly. I rest the heel of my hand on the paper and sketch the curve like my hand is a compass. You can also use the flex curve to create the curves you need and trace the edge.

Next, mountain fold the paper in half along the center marking. Trace your pencil lines onto the other side of the paper.

A closer look:

If you did a mountain fold, you should have a complete monster when you open the paper back up again. Now you get to do the face. The face my son drew was very easy for me to replicate. I love the straight mouth! Now that I can sew.

Now you need to add your seam allowance to the whole pattern. I used a seam gauge like this one. Notice it has a little hole near the end. I set my gauge 1/4" from that hole and put the pencil in the hole. Then I could just follow the edge of the pattern and draw the new cut line in one super easy step.

The arms on this particular pattern were close together. I just got as close as I could with the seam allowance and marked the sewing lines on the fabric. I could sew the arms and then trim them apart later.
Next I marked the fabric for the face. This style of marking may not be familiar to you. My mom called it "tailor tacking." I have no idea where she got it from, but it's quick, easy, and it uses up all my bobbin thread from past projects. It has it's limitations, but works just fine for this. Basically, I mark my spot with one single stitch leaving the thread long at each end. The eye, by the way, was made by tracing a spool.

Next I needed to sew on the face. This is embroidery and applique work, so you need to use a stabilizer behind the fabric. I remembered this after the fabric went all funky trying to sew the mouth. oops. The mouth is a very tight, small zig zag sewn in a straight line. The eye is hand sewn with a button hole stitch and a big fat French knot in the center. Teeth are sewn just like the eye. If you have a machine with an adjustable button hole stitch on it, you could machine sew it. My sewing machine isn't that cool. Basically, sew down what you need to sew down or zig zag where you need to zig zag. You do not need an embroidery machine to make one of these monsters. Ok, now we get to start sewing. Put right sides together and sew all the way around the monster.
You can see there where I marked the arms so I could get the seaming correct.
Well, all the way around except for a 4" opening along one edge. Make sure this is big enough you can fit your hand inside. You'll need to be able to reach in the monster to stuff it.

Then you get to do my least favorite part: clipping the seam allowance. Clip your curves to reduce fabric with those inverted triangles. Clip inside corners as well. You can also see where I cut the arms apart.
Turn the monster right side out and start stuffing. Make sure you get in the little places well like horns, arms, feet, tails, etc. I find a dull or un-sharpened pencil works well to help get the stuffing in place in tight spaces. Stuff you monster well because he will be getting lots of love.

Sew up the opening and your monster is ready to play with.

I'll be posting more monsters as I get them done. Good luck with yours. :)

ETA:Just to give you an idea of the variety you can make with these guys: Here's a few more monsters I've made lately. And another set of monsters.


  1. I love Ugly Dolls too, but they are REALLY expensive in Canada :(

    I have always thought that a little felt and polar fleece and they would be a snap to make --- thanks for showing it can be done! Your monster is super cute and what a great idea to have your kids design them! My little one is only three and a scribbler still, so I have a little while to wait before she can be my designer.

    Sara Jayne
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada

  2. These are really cute. I did this just a little while back for one of my daughters. My husband suggested doing it on etsy....having people send pictures their children drew and make them into monster dolls.

  3. Its GREAT! What fabrics did you use?

  4. Thanks!

    I used fleece for the body and felt for the eye and teeth.