so this was my very first poppet ever. and, oh man, was it ever an experience.
i joined a “doctor who” swap on craftster and was assigned a most excellent swap partner, irishdaydreamer. the one thing that she wanted, more than anything else, was a poppet of the tenth doctor. now, having never made a poppet, or even so much as used a pattern before, there was some trepidation involved. however, i refused to send her a package that did not include the ONE THING she had requested. so i had to man up and learn to make a poppet.
the first thing i did, obviously, was contact the poppet-mistress herself, ghilie, to get the pattern and instructions. i printed them out, and then went about altering the appropriate pieces. the original poppet pattern creates a mildly animalistic doll with paws, cat ears, and a tail, and i needed something more humanized. so i traced an image of my brother’s ears to make a basic ear pattern. then i resized a picture of one of his hands until the wrist was approximately the same size of the original pattern’s wrist, so that i could trace his hand at a proportional size. i also made an alternate toes pattern for five toes, rather than three (which made his feet HUGE, but oh well).
then i traced all of the pattern pieces onto freezer paper, cut them out, and ironed them to the appropriate pieces of fabric. i was actually kind of a dumbass the first time around and didn’t pay any attention to the grain, so i had to recut some of the fabric pieces so they didn’t stretch weird when i stuffed them.
sewing the pieces was the easy part, surprisingly. i actually put off the sewing for a few days because i was totally paranoid that i was going to screw it up and waste all of the fabric i’d bought special for the project. i used my machine, which is just a kenmore mini ultra (nothing fancy at all). i tell you what, i have no idea how anybody has the patience to sew these things by hand. i used a 1/4-inch seam allowance, but i think if i ever make another poppet, i will increase the pattern size and the seam allowance, because some of the seams started to stretch and fray after i started stuffing the pieces.
the first set of arms i sewed actually came out great. until i needed to turn them. in reading up on poppets, i had learned that it was possible to produce a poppet with bendable fingers (using pipe cleaners in addition to the stuffing). however, everybody who had done so warned that the fingers were unnaturally difficult to turn. stupid me, i thought they meant it was literally difficult to turn, as in turning the fabric during the sewing process. i figured it had something to do with the close seams. NOPE. “turning” refers to the process of turning your sewn piece inside out to stuff it. THAT was hard.
i did manage to get it turned (after a ridiculously difficult time), only to discover that the fingers were waaay too thin to stuff with much of anything, more less with pipe cleaners. i ended up going through about half a dozen different variations of the arms, because i REALLY wanted the hands to have bendable fingers. i had my heart set on his being able to hold his own sonic screwdriver. but alas, it was not to be. :o\
i spent probably about a week on the arms and hands alone, eventually giving up on the bendable fingers and just giving him generic hands with needle-sculpted fingers (similar to the original pattern, but with five fingers instead of just three). i considered using magnets or velcro to make his sonic screwdriver attach to his hand, but i was so frustrated with the non-bendy fingers that i just didn’t want to make it any more complicated than absolutely necessary.
his legs came out alright, with hardly a hitch (though they looked freaking retarded until i stuffed them, LOL). admittedly, his feet are HUGE in proportion to the rest of him, but i wasn’t about to start over on his legs after the disastrous experience i’d had with his arms. besides, i think his ginormous feet are kind of cute. :o)
the body was next. like the legs, it was surprisingly easy to put together. when i started stuffing it, i did have a bit of difficulty getting the neck stump properly stuffed. every tutorial i read recommended that the neck be super stuffed to support the head correctly, but as i stuffed it tighter and tighter, the seams started to buckle a bit. so i had to let up and leave it. most of the seams started to pull and fray in an alarming manner at some point, but it stayed together, so thank goodness for that.
on to the jointing! the jointing bit was actually kind of fun, and relatively simple. it was a bit difficult getting the long-ass needle through his body with all the thick strands of floss through the eye, but twisting the needle as i pushed/pulled it through helped. the floss left waxy gunk through the eye of the needle, which made it increasingly difficult to thread, but whatever. the first time i jointed the legs, i didn’t pull it as tight as i could have (because i was afraid of putting unnecessary tension on the fabric). but when i jointed the arms, i pulled them super tight with no problem, and the joints were way better than those on the legs. so i removed the legs and rejointed them back on again a little tighter.
his head was fun, but troublesome. i used fun fur for the hair (because i wanted it to be all floofy like the tenth doctor’s), which was a minor pain in my ass, LOL. the stuff got EVERYWHERE, and i had to attach it in pieces to make sure that the hair sat correctly. the sideburns were totally worth it, though. :o) his face was embroidered by hand. i found an outline image of the tenth doctor’s face on deviantart and traced the eyes and mouth onto pieces of freezer paper. i did the baked-clay-in-the-nose thing (i swear, i was so worried i was gonna burn his head) before i attached the hair, and was surprised at how well it came out. then i stuffed his head and ironed the freezer paper face on. i would have done it unstuffed, but i couldn’t get the placement right. :o\
so i embroidered the outline of his face on right over the freezer paper, then simply pulled the pieces of freezer paper off with tweezers and filled in the outlines with more stitching. i kind of wish i’d embroidered some accenting lines around his nose to give his face a more finished look, but i was afraid it would look weird, and i didn’t want to ruin it and have to start all over. once i’d finished the head, i stuck it on the neck stump (ugh, that sounds so gross, hahaha) and attached it by hand. all of the hand-sewing i did (to close the holes where i stuffed the individual pieces) was terrible, by the way.
finally, i had a finished poppet body. all i had left were his clothes! unfortunately, i don’t know how to sew clothes (haaa), so i had to ask my mama to come over and help me out. :o) mama made up the pattern pieces for his clothes and i sewed them up. after i had most of the seams done, i went over his little pants and suit jacket to give his brown suit the little blue pinstripes. (irishdaydreamer preferred the pinstriped suit over his blue suit. oddly, there is no such thing as brown felt with blue pinstripes. wtf?! hahahahahaha. just kidding.)
i happened to have some aqua thread left over from my betty rubble costume last year, so that’s what i used. it turned out surprisingly well! i ran out after i finished his last stripe. :o) excellent timing.
his little shirt has no sleeves because the friction of felt on felt prevented a felt coat from going on over a felt shirt. i would have used regular fabric, but i knew i wouldn’t be able to make the clothes look as good. so a sleeveless “greaser” version of the doctor is now a possible variation, LOL. the buttons on his shirt and suit actually work, which i’m still kinda proud of. stupid, but it makes me happy that something actually worked out the way i wanted it to. his little tie is made out of a fancy patterned red felt that i found, and it has a little snappy button closure around the back so the tie can easily be removed.
i wanted to use real converse shoes (because they make a bunch of different versions for infants, from socks to booties to the real thing), but i couldn’t get hold of any in time, and none of my local establishments had any in white. (he wore the white converse with the brown pinstriped suit and the red converse with the blue suit. accuracy is paramount, people! hahaha.) so i bought a plain pair of white infant sneakers instead and just used markers to add the little “converse” touches. (i only had washable crayola markers on hand, though, so i doubt the markings lasted very long.)
i used a couple different kinds of polymer clay (which is not my friend) to make his sonic screwdriver and two TARDIS keys. the sonic screwdriver has a blue button for the “light” on the end of it. i poked holes in it before i baked it so that i could thread elastic through afterward and attach it to his little (unbendable) hand. the two keys were both made based off of images of the prop keys they actually used on-set. the tiny one is for the poppet doctor, while the larger one was a “matching” version for my swap partner. (she actually had a real key cut to match the doctor’s as part of the package she sent me, which is far cooler.)
so that’s it! or at least it’s what i can remember, since i finished the project about a month ago and only *just now* got around to posting about it. (ahh, procrastination, we meet again.) honestly, i ran into so many stupid little problems, i just wanted to post about my experience so that others can see it’s possible to make a poppet without having ANY IDEA WHAT YOU’RE DOING. hahahaha.
there are a few more pictures in my flickr set, if you’re curious.
seriously, though, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. i’m (obviously) no expert, but i’m always happy to help. :o)