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Let's Make And Sell A Doll: A Step by Step Guide

1. Get out there and shop for your supplies! You'll need buttons, threads, yarn, and a variety of *fabrics (and other things you'll likely forget because you forgot your list). You might need to visit 2 to 3 stores to find what you need, but you're out early, so you have time!

*When you find the fabrics you want, don't forget to take a number before standing in line to get it cut, lest you be shamed by the elderly woman who was there before you, waiting to get 10 yards of fabric cut to make a Christmas quilt for her 3 year old grandson. (All ten yards of fabric are different, and there's only one person at the cutting counter that day. It's gonna be a while, so text your significant other to complain while you wait.)

2. Are you home yet? Cool. Time to iron all the wrinkles out of the fabrics you just bought. Hopefully you didn't forget the *interlacing, because you'll need to iron that stuff to all your fabrics if you don't want your dolls lumpy in all the wrong places.

*If you forgot interlacing, repeat step 1. Interlacing, like fabric, needs to be cut at the counter, so take a number and text your boo. (Quit your swearing.)

3. If you already have your templates (head, arms, legs, body, etc, etc), start tracing them onto your fabrics! If you don't already have templates, start designing and *experimenting.

*Experimenting may take a while. Especially if it's a custom order for that weird character in the 3rd scene of that obscure 80s movie that you can't really find photos of because they're only shown for, like, 3 seconds. The experiments won't always go right, but they won't always go wrong either. Good luck - I have faith in you!

4. Cut your newly drawn body parts into easily digestible square and rectangular chunks for your sewing machine. Yum.

5. Thread your sewing machine with the appropriate color threads, and get to *sewing all the body parts you just traced.

*Try to keep the straight lines straight, and the round lines round. (It's kinda important.)

6. Cut out all the bits and pieces from the squares and rectangles.

7. Use turny-outty tubes to turn the pieces inside out. (Or outside in...?)

8. Stuff everything with *poly-fil, but don't overstuff or you might bust a seam. (That's fun.) And don't understuff, unless you're making a deflated balloon for a sad, sad clown. (Aw.)

*Spend some time carefully shaping/rounding-out the head unless you want it to look like a cauliflower. Some fabrics just want to be cauliflower, but don't give in.

9. Hand-stitch the head to the body, and then sew on the legs. If there's a skirt or pants involved, sew that on BEFORE the arms or you'll hate yourself.

10. Decorate the face. Use whatever works best for you. Buttons, stitching, paints, markers, pencils, clay... All of the above?

11. Time for hair! So many ways to do it. Let's pick one and do it step-by-step:

  1. Take your yarn and wrap it around and around and around a canvas. (As in a canvas for painting. A book works, too.) The bigger the canvas/book, the longer the hair. Cut the yarn off when you have the desired amount.

  2. Measure and cut a strip of fabric or felt the width of your doll's head.

  3. Sew the yarn onto the strip.

  4. Glue the strip to the top of its head. Proceed to glue all the hair down everywhere else without burning your fingers or getting clumps of glue in your dolls hair. Lol.

  5. *Style hair.

*Keep in mind that even if you don't make dolls for children, it may be given to a child who will pull or brush the doll's hair and maybe sleep with it and/or drag it across the floor. A photo of your disheveled creation will then be taken and shared on social media looking cringe — but the little kid in the photo holding it has a sweet mischievous grin, so it's all good!

12. Time for its close up! You have to take plenty of *photos if you want to sell your doll — but not just any photos. Cool photos. Dramatic photos. Whatever the mood calls for.

*Unfortunately, you have a tiny apartment, cluttered with supplies. So clean up a corner and put up a foam board or two as a backdrop to block your sh*t. Your apartment only has 3 outward facing windows and it's Florida, so it's probably raining and making your tiny apartment dark and gloomy — but it's fine! Turn on ALL your lights, including those unflattering overhead monstrosities. Take the photos and then just bring them all into an app/Photoshop to adjust the lighting.

Dammit. Looking over the photos, you just now noticed you forgot to add blush to your doll. It was important. Ugh. Go put the blush on her and retake all her photos. (Cry a little bit on the inside. It helps.) Okay. Now bring them back into your photo editor, adjust them and watermark each one -- because people sometimes "borrow" your photos and share them on social media without telling their followers who made them.

13. Time to create your listing (on Etsy, or your website, or wherever)! Add your photos and your witty (or not) description, then post! It's now live. Congrats! Let's call attention to it.

14. Post your doll photo on your favorite social media site, then go pour a drink (maybe spike it) and cross your fingers and hope you didn't spend the day working for nothing.

15. It *sold! Yay! I'm so proud of you!

*Understand that you won't get all 100 of your $100 doll when it sells.

  • Uncle Sam probably gets $8+

  • Your credit card processor/ PayPal gets $2+

  • Your supplies were probably about $10.

  • And, if you're on Etsy, they'll charge you 20 cents for the listing, then also take another lil 5% when it sells.

(If you sell from your own website, that costs $$ too, because you're paying for web hosting and for your domain name, etc. "Overhead".)

If you hate math, that's about $25 total in taxes, fees, and supplies. So your profit on that $100 is now $75.

Don't fret, because you'll make up for it in sheeeeeer quantity. You only have to make (and sell) 16 more "$100" dolls to pay your rent. You're good, though. Don't think about all your other bills. Just keep swimming!

16. Okay, put your *tag on your doll, then wrap it in tissue, THEN wrap in bubble-wrap (because you can't trust the mailman NOT to throw your package into the only puddle in the desert for miles), then put it in a box and seal the box with plenty of tape. Weigh it. Print your label, then secure the already sticky label with MORE tape so it doesn't fall off in transit. (Your package is now a smooth, shiny mummy.) Now don't forget to send tracking info to your buyer!

*Packing supplies are part of "handling fees". (If you don't charge for those, take another few bucks off your profit.)

17. Bring that smooth, shiny mummy package to the post office of your choice! Stand in line, because your package probably won't fit in the package thingy. Get a receipt, because the PO doesn't like to update the tracking on your package until it gets to the customer's door 2 weeks behind *schedule. Be prepared to answer emails from your customer about where the package is, because the post office will most definitely blame you and say they haven't received it yet.

*Your customer probably wants a shipping refund now because it didn't get there in time for her bff's birthday. (That shipping money was already paid to USPS, so you'll have to subtract it from your profits instead.)

18. Switch to UPS.

19. If you're doing this for a living (without the benefit of anyone else bringing home the bacon every day of every week) and you need to pay all monthly expenses yourself, multiply most of these steps by at least 4 or 5 times every day, 6 days a week. Don't worry.... Eventually you'll get lucky and beat Florida Man to that 1 million dollar winning *scratch-off ticket.

*It'll most likely be sold at that seedy Chevron station you've only ever side-eyed -- but no risk, no reward... No pain, no gain... No ticket, no biscuit...?

20. If #19 applies to you (in that you, alone, do this for a living — or want to), don't worry yourself with inconsequential things like paid time off, health insurance (US citizens), a tax refund (you OWE, silly!) or a mortgage (what's profit and loss? Lol), and just be happy — because you get to call yourself an artist, work in your pj's, AND you get to meet some really cool people along the way who genuinely love what you do.


If you made it this far, thank you! We appreciate you taking the time. Though this was mostly a satirical 'day in the life' here at Moody Voodies HQ, some doll making pro-tips and tricks are actually in the works — so watch for them soon.

Also: You're pretty great. Give yourselves a hug for us.


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Jenny Lee
Jenny Lee
Oct 11, 2021

Do you know how much I love this? I sometimes make simple dolls as gifts for my friends. I haven’t been brave enough to make yarn hair yet! It’s very intimidating! Your dolls are always the best quality and it’s so delightful to open the black bodybag and discover my new baby! Please keep doing what you do and thank you for sharing your skill and creativity with us! Love you guys!

Unknown member
Oct 11, 2021
Replying to

Hi Jenny! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment - we're glad you enjoyed the post. 😊 The black bodybag made us laugh out loud because that was the initial plan until we thought about the added work and expense! Don't let yarn hair intimidate you. Apart from the occasional third degree burns caused by the hot glue, it's actually pretty easy! And there are other less dangerous ways. (One day we hope to open up time to make some video tutorials.) Thank you for starting our day off with a smile - we appreciate you!! 🙏🖤🖤

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