The materials used to stuff a doll body are entirely dependent upon what one can acquire and upon the nature of those materials in respect to the doll’s owner. Some people are allergic to particular materials and so if you intend to sell your dolls to strangers, it would be prudent to select a stuffing that will not cause allergic reactions.
- Cotton batting – Batting (also known as wadding in the United Kingdom or filler) is a layer of insulation used in quilting between a top layer of patchwork and a bottom layer of backing material. Batting is usually made of cotton, polyester, and/or wool.
- Acrylic fiber fill – are synthetic fibers made from a polymer (polyacrylonitrile) with an average molecular weight of ~100,000, about 1900 monomer units. To be called acrylic in the U.S, the polymer must contain at least 85% acrylonitrile monomer. Typical comonomers are vinyl acetate or methyl acrylate. The Dupont Corporation created the first acrylic fibers in 1941 and trademarked them under the name Orlon.
- Wool Roving – A roving is a long and narrow bundle of fibre. It is usually used to spin woollen yarn. A roving can be created by carding the fibre, and it is then drawn into long strips. Because it is carded, the fibres are not parallel, though drawing it into strips may line the fibres up a bit. Roving is not to be confused with sliver as there is twist in roving.
- Straw/Grasses or “palliasse” – Straw is an agricultural by-product, the dry stalks of cereal plants, after the grain and chaff have been removed. Straw makes up about half of the yield of cereal crops such as barley, oats, rice, rye and wheat. It has many uses, including fuel, livestock bedding and fodder, thatching and basket-making. It is usually gathered and stored in a straw bale, which is a bundle of straw tightly bound with twine or wire. Bales may be square, rectangular, or round, depending on the type of baler used.
- Dryer Lint – Many doll makers use dryer lint to stuff dolls with. This is the lint that you should be cleaning from your dryer after two or three cycles. If you choose to use this by-product, store it in a tin can that has a tight lid. This will prevent mice from nesting in it.
- Foam – A foam is a substance that is formed by trapping pockets of gas in a liquid or solid. A bath sponge and the head on a glass of beer are examples of foams. In most foams, the volume of gas is large, with thin films of liquid or solid separating the regions of gas.
- Plastic pellets – A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids that are moldable. Plastics are typically organic polymers of high molecular mass, but they often contain other substances. They are usually synthetic, most commonly derived from petrochemicals, but many are partially natural. Plastic pellets stuffed into nylon fabrics are often used in combination with fiber fill in modern rag dolls or in doll bodies alone with vinyl heads.
- Saw dust – Sawdust is a by-product of cutting lumber with a saw, composed of fine particles of wood. It can present a hazard in manufacturing industries, especially in terms of its flammability. Sawdust is the main component of particleboard.
- Old Rags – Rags should be soft and color fast in order to prevent staining should the doll get wet.
- Yarn – Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving, embroidery and ropemaking. Thread is a type of yarn intended for sewing by hand or machine. Modern manufactured sewing threads may be finished with wax or other lubricants to withstand the stresses involved in sewing. Embroidery threads are yarns specifically designed for hand or machine embroidery.
- Shredded paper – use these only if they are bleached, otherwise, the inks will stain the doll if it gets wet.
- Buckwheat (hulls only) – Buckwheat is a variety of plants in the dicot family Polygonaceae: the Eurasian genus Fagopyrum, the North American genus Eriogonum, and the Northern Hemisphere genus Fallopia. Either of the latter two may be referred to as “wild buckwheat.” Despite the name, buckwheats are not related to wheat, as they are not cereals / grasses (family Poaceae); instead, buckwheat is related to sorrels, knotweeds, and rhubarb.
Lint that collects in your drier’s vent can be used to stuff cloth dolls. Lint is flammable and should never be allowed to collect in your drier past two or three loads. You should also never store it near the furnace. Mice also love to nest in drier lint so it must be stored in a tight container that they cannot gnaw through.
Always store drier lint in proper containers, if you intend to use it. Large tin ‘popcorn’ tins with tight lids make the perfect storage containers for this material. Tin containers are also perfect for storing paper mache’ ornaments, puppets, objects etc. Mice cannot gnaw through it! If your tin lids do not fit tight, simply pull wax paper taunt over the opening of the can before sealing the lid down on top of the can. This will create a very tight seal.
This is a bit difficult to see, but look closely. This is a nylon bag with plastic pellets inside. These are often used by doll manufactures to stuff either the joints or tight curves of a cloth doll body. Pellets fill out these areas nicely but sometimes doll artists can not afford such materials when making dolls. You can use old panty hose or tights and stuff these with plastic pellets or fine gravel in order to save on the expense. Make sure the gravel is clean. Small ground gravel may be purchased at an aquarium shop. Only use the plain white.
- Toxic Toys: What is that New Plastic Barbie Smell? (ecochildsplay.com)
- Man-Made Fibre Industry Future Reviewed in New Report Published at MarketPublishers.com (prweb.com)
- Carpets Buying Guide – John Lewis (johnlewis.com)
- Review: Inca-Eco 100% Organic Cotton Yarn from Galler Yarns is Good for Wrapping Things (craftingagreenworld.com)
- Make A Simple Sock Scarecrow (education.com)
- WIP Wednesday/Yarn Along – The Never-Ending Babydoll (mami-dearest.blogspot.com)
- Synthetics? Hmm, I dunno (susannahknits.com)