I happened upon this book while shelf-reading in the Crafts section of the library (always dangerous). While I resisted the first time around, when my dear friend A. said she was looking for help making fairy dolls, I tracked it down again.
Felt Wee Folk by Salley Mavor. Salley Mavor seems to have made her living off of making little tiny dolls. She’s illustrated several books with dolls and appliqued and embroidered backgrounds. It appears that you can sometimes buy them on her website, if you are in time to snatch them up. But if you want them without the chance or the expense, she’s thoughtfully produced this book that tells you how to make them yourself. They are based on chenille stems, wooden beads, felt, and a little roving. I should not forget the little acorn-cap hats. Anyway, after covering materials, Mavor has simplified versions of the basic dolls for kids to make themselves, with step-by-step instructions for both flower fairies and boy dolls. Then, she goes into the process for adults to make dolls, which includes painting faces on wooden beads and making an armature. These dolls look both sturdier and, since the chenille stems are first completely wrapped in embroidery floss, then bent double and wrapped up all over again, considerably more time-consuming. There are instructions for wee folk from babies through adults, with the babies having one and a half inch tall armatures and the adults being four and a half inches tall. With the basics out of the way, she goes on to specialized groups of dolls – flower fairies, castle inhabitants (royalty with gold-painted acorn caps), harvest folk, and beach residents (including a pirate). You can photocopy the patterns to cut out their little felt clothes, which are also marked for where to embroider them. She also gives advice on selecting the best artificial flowers to take apart and use for fairy skirts and wings. If I didn’t know for sure that two years old is both too young to give me the time to make these and too young to play with them without ripping them apart, I would be making all of them right now. Following all of the doll instructions are some felt appliquéd and embroidered pins, coin purses, backgrounds, and suchlike. They are also charming, and made me want to believe that I could do folksy, free-form embroidery and have it come out as beautifully as Mavor’s does. But the little dolls are what are begging to be made the most.
If you love her work, but more for looking at than wanting to recreate, here are some of her other titles:
Come to My Party by Judith Bennet Richardson
In the Heart by Ann Turner
You and Me: Poems of Friendship
Jack and Jill
Wee Willie Winkie
Pocketful of Posies