Ultimate Fantasy: DIY Love Witch Rag Doll
Do you seek a new vict… erm, companion? Are you a fan of winged eyeliner? Well, the cards are in your favor! Tonight I’m going to show you how to stitch your very own Love Witch. Like the witch she takes after, our Elaine is tricky, so keep alert.
6-8 times through The Love Witch (this is a multi-session project)
- Half a yard of muslin
- Half a yard of red fabric
- Two black buttons
- Brown yarn
- Light blue DMC floss
- Light pink DMC floss
- Black DMC floss
- White thread
- Red thread
- Black or brown thread
- A sewing machine (hand sewing is possible, but will take significantly longer)
- A needle
- Fabric scissors
- Paper scissors
- Brown packaging paper or poster board or other paper that is large and sturdy
- A pencil
- A drafting ruler
- A compass
Phase One: The Doll
Step One: The Pattern
Let’s dive right in. Roll out your paper and make sure it’s flat. I’ve gone with neon poster paper because I wanted to be loud. We’re going to be drafting three relatively simple pattern pieces for Elaine, our Love Witch:
The head/body (of which you will cut two)
The legs (of which you will cut four)
The arms (of which you will cut four)
First let’s do the head/body. (Don’t worry. After these instructions there will be a diagram.)
- Draw a vertical line that is 12 ½” tall.
- Her head is going to be 4” in diameter. Place the center point of your compass two inches from the top of that vertical line. Set your compass to draw a 4” circle and give it a whirl.
- Her neck is going to be 1 ½” wide and ½” tall. From the bottom of your circle, measure down that vertical line ½” and mark it. From that point, you are going to want to go ¾” out on either side of the vertical line. Once you hit that point, draw two short, straight lines upward so that they hit the circle.
- That ½” point also marks where her shoulders are going to be. Her shoulders are 3 ½” wide (so 1 ¾” on either side of that vertical line).
- At the bottom of the vertical line, draw a horizontal line that is 6” long (3” on either side of the vertical line) to mark her hips. Connect the ends of her shoulders with the ends of her hips. She’ll be kind of triangular.
Next let’s do the legs. Her legs are 10” tall and 2” wide.
- Draw a 10” vertical line with a 2” horizontal line on top to make a T.
- Make a little mark one inch from the bottom of the 10” line. This is her wrist.
- Draw another 2” line (1” on either side of her wrist). Connect the ends of the wrist lines with the top lines.
- For her hand, using your compass, draw a half circle set to a 2” diameter.
And now for the arms. The arms are exactly the same as the legs, except that they are 8” tall instead of 10”.
Make sure you add half an inch of seam allowance around each piece!
Step Two: Cutting the Fabric
Fold your muslin in half and lay out your pieces.
Cut through both layers. That way, in one fell swoop, you’ve got two of each piece. You’re going to want a couple of more limbs, though, so, with your muslin folded, lay out your arm and your leg pattern one more time and cut.
Now that you have four arm pieces and four leg pieces, you’re good to move on to the next part.
Step Three: The Face
Decide which of the two head/body pieces you want to be the front. We’re going to map out our Love Witch’s winged eyeliner and lips. Lightly sketch the eyes and lips onto the face with your pencil. Take a bit of artistic liberty if the spirit moves you. Here’s a reference:
Now we are going to do a bit of embroidery. We’re going to rely on what’s called the satin stitch. It’s just a basic stitch except you’re using several strands of floss at once. Thread your needle with your pink DMC floss and fill in the lips first. Do the top lip and the bottom lip separately.
Add your button pupils first. It’s easier to stitch around them. Then do the blue eye shadow, the infamous black winged eyeliner and her eyebrows. Afterwards you’re going to want to throw in a few long stitches to get her eyelashes in there.
Step Four: The Limbs
Stitch up your limbs up, with the outsides facing each other, so the limb will be inside out.
Leave the tops open. Once you have them stitched, flip them right-side out and stuff them. When your limbs are nice and rounded and ready to go, stitch up the top straight across.
Step Five: Assembling the Body
I went shoulder-head-shoulder first. Make sure your pieces are inside out and begin stitching. Once the head and shoulders are down try stitching your first arm. The top edge of the arm is going to meet the shoulder. You’re going to have to fight it a little, since the fully stuffed arm is going to be smooshed in the inside-out body. Do one arm at a time. Sew the sides down, too, while you’re at it.
In terms of the legs, I found it easiest to flip her right-side out and top-stitch the legs in. The seam will be visible, yes, but she’ll be clothed so no one will notice. Stitch the legs in, but leave that gap open, because that’s where you’re going to put the stuffing in. Fair warning that at first she’s going to look like the baby from Eraserhead. Don’t be alarmed. This is normal. Once she’s fully stuffed, stitch her closed.
Step Six: The Hair
Figure out how long you want her hair to be. I guessed based on the reference photo.
It’s easiest to do this by actually holding up the yarn from the top of her scalp to where you want her hair to end. Each yarn piece will be two strands of hair, so you want double that length.
The basic technique for stitching her hair in is just a simple tack of black/brown thread over the yarn. I did her front bangs first, with that vertical part, then did a few rows of yarn hair using the horizontal scalp seam as a guide.
I put extra hair in towards the top of her head to help build that “pouf” hairstyle. The more hair you give her, the less like the Eraserhead baby she will look.
Phase Two: The Dress
I adore Elaine’s short red dress, so that’s what I’m going with. As a bonus, director Anna Biller was kind enough to publicly share which vintage patterns she used for the costumes in the film, along with the pattern numbers, and, through the magic of Google, I was able to track down an old copy of the red dress pattern, so we can easily whip up an abridged reproduction for this doll.
Here are the pieces you’re going to need for the dress. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I’ll let the drawings do the explaining:
Think triangles and rectangles. To get the top part of the front of the bodice I drew a rectangle and divided it into triangles, then traced the triangles so I could give them seam allowance. Here’s what the pattern pieces will look like. (Please note that some of mine are missing a bit of seam allowance. Make sure you have that half inch of seam allowance around all of your pieces. Or, if you’re comfortable sewing with less, that’s fine too…but be aware!)
Once you’ve cut those out of your red fabric, you’re ready to assemble the dress. For the most part this a straight-forward assembly, but there’s that little folding action in the front that’s slightly tricky:
Also, when you do up the side seams on the bodice you are going to want to leave two inches open starting at the shoulder so she’ll have some armholes.
For your sleeves you’re going to fold them in half lengthwise to make a long tube. Stitch one end of the tube to your armhole.
You might choose to hand-stitch parts of the dress (specifically the sleeves) if you’re not super confident on the machine, since small things can be more difficult to deal with. Leave the back open.
Once you’re fully assembled and have hemmed all the edges, stuff her into the dress and slip-stitch up the back. (Unless you plan to make more clothes for her, in which case I’d suggest snaps.)
She’s almost ready to go.
Phase Three: Finishing
You may decide your Love Witch needs a statement necklace.
Hand stitch a white button over a silver button, like so, and attach it to a bit of ribbon or, if you can track it down, light chain.
Now let’s style her hair accordingly as well. You can get her bangs to behave by discreetly tacking the yarn with some black thread. For extra bump, pull some of the top layer of her hair into a half-ponytail and tie it off with a bit of brown yarn. Give it a little tack with the needle and thread if needed. Play with it and you should be able to get that pouf to be witchy and menacing.
And here she is, ready to go out on the town to lure unsuspecting men to their doom. Blessed Be!
Images via E.K. Leimkuhler unless otherwise noted.