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How to Make the Pascha Matryoshka Doll Set, Mini Doll, and Pascha Sheep

An easy, beginner-level sewing project to make one of several plush toys suitable for church, and a great way to commemorate your Pascha celebration. Instructions included below are for the 3-figure Pascha Matryoshka Doll Set (a large Pascha Matryoshka Doll, her little sister, and their pet lamb), the Mini Matryoshka Doll, and the Pascha Sheep. The doll figure is carrying her Pascha basket full of dyed eggs, kulich cheese, and paska bread, and the basket cover is draped over her arm. There are four versions of the Doll, with their own color palettes and hair color: teal scarf & brunette hair, blue scarf & strawberry blonde hair, red scarf & dark brown hair, and purple scarf & blonde hair. Fabric links listed below allow you to choose what kind of fabric to use, including a 100% natural cotton, quilting weight fabric that is easy to work with. When finished: large doll is 12” tall; little sister doll is 6” tall; pet lamb is 5.5” tall; Mini Doll is 7" tall; Pascha Sheep is 7" tall.


Materials

Required

  • Fabric:
    • Pascha Matryoshka Doll Set: 1 "fat quarter" in Petal Signature Cotton (or any other fabric) of Teal, Blue, Red, and/or Purple
    • Mini Pascha Matryoshka Doll: 1 "test swatch" in Petal Signature Cotton (or any other fabric) of Teal, Blue, Red, and/or Purple
    • 1 "test swatch" of the FRONT and 1 "test swatch" in Petal Signature Cotton (or any other fabric) of the BACK of the Pascha Sheep
  • Stuffing: Poly-fil Royal Silk (recommended), ~4 oz for the large doll, ~1 oz each for the smaller figures
  • Black Thread

    Optional

    • Yarn (to make braidable hair)
    • Batting (to make a flat finished item)
    • Interfacing (to embroider or quilt on top of the design)
    • Ribbons (to make a "taggie" finished item)
    • Poly pellets (to make a weighted toy/teether), ~3 oz

    Equipment

    Required

    • Scissors
    • Turning tool, chopstick, crochet hook, etc
    • Hand sewing needle
    • Sewing pins

    Optional

    • Sewing machine
    • Pinking shears
    • Yarn needle

    Sewing Instructions

    Prepare the fabric

    1. To keep the raw edges of the fabric from fraying in the wash and making a mess of loose threads, do one of the following methods: Sew the raw (cut) edges of the fabric with a loose zig-zag stitch; Cut along the edge with pinking shears; Put the fabric in a delicates bag and let it fray.
    2. Machine wash warm or cool with phosphate-free detergent on a gentle or delicate cycle.
    3. Machine dry on a low heat setting with NO dryer sheet. Tip: dry until it is damp, remove promptly, and iron with a hot iron to prevent wrinkles from setting in.
    4. Iron the fabric on the reverse side, or use a pressing cloth on the right side, on a hot or cotton setting.
    Note: the fabric will shrink up to 4% in the wash and make the shape slightly askew, but you do need to wash the fabric. The effect will be noticeable when matching up the front and back of each figure to sew them together, but you can try to square the fabric up when ironing.

     

    Cut out the figures

    Note: I took the photos on this page with an early version of the doll set, so the oval is white in the photos but it is black on your fabric.

    Add embellishments (optional)

    • Attach the pocket to the front of the large doll
      • Clip into the seam allowance along the top of the basket pocket piece
      • Fold it down, then hand stitch across the top.
      • Fold the seam allowance back, then top stitch the sides and bottom to the basket on the front piece of the doll.
    • Attach yarn hair to the back of the large doll
      • Cut 6-18 pieces of hair-colored yarn to the length desired (the longer and more pieces you have, the better). 
      • Thread a yarn needle with a piece of yarn, then poke the yarn needle through the back piece of the doll fabric where the drawing of the hair peeks out from the headscarf. It will be hard to poke and pull it through. Pull the yarn through just enough to tie a knot in the end of the yarn that will be inside the doll.
      • Knot the free end of the yarn, and repeat so that there at least three yarn pieces for each braid.
    • Embroider or "quilt" the figures
      • Cut a piece of batting the same size/shape as the fabric you want to embellish, and pin it to the back of the fabric.
      • Sew the fabric and batting with a contrasting/complimenting thread to highlight, quilt, or embroider the details of the figure.
      • Finish the figure using the methods below; the batting will add to the plush feeling if you still want to stuff it, or you can keep it a flat ornament-like figure.
    • Make a flat figure (ornament, mobile, etc)
      • Cut a piece of batting the same size/shape as the fabric you want to embellish.
      • Make a sandwich of the fabric and batting in this order, top to bottom: back fabric (wrong side up), front fabric (right side up), batting.
      • Pin together and sew around the edge as described below in the construction instructions, just without stuffing the figure.
    • Add hanging loops or "taggies"
      • For a hanging loop, simply put one looped ribbon in the top following the instructions below.
      • Cut ribbons into lengths about 2-3", fold them in half, and pin them into the front & back pieces of fabric before sewing. Pin them so the cut edges of the ribbon are flush with the cut edge of the fabric, with the ribbon loop inside the fabric sandwich. Make the turning hole on the side of the doll if the ribbons will stick out of the bottom, or anywhere there aren't ribbons.

      Construct the large doll

      1.  Pin the black oval to the bottom of the front piece of the doll to make a flattish bottom.

           A. Lay the front piece of the doll right side up, and then lay the oval wrong side up and upside down so the top edge of the oval matches the bottom edge of the doll. The logos should be upside down, and the right sides of the fabric should be facing each other.

           B. Pin the middle, then use your fingers to match the raw edges of the oval and the bottom of the doll as you go outward from the middle towards the point of the oval, pinning every 1/2" or so.       

           C. Sew with a 3/8" seam allowance, from 3/8" inside one oval point all the way over to 3/8" from the other oval point. Repeat with the other side, attaching the bottom half of the oval to the back piece of the doll.

      2. Match the front and back fabric with right sides facing. Do your best to line up the outline, but it will not be perfect so don't spend too much time on it! The generous black seam allowance will make up for imperfections. Pin the two layers together (3 layers if you have batting), and plan for a turning hole on the side of the doll near the bottom (about the length of the bottom of the skirt).

      3.  Sew around the doll either along the edge of where the black seam allowance meets the doll's illustration, or sew about 1/4" distance from that edge (to allow for imperfect alignment between front and back), leaving the gap open on the side.

      4.  Trim the seam allowance with pinking shears within 1/8" of the stitches, or make cuts into the seam allowance that are perpendicular to the stitches so that the curved edges do not pucker when you turn it right side out.

      5.  Turn the doll right side out, and run a chopstick (or similar object with a dull tip) along the inside to make the seam fully right side out. You should see the stitches in the crack of the seam. Fold the fabric at the turning hole so that it matches the seam on both sides, then iron flat.

      6.  Stuff with your filling of choice. Poly-fil Royal Silk makes for a very soft doll that you can machine wash/dry, but any Poly-fil stuffing works great.

      7.  Close up the turning hole by sewing a ladder stitch (also called an invisible stitch) by hand.                                            

      Construct the little sister or mini doll

      1.  Match front and back with right sides facing, pin and plan for a turning hole at the bottom of the doll (approximately between the two small onion domes on the bottom of the doll's dress).

      2.  Sew around the edge in the middle of the seam allowance.

      3.  Trim the seam allowance with pinking shears, or make cuts into the seam allowance that are perpendicular to the stitches so that the curved edges do not pucker when you turn it right side out.

      4.  Turn the doll right side out, and run a chopstick (or similar object with a dull tip) along the inside to make the seam fully right side out. You should see the stitches in the crack of the seam. Fold the fabric at the turning hole so that it matches the seam on both sides, then iron flat.

      5.  Stuff with your filling of choice. Poly-fil Royal Silk makes for a very soft doll that you can machine wash/dry.

      6.  Close up the turning hole by sewing a ladder stitch (also called an invisible stitch) by hand.

      Construct the sheep

      1.  Match the front and back fabric with right sides facing.

      2.  Pin the two layers together (3 layers if you have batting), and plan for a turning hole on the bottom of the sheep (approximately between the front and back legs).

      3.  Sew around the sheep about 1/4" - 1/2" from the edge of the fabric, leaving the gap open.

      4.  Trim the seam allowance with pinking shears, or make cuts into the seam allowance that are perpendicular to the stitches, so that the curved edges do not pucker when you turn it right side out.

      5. Turn the sheep right side out, and run a chopstick (or similar object with a dull tip) along the inside to make the seam fully right side out. You should see the stitches in the crack of the seam. Fold the fabric at the turning hole so that it matches the seam on both sides, then iron flat.

      6.  Stuff with your filling of choice. Poly-fil Royal Silk makes for a very soft doll that you can machine wash/dry.

      7.  Close up the turning hole by sewing a ladder stitch (also called an invisible stitch) by hand.

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