Meet Jami’s ISOLATION Doll

When COVID-19 became a household word it sent us all into the isolation of self-quarantine.  What do you do when the walls of isolation begin to close in?  We asked Jami Roux how she has been spending her time and found out how she spells isolation….

Jami is a practicing doll maker, so it is no surprise that her idea of staving off the boredom was researching ideas for a new doll.  She has been working on fleshing out an idea for one of our Plano ASG Homegrown Workshops and because of the need to self-quarantine she knew her idea would need to emerge from within the confines of her existing stash. 

Join us as we enter into Jami’s creative process of designing and making her ISOLATION doll.  Prepare to be amazed!

Step 1 – Gather Your Supplies

Jami always starts by pulling things from her stash that she thinks she MIGHT use.  She lays them side by side looking for the perfect pairing of color and texture until she has paired them down to what the real items are. 

Hmmm…. the DOLL tells you?

“The doll tells me what goes and what does not.    Some of the things in the original pile were eliminated because the doll screamed NO!”

Apparently, she and the doll finally came to an agreement on the items you see in this picture. 

If you compare this picture to the picture of the completed doll, you will notice the supplies are laid out in the order they will appear on the doll from head to toe.    Jami says this helps her get an idea of how it will all go together in the end. 

“It’s sort of like a final audition”

Step 2 – Make the Individual Parts.

Usually Jami makes all the body parts before beginning assembly.   If she isn’t fully convinced how a part of the doll will go, she occasionally makes only some of the parts and lets the rest develop along the way. 

She always makes 2 heads.  That way if she paints one face and decides she wants it to be different, she already has another head waiting to be painted.  She says painting the face before moving on to construction of the body allows it to have plenty of drying and auditioning time.   

“Sometimes I have no choice but to repaint the dolls face.  Sometimes the face sits there looking at me as I sew and shouts new instructions from the side.”

Step 3 – Assembly

 Notice that the torso and the arms were constructed using some of the yellow that ultimately became part of the doll’s garment.  Some dolls are designed with the intent that their clothing can be changed but this doll was not.  The clothing and body parts were incorporated together. 

It is much easier to add the rest of the clothing before the arms are attached.  Order of construction can change doll to doll based on what will make it easiest.  Not unlike garment making! 

By the way, did you notice the doll’s head sitting in the tray looking at Jami as she continues assembly?  I wonder what instructions she was shouting out to Jami in that moment…. 

Step 4 – Final Touches

At the very end, hair goes on the head, ruffles go on the arms, shoes go on the feet and the head goes on the torso.  Jami always puts the head on last to make sure she doesn’t mess up the doll’s face or hair.  In this case, though not always, the design dictated that the arms had to wait until the end as well. 

I enjoyed hearing how Jami’s design ideas for some of these final pieces came about.  Things like:

  • The doll didn’t initially have shoes, but the striped stockings were so busy that Jami and the doll agreed she needed something to break that up visually.  Thus, shoes!  She used a paper towel to drape the shoe pattern then used the paper towel as a pattern to cut the fabric. 
  • 3 different yarns were used in creating the hair to increase interest.  I guess the doll asked for highlights!
  • In order to create moveable limbs, the arms and legs in this doll are joined with buttons.  She uses a process of sewing through the entire torso, the limbs and 2 buttons.  If you look closely at the assembly picture you will see one of those buttons at the doll’s hip.
  • The knee joint is made bendable by simply stuffing the bottom half of the leg, taking a few stitches then stuffing the top part.

Jami says in doll making she uses all the skills she has learned over the years in sewing and then adds a dash of extra time and patience.  Knowing how to turn corners, how a seam works and how to drape are all important aspects of doll making just as they are in garment sewing.  This doll required no draping for the clothing but for some dolls she has had to drape the garments entirely.

Jami got into doll making after the annual Hoffman challenge (sadly, no longer being sponsored) at the Houston quilt show nearly 30 years ago.  She was so fascinated, especially by one doll she still remembers that depicted an old lady chasing bunnies.  In 2012, Plano ASG member Patty Van Beek taught a doll making class locally.  Jami holds her responsible for initiating her doll addiction!  Then 5-6 years ago, she went to another class and she is now forever hooked! 

Over the years, Jami entered the Hoffman Challenge twice and both times her dolls got to tour the country. One even won a ribbon. 

I just hope my dolls will one day inspire someone to delve into the creative world of doll making just like that old bunny-chasing doll 30 years ago inspired me. 

Hello Corona!
We love you, but only as a doll!

By the way, if you are wondering where Jami’s creativity went after completing her Isolation Doll, take a look at her next creation, the Corona Doll!

Jami, we think you are well on your way to inspiring us all. Thanks for sharing your story with us.!

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27 thoughts on “Meet Jami’s ISOLATION Doll”

  1. Jami
    I seen your dolls at Houston quilt show several years ago.
    Great collection! I curious how many you have collected by now..
    Question > What kind of fabric do you use for body and face?
    Thanks Arleen Blunt

    1. Hi Arleen,

      Thanks for your comment. For the past several years I have had two different dolls at the Houston Quilt Show. I hope you enjoyed seeing them.

      My dolls are all cloth and I use Kona cotton. Kona has a wonderful range of colors and is a nice tight smooth weave.

      Maybe sometime next year I hope to give a beginning doll making class so be on the lookout.

      Jami

    1. This is not a pattern yet, the doll was a test of a pattern for a future workshop so keep an eye out for the announcement.

      1. But we need a pattern while we are isolating to make this. Is there one that you can recommend for now, please?
        Penny Denise

        1. Penny,

          There are several good books about beginning doll making. Here are two I like:
          Fanciful Cloth Dolls by Terese Cato
          Doll Fashionistas by Ellen Lumpkin Brown

          Both have clear instructions and lots of photos. Keep in mind that the mitten hand is much easier for a beginner to make and always make more than one head to test your drawing skills.

          Have fun,

  2. Jami,
    What a fun and joyful article! Thank you for taking the time to share your doll making journey with us. I have seen a few of your dolls and each is unique. It’s nice to get an idea of the process. I love that the doll talks to you! Your personification of the Coronavirus is beyond creative. By the time this COVID-19 pandemic is over, we will all have taken a step closer to Howard Hughes, an extreme germaphobe. Corona puts some levity to a serious and scary time. She is the symbol for the year 2020.
    By the way, what is the doll’s name you used to demonstrate the process? She’s a cutie!
    Thank you Plano ASG for a great article.

    1. Thank you Susan for your comment.

      The test doll finally has a name, it is Alice. The name came because she has led me down a rabbit hole full of new ideas.

      Thank Sheryl Belson for the wonderful words in this blog post.

  3. Jami is truly talented and it’s amazing what develops from her mind, hands and creativity. She reminds me of Michelangelo. The statue was in the marble, he just chipped away at the excess stone. And I love the part about the doll telling her what to put where and how her face should be painted. And she’s a modern girl with highlights! Didn’t know Jami was a beautician also! LOL Thank you for this lovely piece to read on a Sunday morning.

    1. Thank you Marie,
      You are too kind. Dolls are fun to make with a sole purpose, in my mind, of making people smile.

      Jami

  4. Jamie, your talent is amazing! Is re-impressed a word? Your artistry is truly astonishing and it warms my heart – the beauty you add to the world and then so generously share. Thank you for this bright spot!

  5. Jami, I love this new doll…you did a super job…I do love making them…but, I finally started giving mine away, I had tooooooo many to display…you know how that is I’m sure.
    Keep Safe…cant wait till this is over & we can have a PASG get together….
    Shirl Rogers

    1. Thank you Shirley for your kind remarks. I would love to see photos of some of your dolls, maybe at our next Plano ASG get together.

      Hope to see you soon and stay safe,

      Jami

  6. Jami, I LOVE your dolls! Thank you for sharing the site with me yesterday!
    Can’t wait to see the wonderful new creations you are working on!
    Love, Alice

  7. Wow, I am blown away! Those are terrific! What a talent you have; thank you soo000 much for sharing! Isn’t it wonderful to sew during this time and any time? It takes you away into a wonderful, calm, fulfilling place. Headed to sew!

    1. Thank you Joanne,

      I appreciate your wonderful comments. Dolls do take us to another hopefully calming place and making one is the best way to fulfill a need to create.

      Jami

  8. Jami,

    I love your work. I love doll making and this article reminded me why I love it. I haven’t made dolls for a while but now He creative juices are flowing. Thanks for the inspiration and motivation!

    LOVE Corona!!!

    1. Thank you TJ for your nice comments. Making a doll is such a purely fun activity and a great outlet for creativity. Hope you have fun making your next doll.

      Jami

  9. I’ve made a number of dolls myself, and I know what you mean, when you say they start talking to you before you’ve even started the construction! Totally understand!!

    I love your ISOLATION doll! Now I’m feeling inspired to make a doll again…it’s been a while. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you Charlotte,

      When making dolls it has always been my hope to inspire others to make dolls. Also so glad to hear that I’m not crazy when the doll talks to me.

      Jami

      1. Not at all, Jami! The first doll I made, I think, was Purleyetta from the book Prairie People by Marji Hadley and Dianne Ridgely (c. 1994, That Patchwork Place), and I’ll tell you, she was talking to me while I was still shopping for the fabrics for her outfit! I came to realize that, for a dollmaker, this is normal!

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