Cloth Hand Tutorial

A few years back, I received quite a few inquiries as to how I make my hands so I thought I would create a tutorial. Since then, I have modified my process and in my humble opinion, it has been more successful.
I still only use a 200 ct cotton for my dolls and the hands depicted here are made from Southern Belle 100% cotton. They are cut on the straight grain which runs from wrist to finger tip along the selvage. Placing them this way on the fabric, with the weft, which has the most stretch with the grain, this stretch is across the fingers. There are many ways   to sew and turn fingers. I have used Fraychec, Griiiip, and cutting the hands on the bias in the past but I find this method for me is the most successful. I still have blowouts, but mainly because I try to force a too large turning tube into the finger. I liked Fraychec but if it gets outside the seam allowance, it can discolor the fabric. I never had any luck with Griiip and wound up throwing out many hands. Cutting the hands on the bias was OK but I tended to have more blowouts because the fabric frays easily and also if the hand is part of the arm, the arm tends to get fatter so I had to make adjustments to the pattern. The pattern I used here is the hand from my One Kiss pattern reduced 15% for a 20" doll.

  Freezer Templates of the Hands Placed on prewashed and machine-dried dyed fabric showing the directions of the grain.
I use the Freezer Paper template method. Cut the hands out of freezer paper, iron onto the fabric and sew around carefully staying as close to the paper as possible. I have one stitch between the fingers because I used a 1.5 stitch. If you use a 1.0 (which I recommend) you should be able to fit 2 stitches.

  I use a very fine polyester filament thread that is normally used in bobbins for machine embroidery. I use it in both the top and bottom threads. This thread is very fine and adds very little bulk to the seam. It also has a bit of stretch but not too much so the fingers look fat.
  After sewing the hands, and before cutting out the hands, I insert the larges turning tubes I can into each finger.
  Cut out the hand as close to the stitching as possible. The more seam allowance you leave on the fingers, the harder they will be to turn. Clip a Y into the corners between the fingers being careful NOT to clip the stitching.
  Choose the largest of the turning tubes that will fit in the fingers without forcing it. If you have trouble getting the tube into the finger, go to the next smaller size. Forcing it will blow out the finger. A blow-out can be fixed if it does happen.
Here is the tube in the finger. It fits without stretching the fabric to the point of bursting. This was a little hard to photograph. To turn the finger, take the narrowest rod. Use it to fold over the seam allowance on the top of the finger as shown. This extra layer of fabric will keep the tube from piercing the finger tip.
  Now gently slide the finger up the narrow rod. I do this by grabbing the seam and sliding a little at a time. If it doesn’t seem to be moving, slide it back down and try again. Sometimes I use my nails to grab the seam and then the finger will slide up easily. This takes a gentle touch and patience. You may use a product like Lickety Split to make your fingers a little sticky. There are lots of products available that does this used by quilters. DO NOT PRESS THE NARROW TUBE INTO THE FINGER AS YOU WILL PROBABLY PIERCE THE FINGER TIP. I know the urge is there, but fight it!
  Repeat for all the fingers.

  Once they are all inside the hand, use a Hemostat to grab at least two of them and pull them out the wrist.

Fingers pulled out through the wrist.

Now grab the fingers and pull them to straighten them out.

  Finished Hands.
Next step is to insert pipecleaners into the fingers so they can be posed.

I hope you have found this tutorial helpful. Like all things, it takes practice. If you do blow out a finger, insert your wire/pipecleaner, apply a little glue with a pin to the pipecleaner and using a pin, slide along the raw edges of the blowout tucking them in against the glue. Squeeze the finger between your fingers and hold until the glue sets.

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