Making Katara pt. 2 | Avatar Plush Dolls | Clothes & Hair

Hello, and thank you for joining me in this
exercise of FINISH. THE PROJECTS. YOU START. Today I’ll be sharing the process of turning
a basic plush doll body into a character by adding hair and making clothes. I never played with dolls much, I was purely
interested in them for the clothes. But I did make doll clothes all through middle
school and most of high school because I basically couldn’t afford the fabric to make full-sized
versions for myself. I thought it’d be fun to revisit this by
making some plush dolls so I could play around with textures, practice patterning, and make
the cool little accessories and details that go into a character. Of course every project I ever start becomes
10X more complicated than the original plan. So let’s get started. I find it easier to sew hair onto a plush
doll post-stuffing, using a needle and thread to attach each long strand individually. For Katara, I’ve also marked on the placement
for her hair loopies with two small circles, and I use extra strands to fill those in. I filled in the rest of the scalp a bit sparsely,
trying to keep the hair from becoming too thick. Spoiler alert: that didn’t work. Next time I’ll just use a finer yarn. I used a bit of pale blue embroidery thread
to tie off her hair loopies, and tucked the hair into a massively oversized bun. So the doll is now done, along with the hair-styling, And I am finally ready to start the clothes. After probably a bit too much deliberation,
I chose a light blue linen-look for her dress. For her pants I found a dark blue herringbone
flannel. It’s not too thick, but seems appropriate
for wintery clothes, and the herringbone weave gives it a nice, subtle pattern. For the white contrast borders, I wanted something
almost giving the impression of fur, but any actual faux fur would have been way too thick. I ended up using the fuzzy backside of a sweatshirt
knit. For her boots and other leather items, I found
tan and a brown suede. It’s a new kind of suede I’ve never seen
before, very thin and stretchy, and double sided. For her necklace I found a spool of ribbon
with a matte texture, and it matches the other blues in the palette perfectly. For the pennant I found a string of disc-shaped
shell beads, which should do the trick. The pants were simple to sew, but I struggle
with pant patterns, so it still took 3 attempts until I was actually happy with them. I used a narrow 1/8” wide elastic in the
hems and waistband. The cuffs were very simple. I just cut 2 overlong strips of flannel, and
sewed them to look folded and layered. I trimmed them to fit, and to attach them
I just whipstitched them directly onto the doll. I could have used two small strips of Velcro
to make them easier to take on and off, but since this doll is not meant for a child,
it’s just quick and easier to sew them on. The boots were by far the most difficult,
and also took three attempts. I started by tracing the original foot and
leg pattern pieces, and based my pattern off of them. With each new attempt I had to progressively
shrink the pattern, to get the fit snug around the toes and not be too tall on the leg. The final version still didn’t fit quite
right, but I solved the problem by cutting two insoles out of a thin cardboard. Then I sewed these into the sole of each boot,
which did finally give them the shape they needed. Then the most complex piece, the dress. As this piece would be the most visible, it
had to be just right. It only took two attempts. I started the pattern by measuring around
the waist, and down for the length. I wanted to eliminate the shoulder seams,
as they would have been very noticeable. But since the top crosses over in the front,
this meant that I had to add a seam in the center back. I also used this pattern to mark the placement
of the waistband, neckline facing, and hem facing. I ended up sewing a lot of this piece by hand,
and doing lots of felling on the inside. Since this piece will see the most friction,
and the polyester fabric was already starting to fray, I felt like it needed the most finishing. The final touch I added was to use several strands of
navy thread to add a decorative topstitching between the blue and white of the dress. This provided a lot more contrast, and helped
the wave shapes in the hem stand out better. I also whip-stitched this piece closed at
the waistband, though I could have used snaps to make it more removable. The waterbag was the simplest piece. Just a tubular bag with a braided strap and
two gold beads. I stuffed it to keep the shape, perhaps too
fully, then whipstitched it shut. Now her necklace is arguably Katara’s most
iconic and important piece, and I really wanted to get it just right. I found a strand of flat white shell beads
at Joann’s, however they are proportionally way too big, and the hole placement is incorrect
for Katara. To make the bead smaller, I tried gluing
a dime to it and sanding around that. It did work, but was still a hair bigger than
I wanted. So I raided my foreign coin stash, and found
a 1-cent Euro piece that was perfect. And now I think it’s time to change locations,
because my dad has way more tools than I do. Now, finally, the water tribe design. I wanted to use scrimshaw, because I remembered
reading something about it in my Back To Basics book, and it seemed a very Inuit type of art,
which the Water Tribe worldbuilding was based on. I did some research, and while our modern
idea of highly elaborate scrimshaw was invented by early New England whalers, which makes
sense because what else are you going to do when you’re trapped on a ship for weeks
at a time with nothing to do and nothing around you but whale bones and sharp objects? However, carving into ivory has been practiced by many cultures throughout history, including archaeological finings
of Inuits and Eskimos, who frequently carved decorations into their ivory and whalebone
tools. For my much more basic scrimshaw project,
I simply used a sharp screw with a bit of tape around the top so I could handle it better. I freehanded the design, so it isn’t perfect,
but Katara’s necklace design is easily recognizable. To finish it off, I need a dab of blue oil
paint. I rubbed it thickly over the whole piece. The paint gathers in the deep ridges I’ve
carved, but because I first scuffed it with steel wool, smaller traces of paint will
collect across the whole piece, but will still keep the opacity low enough to allow the original
shimmer of the shell to shine through. To finish off the necklace, I decided to make
my blue ribbon narrower by folding it in half and stitching along the edge. Then I can sew down the pennant with a gold
thread. The necklace is complete, and it’s time
to put it all together! Well, thanks for joining me as I make weird
stuff. Subscribe if you’d like me to keep making
weird stuff. Just kidding, I’ll always make weird stuff. But it is actually very motivational when people
like my weird stuff.


  1. "Every project that I ever start has to become ten times more complicated than the original plan."
    I feel that at a spiritual level. Katara looks so great, though!

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