Doll Designer Judi Ward...
Hello! I'm Judi Ward. Enjoy your visit! I had a little craft and doll store in Idaho from 1974 thru 1979 and started my doll pattern business from that tiny store.
I am a self taught cloth doll designer and maker, who has been dedicated to teaching others the craft since the mid 1970s.
I taught cloth dollmaking classes in the store and designed my first cloth doll for a pattern there. I only cut directly from the fabrics at that time, so every doll was a one of a kind because I had no pattern, but my partner in the store was a pattern collector so she started drawing around the parts as I cut them out. She put them in bags with labels such as "Doll in red dress, curly hair" or some such designation. That first doll for a pattern was my 18" Shirley Temple who was way ahead of the curve for cloth dolls at the time (invisible joints, separate fingers, fully formed, child shape etc) and the pattern sales were amazing! I placed a few little ads in magazines and we were swamped!!! Things progressed from there and I even learned to cut from paper or to draw around my fabric parts before sewing them up. Drawing on and cutting from paper was the hardest thing for me to do! I usually still cut a doll's clothing directly from the fabrics though, and have to quickly draw around the pieces if they are for a pattern doll! I have had to do a few do-over's due to forgetting the drawing step.
My doll designs have followed most of the trends but are always different. I never do the same doll over and over with just a different name and different clothing. My variety of pattern offerings is huge, from babies to whimsy: ladies to men: cloth reproductions of antique dolls made from other stuff to truly Vintage style reproductions of very old cloth dolls.
The design process is my favorite part and I want my designs to look good without clothes.
I have pioneered many techniques throughout the 30+ years. Invisible Jointing, quick, easy turning heads for almost any doll, the use of Freezer Paper templates and many more. I like real clothes for dolls most of the time and am not an "embellisher". I leave that up the maker. My desire is to provide a good "doll" for the maker to embellish their way, or not.
I love to teach, and my favorite classes to teach are Beginners and Advanced Design. The joy a new designer has in their first creation is amazing! Many well known designers in the pattern world got their start from my Design classes, online or in person. They were ready to "fly" but needed grounding first and the classes provided that in a fun, easy way.
I have been teaching online classes at the Doll Net (Crafty College) for many years and I think I was the first online with cloth doll classes. Paul Phalen at the Doll Net has been a Godsend to we cloth dollmakers and suppliers with his support of the doll world, his web site work and his support of over 2000 cloth dollmakers on the "Friends Of Cloth Dolls" internet forum.
Over the past 30 some years we have moved several times and I have pursued other "work" from time to time. I worked at a bingo hall, a fabric store and drove city busses in Bremerton Wash!
The dolls were never far from my heart though and I always came back to the doll world, or never really left and fitted the work in with the dolls.
Our most recent move has been back to the states, in Sept 2008, after a few years in Germany, where I met many lovely folks but no dollmakers!!! I missed the cloth doll world a lot during that time!
If it hadn't been for the internet doll world I would have died! But boy do those German ladies know how to decorate and cook and entertain!...and eat out….Eating out is a national pastime, and FUN!
We moved back to the states in 2008, after 4 years in Germany. I LOVED the time in Germany but it was good to be back in the states and closer to family and friends. We moved to Rockville, Maryland and my husband went to work for NASA.
We rented a townhouse with a big basement and I was able to have classes and a cloth doll club there until we moved to Magnolia, Delaware in 2012.
He switched jobs to the Dept. Of Defense and we finally bought a big house in Delaware and I have a huge studio. I host sewing get togethers here now, as so far there are no doll makers around! I am working to get some interested and it is starting to take effect. I have 2 ladies in the quilt guild who want to learn so I will soon teach a beginners doll making class here.
Having no doll makers around has made me move in the direction of quilting so I have expanded my skills in a direction I never thought I would. Some of the quilt guild members tested the little Doll Quilt pattern available here on the web site, and told me it has the best basic quilt directions they have ever read!
So, now in late 2015, life and dolls and quilts and crafting of all kinds continues with great joy!