Finger Turning Tips

AARGH – turning hands – the bane of doll making! We’ve been talking about how to turn fingers on one of my lists. It’s definitely something that takes practice when you’re learning on your own. Thought I’d post the instructions that I put inside my turning tool kits. It can be pretty frustrating the first few times you turn them but with practice it’ll get lots easier! Here ya go …


1. Stitch hands with a very small stitch, 20-25 stitches per inch.
2. Make sure you have at least 2 stitches between fingers and that the area is straight across, not in a ‘v’. I will make my stitch length even smaller at this point to make sure I have 2 or more stitches.
3. Make sure the fingertips are smaller than the base of the finger or you’ll probably never get the fingers turned.
3. Trim and clip seams as closely as possible. Cut a ‘v’ at the notch between fingers. Hold two fingers (which are next to each other) apart and see if the notch opens wide, if not, clip some more.
4. Insert the largest tube that will fit into the finger without stretching the fabric.
5. Open the seam at the tip of the finger with the bamboo plunger and gently push the fabric and plunger into the brass tube. You just want the tip inside the tube – don’t push the whole finger inside the tube.
6. Slide the finger UP the bamboo plunger. Work it gently, pushing and rolling the fabric up the plunger. At this point the brass rod is just a holder.
– It helps to hold the brass rod against your tummy. This gives you a good angle to work the fabric, leaves both hands free, plus it holds the tube steady.
7. If a finger is stubborn and does not want to turn – don’t worry at the fabric, you will end up with a hole or a blown seam. Go to another finger and try again later. If that doesn’t work – try threading a sculpting needle with a long piece of thread, no knot. Go UP through the finger leaving a tail showing outside the hand, go DOWN through the finger and take the needle off. Now you have 2 tails that you can pull to turn the finger.
… Although I have to admit I’ve tried that needle and thread method once and it didn’t work for me. That one finger was so stubborn that I ended up making a whole new hand. Sometimes ya just gotta suck it up and admit it’s just not gonna happen!

2 Responses to Finger Turning Tips

  1. Diane says:

    Hi Judi I have been on ArtDolls A Journey in Fiber are you the Judi in the ATC album exchange with me? Next time your in CA. give me a call if you look at my address you were very close to my house (if you drove). After looking at some of your work I’m alittle intimidated. Diane

  2. kai naconi says:

    I’m new to the internet, and don’t know if it’s okay for me to put my 2 cents worth in here, but all you can do is tell me to get lost if it isn’t. (Smile) I SO much appreciate the tips re: finger turning. What a pain in the dollmaking that task is! I can’t seem to locate a turning fork & I operate on a cash-only basis, so I’ll be trying the needle method you suggested. Thanks again. Kai

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