FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Frequently Asked Questions (now with answers!!)

About the CREW email list

The Ballyhoo CREW is our email list. Nothing tricky here, just a simple trade. You give me your email and I give you free stuff. Why? Because I’m hoping you’ll love the freebies and the fun newsletter so much, you’ll want to come back and buy more digital designs.

I promise not to do anything spammy or gross with your email address and you can unsubscribe at any time if you don’t enjoy the monthly newsletter.

Oh no! I’ll miss you but here is how you escape the email list. Scroll to the bottom of an email you got from Ballyhoo and click the “unsubscribe” at the bottom. That will take you to a mailchimp webpage where you can opt out of our emails. 

Free items are in the shop.  Use the search box near the top of this page and type in “freebie” to see what free designs are currently available to download.

About machine embroidery

The honest answer is…it depends. Designs with lots of satin or fill stitches don’t resize very well, so most suppliers of embroidery designs discourage resizing. I agree with them.

BUT if you’re stitching a face design from Ballyhoo which are mostly outline stitches, or an in-the-hoop design that are just seams, those typically can be resized bigger or smaller by more than 20% with few issues. The stitch length will change and if you make them too small, your needles might not be able to stitch through dense stitches. 

You never know until you try. Always test first before you embroider on your expensive materials!


Could be machine threading –  Make sure your machine is threaded properly according to the manufacturer of your machine.  Also be sure the presser foot is UP when you thread – otherwise the thread might not “catch” in the tension disk properly.

Could also be that tension needs to be adjusted for this project, increase upper thread tension (internet search your machine and tension to find answers on the web)

If you still have issues, you may need a thread hack to avoid loops on the thread path.  See my post on Get Rid of Thread Nests for Good.

Your top thread tension is too tight, causing the bobbin thread to be pulled onto the top of the fabric.  Most often this is caused by improper threading – check your manual.  Or your thread might be caught on something and not flowing properly.  Watch the machine stitch to see if this is the case.  Be sure your thread is not running through the bobbin tension disk or wrapped around a machine part where it doesn’t belong. (we’ve all done it!)

If you’re sure the machine is threaded properly, you can decrease the tension of the top thread to see if that helps.  

About free designs

Free items are in the shop.  Use the search box near the top of this page and type in “freebie” to see what free designs are currently available to download.

Be sure to join the Ballyhoo CREW email list for special access to members-only free files in the future!

I’m a generous gal and love giving away my work, but I’ve got to make a little money or I can’t afford to do this anymore. Even the freebies are a way for me to build an audience of people who like my design style. I want to connect with those people.  If you share a file, then they may never find all the fun at Ballyhoo Creations.  So please send your friends to this site and have them join the CREW to access all the freebies themselves.

About assembling dolls

Most of the cloth characters and dolls work best with stretch fabrics.

For 5 skin tones of cotton stretch knit, I love the fabric at A Child’s Dream.  I have also used stretchy tank tops successfully for doll skin.   

For the body and clothing, you can use any stretch fabric for poseable dolls.  Try it with upcycled clothing!  And if posing characters is not important to you, then any fabric can be used if your machine can stitch through it and you can turn it inside out.

But be aware – stretch knits are easier to turn inside-out and they won’t fray like a woven fabric.  

Wiring the characters is optional!  

Sometimes you can use pipe cleaners for light duty armatures in arms or hands.  But for the dolls to stand on their own and be posed, you’ll need a heavier wire like thick armature wire.  Consult the instructions for your particular project for tips on inserting wire armatures into dolls.  Or watch the full video tutorial on armatures.

Helpful links:  Thick Armature Wire and Thin Armature Wire can be found at Amazon.  Or find it at Micheal’s Craft store in the polymer clay aisle.

I mention hemostats in almost every video tutorial and tools list.  I couldn’t live without them.  Call me the hemostat evangelist.

You can try using other tools for turning and stuffing.  Tweezers can work to turn & stuff small items like facial features.  A stuffing fork or chopstick can work on some items if you’re patient enough. 

But if you learn how to use hemostats, your sewing projects may become much less frustrating.

Plus, you can buy a small pair at Walmart for under $5 (look in the fishing aisle!)  That’s less than a Starbucks!  Or you can find all sizes at Amazon like this large pair or small pair. (those are amazon affiliate links)

It’s the magic of stretch fabric!  After the project is stuffed, Slide a ball of stuffing between the stretch fabric and stabilizer to “pad” different body parts.  It helps to use a glue stick on the stuffing so it sticks to the stabilizer.

Want some junk in the trunk?  Add two wads of stuffing back there.  A big bosum?  Two wads on the chest.  A beer belly?  Slide some stuffing over the tummy.  Play around with hips, shoulders, biceps, whatever you want!

Using stretch fabric over your stabilizer makes these doll bodies very customizable.

Be sure there is not extra bulk in the small parts like arms or hands. Follow project instructions for materials as close as possible, because heavier fabric or extra lining and stabilizer can make the seams too bulky and they won’t turn.

Try tear-away stabilizer and tear it away from the arms after removing the project from the hoop.

A small pair of hemostats (affiliate link for 4″ hemos) make turning much easier! Start at the hand and work slowly.

Watch the video for the project you’re working on to see the turning process in action. 

Turning small parts inside-out DOES take a bit of practice but it can be done!

Got a question that wasn’t answered here? Ask below and I’ll try to figure it out.

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