How To Attach a Tummy Plate on a Reborn Doll
Tummy plates (AKA belly plates) are often used on reborn dolls to give them another element of detail and realism. These relatively simple pieces of molded soft vinyl are easy to use and cheap to purchase. However, the fact is that they are still considered an optional step in reborning process, as many doll artists prefer to skip it to save time. If you would like to see how your doll looks with one, keep reading and we'll walk you through the steps to attaching a reborn doll tummy plate.
What Are Tummy Plates?
Some people may not know what tummy plates are, so let me explain - basically, they are pieces of soft vinyl with realistic details and features that are shaped to fit over a vinyl doll's body. After it's attached, the doll will have a body that looks more like a baby and less like a mass-produced toy doll, which is the ultimate goal for most reborners. Tummy plates come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, styles and materials to fit anyone's needs.
If you're on the fence about whether or not a tummy plate is right for your reborn doll, here are some of the benefits of using them:
- Creates a more realistic-looking doll, separating them from lesser-quality reborns.
- Made with a soft vinyl that naturally forms to fit most dolls.
- Allow you to take better photographs of your reborn doll.
- Tummy plates are actually inexpensive and should only cost around $20-$30.
- Attaching one is a straightforward process that anyone can do (we'll explain how later).
- Reborn dolls with tummy plates typically sell for a slightly higher price than those without.
- Some tummy plates are even anatomically correct.
- Let's hope it never happens, but you can replace your reborn's tummy plate if it becomes damaged or broken.
Choosing a Tummy Plate
Once you've made the wise decision to attach a tummy plate on your reborn doll, you'll need to find one that's going to not only look good, but also fits properly; otherwise, you could end up trying to rig something together in hopes that your new tummy plate stays on.
So, what type of tummy plate should you purchase and use on your reborn doll? It really depend on what look you're trying to accomplish. Before purchasing one, I recommend taking a step back to think about how you ultimately want your reborn doll to look. For instance, if you're going for a young newborn doll, then you should probably stick with a belly plate with plenty of wrinkles, a prominent belly button and a slight pudge to it, as these are common physical characteristics of newborn babies.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a reborn doll tummy plate:
- Check to see what size dolls the tummy plate is intended to fit.
- Does it offer anatomical correctness for a boy or girl?
- Choose a skin color/tone that's going to match the rest of your doll's body.
- Some tummy plates sold come paired with a back plate, which is great if you want to achieve a truly realistic reborn doll.
- Price is also something that should be considered when shopping for a new reborn doll tummy plate. Some of the cheaper plates sell for as little as $15, while the more expensive ones go up to $30.
Attachment Option #1 - Ribbon Over Original Tummy
There are two primary methods for attaching a tummy plate to a reborn doll, one of which is through ribbon. This is arguably the easiest method and can literally be done in a matter of minutes. The only downside, however, is that it leaves you feeling like your reborn doll is somewhat incomplete, as the tummy plate isn't permanently attached. If this is your first time attaching a tummy plate, I still recommend this method simply because there's less room for error and you will likely be pleased with the end result.
To attach a tummy plate using this method, you'll first need to purchase some ribbon (sold at most craft stores). Now, the basic idea is to tie an end of the ribbon on one side of the tummy plate and connect it to the other. To accomplish this, poke a small hole in both sides of the tummy plate (about 1/2 inch from the edge) that's just large enough for the ribbon to fit through. Depending on the size of the ribbon, a traditional paper hole puncher should work just fine. Pull one end of the ribbon through and tie it off in a knot. Next, place the tummy plate up on your reborn doll's chest securely, run the loose end of the ribbon around their back and up through the remaining hole on the other side. Tie it off in a know and cut any remaining excess ribbon. Sorry if you were expecting more, but that's all it takes to attach a tummy plate using ribbon!
Attachment Option #2 - Sewing It In
The second option available for attaching a tummy plate is to sew it directly into the doll's body. Before you can do this, though, you'll need to take an X-Acto knife and cut the original stomach out of your reborn doll. I recommend laying new tummy plate over your doll's body and outlining it with an erasable pencil to show you exactly where you need to cut. Now, take the X-Acto knife and carefully cut out the area you just traced. When you're done, pull out the front of the doll's original tummy and toss it in the trash or save it for some other project (not sure what you could do with it, but who knows).
With your doll's original stomach cut out, take the tummy plate and press it down into their chest. It should fit nice and snug if you traced it beforehand. Now you need to secure the tummy plate to your doll's body by sewing it in. Don't just use traditional fabric thread, as it's usually too weak and flimsy. Instead, look for some flexible craft wiring and run it through both sides of the tummy plate, while attaching it on your doll. It's also recommended that you run an extra piece of wire down from the bottom part of the tummy plate for an additional level of security.