Bunka Baby Rompers
Bunka is a Japanese thread that comes in a variety of colors and from different companies. I have always used bunka from YLI because I like the colors but any brand will do. Bunka can be purchased from most miniature shops or show dealers who sell fabrics and trims, etc. If you cannot find bunka, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line How To Bunka. When making baby booties and clothes, I use the softer pastel colors that shown in the picture. One package of bunka goes a long way.
Supplies and Tools Needed: Bunka, tweezers, small sharp scissors, tacky glue, and a glue applicator (toothpick, glue applicator, or small square paintbrush).
Throughout these instructions you will notice that the baby’s head is bald. I never make a wig on a doll until the doll is completely dressed.
Step 1: Unravel Bunka. Remove the plastic wrap on the bunka and pull out a long piece. With your fingers or tweezers, grab the insides of the end of the bunka and pull. The bunka will start to unravel. You do not have to pull hard but gently stretch the bunka then release. You can see the difference between the bunka and the unraveled end on the photo shown. With small sharp scissors, cut small pieces approximately 1/8” long. Some can be a little smaller and some a little longer. Make a pile; you will be using a lot of bunka on this outfit. Always make sure you have enough pieces before applying your glue. Cut more pieces as needed throughout this project.
Step 2: Apply Glue. With a toothpick or a small square paintbrush (or whatever you use to apply glue), smear an even layer of glue over the baby’s belly.
Step 3: Glue the Bunka Pieces. Pick up one piece of cut bunka at a time with your tweezers and gently lay it into the glue. Start at the top of the belly and lay the pieces right next to each other, working your way down the belly. You can lay the pieces across from left to right or up and down, it doesn’t matter. I always do mine going from left to right. Eventually you will place these pieces in different positions; left to right and up and down, places the bunka pieces wherever they will fit. Continue this process, picking up one piece at a time and placing each piece into the glue until the entire belly is covered. The bunka will look bulky at this point. This is normal.
Step 4: Press and Mold the Bunka. With your fingers, gently press the bunka down and carefully mold it to the shape of the belly. Do this to the entire belly. The bunka should look flat with no spaces in between the pieces. If some of the belly shows through, simply apply a little bit of glue to this area and press another small piece of bunka into the glue.
Step 5: Working on one half at a time, apply glue over one of the baby’s butt cheeks and the baby’s side up to the bunka already glued on the front, and in between the baby’s legs.
Step 6: Repeat Step 3, laying the bunka into the glue on the baby’s back side and in between his legs.
Step 7: Repeat this process on the other half of the baby’s backside. When the entire back is covered, gently press the bunka down and molding to the baby’s bottom and in between his legs. Please refer to photo. The entire lower half of the baby should now be covered.
Step 8: Belt: Unravel a length of white bunka more than long enough to go around the baby’s waist. You can also use yellow if you prefer. Spread a thin layer of glue all around the top of the blue bunka – the glue goes on the doll’s waist, not the bunka. Apply a little bit of glue off to the side in a “V” shape. See photo. Starting in the front, place the length of white bunka into the glue on one side of the “V” and gently pull it up then around the baby’s waist. You do not want to pull too hard or you will get a thin layer of white. When you reach the “V” in the front, bring the bunka down the other side of the “V”. Do not press the bunka to flatten. Leave it a bit “puffed up”.
Step 9: We are going to form the top of the rompers by applying glue on one side of the baby’s chest, forming a small circle under his chin and bringing the glue right next to the belt.
Step 10: Form the neckline first; place the cut pieces of bunka into the glue until one half of his chest is completely covered.
Step 11: Repeat this process on the other half of the baby’s chest, being careful to from the neckline.
Step 12: Gently press the bunka to flatten. You can use a toothpick to flatten the bunka on the baby’s shoulders. You can also use the toothpick to help form the neckline. Simply press the bunka in place. You can have a round or “V” shaped neckline, whichever you prefer. If you have lost some of your belt at this point, don’t worry – we can fix that later.
Step 13: Repeat this entire process on the baby’s back.
Step 14: We are going to make the belt pop out a little so apply a thin line of tacky glue on top of the belt already on the doll. Place the end of the unraveled white (or yellow) bunka into the glue at the tip of one end of the “V” shape in front. Gently pull and press the bunka up the “V” and around the doll’s waist, ending in front at the “V” shape. Cut bunka. Attach a small piece of the bunka on the other side of the “V” (the little tip hanging down). If the belt is too puffy, gently press down a bit until you are happy with the way it looks.
At this point you will have to decide if you like the way the rompers look or add short legs and/or short sleeves. If you add legs or sleeves, please keep in mind that you will be gluing bunka over the connections of the legs/arms to the body and will affix these limbs. In order words, you won’t be able to move the legs/arms after the glue has dried. If this is not a problem, please position your doll before starting. Apply glue over the tops of the legs and press the bunka into the glue. Press the bunka down to flatten and make sure there are no bald spots. Repeat with the arms. Proceed to Step 15.
Step 15: We will now outline the rompers with white bunka. (You can also use yellow if you prefer.) We will do this the same way we did the belt – with one long piece of unraveled bunka. Let’s start with the legs. Run a thin line of tacky glue around the edge of or slightly on top of the blue bunka, being careful not to get the glue on the leg. Starting in the back, press the bunka into the glue, wrap it around the body and snip off the excess. Slightly press it down and into place, being careful not to glue the leg to the body. Move the leg back and forth to prevent this. Repeat with the other leg. If the line outline does not show very well, it may be due to the bunka being pulled too thin. You can always add a second layer as you did with the belt.
Step 16: Repeat Step 15 for the arms.
Step 17: Repeat this same process, outlining the neckline.
Step 18: Optional Flower: The flower can be any color that you want to use. I have chosen a soft yellow to go with the blue and to match the flowers on the booties. Cut the color of your choice into an 1/8” length. Cut 2 pieces of a soft green into an 1/8” length. Cut this green piece in half forming 2 pieces. I have placed my flower on the baby’s belt where the two ends are crossed over. You can place your flower anywhere you’d like. Smear a little bit of glue where you want the flower to go and pick the flower color up with your tweezers. Pull the 2 ends together to form a ball and place in the middle of the glue. Pick up the 2 green pieces with your tweezers and place on either side of the flower. You do not have to press the bunka down – you want it to stick out.
Your baby is now dressed! Wasn’t that fun! You can use this technique to form all kinds of baby clothes: sweaters and sleepers to name a few.
I do sell undressed dolls even though they are not on my web site. Just email me at www.raggedyds.com with Undressed Dolls in subject line.