amberskyfire (amberskyfire) wrote in doingwithout,

How to Make This Waldorf-Inspired Doll!

Waldorf dolls are expensive. A new handmade doll will run you between $60 and $100. If you are looking for a way to make your own, check out these instructions. This doll was made almost entirely from recycled and trash materials. I use mostly old clothing for my projects.


This is a very heavy and firm doll. She weighs two or three pounds and is well-stuffed. She has jointed arms and legs. I don't have a machine and sewed this doll entirely by hand in four days. You can use a machine for sewing around the body if you like, but all other parts require very simple hand sewing using either a running stitch or a whip stitch.

You will need:
-one large old sweater (I used 100% wool)
-cloth for body: must be a knit-type fabric, the thicker the better. It should have a slight give, but shouldn't stretch too much. I used an old hemp receiving blanket. Something like a thick sweatshirt would work.
-lots of yarn for the hair
-cotton twine (I used crochet thread)
-embroidery thread for features
-large needles
-scrap paper for drawing pattern

Fig. 1: Begin with the head form. First, cut an arm from your wool sweater. Roll it tightly into a ball. The ball should be firm with only a little give and should be about four to four and a half inches in diameter.

Fig. 2: Have the back panel of the sweater cut out. Place the ball in the center of the back panel and wrap the sweater around the ball. Pull the sweater tight around the ball so it holds it together. Using heavy cotton twine, tie the base tightly so that the ball stays firmly in the sweater.

Fig. 3: Wrap twine tightly around the head three or four times and pull it tight so that it creates an indentation. Tie securely in the back.

Fig. 4: Wrap twine around the head form again, this time vertically. Pull it as tight as you can to create an indentation in the head form. Using a large needle and some more twine, sew an X across the points where the twine intersects to keep it from slipping.

Fig. 5: Using a crochet hook, pull the twine down in the back of the head. This isn't necessary, but will give the back of the head a rounder, more pleasing shape. If it's too tight to pull down, don't worry about it.

Fig. 6: Make a nose for the doll by gathering a circular patch of the cloth in the front using a needle and thread. poke the needle through and under the fabric across back and forth in a circular shape and pull tightly. This will cause a small lump of fabric to bunch up in the front.

Fig. 7: Place the face of the doll into the front of a piece of the flesh fabric and fold the sides around to the back of the head. Press the two sides of the fabric together in the back and sew them together with a running stitch along the back of the head. Use cotton twine, not sewing thread. Cut the excess fabric off of the back but leave the top and bottom.

Fig. 8: Tie twine or yarn loosely around the base to keep the fabric from slipping up. You will cut this after this step. Next, Pull the top part of the fabric so that it conforms to the shape of the head. I used three triangles like so. Using twine, hand-sew along these spots so that your fabric conforms tightly to the head shape without any creases going down into the face area. Cut the excess fabric from the top leaving about 1/4 inch of fabric above where you have sewn. The top of the head should now be closed. Remove the tie from the bottom.

Fig. 9: Turn the head cloth right-side out so that the seams are inside. Place it correctly over the head form. Using a pencil, VERY LIGHTLY draw a hairline around the face where you want the hair to go. It should be barely visible so that once you sew hair into it, you won't see the pencil line at all. Cut tons and TONS of hair from your yarn. Make each twice the length that you want the hair to be. Tie a knot in the middle of each piece and use a large needle to sew each end of the yarn through the back of the head. When turned inside out, all you should see inside the head are knots. Fill the entire hairline of the doll with yarn. (You are going to need about ten times more than you think you will!)

(Want an easier way to add the hair? Try this!)

Fig. 10: Put the skin back over the head of the doll and pull it in to place. Gather the cloth tightly around the base of the head form so that no wrinkles appear in the front around the chin area. Wrinkles in the back will not be noticeable. Using twine, tie tightly and securely several times around the base of the head form. Use embroidery thread to sew the face on only AFTER you have secured the face to the head. Do not mark the placement of the features with a pencil or pen. If you must, use a pin stuck straight into the head form to mark eyes and mouth. To keep it looking tidy, tie a knot in the end of your thread and go in through the back of the head and then out through the eye or nose to create the embroidery. When finishing, go back out the back of the head. This keeps your stitching looking neat so you can't see the ends.

Making the face is difficult for some. If you make a mistake, simply pull stitches out going backwards and then redo it to correct it. You are not using a permanent marker. Sewing is easy to undo and redo. You can do it over again a hundred times until it's perfect if you have to. To make sure the features are straight, face the doll in a mirror and look at the reflection. Sometimes you may not notice it's crooked until you do this.

If you would like to add blush to your doll, you can use some light pink lipstick, blush, or very watered down acrylic paint. Start with the barest tiny amount. It's less than you think. You can always dab more on as you go if you want it darker. ALWAYS test this on a scrap of fabric a few times before trying it on your doll's face.

Fig 11: Draw and cut the pattern for the body as you see above. It appears as though the legs are tapered in the drawing. They are not. They should go straight down. The dotted lines are folds. Fold the paper and draw only one side of the pattern. That way, when you cut it out and unfold it, both sides will be identical. For the legs, only the front piece will have the arches where the feet will go. The back piece should be cut straight across the bottom of the legs.

Lay the pattern on the back of your fabric (the side that will be inside the doll) and draw around each piece. You will need two of each. When cutting out the pieces of the doll, leave 1/4 inch around the pattern you have drawn. Lay both halves of the body face-to-face (with the part that will be inside the body facing out) and sew around the edges. If you are hand sewing, a small running stitch with twine is good. You can use a machine for this part. Leave the bottoms of the feet open as well as holes for the neck and the arms.

Fold each arm in half and sew around the edge, leaving the hole in the end of the arm open. Turn the arms right-side-out and insert them inside the body through the arm holes in the body. Sew the arms to the body around the rim at the base of the arm where it meets the body under the shoulder. When you turn the doll right-side out, the arms will be properly sewn in place.

Fig. 12: Once the body is sewn together and turned right-side out, you can create the feet. The feet are for advanced crafters. If you are a beginner or cannot understand this part, you can simply sew around the base of the leg instead of sewing feet onto the doll.

Sew the top piece of the foot over and around the arch at the base of the leg. Then turn the doll inside-out again and sew the sole of the foot around the base. Turn the doll right-side out again and tightly stuff a pencil-thick roll of cotton fabric into the toe area of the foot. Using cotton twine, sew and tie toe shapes into the tips of the feet.

Fig. 13: Using wads of the wool sweater, stuff the hands and feet of the doll. Next, cut a long strip of sweater that is as wide as the legs are long. Cut this piece exactly down the center down the long way so that you have two very long strips. Starting from one end. roll one of these strips up very very tightly into a roll like a sushi roll. Stick it down into the leg of the doll. It should fit very tightly. If it isn't tight, add more to the outside of the roll to make it thicker. Make four of these and push them down into the legs of the doll. Each leg should have two rolls in it so that the doll will bend at the knee somewhat, but the leg above and below the joint remain firm. Do the same for both arms of the doll.

Using pieces cut from the remainder of your sweater, stuff the body of the doll. To prevent lumps, first stuff one large piece in so that it fills the doll the way a trash bag fills the rubbish can all around the sides and bottom. Then stuff your stuffing into this. Leave some room at the top of the body.

Insert the head into the body of the doll. There should still be plenty of room, so once the head is in, continue stuffing the doll body around the base of the head until it is stuffed as firm as you like it. Then fold the edges of the shoulders in and whip-stitch the shoulders closed starting from the outside and going in toward the neck. Use twine for this. Once the head is sewn tightly into the body, secure it by sewing with twine through the neck back and forth around the top of the body so that it cannot be pulled out, even with great force.

To make a belly button and bottom for the doll, push a needle with some twine into the doll where you want the belly button of the doll to be and out through the crotch of the doll. Pull it up around the butt of the doll and push the needle back into the doll where you want the top of the butt crack to be and push it through the doll and back out about 1-2mm from where the thread first went in. Pull the twine tightly to create the indentations for the bottom and the belly button, then tie two tight knots in the center of the belly button and clip the thread ends.

Now the doll should be finished. Keep the pattern for future use and do not throw it away! You will need it to make patterns for clothing for your doll. Simple clothes are best. When creating patterns for clothes, simply lay the doll pattern onto the paper you are cutting the clothing pattern from. Trace around the body leaving a space about 1/4 to 1/3 between the edges of the patterns. You want the clothes to fit somewhat loosely so that a child can take them on and off.

Tags: kids, toys

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