Five years ago, I started making waldorf-inspired dolls with my company Brambles & Blossoms. I only had 4 little boys at the time and longed to make them soft, cuddly dolls to be their best friends.
My very first dolls were ones I made for the first four of my boys, but my fourth son, Oaklen, ended up with two somehow! I have since spent years and years making dolls, and have made many for my own seven children. I absolutely love how I can work on making these sweet babies while I homeschool my children.
My favourite dolls I’ve made have been based on my micropreemie daughter, Norah, who was born at 26 weeks.
I often get asked how to make a waldorf doll, and I have tutorials and patterns available for purchase here. But I am going to do a free tutorial and pattern on how to make a 12″ doll right here! This pattern is my very first pattern I developed 5 years ago, yet still love to use today.
I am giving this away for free so that other mamas can make their little ones best friends too. And I would LOVE to see your finished creations! Please send me any questions or photos of your creations to me at my Faith & String facebook page right here.
I am going to write this tutorial out along with a downloadable pattern as I go, over the course of a few posts. So here we go!
The first thing we need to make is the doll head! This is the most difficult and the most important step. I will be showing photos from a different doll head (so the head in the photos is smaller than the one you are making), so be sure to follow the measurements in the instructions rather than looking solely at the photos!
Step 1: rolling the core
You are going to be making the core of the dolls head. My kids call these the “brains”. My sweet Oaklen used to adore talking to the doll brains and telling them all sorts of adventurous stories, then telling me it was making the dolls memories for their new home.
Isn’t this just the sweetest thing ever? It is one of my fondest memories <3
So to get started you need to begin rolling a strip of wool that is about 2-3″ wide. You will be rolling it to be a little larger than a golf ball. I aim for approximately 7-8″ circumference.
Once you have a general ball shape that, begin wrapping it with cotton string, leaving a tail available to tie off the string at the end.
Once you have wrapped the ball in all directions, tie the end of the string to the tail that you had left out.
This is your core. I cannot stress enough how firm this needs to be. Make sure it is rock hard! This is what gives the strength to your head! If it doesn’t feel firm, untie it and start fresh. Ideally it will be 7-8″ around. If it measures less than 5″ around, untie it and start fresh by adding more wool. If it is larger than 9″, you will want to untie it, remove some wool and tie it again.
Step 2: wrapping the core.
This step requires more wool, as you will wrap the core you just made in more wool to form your doll’s head! Your final head should measure approximately 12″. So you will want to start by wrapping the core firmly with wool, like you did with the core, until it measures approximately 10-11″ around. I literally sit on the floor to make my heads, pushing all of my body weight onto the head as I roll it to be sure I am getting a firm head. Make sure to be wrapping in all directions to give it a nice round shape!
Once you have a firm ball measuring 10-11″ you will want to place layers of wool over the head, gathering it at the neck. Place layers over your ball, gathering it at the bottom of the head, until your head measures approximately 12-13″ in circumference. I realize that 13″ is larger than you want it to be, however once you place your gauze or sock over it, it will reduce to the perfect size! The head below is much too small for this size of doll, so be sure to measure!
Once you have the right size of head (again, not to beat you over the head I swear! But make sure yours is around 12-13″), tie around the neck you formed with a piece of cotton string.
Step 3: Covering your head
The next thing you will need is either a piece of cotton tubing (measuring about 12″) or a small white cotton sock. I buy my cotton tubing (along with all my other doll making supplies) here, from my friend Natalie over at Bear Dance Crafts. If you have tubing, you will want to sew across the top and turn it inside out to form a sock like covering. If you have a small white sock, just leave it as is!
Gently, pull your sock or your tubing over the head you created and re-tie your neck line. (again, note this head is WAY too small for this size of doll). Measure your head again and make sure it measures somewhere around 12″ in circumference now.
Step 4: Tying the head
You will now need more of your craft string or in a pinch you can use unflavored dental floss for this part. You will start by tying a length of string across the center of the head, forming your eyeline. Tie this quite tight (I go around the head twice before I tie), so it forms an indent.
The next tie will be done vertically, forming a chin and cheeks.
Your ties should be tight and knotted well. At this point, you can clip the string from the vertical tie, but leave the string from the eyeline (the horizontal tie) long.
Now you will need a needle and thread to sew your ties in place. Thread a needle, so that the thread is doubled, and sew an “X” on both sides of the head where the two ties cross to keep them in place.
Now, you will need to carefully pull the back of the eyeline down, so that it is at the neckline. Doing this will make a smooth round back of the head. Go slow, as this is not easy, and you may want to use a chopstick or an unsharpened pencil to aid you!
Once you are done this step, it is probably a good time to measure your head again, as the tying should have reduced its circumference to somewhere between 11.5-12″. This is a perfect size.
It’s time for the fun part! Now, we get to form the doll’s nose!
Step 5: forming the nose
To start, take a sharpened pencil and lightly draw a circle where you would like your nose to be.
Next, using your thread and needle, begin going across the nose, underneath your pencil mark, from one side to the other (make sure you are catching wool!). Continue to go around in alternating directions until you have hit all points around the nose. The photos below will help explain this step!
Once you have gone to all sides of the nose, pull the thread tight, which will gather your nose. Tie it off.
Now, snip or bury your threads and your nose in complete! Time for the very last step in making your doll head!
Step 6: Covering your head with skin fabric
Now you will need the cotton interlock that you will use as your doll’s skin. I like this cotton interlock, but you can use any knit as well, such as a white t-shirt that is dyed in coffee or tea!
Take a square of your interlock and fold it so that it is right sides together. Place your doll’s head you just made with the nose facing the fold. Using a light pencil or disappearing marker, trace around the head.
Once you have traced the head, using a stretch stitch or a tight zigzag, sew just inside your line.
Now you will cut around the line you drew, and then turn the piece inside out, so the right side is showing.
Carefully slip your skin over top of your head, like you are pulling on a sock. It should be snug over the face! Once its pulled snugly over, tie the covering at the neck with your craft string. Your head is complete!
Come back to learn the next part and download your pattern!
In the meantime, please visit me over on my facebook page Faith & String, and feel free use that facebook page to message me any questions so I can help you in your doll creations!