How To Make a Cute Waldorf Doll or Cloth Doll
So guess what Santa brought my little girl for Christmas! I wanted to make her a doll and had set my heart on one of those cute Waldorf Dolls. I previously attempted one (that only my mum likes) and thought this time I’d like to get it right. And to make sure she also wins my daughters heart, I also made her a sparkly pink dress.
I personally prefer her in a more natural looking outfit.
However, my main criteria was to create a doll that could be – ideally machine – washed. Traditional Waldorf dolls have a wool stuffing and can, if at all, only gently washed by hand.
So lets get started on how to make your very own doll. I bought a book (not such a good investment) and searched the internet high and low. I have to admit, Beth created such a great online tutorial, that I feel it’s superfluous to show things in detail. However, I’d like to share with you the things I’ve done additionally or slightly differently, and for which I haven’t found such great tutorials. I hope this helps to get you started. Just give it a go – it really is lots of fun!
Start by Making the Head Structure
Ok, so this just looks a bit complicated, but once you get going, you’ll easily figure out what to do!
For a traditional Waldorf doll you first create the ‘structure’ of the head using Tubular Gauze (sold in pharmacies or big craft shops). For my doll (approx. 30cm high) I used Tubi Gauze size B and filled it with synthetic doll stuffing. Once you wrapped strong yarn around the head (take a look at Beth’s excellent online tutorial) you can add a nose. For me a must have for cuteness!
Draw on the Features
Cover the head with your chosen cotton knit (a slightly stretchy fabric), fold it in half and make a seem at the back. If you don’t use self setting fabric ink, leave the seams on the top and bottom of the head open. This way you can take the fabric off again and heat set / iron the drawn on features.
I marked the position of the eyes with blue pins and used ordinary pink fabric ink for the cheeks. I applied this with a cheap flat brush with stiff bristles (approx. 1cm wide, from an art shop). First making sure there is very little ink left in the brush and then applying it carefully with a nearly dry brush without much pressure. The aim is to create a gentle blush without a blob of paint. It’s not as tricky as it sounds, just practice on a spare piece of fabric first and you see how easy it is. For the brown freckles I used a very fine round brush (No. 00) with soft bristles.
Above you can see my finished head structure and my piece of fabric with the drawn on features. I heat set the fabric ink with my iron (super long, as I made bad experiences with fabric ink that disappeared completely in the wash, because I didn’t iron the design).
Most tutorials suggest to finish off the head first and then create the body. I was too impatient and created the body while simultaneously working on the head. Which was just as well, as it took me a few attempts to get the embroidery of the face right, and I could do this on the go, without needing a sewing machine.
Make the Body
Speaking about perfectionism, I think it took me 4 attempts to create the body I was happy with.
Of course you don’t have to make it this complicated. The body above was created with the pattern of my book. However, I felt the body was too thin and tall and the proportions were modeled too much on an older child.
I wanted a small and cuddly doll, with the proportions of a child, who would be similar in age to this of my daughter (she is one and a half).
So I shortened and ‘fattened’ the body…
…and added plastic granules to add some weight to the doll.
Here all the rejected bodies I had created came in handy. I cut of parts of them, filled them with granules and closed the seam.
Plastic granules are normally not recommended for use in children’s’ toys, but my talented AND lovely friend Rebecca Elgar found out, they need to be enclosed in 2 bags and then they can be put into the toy.
So each small bag of granules needs to be closed and packed into a second bag that needs to be sewn close again, before being placed in midst the filling. So if a little finger finds it’s way into the doll stuffing, they still have 2 more layers of fabric to get through. That’s how I’ve done it, but I don’t take any responsibility if any child is more inquisitive than mine, and gets hurt.
Embroider the Dolls Face and Add Hair
For the hair I first crochet a head cup (below left). This is a tight little hat the snuggles nicely onto your dolls head. In the head cup you loop lots of strings of wool, using a crochet hook to do so.
To embroider the face you probably need a bit of patience. As mentioned I can’t remember how long it took me to find the right position and size for the eyes and mouth, but I think it’s worth giving it a few goes until you are happy with the dolls appearance. Once done you are nearly there!
Glasses or No Glasses?
A tricky one. Once I ‘finished’ the face, I felt the doll needed a bit more of an ‘artistic’ touch.
I took a photo of her face and drew on some glasses in the computer (left picture), to see if I would like the feel of it. I didn’t position her eyes in the middle of the glasses, so that it looks more like the glasses had slightly slipped of her nose and the doll appeared a bit more nerdy. I liked look of the glasses and used paper rings (above right), held in place with pins, to embroider around them and create the glasses.
Finish your doll
The last step is to sew the head to the body. Now add a bit of felt for the hair elastics and hair clip and sew in place.
And finished is your doll!
Now she just need some clothes and ready is your child’s new friend.
Thanks for looking! I hope it inspired you to give it a go.
All images © Jacqueline Wagner