It’s so exciting to find a budding new Waldorf Blog. Cathy, from the beautiful new blog Faith & String and shop Brambles & Blossoms is sharing her tutorial on how to make a WALDORF POCKET DOLL. Please visit Cathy’s sites for other great Waldorf doll tutorials and to purchase the most lovely Waldorf dolls.
I can still remember the very first Waldorf doll I had ever laid eyes on. She had beautiful sunkissed skin, brown curly hair and dark eyes that stole my heart. I was staring at her through the computer, and couldn’t believe that someone was able to create her using their hands alone. The magic of Waldorf dolls captivated me then, and has held me in its grasp ever since.
Six years ago I was a mama of 4 little boys under 6, (I am now a homeschooling mama of seven beautiful, creative, and energetic children all under the age of 12), and we longed for a more natural childhood for them. I loved the idea of supporting these incredibly talented doll makers that I found through my searches; however I also knew that I really wanted to learn how to make these amazing creations myself. There is something so special about watching your children fall in love with something you made with your own two hands. I spent so much time pouring over tutorials and photos, yet it was difficult to find a basic, simple tutorial for a Waldorf doll that had enough photos and the support that I needed to understand the techniques. I ended up buying countless patterns, and reading all I could on the subject. I practiced over and over on the couch while my children and I would listen to radio dramas, trying to get a good grasp on different skills and stitches. As I did this, the most amazing thing happened! The kids took up a love of handicrafts as I did, and loved to sit by my side hand sewing their own creations starting at the age of around 2. They were enamored with the little friends I was creating, and I really was falling in love with my journey of creation.
I formed my Waldorf doll company, Brambles & Blossoms, as I was making my first dolls. I loved making dolls, and loved sharing them with others! Truly though, I longed to be able to someday have the opportunity to teach others how to make these precious childhood friends for their own children. Over the next few years, I was blessed with another son and then two precious daughters who created an even stronger love in my heart for handmade dolls. I watched my sweet girls dote on the babies I made them, cuddling them and choosing them over all other toys. There is such magic in something made by a mama’s loving hands.
Because of this magic, I decided I really needed to start a blog that would offer free tutorials and patterns for doll making, so other mamas would have the opportunity to create beautiful memories for their own children. On my blog, Faith & String, I have a completely free pattern and photo tutorial on how to make a 12” traditional style Waldorf doll. I wrote and offer this because I truly believe that a doll made by a mama’s hands is better than anything that can be bought, imperfections and all! But I always suggest that mamas start small to practice their technique. So I will give everyone reading a very simple and fun tutorial on how to make a small pocket doll. You would only need to use scrap materials, and the smallest amount of wool, but create a perfect little baby doll for your children to tote along with them!
These little pocket dolls are sweet and simple. They have no face, as it encourages open ended play and imagination, however you can add one if you wish!
You will want to start by drafting a pattern for your doll.
STEP 1 : You can make a doll of any size, but for this tutorial we will be using a piece of paper that measures approximately 5″ wide and around 8.5″ in height. You will want to fold it in half so that the doll pattern you will cut out is symmetrical.
STEP 2 : Taking you piece of paper above and fold it. You will now cut it in half, cutting a piece off of it that is 3.5″ high, which will leave a 5″ piece. The larger piece will be used for the doll’s body and the smaller one will become the doll’s hat!
STEP 3 : Now comes the fun part! You can take your larger piece (the 5″ high one!) and draw a doll body shape. I chose a simple rounded body and pointed arms, but you could really draw anything! The creative options are endless!
STEP 4 : Taking your other piece of paper (the one that measured 3.5″) draw a line diagonally across the paper. This will make a triangle when you cut it out, but if you prefer a different style of hat you can draw anything!
STEP 5: Cut out both of your shapes and open them up! This is your pattern, and this is all you need to make your children some precious companions!
Now comes the fun part! You get to choose the fabric that you will use to make these little ones! I chose a quilters cotton which has no stretch. You can use knits, but the shape of your doll will be less firm (since the fabric will stretch). This isn’t worse or better – just different!
Before I explain each step of the sewing process in detail, here is an easy graphic that will help you get the flow of the project.
STEP 1 : You will now trace and cut out the fabric from your pattern. You will need two of the body pieces and one of the hat pieces.
STEP 2 : Place your body pieces right sides facing each other. Using your sewing machine (or hand stitching), sew the body all the way around, leaving the neck open. Since I used a non stretchy material, I used a normal straight stitch. However if you chose a knit fabric you will want to use a stretch stitch.
STEP 3 : You will also sew up the side of your hat to make a little cone. Turn both pieces inside out using something that is not sharp, like a chopstick, to push out the arms gently. Then you can set these pieces aside.
STEP 4 : Now we are going to form a head! You will take your wool and form a little firm ball with it about the size of a cherry by rolling it. Then, taking a little more wool in small strips, place pieces over the firm ball until the head is slightly smaller than the size of a ping pong ball, and fairly firm. Using cotton craft string, tightly tie beneath the head. It will resemble a little ghost!
STEP 5 : Now, take a small piece of cotton interlock that is the colour you would like for skin tone. If you don’t have this don’t worry, you can use tea to dye a white knit t-shirt and get pretty nice results! You will need to fold the fabric (right sides together) with the grain going vertically. This will allow the stretch of the fabric to go across the face. Place the head beside the fold. Using a disappearing marker (or even a pencil), trace around the one side of the head.
STEP 6 : Sew along your traced line with a stretch stitch, cut out the head shape and turn it inside out.
STEP 7 : Now, carefully pull this head skin over your woolen head. Tie it again with your craft string at the neck.
STEP 8 : Now is the time to add a face if you wanted one. If you would rather not have a face, you will now add the hat. Pull the little cap over the head and using a ladder stitch, stitch it on making sure to go around the entire head at least twice.
STEP 9 : You can now set the head aside and pick up your body. Gently stuff it with bits of wool until it is as firm or as squishy as you would like. You can add some lavender along with your wool if you would like a gentle scented doll.
STEP 10 : You will now carefully push the head down into the body, and using your ladder stitch again, go around the neck to attach the head. Be sure to go around at least twice so that the head won’t accidentally come off.
STEP 11 : The next thing to do is to thread your needle with a colour of thread that matches your fabric. Beginning at the under part of one arm, secure the thread.
STEP 12 : Go through the body to the under part of the other arm. Repeat this process at least one more time (using the same piece of thread) Pull tightly and tie it off. This is drawing the arms inwards slightly. You don’t have to do this step, but I find it gives a very nice shape to your doll!
STEP 13 : Now the only thing left to do is lightly add blush to the cheeks using a beeswax crayon!
You are finished! Once you have made a few of these little ones, you will be ready to start making a bigger doll. You can find my free photo tutorial and pattern for a 12″ Waldorf style doll at my blog Faith & String. I really enjoyed spending this time with you!
Here are some other Discovering Waldorf Education articles discussing Waldorf Dolls.
If you would like to read an article on a specific topic, please let me know in the comments below. If you would like to submit an article for Discovering Waldorf Education, please get in touch with me through the contact form… I’m always looking for new Waldorf content.
Blessings and magic,