How to make a simple doll from a circle of handmade felt
No. 17 in the 30 Days of Dolls series:
There are so many fun things you can do with a piece of handmade felt- horse reins, candle holders, felt bowls , and of course, storytelling landscape mats for children to use in play, are just a few of the things in my archives here. But one of my favourites is how to make a simple doll from a circle of handmade felt.
My friend Jen of the blog, Lavendilly, and I first made these about 12 years ago with our group of kindergarten children. These dolls are NOT meant to be perfect. They are designed to be made BY the children, aged from 3-4 years old and upward. Which means some of their faces and necks will look like they are in need of a facelift, such is the amount of creases and folds in the visible skin! But here at PFE, I think we value inner beauty just as much as outer beauty so we won’t be bothered about that at all, will we?
For this doll, you’ll need to make a circular piece of handmade felt. Wet felting, as it is known, is really quite easy and full of bubbly, wet fun for kids. Making a small piece for this doll is the perfect introduction too, as there is no rolling involved (unless you want to.). Simply click on the link, how to make a circle of handmade felt, for a step-by-step photographic tutorial. When it is dry, pop back here for your next steps.
Left to right:
1. Tie a knot in the centre of a 12 cm length of wool fleece, then wrap the ends around the ball to make a ball shape.
2. Place a square of light cotton knit over the top of the ball, with the grain running vertically down the ‘face’ side.
3. Pull the creases, as many as you can, out towards the ‘ears’ of the face so you don’t have too many wrinkles under the ‘neck’. Loop a piece of embroidery cotton around the neck and pull it in tightly to make a secure knot. If you have too many neck wrinkles, try to smooth them out by gently massaging them to the sides, or if this is not working, try again. Or not. Love those wrinkles! This is your head for the doll.
4. Cut a small circle from your piece of handmade felt.
5. Gently push the ‘head’ through this hole. (Oh, I was just reminded of childbirth. I’m pretty happy that little experience will never happen for me again!)
6. Use a fine cotton to stitch the head in place with a few darting stitches.
7. Choose the doll’s ‘best side’ of her face. Keep this side facing you, then fold the felt forward on both sides to make two small ‘arm’ flaps.
8. Leave a short triangular gap in the centre below the face.
9. Use a thick embroidery thread to make a ‘star’ stitch on both flaps to hold the exuberant arm gesture in place.
10. This is what it looks like.
11. Take a 14 cm length of wool fleece. Leaving a 5 cm gap in the centre untouched, plait down both sides. Tie off the hair braids with a piece of colourful wool.
12. Place the hair on the head of the doll, then run a straight stitch down the centre part so that the hair covers the entire top of the doll’s head.
Children love these little dolls. This one now belongs to 6 year old Lily, who was very happy with her new friend.