Wednesday, July 21, 2010

making a waldorf doll - the head & limb joinings

making the head is quite fun, as it is the beginnings of your new little friend dolly coming to life.
both the traditional and the jointed dolls have the same type of head.
depending on the size doll you have chosen to make, measure out your wool, find an old white tshirt, some thick crochet thread for tying, and make your head. i am using my book as a guide.
consequently, the silver penny has an amazing tutorial for making the head online, and its almost exactly the same as listed in my book. {she has instructions for making a nose there, too}.
so get crackin' at your heads and then come back for the rest.
* It is important to note several things about the HEADS*  of these dolls.

  • firstly, you want your 'muff ' or the bit of wool hanging down under your dolls head (which is essentially a tight round ball of wool with thin wool wrapped around it ) to be firmly done so it is very attached to the rest of the head. this is what forms the neck and keeps the dolls head from wobbling around. you will want a good bit of wool to hang down under your head , as indicated in my picture above, this makes the neck and keeps everything firm and in place when you attach the head to the body.

  • secondly, you will want to pay attention and get the size of your head right in proportion to the dolls body. i am making a small 9" jointed doll, thus i need to use 50gm of wool to make the head. My head measurements should be 2.5" high and 9" in circumference. This info is listed in my book for each doll's size and should be followed as close as possible so the doll looks real. Maricristin Sealey discusses this in detail in this book, she is truly the guru of waldorf dollmaking!
apologies, this photo is dark.
after the dolls head is finished you pull a 'sock' covering over the top
tie a string round the neck {do this up high right under its 'chin' }
all of the extra wool you have hanging down goes in the bottom part which you sew up at the bottom.
IMPORTANTE :: hold your doll down at the bottom where my hand is and shake it. don't rattle its brains, just a little shake. did its head move at all separately from the whole unit? if no, congratulations.
if yes, its not right.
if you seem to be having a problem with this, send me a note and i can try and help you out.
its important to get this right, you'll be glad you took it apart and redid it later if it wobbles.
your body should be well stuffed.
wool tends to pack down over time, so stuff it to the max, and then put in
some more. make a little well with your hand down inside the middle of the dolls body
and place the muff down in the hole. (the muff of my doll went way down into the tummy, which is good).
 as you go around the neck use your fingers and make it fit down inside the doll until it is even length with your string. keynote * your body stuffing should be up and all around the muff at the neck. you should not really be able to see much of the muff. *
pin the dolls head in four corners to stabilize.
take a curved doll making needle , starting and ending at the back,
 begin to sew the neck to the body. make sure you are pushing down the wool as you sew bit by bit and make sure the two pieces of flesh are catching each other with the stitches.
doesn't matter what it looks like, you are going to cover it up with a band when finished. :))
i made a one inch strip ( i needed it that wide to hide some oopses)
and  stitched the ends as indicated. long in back and stab in front so it doesn't show on right side.
make sure your grain is going up and down, and the most stretch is going across.
then fold it in half and place around your dolls neck with the folded edge facing UP.
pin, pull (it should stretch) and sew closed.
cut off the extra and turn the band round so the folded seam is now facing
the bottom of the neck.
joining the appendages
as i said earlier, stuff those babies stiff.
you need: buttons of a decent size ( i cut mine off a hideously ugly sweater)
a long doll making needle
thick and sturdy doll or crochet thread
a decent amount of patience and laughter
maybe some bandaids
( if you aren't bleeding already from that neck this
step is likely to getcha )

ok so the first doll i made i jointed with Maricristin Sealey's directions..but the Silver Penny
has the idea of button jointing with the button placed inside the arms and legs.
directions are here . while this took me two tries to get it right,
i love the end results.
* keynotes*
it is important to mark your placements, i used a charcoal pencil.
you want the arms even with each other and a marking spot is easiest.
you want the legs in the right spot so the doll will sit up.
on the second try i took most of the wool stuffing out of the tops
of my arms, so i could actually see the buttons (HELLO!) 
and i declared myself a smartypants.
arms on , who hoo!!
now do the legs in the same way,
then restuff and sew up the holes.
good golly miss molly!
now you should have a cute little fella like this looking at you.
jackson pinned in his own eyes and mouth last night.
which i was grateful for, it helped me remember back to front
while i was sewing the doll together.
i love that he wants a smiley little doll!
good luck with your doll making everyone
next post i will bring to you the eyes and mouth and HAIR.


  1. He looks a cutie! The pins are a very sweet touch:)

  2. i think you are COURAGEOUS!
    looking forward to the end result.

  3. looking good mama, thanks so much for all this wonderful sharing.
    I am gearing myself up to make one for O for Yule xx

  4. I love the arrangement of the pins. I find the faces so difficult to get right, but most rewarding when they work. I'm looking forward to seeing how you do it. This is an interesting tute. Hope you don't mind me following. I love your blog.

  5. Looking a bit freaky there at times!
    Great work though ... your doll is really coming along quickly.

  6. Dolly looks awesome! I'm definitely coming here and having you on my email list when I made Camille's next dolly. I've got grand plans of creating her one for her birthday! I am going to order the book you recommended too. Your site looks AWESOME! I love your new header and pages. :-)

  7. I love this style of doll. I made a Waldorf doll once, but had trouble with the hair. I finally gave up and sewed a hat onto it's head! I look forward to reading your post on how to make the hair.

  8. Wow! This doll is really starting to come to life now!! How exciting! :-)

  9. He's a good looking little fella that's for sure.
    Can't wait to see him with Hair :)
    Jen xx

  10. He is looking good! Yay! Can't help on the eating the fabric still. No help at all.