Follow along as we make a Waldorf doll using a SOCK and WOOL DRYER BALL — two things you are sure to already have lying around the house! Plus, a FREE PDF pattern for you to print!
How to make a waldorf doll with a SOCK and WOOL DRYER BALL!?
I’m very excited to share with you a “cheat” method to making a genuine Waldorf doll. Simply using items you probably already have around the house!
Even better, this doll measures around 16″-18″ (there will be slight variations in height from dollmaker to dollmaker!). This doll fits in the popular doll clothing sizes for 15″-18″ dolls!
Why a sock and wool dryer ball?
Why use a sock and a wool dryer ball?
Typically, the most difficult part of a waldorf doll is the head. The head needs to be FIRM and ROUND, and can be quite tricky to make! A wool dryer ball takes all the work right out of making the head!
As for the sock — using a sock is a great alternative to buying gauze inner head tubing. The perfect money saver!
Yep — I really used that sock and dryer ball in the picture above to make this doll!
Let’s get right into it!
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You will need:
- A Sock
- A Wool Dryer Ball
- Cotton Interlock Fabric
- Wool to stuff your doll and felt the face
- Unwaxed Dental Floss
- A needle and thread (in a color that matches the skin tone)
- Strong dollmaking needle
- Embroidery needle
- Embroidery floss
- Straight pins
- Crayon to “blush” the doll.
- Pencil, end of a wooden spoon, knitting needle….something to help stuff your doll with!
- Small amount of worsted weight yarn in a color similar to the doll’s hair
- 6.5 mm crochet hook
- Sewing machine
- Whatever you’re using for your doll’s hair (yarn, wool weft, etc)
- Optional felting needles
Grab your sock and start on your doll’s head!
First, select your sock. Preferably one you don’t care about — the one I chose had no mate. (It also had a hole in it, which I sewed up before starting this project!)
Grab a wool dryer ball, and stuff it into the toe of your sock.
Tie the bottom (the “neck”) with some unwaxed dental floss.
(Note: if you do not wish to felt a face onto your doll, I do suggest wrapping strips of wool around your dolls head, and tying the bottom of the wool down at the neck with more unwaxed dental floss before continuing on to the next step)
Next, you want to make an eyeline indent for the doll’s face.
Take a loooooooooong piece of unwaxed dental floss and wrap it around your doll’s head several times.
Pull TIGHT. This part is a bit tricky, since wool dryer balls are nice and firm!
In the same way, tie around your doll’s head from top to bottom to separate your doll’s front face from the back of its head.
Your doll’s head will be divided into fourths.
Use some thread and a strong dollmaker’s needle to create some “x’s” to prevent the dental floss from moving around.
You’ll really and truly want some strong doll maker’s needles for this project. The wool dryer ball is DIFFICULT to get a standard needle through. A standard tiny sharp needle would be IMPOSSIBLE to use for some of the steps!
Take that doll maker’s needle and weave all the ends of the thread into your doll’s head so they aren’t seen.
Weave in the ends of your dental floss, too.
Don’t forget the dental floss around your doll’s neck!
Stuff the Sock
Next, stuff the rest of your sock to be your doll’s body.
If it’s a long sock, stuff the body to 6″ long and cut/sew the excess of the sock ankle off.
If it’s a short sock, stuff what you can, and sew it up. Then when it comes time to attach the head to the body you sewed from the pattern, stuff wool into the empty bottom of your doll’s body and then place your head and neck on the top.
If you’re using a short sock, make sure you play around with the wool in the torso plenty so that there are no awkward lumps in your doll.
Now, you could stop here. This could be your traditional style Waldorf doll’s head — simple and leaves much up to your child’s imagination as far as facial expressions and demeanor go!
(Note: if you stopped here, as I suggested before, it’s best to have added strips of wool around the head. This will add extra bulk to the head and make there be less wrinkles when putting the doll’s “head skin” over the head, since the pattern was designed to go over a head that has extra wool added during the felting process!)
However, if you want a felted head, we’ll move onto the next step.
If you don’t want a felted head, no worries. Just skip to the next step.
Felting the Face onto the sock
We’re going to work on felting the bottom front quadrant of the face.
Use your single felting needle to secure some wool to the edges marked by your dental floss.
Then, use your multi felting tool to flatten, smooth, and firm the wool to your doll’s face.
Add a couple layers of wool, being sure that the previous layer of wool is firmly felted onto your doll before adding the next layer.
Your doll’s face should look like this.
Next, take little bunches of wool and attach and felt features onto the face.
First, felt a chin.
Then, felt some lips. Be sure to use your single felting tool to make a defined line in between the top and bottom lip. Later, you will be using thread to further define between the lips, so you want a nice deep divot here.
Next: Sew the body pieces
Now we need to sew our pattern pieces.
Print your pattern (I made it a completely and totally free PDF for you to download and print on standard printing paper!), and cut out your pattern pieces.
Trace the pattern pieces onto your fabric then sew:
- Do NOT cut the pattern pieces on the lines you traced!
- DO sew right on the lines you traced!
- Trace and sew through two layers of fabric for your ears, arms, legs, and body.
- Make two of each arm, leg, and ear!
- Trace and sew on the FOLD for your head.
- Mind which direction the stretchy part of the fabric should stretch!
- Once you’ve sewed your pieces, cut them out of the fabric, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance around your stitches.
- Be careful to leave a large enough opening on the top when sewing the head. The dryer ball head is not even a little bit squishy, so make sure the hole is big enough to fit that head in!
- It’s truly best to use a sewing machine to sew your doll pieces. The machine makes such tiny and strong stitches for your doll!
Stuff your sock doll’s body pieces!
Next, we will attach the head skin to the head.
When sewing the skin for the head, be sure to make a strong knot for the beginning and the end of the line of stitches.
When pulling the headpiece over a traditionally made Waldorf doll’s inner head, the head has just enough squishy give to make this a relatively easy process. However, wool dryer balls have zero give. As in, zErO give. So, be sure you have left enough of an opening to get the head through.
Put the bottom of the BODY into the TOP of the head. The top of the head has a larger opening than the opening at the neck.
Once the head skin piece is over the body, continue to slowly and carefully pull it over the head.
Be sure the seam line is on the BACK of the head!
Pull the bottom of the neck on the body of the doll and sew it in place.
Then, sew the top of the head. Your stitches do not need to be pretty since they will be covered by hair, but you do need to pay mind to making sure any wrinkles and folds will be far enough towards the back of the head so that they will be covered by hair, too!
Next, stuff a little wool into the hips of the body piece. (If you used a short sock, stuff with as much wool that you need at the bottom of the doll’s body that the stuffed sock will not fill.)
Place the inner body/head into the body skin. Stuff a little wool into the shoulders to shape them.
Begin sewing together your stuffed doll
Use a ladder stitch to sew the neck of the doll, right at the top of the neck below the chin. Make tight knots with your thread at the end. Weave in your ends of thread into the body.
When using a ladder stitch to sew together your doll, you might decide to go around each body piece twice. I find going around twice using the ladder stitch makes for especially neat stitches.
Turn your remaining pieces right side out.
Stuff your legs, arms, and ears with wool.
Leave about 1 – 1 1/2″ of the tops of the arms and legs unstuffed.
Make small stitches across your arms keeping the wool firmly in place in the lower part of the arm.
Fold the raw edges of the top of the arm inside the arm, and sew it closed — being sure your stitches are close to the top so they won’t be seen once the arms are attached to the body.
Fold your leg in half, as seen in the picture, so that the front and back seam are in the middle of the fold.
Just like with the arm pieces, sew small stitches across the leg, keeping the wool firmly in place.
Fold the raw edges of the top of the leg inside the leg, and make some small quick stitches at the top to hold the fold in place.
For the ears, fold the raw edges into the inside of the ears and make small stitches back and forth close to the edge to close up the ears. Set aside the ears in a safe place so you don’t lose them — we won’t attach them until after the hair is in place.
Using a ladder stitch (don’t forget to use matching thread!), attach the arms and legs to the body.
Remember to weave in all your ends into the body! Rethread your needle with the thread used to make your beginning knot and weave that bit of thread into the body that way.
Embroider the Face
Next, select what color to embroider for your eyes. My daughter requested green for her doll, so green eyes it is!
Also select a lip color — my daughter and I decided on pink for the lips.
Place two straight pins where you’d like the eyes, and trace a circle around them.
Now, this is where you NEED a strong, long doll making needle. Also grab a smaller needle that has a large enough eye to fit the embroidery floss through!
With your big doll making needle, poke from the center of the eye to the back of the head and leave a tail long enough to tie a knot later.
Rethread your smaller embroidery needle at the front of the face, and follow your traced circle to embroider an eye.
Rethread your working embroidery thread/floss to your big dollmaking needle, and poke through to the back of the head, coming out close to your other end of embroidery floss so you can tie a STRONG knot, causing the eye to be “indented” towards the back of the head. Repeat for a second eye.
If you felted lips on your doll, use the same method used for the eyes to pull a single line of embroidery floss at the corner and in between the lips. Pull tightly at the back of the head knot to create an indent to accentuate the lip shape.
Next we’ll tidy up the back of the head a bit. Rethread the ends of the embroidery floss that are sticking out of the back of the head and weave them into the head so they are unseen. Snip the rest of the ends off.
Crochet a cap for the hair
Now it’s time to crochet a cap to use to attach your doll’s hair.
Using worsted weight yarn and a 6.5mm crochet hook, chain 4 and slip into the first stitch to join.
Make 8 double crochets into the center of your “circle.”
Next round: Make 2 double crochets into every stitch.
Next round: (1 double crochet into the first stitch, 2 double crochets into the next stitch.) Repeat around.
Next round: (1 double crochet into the first two stitches, 2 double crochets into the next stitch.) Repeat around.
Next round: (1 double crochet into the first three stitches, 2 double crochets into the next stitch.) Repeat around.
Tie and snip your yarn, and weave in your ends.
This is the cap that we will attach to the head of the doll to make attaching the hair possible.
If you’re using yarn to make hair for your doll, follow this tutorial on how to attach yarn as hair to your ready made cap.
If you’re using a weft from woool like I did on this doll, you can follow this tutorial on how to make your very own weft.
You can also purchase your own weft. (I haven’t tried this one, but this link should give you an idea of what a purchased one would look like!)
Attaching the hair to your sock doll
To attach a weft to your doll, you’ll be going in circles around the head to attach your hair.
Start at the edges of your cap, and work in “swirls” as you make your way to the center of the cap.
The first trip around your doll’s head, you’ll pin and then sew the hair UNDER the cap. The rest of the times you make your way around, you’ll be sewing the hair on TOP of the cap.
Additionally, the first trip around your doll’s head, you’ll have the hair facing FORWARD. The remaining times you swirl around your doll’s head, the hair should be facing BACKWARD/INWARD.
After making my first trip around the doll’s head, I like to take a break and make some stitches to firmly secure the cap evenly to the doll’s head. This way, I can just sew the doll’s hair right onto the cap, which is much easier than sewing through all of the weft-cap-head layers with each stitch. This is especially helpful to do with a wool dryer ball head, which is quite hard to get a needle through!
Once your hair is attached, position and sew on your ears, using a ladder stitch. Don’t forget to weave in your ends of thread into your doll!
Lastly, blush your doll with a crayon.
Your doll will wear clothes that fit a 15-18″ doll. Perhaps the easiest size of doll clothes to find! Hooray!
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Until next time!