A traditional Waldorf doll handmade of natural materials is truly a work of art. There is something about their simple features and firm, yet soft bodies that children are captivated by instantly. This is a simple introduction to what is involved with making one, so you can decide if it seems like something you’d enjoy.
I am no expert on dollmaking, all the images shown here are from my very first try at making one! In reading up on what makes it authentically in the “Waldorf” style (wool, cotton, traditional European dollmaking, simple facial features) I decided it would be a whole lot easier to buy a dollmaking kit. I’m not usually a “kit person” and prefer to figure things out on my own, but for fellow newbies, I can’t recommend getting a kit enough!
I chose the 13″ Little Love Doll kit from Joy’s Waldorf Dolls after asking for recommendations at my local natural toy shop. I love the amount of options she offers in her kits and that you can get absolutely everything you need for dollmaking from her. Plus, a few doll clothing patterns are included which was a great bonus.
Tightly rolling up the wool fibers into a ball for the head is key for getting a uniformly shaped and firm head. Unlike stuffed animal crafting, you can’t simply stuff wool into the doll form, you must shape it first and then place it in the form. This is what gives the dolls their lifelike feel because by having tightly wound balls of wool for each hand and foot, a natural flexibility occurs at wrists and ankles.
The wool head ball is placed inside a thin, sock-like tube to help keep its form and then string is tied horizontally around the head to make the indentation for eyes. It can be hard to visualize this and understand how it works until you see the end result.
Another string is placed vertically, which further helps the face take shape. Where the strings cross is approximately where the ears would be, and this cross is stitched down so it doesn’t shift. Greater details are of course included with the kit pattern instructions.
A second stretchy sock-like tube is placed over the head, this time in a skintone material for the final layer of the head. Suddenly, the face makes sense and comes to life!
After sewing the body pieces together a form is starting to appear and the actual construction begins. I found this the most challenging because it involved hand-sewing which I have limited patience for.
Once the form is constructed, the simple eyes and mouth are embroidered on. Hair can be hand crocheted, but I opted to purchase the add-on crocheted cap so all I had to do was hand sew it on, being sure to create a natural hairline around where the ears would be.
I also whipped up some pants and a shirt with some fabric I had on hand (fabric for clothing is not included in the kit) and knit a wee hat and scarf! Gotta love accessories.