Update: If you have enjoyed this tutorial, please check out my creative sewing and design blog—Radiant Home Studio—for more projects and patterns.
I’ve shared these little felt dolls a couple of times on the blog (here and here). I have converted the hand-drawn pattern to a downloadable PDF file and made a step-by-step tutorial with directions and tips.
There are plenty of other felt doll tutorials out there, but many of them are complicated or time consuming. This is simple enough for a little girl to make (assuming she is old enough to use a needle and scissors safely and responsibly) and can be made in less than an hour with practice.
Felt (at least 2 colors)
Embroidery floss (at least 3 colors)
Yarn (about 6-7 ft, cut into 20 pieces about 5 inches long)
Needle with a large enough eye for 3 strands of floss
Print the PDF file and choose a dress style. Cut out two of the body and two of the dress. Cut a piece of embroidery floss several inches long and separate the 6 strands into 2 groups of 3 strands. All of the following stitching is done with 3 strands of floss. Thread the needle and tie a large knot at one end. Pull the thread through near the top of the head (we can hide the final knot under the hair later) and only through one layer. Now sandwich the knot between the two layers and begin to whipstitch around the body. Whipstitch just means to push the needle up through the bottom and wrap the thread back around the edge to start the next stitch. Keep about about 1/8 in between each stitch and between the edge of the felt and each stitch. Stitches too close to the edge can pull through the felt easily. (Here’s a helpful stitch guide from PaperCrafts Magazine.) Finish stitching around the body and leave an opening about an inch wide near the top of the head. Do not tie or cut off the remaining thread because you will use it to stitch the opening closed in a few minutes. Decide if you want your doll to have a face. Start all stitches from the inside in order to hide your knots. I used simple stitches to show that the doll can be made by a beginner, but if you know more embroidery stitches, try using french knots for the eyes or adding more facial features. Don’t worry about making everything perfectly centered and straight. Little quirks give the dolls personality. Now grab a pencil or knitting needle and start stuffing! I used tiny felt scraps which I cut into pieces like confetti, and in the past I have used polyester pillow stuffing. Either works, but I like the idea of using the scraps I was planing to throw away. Use your pencil to work stuffing into the limbs until the doll is full. Use the thread tail to stitch the head closed. Get the clothing pieces ready. If you want to embellish the front of the dress, go ahead and do it before stitching it on the doll. I added a small argyle pattern to this dress. You could also cut out a shape from another felt scrap or piece of fabric, or add embroidered stripes or flowers. Hold the dress pieces on the doll and whipstitch the shoulder seams shut.You can knot the thread each time or make a decorative stitch across the front of the neckline to link the two. Stitch down each side and around any other unfinished edges, if desired. Felt won’t fray, so the sides are the only stitches necessary to hold the dress on. Finishing the bottom edges, sleeves, and neckline is optional because it is decorative only.Now for the hair—this is most difficult to explain, but not hard to do. Start by pushing your needle through an opening in the top of the head and come up at the top of the head, in the center. Pull until the knot goes between the seam and is hidden on the inside of the head. All hair will be added 2 strands at a time. Add two strands of hair, pushing the needle under the felt toward the forehead and looping over toward the back. Go back under the (through the felt and yarn) and come out at the same spot on the forehead again to secure it.Add two more strands and loop the thread over all 4 strands and go back under (through felt and yarn) only 2. Continue in this manner all the way down the back of the head forming a center part with the thread. Over 4 strands…back up and under 2 strands. At the back of the neck, tie a knot. You can trim the hair to any length, tie it into pigtails, or braid it. I used a couple of small stitches near the shoulder to keep the pigtails in place and out of her face. Done! Now make a whole bunch more so she can have some friends! If you make any, let me know! I would love to see how they turn out!