well this started out kinda weird-looking (How to make a Waldorf Doll)

I can’t even remember how I first found out about Waldorf Dolls a few weeks ago – I certainly wasn’t trolling the internet looking for dolls for Carys.  Most of our current toys are of the block/cup/spatula/bowl/milk jug variety so someone must have mentioned the dolls on one of the Facebook parenting groups I’m in or something.  Anyway I went and researched them and found out that they’re dolls that are usually handmade out of natural materials with very neutral facial expressions so kids can project different emotions on them.  I thought that was pretty cool and Carys doesn’t really have any dolls so I figured I’d make her some.

“When they are fashioned simply, they make the entire range of human appearance possible through the child’s imagination.”
Jaffke Freya, Toymaking With Children

DSC01243I looked at my local fabric store for materials but they didn’t have stretchy fabric in anything approaching skin color (of any race!) and their yarn and wool stuffing were more expensive than on Weir Crafts, which seems to be the go-to source for Waldorf doll supplies.  And as is often the case with ordering anywhere but Amazon shipping ends up being half the cost so I ordered enough to make three dolls.  Actually it’s going to end up being enough for more than that as the instructions say you need 1/2 yard of fabric per doll when actually you only need about 1/4 yard, and the recommended 1/2 lb of wool was about 3x too much so the 1 1/2 lbs I ordered will keep us in dolls until Carys is in high school.  I ordered all three colors of organic fabric they had, although they ended up being rather more similar than I’d hoped.  I guess I’ll have to check out the non-organics to get some diversity into our crew.

DSC01244I found this really awesome tutorial on Living Crafts that I followed almost entirely.  The head is the hardest part and I have to say I thought it looked a bit creepy.

The step-by-step guide with pictures was super helpful and there’s a download of pattern pieces for the body/legs and arms.  I added 1/4″ seam allowance all around the pieces and I ended up making a second body/legs with an extra 1/2″ on the top of the torso as I was having a hard time folding the top of the torso under for stitching without having the arms look like they were coming out of the belly.  Now it seems a little long in the torso but perhaps I’ll lengthen the legs for the next one so I can make feet.

The Living Crafts doll doesn’t have a nose, which I thought looked a bit strange, so I followed different instructions for that on The Silver Penny.  I also followed the guidance there for the butt and belly button (worked together rather than separately as on Living Crafts) because I liked Silver Penny’s butt better, although it did make my doll look a bit ‘hip-y’ because the belly button drags down toward the butt.  I might try Living Crafts’ method next time.

Then I used Crafty Sheep’s hair tutorial because Carys hasn’t had hair that looks like a beanie since, well, ever.  She looked like a Monchichi when she was born and her hair is shoulder-length now, so I gave her doll a side part like she has.


Anyway, for a while it was just a bunch of body parts and then all of a sudden it came together into a pretty respectable-looking doll.  And Carys seems to like it – she kept asking for it even when I was still sewing the hair on, and the first thing she did with it was bite its face.  She’s taken to dragging it around the house by its neck and biting various other appendages.  I guess now it needs some clothes.  And a diaper.  And a name.  Any ideas?  For context, we named her lion toy ‘Cecil’…




Carys takes care of business with an assist from Dolly

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  • Reply
    October 9, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    I love the hair – really good choice. I’ve been thinking about sewing my son a Waldorf doll for a while,but I might sew a more traditional cloth rag doll. Were you set on the Waldorf concept?

    • Reply
      October 9, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks, poppyandaster – I liked that type of hair better than the knitted ‘cap’ style as well. I used the boucle yarn because Carys’ hair is actually quite curly (although it doesn’t look like it now it’s getting longer) but you could also try it with regular yarn for straight hair.

      I wasn’t set on the Waldorf concept, although I guess I didn’t actually do that much research on other kinds of rag dolls. I did like that the shape of the head and also the facial features were a bit more realistic than some rag dolls (particularly the kind where you sew two pieces of fabric together and then stuff it, which tends to result in a flat head).

      We are trying to model honesty with feelings to Carys – so it’s OK to not be happy all the time; to be scared/frustrated/angry sometimes – and I really liked how the Waldorf concept of the neutral facial expression helps kids to project their own feelings onto the doll and perhaps help the kid to understand their feelings a bit better. If this interests you, you could read the book The Case for Make Believe by Susan Linn. The first half is a diatribe against screen time but if you can get past that, the second half has useful information on how to help kids through traumatic situations (they will all go through something traumatic at some point!) using pretend play. You could also make a regular rag doll with a neutral expression if you liked…

      • Reply
        October 10, 2015 at 4:50 am

        I appreciate the book recommendation, but I’m already on board with make believe! I like the flat rag dolls because they are even more neutral/simple – and, more importantly, because I am too lazy and cheap to track down the materials for a Waldorf doll right now. 🙂

        Thank you for your detailed reply, very helpful!

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