Nothing says love the same way a heartfelt gift does, and this tutorial will teach you how to make an elegant and eye-catching doll that would make a beautiful gift for Mother’s Day, birthdays, or to celebrate a christening, baptism or birth.
The thing that makes this doll truly stand-out is the use of the stunning Twinkle fibres from Hamanaka (review coming soon). Obviously you can make this creation without sparkly fibre, but the gorgeous pearly sheen of the pink mottled over the taupe dress gives this doll an other-worldly appeal.
For this tutorial you will need:
- Core wool
- Beige/ taupe coloured carded fibres (i used #72 from The Felt Box)
- Flesh-tone carded fibre of your choice (I used #49 from The Felt Box)
- Linen colour Carded fibre (I used #82 from The Felt Box)
- Pink Hamanaka Twinkle fibres (available from SweetPeaDolls)
- Brown merino tops
- Two pipe cleaners
- Needle-nosed pliers (optional)
- Sewing needle and thread
- Felting needles (at least a 36, 38 and, preferable, a 40)
- A felting mat
- Narrow-ended scissors
- Fabric glue
Throughout this tutorial I will refer to the fibre used on the hands and heads as ‘flesh’ or ‘flesh tone’ to simply signify that this is the fibre to use for flesh-areas (which sounds unnecessarily gory!) However, there are a wide variety of different fibre colours available through the Felt Box that would allow you to create a doll of almost any skin tone or ethnicity.
Step 1 – Creating the basic body shape
1.1 – Listen, this is going to be a picture-heavy tutorial. I don’t know if needing to save bandwidth is still thing, but so as to not make this tutorial overly long I’m going to direct you to my ‘Creating a Cone Shape’ tutorial here.
Follow the instructions to create a cone shape, with the following changes:
1) Substitute the pink top colour with the taupe top colour.
2) Start wrapping the core wool around the pipe cleaner 1cm from the end, and leave this part exposed (this will be where the head is added, so the pipe cleaner can’t be covered over.)
Step 2 – Decorating the body
2.1 – Take a piece of your Hamanaka Twinkle that is approx. as long as the pipe cleaner, and split it down the centre to create two thin pieces.
2.2 – Lay the two lengths of Twinkle fibre across each other so that they form a cross. At the central point where the two pieces meet, make a small hole and insert the exposed pipe-cleaner through it as in the image below. Spread the fibres out so that they cover the base evenly.
2.3 – Using a 38 or 40 gauge needle, felt the Twinkle fibres to the body. Make sure that you keep the fibres flowing roughly in the same direction for a neater result.
2.4 – Using a 40 gauge needle (if you have one – use a 38 if you don’t) continue to felt down the fibres as much as you can, so that the end result is neat and even. If you find you are leaving too many holes, gently brush your thumb over them when you have finished, as this will help minimise their appearance.
Step 3 – Making the other parts
3 – At this point you need to make the head – and while we’re at it, let’s make the baby too (incidentally, that’s a terrible chat-up line).
As these pieces are so small, no need for a core – just make it directly out of the relevant top colours. Instructions on how to make a ball shape can be found here (the principle is the same). To make the head and the baby’s body, you need to make add some additional fibre to this shape once made, to turn the ball into more of an oval/egg-shape.
Adult head – flesh coloured, 2.75cm x 2.5cm
Baby head – flesh colour, 1.75cm x 1.75cm
Baby body – Linen colour, 3cm x 2cm
Step 4 – Adding the head
4.1 – Using your pointed scissors, cut a small hole approximately half-way into the centre of the underside of the head. Savage.
4.2 – Put glue on the exposed bit of pipe cleaner, then IMPALE THAT HEAD!!!
You will need to let this dry.
Step 5 – Adding the hair
5.1 – Take a piece of your brown wool and lay it over the base of the back of the head. Felt across the centre point firmly.
5.2 – Fold the hair in half and felt down along the top edge.
5.3 – Repeat this process, only this time position the hair so that the centre point lies across the back of the head at the top.
5.4 – This time take a sizeable chuck of the hair and lay it over the top of the head, with the middle point being over the centre parting. Make sure that there are no patches of the head colour poking through the joins.
5.5 – Gather the hair together and lightly twist the ends.
5.6 – At the bottom of the hair, where it is twisted, felt it securely to the body.
5.7 – Felt gently down the direction of the hair to keep it in place and secure it to the body.
Step 6 – The Arms
6.1 – Take two small pieces of pipe cleaner, 6.5cm long.
6.2 – Using the pliers, bend the very ends of each piece over and squeeze flat – this is to prevent anyone from hurting themselves on the (slightly) sharp points of the wire should they tease their way through the fibres.
6.3 – Take a small pinch of your flesh – toned wool and felt it into a small fuzzy clump on your felting surface.
6.4 – Fold this over the end of a piece of pipe cleaner and felt it around the tip – you will be partially felted the wool to the pipe cleaner and to itself. It should end up resembling a cotton bud (q-tip, for my American friends).
6.5 – Take a piece of the Hamanaka Twinkle approximately three times the length of the pipe cleaner. Pull the fibres at the end into a thread-like twist and wrap tightly (so that they reaaaally embed into the pipe cleaner) so that the fibres are, essentially, tied onto the pipe cleaner.
I’m starting to get a bit tired or typing pipe cleaner, you guys. Can we call them something else? Fuzzy sticks? Fluffy pokey bois. Anyone?
6.6 – Wrap the fibre tightly around the floofy wire until you reach the hand (the fibre should overlap the hand slightly). Felt it into place around the snuggly pixie stick to stop it unwrapping.
Ok, I’ve just remembered I have a lot of international readers I’m confusing here, plus I’m running out of alternative names.
6.7 – Continue to wrap the pipe cleaner with the fibre, going up and down the length until the arm is at the desired thickness. Once you are happy with the thickness, felt the fibre tightly onto the pipe cleaner.
6.8 – Take your pointy scissors again and cut a deep hole where you want to position the arms. To get good positioning, try to imagine where the shoulders would be. Once cut, glue the arms into place and allow to dry.
Step 7 – The Baby
7.1 – Take the FELT baby head and FELT baby body* and, using a long doll maker’s needle (if possible) sew the head and body together. I advise you sew back and forth at least twice for added security.
*Disclaimer – We at Flippity Felts do not encourage sewing actual babies’ heads to their bodies. They have necks, so quite frankly it’s unnecessary.
7.2 – Take a small pinch of your flesh tone and felt over any areas where needle marks or exposed thread is showing.
I’m sorry baby!!
The final result
I’m so happy with how this has turned out, and I hope you will be too. There’s something about the Hamanaka Twinkle that is unlike any other sparkly fibre I’ve used before, and it really adds something very special to the piece.
Of course, you may not wish to have your doll posing with a baby in its arms. One of the beautiful things about this make is that it can be customised to best suit its recipient (or, if you’re particularly vain like me, the giver). Instead of holding a baby, why not have your doll hold onto something significant to the recipient, or keep it simple by have her hold some little flowers that compliment her dress’s colour scheme.
If you’ve made a doll based on this tutorial I would love to see it! Leave me a comment below and I’ll get in touch with you.