Saturday, 17 June 2006

how to make a Steiner doll

Before we start, these dolls are easy peasy lemon squeezy and should take a couple of hours at absolute most. If anyone can't make one I'll eat my hat (well, certainly provide you with more support because it will be my tutorial that's to blame). Please tell me if anything isn't clear or you have any questions.

In my last post I emphasised the importance of the right materials and I'll repeat myself here. This is a really simple doll and it's beauty relies on good quality felt, stuffing and interlock. They are small and don't use much in the way of materials so for the differential cost it's a no brainer. If you are stuck for suppliers please let me know.

Materials you will need:
Good quality wool felt, preferably hand dyed
Flesh toned pure cotton interlock (T-shirt material)

Wool stuffing (probably about 10gm for each of these dolls)

Regular sewing thread (matching or contrast
as you like)
Scissors
Paper for marking out a pattern
A stuffing stick (I use a chopstick or whatever else is handy)
Pins
and needles
Optional decorative elements such as teeny tiny buttons, embroidery floss, teeny tiny bells, wool for hair


1. Cut a pattern for the bodyI have given you a pattern as a guide, but please - it's only a guide! When you've made a few you will be cutting them out freehand I promise. And these are for little dolls (10cm/4 inch), but you can make them in any size at all. The top pattern is for a standing doll with a flat base. You'll need to cut a circle of felt and a slightly smaller one of cardboard or something stiff to put on the inside to stop the stuffing bulging. Because it will all be blanket stitched on the outside you don't need to worry about seam allowances.

2. Cut out two body pieces from your felt for each dollI won't lie to you, cutting can be tiresome. The thick felt doesn't like sitting flat with pins so I tend to cut one with the pinned pattern piece and a second using the first as a guide since the felt sticks together without pins. But don't stress, these dolls are all about handmade so precision is not the name of the game.

3. Make a head sleeve from the interlockUsing the flesh coloured cotton interlock make a small sleeve for your head. You want it to be about 5cm/2inch long for this size doll, and when sewn, about 2.5cm/1 inch wide (wider than the body neck hole, but not as much as one and a half as wide). If you have a machine handy that's fine, if not a hand sewn back stitch seam is fine too (you won't see this seam later).

4. Embellish your bodies if you wantRemember these guys are meant to be simple - a few stitches to imply buttons (or if toddler safety isn't an issue some actual tiny buttons), a simple flower or a star is enough

5. Blanket stitch around the body leaving the neck openIf you don't know how to blanket stitch, which is not a hard stitch at all, try here for some instructions. They call it button hole here, but it's the same stitch.

6. Stuff your bodyGet into the limbs first and then the body proper.

7. Keep on stuffingStuff hard to the brim and then stuff some more. These guys need to be plump and firm and they will compact a bit. Leave just enough of a hollow in the neck to get the head in.

8. Close off the top of the head sleevePut a running stitch a few mm in from the top edge of your sleeve,gather in tight and tie off securely.

9. Turn the head inside out and then stuffUse another running stitch to hold the stuffing in place, making sure the head is really firm and well stuffed. Soft is not good.Add another running stitch above the first - this will form a neck for the head and make the head stuffing even firmer. This neck stops the head to neck join being weak and floppy. Sorry about the crap photo!

10. Push the head into the neck hole and sew in placeIf both the head and body are well stuffed this will require some force. I often use the stuffing stick to really push it in amongst the body stuffing. The deeper into the body you can get the head the better the neck join will be.Stitch head and body together. You can use any stitch you like to do this, so long as it is strong and relatively even.Your basic doll is now complete!

11. Cut a hatThere are no limits to the different styles of hats you can make. This is a basic one I use a lot. Measure the circumference of the head from front forehead to the nape of the neck, with enough height to cover the head. You'll end up with a shape something like this.
12. Sew up and attach hatUse blanket stitch from bottom edge to top point of hatthen back stitch down the seam, pulling in to gather as you go. Back stitch around the hat rim, securing to the head.

13. Other possible adornmentsYou might want to add a little bell to the top of his hat. Steiner dolls are traditionally faceless, though you can add a little stitch on either side of the face to imply eyes.

14. HairYou may want to add hair to your doll. Like hats, hair has endless variations, Carded or uncarded fleece, silk fibre, knitting yarns all make excellent hair and can be left as loose flowing locks, trimmed short or tied in bunches or plaits.Attach wool to head from crown to nape with secure stitches. Plait hair and tie off using a needle to pull thread through the fibres to ensure ties don't slip off. Attach hat, in this case a kerchief style using the same basic method as the hat above but instead of a curve above the head, taper sides to a point. And both your dolls are complete.

15. Get carried awayA sleeping bag or wrap gives your doll another dimension, and children love them! You can make a sleeping bag from felt, knit or any other fabric at hand.

And yes, I'd love to create a Flickr gallery for Steiner dolls if someone will tell me how!

Postscript: Yes, there's now a Flickr Group for Steiner dolls so head on over, take a look and make sure you post pics of what you've done. Suse also left a great suggestion about the flesh coloured interlock. If you have an old white T-shirt or singlet that's cotton, you can dye it in tea until you reach your prefered flesh colour. This is a really good idea as the flesh interlock can be hard to get and a bit pricey.

58 comments:

Amy said...

Thanks so much Sooz. I WILL try this some day -- it looks so soothing actually. I love the little hats, braids, and the sleeping bag. I know these tutorials are a lot of work so I appreciate you putting it out there with such nice instructions and photos. Bookmarked.

Courtney said...

This is so great, I can't wait to make it!

Lisa said...

Wow, what a thorough tutorial!! I can't wait to try; the dolls look darling.

Thanks!

~Vicki said...

What a fantastic tutorial! I love making these types of dolls, and yours are just lovely. Thanks for sharing the know-how with others.

Turning Japanese said...

Do you want to make an album on Flickr or a group?
I think a group lie kiddly would be easy. Just follow the create a new group link... I am sure you know that already

Turning Japanese said...

Or you can ask everyone to tag their creation Steiner doll...

Julie K in Taiwan said...

Wow! Thank you! They are adorable... a flickr group would be fun.

Suse said...

Soozs, that is a fabulous tutorial. I love making these little beings, and would like to add one little tip.

Instead of purchasing flesh coloured interlock, get an old t-shirt or singlet and dip it in strong tea until you get a good flesh colour. You could even cut the singlet up first and leave some bits in longer than others to get different skin tones.

Lazy cow said...

This looks like even I could manage making one. Just a question: where can I find hand-dyed/good quality felt in Melbourne?

krista said...

Wonderful Sooz! I'd love to make a little collection of these, you are so nice for putting up such a fabulous tut!
Can't wait to see the Flickr group... e amil me if you still haven't figured out how to make one, but I'm sure by now you have :)

African Kelli said...

Awesome tutorial! Love it! Thanks for all the time you took to put this together.

melissa said...

wow I've been wanting to make some of these dolls for ever, thank you for your tutorial! It looks so thorough and easy to follow.

bugheart said...

beautiful photos
in the tutorial!!!
i will try to make one
this weekend.
brilliant!

moki said...

excellent tutorial!

littlejennywren said...

I found a good source of wool stuffing in Melbourne. It is called Knithappens, she has a web site plus I think she has a stall at Southbank Market(is that the right name - it's a few years since I have been to Melbourne). The wool is about $16 a kilo and the bag I got was very good quality.

kath red said...

hi sooz
I love the tutorial but it is not a bag.
k

bekka said...

these are lovely dolls. thanks for the tutorial. can't wait to try it myself!

steph said...

Love the tutorial! Thanks for sharing.
I also have made some steiner toys, and would always love seeing more simple projects like this to try--I had a time trying to make a larger doll, and it's still half-finished. I think you should start a steiner doll tag with flickr, too. I'd love to help by sharing a few waldorf DIY, too. After all, Christmas is only a few months away... ;)

melba said...

I saw your dolls and I was completely intimidated to enter whiplash...but I thought I would finally give it a try.

These dolls are ADORABLE.

Amazing job!!!

Wardi said...

Very cute dolls! Great tutorial as well!

Hanna said...

Thanks for the tutorial, what a cute little one!

mong said...

Thank for a nice tutorial. The dolls are very cute. I'll try to sew one someday :)

Anonymous said...

Amazing! I love it! Congratulations for you wonderfull work and keep working!
And a very good tutorial.
Best wishes
Dulce Monteiro
Portugal
http://fadinhadolar.blogs.sapo.pt/

jessica said...

thank you sooz...always wanted to make a steiner doll...now i can...great tutorial...do you use non wool felt...craft felt?...if wool felt, where do you get it?...any place on line...nice pics too...

jessica said...

finally i am in the process of making a little doll. the body is ready...so sweet. however, i am having trouble understanding the head part. i'm not clear on the size of the head...
would you give the actual size before making the sleeve from it? sorry, this is new to me. would love to do it right. thanks soozs.

jessica said...

this was such a pleasure to make. thank you for a wonderful tutorial for a wonderful doll that i will continue to make.

pendlerpiken said...

wow. that is so great! I used to have these when I was little, and I will make this as a pesent. thank you!

CBM said...

You make that look so easy. I think I even have most things I need to try it.
Do you know a good source for the hand dyed wool felt? Thanks,Coryn.

Tara said...

That's for making that tutorial! I think that's what the kids and I will make today for a little friends 2year old girl.

Ju-D said...

I must have missed something here. The little Steiner dolls are adorable. My question is... the round cardboard and piece of felt- where do they go? If the doll shown is a standing doll, are the feet fastened to it? Or what are they put into? Thanks, Ju-D

Savitri said...

Awesome tutorial. I'd like to try one someday. For now, my first piece of work: http://www.scrapbit.com/

From your blog I Googled Blanket Stitch (since I couldn't figure out the stitching from just reading) and came across a YouTube video on how to do it and from there a simple owl doll tutorial. It's so much fun. I want to do more, maybe try your doll since my daughter loves the owl so much. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I am so excited, I can't wait to try and make some of these awesome little dollies for my daughter! I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sooz We've been following your pattern and have made half a dozen of these gorgeous dolls over the holiday weekend. You've created an addict! My six year old has been joining in too keen to make dolls for his little sister. Thanks again!

bloodyfairy said...

Oh! That's so cute!!!

Anonymous said...

Tks so much for your generosity in sharing your template. It's a delight for me as it's terribly difficult to get any decent books or magazines on making simple and nice felt toys or bag making here in Singapore. So far, I haven't found any! My account is shyshybear so do look out for my work. I have only done two hair accessories so far, other than revamping my wardrobe. Haven't much variety yet cos I have already spent more than $100 buying felt, thread n buttons. Cheers^^

hoBBies said...

so creative...

Ohla Ohla!! said...

thanks for sharing and great tutorial..

maswey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sven said...

Good Job! :)

Newbies Doll Maker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Adam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I don't speak english, but these pictures are so good! Thank you 1000x! Ágnes/Hungary

flanella said...

I like this tutorial,so easy n cute.

Queeble said...

Sooo adorable!
This is the best tutorial I've seen so far. Partly because of the outcome and partly because the directions are so easy to follow (especially because of the excellent pictures). Thank you so much!

Launi said...

This was so fabulous. We made them at our house to---thanks to you. Here's ours--if you're interested.

http://www.graciousrain.com/2008/12/20/last-minute-christmas-gifts-steiner-baby

Your instructions are so perfect. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

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craft said...

so cute.. thank for the tutorial

Isabel Gómez said...

Gracias por compartir tan generosamente tu técnica para realizar tus bellos muñequitos. Muchos besos para tí. Vivo en Argentina.
Isabel

earthboysblog said...

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful tutorial I look forward to making it for my boys.

nenidree said...

this is cool tutorial! thank you.

Tracy aka Mad Quilter said...

Great tute Thanks for sharing

ToddDESIGN@aol.com said...

I just finished my first Steiner doll! Your beautiful how-to absolutely inspired me. Do I read accurately your email address as soozs.com@gmail.com? I'll send a photo if I have your address correct. Thank you SO much! Anne

leeaj484 said...

I made this doll also. With mine, i made both a caucasian and an african american one, the caucasian one with a purple body with legs, and the african american one with a pink body without legs. i am giving them away on my blog, LOVE 2 SEW. They both come with hats, sleeping bags, and more. I just wanna know if this is illegal, because i don't think it is because i'm not actually selling them. Anyways, thanks for the tutorial, soozs, and someone check out my blog to win the prize!THANK YOU SOOZS! THANKS SO MUCH! MY NIECES AND KIDS LOVE THESE LIL MINIS!

Jαnnαhツ said...

i wanna make them too! where do you get the stuffs to make the doll anyway? i cant find any retailers selling such materials yet in my area.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial with us. I have started making some for grandkids!! PJ Taylor

Elena said...

Hello, I love the picture I found in Pinterest, but for some reason I can't see the pictures in the tutorial, it's just me? thank you so much!!!
Elena