How to make a Yarn Doll

Yarn dolls, as they are known in our family, are a favorite craft project. Mom came up with the original,  and my sisters and I have been making them ever since. They’re small, bendy, and endlessly customizable  We’ve made flower fairies, knights, ballerinas, native americans, pilgrims…

And Christmas gnomes.


2 pipe cleaners
1 wooden bead, 1/2 inch diameter
Yarn (one color for the doll body, one color for the hair)
Glue gun

Step 1: Make the Body

Fold one pipe cleaner in half. This will be the arms of the doll. Put the wooden bead over the point of the fold, allowing a small amount of pipe cleaner to poke through. Pull the sides of the pipe cleaners out to the sides. At 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches, fold them back towards the center. Fold the excess over the shoulders – this will be used to attach the arms to the legs in a moment.

Make a “W” out the of the second pipe cleaner.The outside points of the W should be slightly higher than the middle point. These are your legs. At the bottom of each leg, fold a small foot.

Place the point of the W under the head, and wrap the extra pipe cleaner at the top of the legs around the arms. Next, wrap the excess pipe cleaner from the arms around the top of the legs. Wrap the pipe cleaner as tight as possible, and don’t worry that your doll doesn’t have much of a torso. We’ll give it figure later.

Step 2: Wrap the Body

Lay the yarn diagonally across the chest of your doll’s skeleton. Leave about 6 inches of extra yarn above the shoulder – you’ll need it to tie off the end of the wrap job later.

Wrap the yarn diagonally around the chest 6 times.

Next, wrap the yarn down the length of one arm, leaving a small bit of cleaner clear for the hand.

Wind the yarn back down the arm to the shoulder, and wrap it across the chest 6 times in the other direction this time. Wrap the yarn down the other arm and back. Wind it one or two times around the waist of the doll, then down one leg until you meet the bend in the foot. Wrap it back up, around the waist again, and then down and up the other leg. Tie off the yarn using the initial 6 inches you set aside.

Step 3: Make the Clothes

The simplest yarn doll clothing is a tunic made out of felt. However, if you feel like flexing your glue gun fingers…silk flower petals, tulle, lace, more felt will all make fun and adorable yarn doll clothes.

The length of the tunic should hit right around your yarn doll’s knees, and the width just past the shoulders. This will disguise the short torso and also give it some shape. Measure the length and width against your doll on a folded piece of felt. Cut out the felt, and make a small slit in the middle fo the fold – this is where the neck will go through.

To put on the tunic, take off your doll’s head. Slip on the tunic, and then replace the head. Tie the middle of the tunic with some yarn or ribbon.

Step 5: Make the Hair

To make hair for your yarn doll, you have a few options. You can make a wig of sorts with braided yarn, with strands of yarn gathered at the middle to make a part, with a curly wad of actual doll hair, or with nothing at all. Nothing wrong with a bald dollie.

I went with the braid. Simply braid three strands of thick yarn. Tie off the ends. Put a strip of hot glue along the hair, wrap the braids around the head, and tie them together at the base of the head.

Step 6: Make the Hat

Since most wigs leave exposed the top your yarn doll’s head, a hat of some sort is necessary. Yarn doll hats are easy. Real easy. Acorns tops work. So do small silk flowers. So do cones of felt.

To make said cone, measure a strip of felt that will fit around the head. Cut it into a triangle, and use your hot glue gun to glue it into a cone shape. Put glue around the naked part of your doll’s crown and hold the hat in place until it cools.



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