[this is going to be pretty long, so buckle up butter cup!]
Now, not many people (*cough* one actual request and one unnerving emoji combo…😅) asked for this, but I decided to do it anyway. Because learning how to create is one of the most important skills a human being can learn, in my opinion.
Today, I’ll walk you step by step through the process of making a fully posable felt doll, complete with photos, links to materials, and handy tips!
[this tutorial shows how to craft the female shape, but I will include notes on how to make the male shape as well.]
Felting pad and needles
Felting pads are the block of either wool or foam that you felt on top of. (The purple square) I have one from Woolbuddy. These are more expensive, but totally worth it, as they’re not as prone to breaking apart as the foam ones. You can get one Here. But if you’re just experimenting with the craft, a foam one will work just fine, and is probably a smarter choice than investing in a fancy one. I have one kind of like this.
[Tip: don’t get one of the ones that are more like styrofoam, I mean, it works about as well as styrofoam (which actually does work…) but it is even MORE prone to breaking apart and getting little bits of itself in your project.]
Now, felting needles aren’t as hard a decision to make, and there aren’t very many variations. I believe I purchased these last time, but I’m not sure because they really do all look the same. (Note: these come in three different sizes, ranging from thick to thin. If your needle isn’t going through the fiber well, it may be because your needle is too big for that stage. The small ones are usually the easiest to use in the beginning) Some people use a handle, too, but I find it makes the needles easier to break.
[Tip: Purchase your needles in bulk, because they DO break if you’re not careful. Luckily they’re relatively cheap, so if you do end up breaking…all of them…you can probably just get more.]
One cautionary thing—if you decide to try felting, count on stabbing your fingers at least once in every project. If this is an absolute turn-off, try thimbles. They make leather thimbles for felting, you can get some here. However, it really isn’t something you can avoid, the needles can get through the thimble. So just try to be careful.
You’ll need two colors minimum for this project—one for the body and one for the hair.
The thing you are felting is probably going to be wool roving. This is usually sheep’s wool, dyed and combed. Some types are easier to felt than others, and the easiest would probably be batting. Roving is the wool combed out straight, so it’s a long strip, and it’s usually rolled up in a ball or braided. And batting is when it’s combed so it’s not in strips, it’s sort of in puffs.
For roving, I had a very good experience with corriedale roving. I used corriedale for Katara’s hair in this post, and it is just REALLY nice for hair.
[Tip: You want your fiber to be course. You want it to be puffy—not shiny, or slippery. Although for something like hair, that you don’t intend to felt down, something that won’t felt well might be a good idea.]
(If you’re on a budget, you can find wool roving pretty much anywhere, including amazon, for cheaper than an Etsy shop)
Armature is basically the bone structure of your doll. It can be made of wire or pipe cleaners! (And some other stuff I’m sure, but I don’t know what) I use pipe cleaners, because, after trying wire, I found it is SUPER hard to get the fiber to sit still because the wire is so slippery.
This is not a problem with pipe cleaners, as they are fuzzy! Now, I have tried those glittery, prickly ones, but they did not work as well.
I recommend white, but I suppose it depends on the project. You can get these pretty much anywhere, you might already have some in your house, but you can get a big pack here as well.
You can totally just felt clothes onto your doll, but I find it infinitely more fun to make the clothes, because then you can make them a bunch of different outfits!
For this you’ll just need some fabric, a needle and thread, and some scissors.
If you know how to sew then you’re all set, but if you’re unsure of how to construct tiny garments, or you actually don’t know how to sew, I’ll have a post with some simple doll clothing patterns soon.
Alrighty! We’re all set to begin! You can either work along with me, or use this as reference later. And remember, I’m just doing it in one of the many ways to do it.
Okie dokie, here we go.
(Note: I’m making a smaller doll, about the size of the Astrid, Hiccup, and Katara dolls I’ve done, if you want something larger or smaller, you’ll have to adjust this)
We start with two pipe cleaners. Line them up so they’re at the same level, then twist them together in the middle.
It’ll form an “X” like that.
Then twist them together more, forming that mid-section. This will be your doll’s torso! Be sure to have the top bits shorter than the bottom, because these are going to be your arms.
Then you can make sure your arms are the right length by folding them down like this. If they’re too short or too long, you can adjust them by twisting or untwisting the middle a bit.
Then you do the hips. This is where you can start making tweaks. The hips can be as big or as small as you like! I like making them exaggerated, but you do what you like.
[For the male version: To make the shape more masculine, you can make the hips smaller here.]
Then you fold down the arms to form the shoulders. Remember, this will effect the length of your arms. Once again, you can make these as big or as small as you want.
Next, take another pipe cleaner and cut it in half. Then wrap it around the shoulders as shown, and attach it firmly.
Then you’ll be left with a very long bit sticking up—LEAVE IT BE. It’s important.
Base Layers 🧱
To start, take a piece of your fiber and twist it around the axis of the shoulders, torso, and neck.
Then felt it down, so it’s nice and compact.
Felt both sides, turning it over when you’re done with one side.
Once this is done, take a long, thin strip of fiber and wrap it around the arms, tightly, and try to leave as little pipe cleaner exposed as possible—although little bits peeking through is fine at this stage.
Once you get to the end, wrap it as close to the edge as you can (leaving a bit of fiber un-used), then fold over that last little bit.
With the bit sticking off (as shown above), wrap around the folded over bit, and felt it down.
Then go along the arm and felt down bits sticking up. But don’t worry about fully felting it just yet.
Next, take a thicker chunk and wrap the exposed part of the torso.
Then, with the remaining fiber, wrap around the hips like so.
Then felt aaaaaaall of that down.
Wrap along the hips, stopping where it starts to bend down.
Felt that down as well.
Now take the legs, and do exactly what you did to the arms, but with a longer piece of fiber.
You’ll be left with something like this.
Now take a break and stretch for a minute!
This is probably taking a shorter amount of time for you, but I’ve been working on this post for hours now.😅 Get a snack, jog in place for a minute, or just try and sit for a minute with good posture.
There’s another warning about felting—you are SURE to have a sore back or neck after a while.
All done with your break? Okay then, let’s continue.
Fleshing it Out 💪
First, add some volume to the thighs.
Then get another piece of fiber and add volume to the legs until they look right. This is also the time to add bits to the hips.
When you get to the end of the leg, bend it so that it looks like a foot! This is optional, but I think it is adorable.
And then do the same thing to the arms.
Next, add bulk to the torso. This…took a weird amount of time for me, but it worked in the end.
Then add depth to things like the bust, calves, etc. I also thickened up the arms a bit here.
(For the male version: it kind of goes without saying, but for the male version you would just leave off the boobs XD)
And you’ve got your finished body!
Neck and Head 🙆♀️
We still have that pipe cleaner sticking up…and this is what it’s for! (If you hadn’t already figured it out)
Just like with the arms and legs, wrap the pipe cleaner up for about an inch, but do felt it down all the way this time.
Then, with a sizeable chunk of your fiber, begin forming the head by wrapping it around the neck—starting about half an inch up.
Keep on building until you have a head-ish sized ball.
Then take your pipe cleaner and bend it down, cut it, and tuck in the sharp bit.
(Note: make sure it’s not too long nor too short! Remember you can aways cut more, but you can’t cut less.)
You can do one of two things at this point; you can wrap another strip all the way around the head, or you can get a little clump and felt it down on top of the pipe cleaner until you can’t see it anymore.
I did the latter, partly because the head was already big enough, and partly because the first option was annoying me…
This is one of the funnest parts!
You can use pretty much anything for hair. Anything that you can felt or sew on there can work.
The most obvious options are wool and yarn.
With yarn you can pull it apart and felt it, or you can sew it on!
I usually use wool, and there are endless possibilities with that.
In the end I chose this one, pulling it back and felting it down a bit to look styled like that.
And you’re done!!👍
You’re now the proud creator of a one-of-a-kind felt doll! Congratulations!
Goodness, I’ve spent two days now working on this post—I hope at least one of you found it helpful and/or inspirational!😅
If you followed this tutorial, consider posting a picture of what you made! I’d love to see your creation!😄
A significantly shorter post on how to make some cute clothes for your doll is coming up soon! (For the moment you can give it a Barbie t-shirt or something like that)
Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day!
Song of the Day: Rumor, by Lee Brice.