Head Making Tutorial

I am re-releasing my head tutorial.  This is intended for those mamas, aunties, grandmas and friends that want to make dolls for the children in their lives.    I would like to leave this tutorial up as it has been a big help to many but I respectfully request that if you would like to make a link to it on your blog or website that you send me a little note and let me know. 

There are many ways to  make a Waldorf doll head and this is how I make mine.  Please disregard my less than stellar photography.  No excuses. Just need to learn more about my camera and photography in general.  This tutorial is for any size head.  The one I am making is for a 13/14" doll.

Okay...the supplies are: doll skin fabric, tubular stockinette, button craft thread, wool batt, perle cotton string (size 3/2), scissors and a needle.

To begin, thread your needle with an arms length of button craft thread.  Sew a running stitch about 1/3" down from the raw edge of the tubular stockinette and pull to gather.  Wind the thread tightly around and tie it off.

Take your wool batt and separate a 12" x 12" square to be used later.  then pull 2" strips of wool off of the remaining piece.  The ones I am doing in this tutorial are about 48" long and there are  about 8 strips.

Then take the strips and separate them lengthwise.

Take one of the separated strips and wind about 18" around your forefinger (snuggly).   This creates the core for the firm ball that makes up the head.

Take the wound up piece off of your finger and hold the little ball in your right hand. Leave the tail of the strip to fall back between your thumb and forefinger.  Hold the ball loosely in your hand and turn it with your left hand while winding the strip onto the ball. 

Continue to add the strips in this fashion until the ball is the size you desire.  Keep in mind that the head will compress later in the process so it is important to make the ball a bit bigger than you need the finished head to be. Place the ball on top of the square of batt.

Turn the ball and batt over and gently mold the wool over the ball and gather it together where the neck will be.

Hold the batt covered ball in one hand (around the "neck") and put your other hand inside the tubular stockinette and place the gathered part where the crown of the head will be.  Turn the stockinette right side out while pulling it over the head ball.

I run my hands over the head at this point, compressing the ball and forming the neck.  I wish I could express exactly what my hands are doing but I just feel it and know when it is right.  The head should be quite firm and the neck should have enough wool in it to  make a strong base for the head. Not too much, not too little.  You will figure out what looks best to you.
Take a length of perle cotton and, while holding the neck in your hand, double wrap the string around the neck.  Pull both ends of the string very snuggly.
Make a double overhand knot and gently but firmly, snug the neck string down as far as you can.  I do break the string fairly often so I always have a few ready to go.

Now stuff the remaining wool inside the stockinette.  This is to make a chest and should piece that will support the arms later.  This should be compressed as firm as possible.  If it seems too big or too small, remove or add wool as needed.  Securely tie the bottom off with perle cotton and cut the excess stockinette off.

Now for the eye and chin lines.  Place the head on top of  long length of perle cotton. Bring the ends across the front/middle of the face and circle around to the back.  Make 1/2 of a double overhand knot at the back.  Pull the string VERY snuggly to create an eye line.  Tie off and clip about 1" away from your knot.

For the chin line we do the same process with the middle of the string beginning at the chin.  Cross the ends over the top of the head and back around to the chin.  Tie off like the eye line.  

Tack the intersection where the "ears" would be.  I stitch this about 4 times and then tie it off.  Make sure the needle goes down a little bit into the head.

Now the fun part. Pull the part off the string that runs across the back of the head down to the neck line.  This can be a little tricky.  I use kind of a push and pull method.  I push the head in a little and pull the string down a bit at a time. 

Now we cover the head with skin fabric.  Center the fabric over the front of the face being certain to have the stretch of the fabric going side to side.  Also make sure the little lines in the fabric are going straight up and down.  Pull the edges around to the back of the head and place a pin a the center back. 

Snuggly pull the fabric around the muff as well and pin.

Now thread a length of button craft thread and begin sewing where the pin is at the back of the head.  Stitch up towards the top edge and then do a running stitch around the top edge.

Pull snuggly and stitch across the gathered edge to secure.  Run your needle back down through the head to where you began and continue o stitch towards the bottom.

One of the tricks I have for avoiding those unsightly neck wrinkles is to pull the lower edge of the fabric snuggly down over the muff and stitch securely around the bottom edge.

Now take a length of perle cotton and re-define the neckline.



Turtlekeeper Designs said...

Thank you Berrie!

Anonymous said...

Thanks soooo much for sharing again, Berrie. This comes at the perfect time, as I am attempting to make a dolly for my granddaughter! Debby L.

majka24 said...

Thank you so much!! I can't get the neck right and I am making a doll for a girlfriends daughter!!

Kate said...

Thank you so much! It's a very clear tutorial!

Dana G. said...

Thanks so much for posting this! Newbie here, and I think (minus the skin) I am good to go on my first head shaping :)

Anonymous said...

thankyou so much.....i will be making a doll for my son....its going to be a boy doll. any itps on how to do boy hair?

Anonymous said...

Thank-YOU Berrie!!, I used your technique to make the head and made a doll for my granddaughter; it was so succesful that now I am making girl and boy dolls for friends and their friends!! they look terrific!.. have a look on:

Marcella Creations said...

I crochet mine with the locking loop, they look amazing!!if you don't know how to, youtube has a few lessons on how to loop

Tanya said...

I LOVE the cheeks on your dolls! If money was not a problem I would own many!

connorlove said...

Howdy Berrie-
I emailed you recently about pinning your doll head tutorial and I've just completed the head and she's gorgeous! I love her little head. I'm just about to start the eyes/mouth and am totally excited. My son was with me and at each step we'd compare our head with the photo and be so happy. It's the little things. Thank you so much!

prairiegirl said...

I'm new to the world of Waldorf dolls and was thoroughly confused by the instructions I had for making the head. Thank you for such a clear, easy to understand tutorial! I'm so glad to have found it - I think I know what I'm doing now! Crossing fingers! :)

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU SOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH. You can never know how I have searched for how to really do the head of the waldrof doll for my granddaughters. Again, Thank you.

My life in Christ said...

Thank you for some of the best info I have found in a while. Most head tutorials say to sew the doll skin before putting it on the doll but that to me seems to make the head lose it shape. Yours has a beautiful shape.

Lindy said...

Years ago I was given a kit for a Waldorf doll, but there were no instructions. I am excited to find this site and will be using your tutorial hopefully around January after my mad quilting and doll clothes making December. I will sure send you a picture of the sweetie when she is done. :)

seniorpal said...

I am so happy to have found your blog. Your answering a deep desire of mine to make a doll. As a 72 yr young lady I think your tutorial and dolls are prescious & such nicely made clothes. Thank You
susan m jensen

smithj1@unisa.ac.za said...

Thank you for this tutorial - I was struggling with the instructions given in a book, and your way of making the head is so much easier and gives much better results!

I love your dolls.

Jane Smith (Pretoria, South Africa)

Anonymous said...

quiero agradecerte por la informacion que tan generosamente haz compartido con nosotras, admiro tu bondad, no sabes lo feliz que estoy porque gracias a Ti, pude hacer mi muñeca un abrazo desde Colombia

Anonymous said...

A wonderful guide - thank you so much!

tree peters said...

that's an amazing tutuorial! thanks for all the photos. So glad I found your blog.

Emily said...

Hi there! I am writing a tutorial on my blog and linking to yours too! Great tutorial, I love how every dollmaker has their "own way"!