A Waldorf doll is a work of art. Waldorf dolls are handmade from cotton fabric, stuffed with wool, and embellished with wool or cotton yarn hair. It’s a realistic-looking child doll, given warmth and heft from the wool stuffing, and personality from a sculpted face and carefully embroidered features.
Oh, and if you want to buy one, prepare to shell out a LOT of money.
Fortunately, although making your own Waldorf doll is a complicated and time-consuming craft, it is not especially difficult, especially with all the generous tutorials and thoughtful patterns available to walk you through the process. Here are all the resources that I’ve been using as I create Waldorf dolls for my own children:
Making Waldorf Dolls: Making Waldorf Dolls, by Maricristin Sealey, is the most comprehensive Waldorf dollmaking book currently available (many people also love her earlier book, Kinder Dolls, but that particular work is a rare find these days). Not only is the book a must-read if you want to learn the old-school traditional methods of Waldorf doll construction–she gleaned tufts of sheep fleece from where it had caught on fences!–but it also includes a wide variety of Waldorf dolls, such as pocket dolls and bunting dolls, all of which are good beginning dollmaking projects.
Weir Crafts: Although it is possible to find at least some of the materials locally–I purchased a gigantic bag of unwashed sheep fleece, for instance, at a farmer’s market–sometimes you may need to go online for materials, at least at first. I purchased all of my original Waldorf dollmaking supplies from Weir Crafts, and though I now realize that I can find the inner head materials and the yarn appropriate for making doll hair locally, I likely will still need to order the knit “dollskin” fabric online when I make my next Waldorf doll.
Magic Cabin: Although Magic Cabin doesn’t have the selection that it once did, it is where I purchased the 12″ Waldorf doll pattern that I’ve been using to create my daughters’ own Waldorf dolls. For me, having a pattern is crucial for my ability to create these dolls, since I don’t have any dollmaking experience.
A Doll for Every Child: This full walk-through of Waldorf dollmaking from start to finish, from Living Crafts, includes all those step-by-step photographs that you likely won’t get if you’ve purchased a pattern or a dollmaking book. The tutorial also includes hand-drawn pattern pieces, free to download.
Basic Instructions for a Waldorf Doll: This particular step-by-step Waldorf doll tutorial from Echoes of a Dream is closer to the pattern that I’ve used, so I really can use it as a walk-through that goes along with my pattern instructions. The tutorial also contains some good close-up views of that tricky inner head, a photograph of a very attractive embroidered face, and free downloadable pattern pieces.
Waldorf-Style Doll Pattern: For a younger child, you can find a free pattern and worksheet for a younger looking Waldorf-style doll from Craftsy, courtesy of The Silver Penny.
JUST THE HEAD
Waldorf Doll Tutorial, Part One: Creating a Waldorf doll’s detailed head, with its sculpted, realistic form, is one of the more complicated aspects of dollmaking, particularly since the method involved is very different from usual construction methods. Although this Waldorf doll headmaking tutorial, from The Handmaiden, is being used to create a Waldorf doll that’s a little smaller than typical, you can apply the photos and techniques to a doll of any size. Pay special attention to the placement of the eyes here, since it’s clear from the photographs that the distance between the eyes is very important to the overall look of the doll.
Waldorf Doll Hair Tutorial: There are so many ways to create a Waldorf doll’s hair, but this Waldorf doll hair tutorial from Crafty Sheep uses a method that does not involve either knitting or crochet, which makes it perfect for those of us who don’t know how!
CLOTHES AND ACCESSORIES
Doll Sweater: Of course, if you DO knit and crochet, then you have so many more options for creating great clothing for your dolls. Bamboletta, in particular, has not only dollmaking tips, clothing patterns, and hairstyle tutorials, but also some great free knitting patterns for doll sweaters.
Even with my first two Waldorf dolls almost ready to be given to my daughters on their birthdays this year, I am still quite the dollmaking novice. If you have any dollmaking tips, tricks, tutorials, or favorite patterns, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Waldorf doll mother and baby image via Shutterstock.