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Wednesday
Apr082009

Mimi Kirchner's Hand Sewn Felt Doll

The beautiful handmade dolls pictured above were created from a pattern developed for The Purl Bee by the incredibly talented, brilliant and generous Mimi Kirchner. When we first discovered Mimi's blog, Doll, we were in absolute awe of her work and knew we must invite her to create a doll pattern for our readers. We were so pleased when she accepted our invitation and even more thrilled when she brought the dolls with her to New York City and we finally got to meet her. We loved Mimi just as much as we love her dolls! 

PS. Be sure to check out Mimi's Blog by clicking this link to see all of her beautiful work!

Finished Measurements

Approximately 14-inches tall from heel to top of head.

Materials

  • You'll need one piece of our Wolvitz 100% Wool Felt for each color used to make your doll. You'll have enough felt left to make a second doll except for the dress (unless you piece the dress together from remaining scraps). Here are the colors we used for each doll:

Yellow Doll: # 2, 12, 13, 33, 36, 91
Green Doll: # 9, 14,19, 22, 42, 43, 51, 40
Pink Doll: # 8, 10, 14, 25, 35, 43, 40
Taupe Doll (in how-to photographs below): # 6, 19, 22, 34, 35, 36, 91

Tools

Pattern Templates

Download Mimi's Handsewn Doll templates here, the 4 pages include:

  • Body
  • Dress
  • Hair styles 1, 2 and 3
  • Face template and embroidery notes

 

Prepare Pattern Pieces

Pick which hair style you want.

Print out pattern and transfer pieces to matte side of freezer paper using a sunny window.

Cut out freezer paper pattern pieces.

Iron the pattern pieces, shiny side down, onto the felt with your iron at wool setting. After ironing, pin the pattern pieces to felt to hold the layers together. (The photo above shows all three hairstyles, you'll only need to use one of them). Note that most of the pieces are cut from a double layer of felt, which you can see in the photo below.

Cut around pattern pieces. Save scraps for decorating the dress and hair later on.

Note: there are no seam allowances so cut carefully!

Mark all dots on felt with a water soluble marking pen.

Assemble Doll

When you make your doll, use embroidery thread that matches your felt. You will note in our photos that we've used a contrasting thread so that you can see it.

Arms

Overlap arm over hand at the dots. Attach hand to arm with backstitch across the wrist on stitch line. (For help with Backstitch, click here).

Fold arm, right side out, and continue up the arm with a whip stitch. Do not cut thread at the end, you will use it later. (For help with Whip Stitch, click here).

Begin stitching the hand from the top down toward the wrist, stuffing as you go to ensure a firm wrist.

Complete stitching to wrist.

Stuff arm using forceps to within 3/4-inch from the end of the arm.

Repeat for second arm.

Body

Attach head to torso by backstitching across the neck at the stitch line, do not cut thread, continue onto opposite side of torso.

Stitch around head and stuff, making sure neck is stiff.

Stitch down one side of torso starting at neck and ending at crotch on one side.

Stitch down other side of torso stopping at top of hip.

Stuff body and stitch closed.

Legs

Overlap boot over leg at dots.

Attach boot and leg by backstitching across ankle at the stitch line. Do not cut thread.

Picking up the same thread, repeat with other side of boot and leg. Stitch around both sides of boot stuffing as you go along to ensure firm ankle.

Stitch up front of leg and stop at top.

Stitch up back of leg to 1/2-inch past knee dots. Do not cut thread.

Stuff leg up to knee. Pinch leg so seams meet at center of leg. Using a new piece of thread stitch across knee and then back again using backstitch or running stitch.

Picking up thread where you left off, continue stitching up back of leg until 3/4-inches remains. Stuff leg and stitch closed.

Repeat for second leg.

Assemble body

Attach Arms

Mimi warns that attaching the arm is hard to explain, but easy to do!

To attach arms to body, fold felt 1/4-inch to the inside at top of each arm.

Pinch opening closed so arm seam is in the middle as pictured above.

Stitch across opening using whipstitch. Don't cut thread.

Pinch top of arm into v-shape.

Poke needle and thread from arm through dots on both sides of torso and then back through other side of V on arm. Repeat several times until arms is securely fastened to torso.

Tie off under arm, poke needle back in and out of torso and snip end.

Repeat for other arm.

Attach Legs

Note: Mimi warns that you may think its nuts to use such a long piece of thread for this step, but we promise you will need it!

To attach legs to body, cut a 40-inch piece of silk embroidery thread (or nylon upholstery thread). Warning: Only silk embroidery thread or nylon upholstery thread are strong enough for this step!

Arrange pieces on flat surface as follows from left to right.... button, left leg, torso, right leg, button. Make sure toes are pointing up!

Thread needle, double the thread and tie two ends together.

Put needle through left button, left leg at dots, torso at dots, right leg at dots, and right button.

Pull thread through enough to make it all the way back, but leave at least 6 inches of thread on side you started from as pictured below.

Go back through everything in reverse. Note: Leave approximately 1/16-inch between first thread trail and second so thread doesn't catch on itself inside.

Pinch hips and legs, pull thread tight and tie in a square knot (for help with a Square Knot, click here). Note: If tied tight enough, doll should sit up by itself.

Snip thread ends.

Hair

The hair can be tricky because of varying head shapes resulting from stuffing. With a little fiddling all will be fine.

Wig #1

Cut out 2 pattern pieces. Cut out center piece on ONLY one piece.

Using back stitch, sew around edge of hair with a 1/8-inch seam allowance.

Turn rightside out and iron flat.

Slip hair over head like a hat with raw edges of felt framing top and sides of face. The bottom of the cut out oval is flat against back of head.

Pin hair in place.

Stitch hair to face using whip stitch.

Wig #2

Center wig on head by just overlapping center of wig on center of seam on head.

Pin wig along side head seam and across bottom of back of hair.

Stitch along bottom.

Pin side flaps as flat as possible to face. Equally distribute any puckering or pleating. It is also okay if pieces of the wig overlap where front meets back.

Stitch side panels in place.

Pin top panels to face easing any extra fabric into a pleat at the top of the "part".

Stitch in place.

Wig #3

Cut out both pieces.

mark center of cap piece and center of fringe piece. match up bottom of cap and top of fringe using the marks just made. Overlap cap over fringe 1/4-inch.

Stitch along cap edge using back stitch.

Place wig on head while holding the "part" together. Once centered, pin two sides of the "part" in place.

Smooth the part with fingers. Pin at center back first and then all along back cap edge.

Holding the front "hair line" down with your finger curved over the top of the head, pin the front of the hair in place. Any puckering will work itself out when you stitch the hair in place.

Start stitching at the back of the "part" and go around one side and stop at the fringe.

Go back and do other side the same way only this time stitch across the fringe right under where it is overlapped by the cap.

Dress

Cut out all dress pieces including optional pieces below:

  • A second waist band with smooth edge to go over pinked waist band
  • Ten 1-inch long leaves
  • Six 3/4-inch circles (flowers)
  • Six 1/4-inch circles (flower centers)

Pin hem trim, flowers and leaves in place

Attach hem trim and leaves using a running stitch.

Attach flowers by running embroidery thread through the center and back out again.

Tie the thread in a square knot and trim to approximately 1/2-inch long.

Overlap the back edge of the bodice with the waist by 1/4-inch.

Sew together using a running stitch.

Sew the back seam of the dress closed using a running stitch or back stitch. Stop stitching 1 1/4-inches down from the waist to allow room to slip the dress on.

Sew small snap at top of collar back overlapping felt just enough to fit the snap.

Face

Cut out face template.

Cut out face features. (Note: for eyebrows and nose just cut a line without removing any paper.)

Center template on face and trace features using water soluble marker. (Note: placing pins in the eyes and mouth after tracing helps determine if everything is in the right place.

See face embroidery illustration (page 4 of the pattern) for detailed stitching directions.

When you're all through, hug doll!

Reader Comments (97)

I am also from Canada and am not sure what freezer paper is...I am thinking it is what we call waxed paper. Lovely lovely dolls - thank you!
June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
Thank you very much . Your dolls are beautiful !
July 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjosy26
Oi! Eu vi adorei as bonequinhas de feltro!!! São lindas! Com certeza elas me inspiraram a costurar ainda mais! Tenho 13 anos e adoro artesanato. Estou muito motivada a fazer sempre aquilo que eu gosto. Obrigada! E, parabéns!
August 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLarissa of Brazil!
Hi!
I made felt doll with your tutorial, but in more my style :)
Here she is: http://drycha.blogspot.com/2009/10/filcowa.html

Thanks so much!
October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDrycha
The dolls are beautiful, the tutorial so carefully done. Thank you for your generosity.
October 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDurfulla
Can I just buy one? They are adorable.♥
November 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaVonne
Hi LaVonne,
Mimi sells her dolls on Etsy. You can find her page here:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/mck254
November 19, 2009 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Would this doll work with felt that was 60% wool and 40% viscose?
December 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
Hi! I thought this was really, really, great...I agree with ccw it does seem very intuitive. Beautiful dolls <333 thank you for sharing the love!
:p
January 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermoontide.sealily
WOW!!!!! That is the most amazing thing I have ever seen!!! I have seen a couple of these on google and was intrigued and have always wanted to now how to make them!! THANK YOU!!!
January 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin Arris
This is soooo awsome!!! Thanks so much for this tutorial! Do you have any other fun tutorials you could email me about? Thanks again!

Cait x
January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCait
Estou muito contente por ter encontrado estas lindas bonecas, amei.
Agora vou brincar um pouco.
February 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEliara
Un millón de gracias por un tutorial tan lindo, tan generoso y tan bien hecho. Muchas felecidades
March 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPilar m. v.
Hello, I'm allergic to and as such cannot handle wool fibers. Is there a durable synthetic felt or other fabric from which these dolls might be made? The courtesy of your reply is much appreciated. I always feel so left out on wool felt projects. :)

Mimi
April 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMimi S.
I am french , thank you very mutch for the explication off the doll ....you are fantastic !I am going to do one !thank
bonjour de france !
April 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermamu47
Thank you so much for sharing
April 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlisna
Beautiful dolls, with lot of lovely details!!!
May 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterale
Hi Ms Kirchner I go to Albany Junior High School and we have a period every 6 days when we go and do an activity, and I do doll making. My teacher, Ms Molloy, made a doll and it looks absolutely wonderful. She helps us make our dolls and every lesson is very short because I enjoy it so much!!! I hope you create more designs of dolls so our school can make lots and lots of dolls, and have fun with them!!!
May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCristany Leong
Uau! Lindas, lindas!!
May 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAna
thx for taking the time to put together this tutorial. Such sweet dolls!!
July 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterleila
Thanks a lot for your tutorial!!! I love making dolls and i will certainly try to make these ones too!!! Thank you, thank you , thank you!!!
July 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterchara
I have been using some left over curtain block out material as we can only get cheap felt and it pills (balls up) quickly. The curtain material is very sturdy and not too hard to sew.

I also tried machine sewing up as much of it as possible before finishing in hand sewing... not as successful, the head turned out more square and it is harder to stuff the small limbs.

I plan on just making clothes out of normal poplin or printed cotton from all my lovely remnants...

I feel so excited and smug about this project, a lovely gift to give nieces and nephews.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngela
Wow. Thank you, Linda. You do such beautiful work - and all handmade. I know that the quality of fabric we use make all the difference in our projects. I need to buy wool felt versus that cheap manmade stuff that pills and sticks to the iron - the kind I have around the house. These lovely dolls deserve the best and when I can afford the best wool felt, I will make your dolls. I have been making dolls since I was a girl many years ago and I still make dolls today. Your cute dolls will make a nice addition to my collection and I can't wait to get started.. Thank you.
September 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeeBee
Thank you. These lovely dolls deserve the best fabric and when I can afford the best wool felt, I will make your dolls. I have been making dolls since I was a girl many years ago and I still make dolls today. Your cute dolls will make a nice addition to my collection and I can't wait to get started.. Thank you.
September 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeeBee
great work!!!!well done!!!greetings from greece
November 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermarina
Adorable!! These will make great gifts for all the little girls in my life!!

http://pureblissed.blogspot.com/
November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda
This was great. Thank you! I just made one for a musical theater class that I am in where the final project is very open. I made the doll using regular craft felt. She is Julie Andrews' character in the Sound of Music! So cute, thanks again.
December 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNIcole
I love these dolls. The only wool felt I can find is 20cm x 30cm, is that big enough?
Thanks
January 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeriel
Hi Meriel,
It is big enough for most of the doll, but you'll have to piece the felt for the dress. If you want bigger pieces we sell it, you can find it right here:
http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/6409-Wollfilz-1-mm-precut-Wool-Felt

Hope this helps!
January 17, 2011 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Such a lovely felted doll. Excellent tutorial.
January 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary Wiggins
Splendid ! I love your dolls !
Thanks for sharing.
Have a great day !
March 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBea38
Eu fiz dua bonecas. Ficaram lindas.veja no; cantinhodoceu-rosa.blogspot.com.br
Obrigado....beijos....

I makes dolls. Stay beautiful.
thank you so much....kiss for you...
April 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrosa maria
I loved!!!!
So beautiful!!!
April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVeronica Arteira
amo le bambole, ma queste in pannolenci sono stra.or.di.na.rie. Complimenti per il tutorial a chi l' allestito. aggiungerò il link al mio blog Anna Maria

http://nanette-ilgirasole.blogspot.com
July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternanette
merci de nous offrir ces jolies poupées
amitiés
October 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpopy
Oh my gosh! These are SO cute! How did you come up with this fabulous pattern and idea!!?
November 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeannine
Thank you for this pattern! I added enough for a seam allowance and made it out of muslin for my 4 year old daughter for a princess and the pea play set for Christmas. Such a beautiful doll. I extended the hair piece to give her waist length hair and made that out of brown satin. The extremities were difficult to stuff, especially as I used cotton quilt batting, but so very worth it. When I carve out more time, I'm planning to make more.
December 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPenelope
I did a version of Mimi's dolls, I did mine with fabric instead of felt... check it here http://maomaocrafts.blogspot.com/2012/03/bee-doll.html
March 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMao Mao
This looks like an awsome project!!!! I am a very crafty person and can't wait to try it!!! p.s. I am almost 12!
March 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmma
Thanks for a fab tute! I'm going to use some of these ideas for christmas tree decorations!
October 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJasmina
Hi Mimi! My name is Julia. I am 8 years old. I am going to make one of your felt dolls for my 2 year old cousin for Christmas.
December 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulia chaney
Soooo hard, I wish I could sew better!!!
February 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth
I LOVE YOUR DOLLS..... I make them as well but my own aren't as beautiful as yours..


Thank you

vere
February 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commentervere
Hermoso trabajo, gracias por compartirlo.
Saludos
May 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermaitane
MUUUUUCHISIMAS GRACIASSSSS¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡
Soooooo Awesome!! Thank you. Its so wonderful to see that people are still creating.
August 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlily
Am so happy! I completed a doll in just a short time and am thrilled with her. I am fascinated by your work and would love to catch a workshop sometime....
October 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlisonK

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