how to make a steiner-inspired pocket doll (a very open-ended tutorial)

16 December, 2010 · , ,

This is a sort-of-tutorial, building on an idea I found on sooz‘s blog and playing around with a few different variations. These little dolls would make lovely Christmas decorations with a loop sewn into the tips of their hats so that you could hang them up.

But they’re also good friends to have in your pocket at any time of year.

What you will need to make the basic doll:


-some felt scraps

-a needle and thread

-some stuffing (see step two for some possibilities)

-your choice of various materials to make your doll’s head. Sooz and many others use skin coloured interlocking (which is tee-shirt material) and though I’ve no idea why, I’m not a fan of the way it looks. I have had some success using wooden beads (you can find them at Steiner supply stores and craft stores) and balls of felt. You can buy these pre-made (from the same stores as the beads) or you can needle-felt or wet-felt them yourself.

-craft glue (if you are using a wooden bead for a head)

Step one: design the body of your doll

The basic principles for this seem to be gently curving lines and symmetry and within those two guidelines there is lots of room to explore. Use the head you’ve chosen or made as a guide for the size of the body. Sooz has offered two body shapes and here are some of mine you are very welcome to use.

For a young or very new sewer, I would recommend the first and third shapes, since sewing in and out of legs is slightly trickier than sewing around smooth curves.

Step two: create your doll’s body

Once you’ve chosen or created a body type, cut two body shapes out of your felt (one for the them front and one for the back). I think the easiest way to do this is to lay the paper body onto a piece of felt and cut around it. Then lay the felt body onto another piece of felt and cut around that.

(These are felt pieces to make two different dolls)

Then sew the two pieces together. It is probably ideal to use blanket stitch but you can really use any stitch you know as long as the stitches are small and close together (they will need to hold your doll’s stuffing in).

Make sure you leave an opening at the top. This is both to put the stuffing in and also to attach the head. The bigger the opening, the deeper the doll’s head will be set in it’s body.

Next, stuff your doll. Although lots of cloth dolls work best with the stuffing packed in very tightly, I don’t think this is true for felt dolls. A softer, squishier doll feels nicer and strains less at the felt and stitching, so I would say to stuff your doll quite loosely, but do make sure that the stuffing gets into every corner.

I am using ordinary craftstore-bought stuffing but pure wool would be even nicer and tucking in the felt trimmings from when you cut out your doll’s body would be a great use of the scraps (though the result can be a little lumpy).

You could also add something fragrant like dried lavender, crumbled cinnamon, cloves or cardamom pods. Mmmmmm….

If, like me, you have a lovely wooden crochet hook that you bought hoping you might be a natural at crochet but then turned out not to be, it is very comforting to use the non-hook end to push the stuffing in. It makes you feel much less like you wasted six dollars.

Step three: attach the head

If you are using a wooden bead for a head, this is the best way I have found of attaching it. Using your needle and thread, make a stitch on the inside of the neck hole of your doll so that your thread is dangling out like this…

Then thread the wooden bead on and push it down into the neck hole like this…

Next you need to make four or five long stitches from the back of the dolls neck up through the bead. Make the stitches so that they spread all around the back of the dolls head, but don’t worry if they bunch up as you sew.

You can even them out again afterwards.

At this stage you may want to add a stitch or two to your doll’s neck hole to make sure it fits snugly around the head (I added a stitch on either side).

Then smear craft glue over the stitches so that they’re held in place and have a cup of tea while it dries.

(Because the wooden head is really only attached to one side of the body it may be a bit wobbly. I will show you a good trick to fix that in step five.)

If you’re using a felt head, then all you need to do is push it into place…

And stitch all around the neck line through the felt ball, like this…


Step four: adding a hat

This is optional for a doll with a felted head but definitely necessary to cover up the gluey stitching on the wooden headed doll. There are two good hats I know how to make.

The first is the easy-peasy felt hat. Wrap a piece of felt around your doll’s head, putting it where you would like the bottom of the hat to be. Pinch the felt together at the back of the doll’s neck, like this.

Then remove the doll but keep the pinch in place and cut a straight line from the pinch to where you would like your pointy hat to end (it all depends on how long you want your hat to be). You will end up with a folded triangle, like this.

Sew up the long edge.

And you’re done!

The felt hat can be glued onto a wooden head or stitched onto a felt head like this.

The other hat is really a mini-project in itself – the knitted gnome hat I’ve made a tutorial for before, which you can find here. For this one I cast on twelve stitches and I think this teeny hat is ridiculously sweet if I do say so myself!

It is perfect for either a felty head…

or a wooden head…

(It can be pulled right down and glued into place to cover the stitches like this.)

Step five: add a scarf

This is of course an optional step, but it has the benefit of making the shape of the face of a felt-headed doll a bit nicer (they can end up a bit odd with all that stitching and squishing-into-hats) and strengthening the neck of a wooden-headed doll.

Just cut a strip of felt…

Wrap it around your doll’s neck…

And sew it into place. (I like sewing little star shapes but an ordinary stitch or a little cross will work perfectly too.)



  1. jeanene Oh Anna, you are amazing. They are so precious,, guess what I'm making tomorrow. Thanks for the link to Sooz's. The hat is adorable. Will write soon, so much to do. Jeanenexxx
    December 16, 2010 at 10:21 am · Reply
  2. anna Thank you so much Jeanene - and don't hurry to email, I know exactly what it's like especially at this time of year :) x
    December 16, 2010 at 11:17 am ·
  3. Donna Earnhardt These are adorable! My little ones would love to have one. I might could even teach them how to do it. Cool ideas. Thanks for sharing!
    December 16, 2010 at 11:57 am · Reply
  4. gardenmama oh, they are absolutely precious. so warm and nurturing ~ my littles would love these, i look forward to creating some of these sweet friends : )
    December 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm ·
  5. anna Thank you Donna and gardenmama for such lovely thoughts :)
    December 16, 2010 at 6:53 pm ·
  6. Emily Your posts are always so bright and colourful with pictures! Reading this was a great way to start my day. (I particularly love that you not only create your things with care & joy, but you photograph them beautifully against pretty settings too.) What sweet little gnomey dolls. I particularly love the autumn-leaf shape and autumnal colours of the one with the wooden head.
    December 16, 2010 at 8:55 pm ·
  7. Grandma Kc How sweet! What child wouldn't love one!
    February 3, 2011 at 10:57 am · Reply
  8. Kimara These are simply adorable. I run the craft site and I will be linking to these on Facebook. Thanks for a lovely tutorial :)
    May 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm · Reply
  9. Helen Adorable! Little hands would love holding these. I wonder if you could thread a chenille stick through the bead to strength the neck so the head doesn't wobble, although that's probably not in line with the Steiner philosophy.
    May 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm ·
  10. anna Kimara - thank you so much , both for the kind words and for the link. I'm delighted you enjoyed the tutorial. As a big fan of your lovely site, I'm especially honoured :) And Helen, that's such a good idea, especially for children making these sorts of dolls. Wobbly heads make for such disappointing dolls, and that's a lovely simple solution. Thank you so much for stopping by!
    May 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm ·
  11. Jasmin B Thanks I really like the shape of the simpler one without legs. Has given me ideas for little spring/ summer leaf babies. Thanks again.
    December 31, 2011 at 10:42 am ·
  12. Jasmin B Oh yes... and thanks for the idea of using felt balls for heads, why had I never thought of that. I do make stockinet heads, but they do take time, and I could make a few felt heads all at once.
    December 31, 2011 at 10:45 am ·
  13. anna I'm so glad you found the tutorial useful Jasmin. Thank you for taking the time to let me know :)
    December 31, 2011 at 1:04 pm ·
  14. Edna Wallace This tutorial is so helpful. My grandson attends a Waldorf school and I've bought him so many of these little pocket dolls. I'm an editor at and I love introducing parents to simple things and nature inspired things. I just pinned your dolls to my pinterest page onto Fairies Forever. Thank you.
    February 1, 2013 at 3:54 am ·
  15. anna Thank you so much for this lovely feedback Edna and for pinning the tutorial too. I'm delighted you've found it useful!
    February 1, 2013 at 11:33 am ·
  16. Bek @ Just For Daisy Oh wow! These are divine! Have just found you via Hinterland Mama and am really enjoying getting lost in your beautiful blog and your divine little projects!
    March 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm · Reply
  17. Ria love yhem very much and sure I'm gona make some. Greatings Ria
    October 30, 2013 at 3:05 am ·
    March 12, 2014 at 2:14 am ·
  19. anna You're welcome! I hope she loves it :)
    March 14, 2014 at 7:51 am ·
  20. elenor Thank you for sharing your cute ideas and creating such a good and helpful tutorial. I'll definitely make such a doll for my lovely granddaughter. Kind regards from the EU.
    March 1, 2016 at 12:49 am ·
  21. carmen Muchas gracias, son preciosas!1Bss
    January 5, 2017 at 7:45 pm ·