Saturday, February 14, 2015

Waldorf dolls

Waldorf-style doll made by Linda Theil.

In the 1970s the United Methodist Women of Dutilh United Methodist Church in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania sponsored a holiday project to dress baby-dolls for children in need. The UMW provided cute-but-inexpensive, naked, plastic dolls to anyone who wished to dress the dolls. The dressed dolls were returned to the church and distributed to children for the holidays. I participated in the project and got a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from making the baby-dolls look beautiful in clothes I made from commercial patterns.

I have been hoping to replicate that enjoyment by making my grand-daughter a baby-doll, but I wanted a soft doll for her, so I checked out the doll patterns on the Web and discovered the Waldorf-style doll would be exactly what I wanted.

I bought Maricristin Sealey's Making Waldorf Dolls (Hawthorn Press, 2005) and watched many of the myriad Waldorf doll-making videos on YouTube. 

I studied the information, and it looked so daunting, I decided I'd see if I could find a doll-pattern from one of the pattern companies that might make the process a little more accessible to me. I purchased Simplicity pattern #2809 for a 15-inch cloth baby-doll and gave it a try.

Cloth doll made with Simplicity pattern #2809

Making the Simplicity doll wasn't very easy. This doll is supposed to have ears! Putting the head on the body was very challenging. The results weren't spectacular, so I thought I might as well give the Waldorf doll a try.

I didn't want to handicap my efforts by not having the proper tools, so I purchased $50 worth of materials and equipment from Weir Crafts, an online site that specializes in Waldorf doll-making supplies. I bought:

  • a beautiful fine, cotton-knit, doll-skin fabric,
  • wool stuffing that is de rigueur for Waldorf dolls (no fiberfill for these babies!),
  • cotton gauze tubing for making the head,
  • a set of doll-making needles (very handy!)
  • some ball-point needles for my sewing machine
  • and patterns for making the dolls and clothes.

Even though I had the Sealey book that also has patterns in it, I thought the Weir patterns might be useful; I was looking for the key bit of information that would crack the doll code for me.

The key to the Waldorf doll is the method for attaching the head -- which includes stuffing the head and creating a "muff" that will fill the doll torso, before attaching the head and muff to the body. For me, this method worked better than stuffing after the head is attached that was featured in the Simplicity pattern.
Close-up view of Linda Theil's Waldorf doll.

Emerson tucked her new dolls and her old bear in for their nap.

Here's a Kathe Kruse video "How Waldorf Dolls are Made" from Guerilla Fluff that shows the doll-making process. There are other videos available on YouTube that demonstrate how to make a Waldorf doll at home.

Kathe Kruse video, "How Waldorf Dolls are Made"