29 August 2011

Bendy Doll Faerie Family Tutorial

With all the work we've done on Kaia's faerie garden, it seemed time to give it some inhabitants. I've been working on making little odds and ends out of clay to fill it with as well, and I will probably post about those next. I've been interested in making her some bendy dolls for awhile, but the blanks I have found to buy seem a bit too expensive for what you get, and look blocky and clumsy to me anyway. I've seen dolls like these around, they didn't look too hard. They weren't! This is how to make bendy dolls like ours.

The supplies I used to make two bendy doll bodies were:
This is just for the doll bodies, you will find clothes, wings, and baby further on.

pipe cleaners
embroidery floss
embroidery needle
wooden beads
hot glue gun and glue
paint and paint brush (optional)

Kaia picked out the floss with me, and specifically wanted one doll brown and one cream. I painted one bead brown to match the floss for his skin, (the bead makes the head,) and the other I left unpainted, it matched fine as it was. She picked purple and blue floss for their hair..

Start by bending your pipe cleaner gently in half, and thread the bead over both stems, leaving a loop at the top. Cut lengths of floss for hair, making sure you cut it twice as long as you would like the hair end up. This goes faster if you loop it around your fingers, (or whatever,) and cut it off at the top and bottom.

Pull your hair halfway through the loop on your pipe cleaner, and pull the pipe cleaner the rest of the way through the bead until it holds the hair snugly on top.

On the boy doll, I pulled the pipe cleaner clear into the bead, which made his hair stick up, but the pipe cleaner was out of site without the need for a hat.

Now we'll form the body. Take your two loose pipe cleaner ends and give them a few twists to form the neck, then bend them out and double back to form arms. Twist them a few more times to make the torso, and the remaining lengths are the legs. Loop the ends back to make feet. Now select the floss you want for skin, and tie it onto your dolls waist.

Begin wrapping, not too tightly, but securely, and overlapping slightly to cover the pipe cleaner fuzz. This takes a little patience, but I found that turning the floss as I wrapped so that it lay flat, instead of  twisted, as it comes, helped a great deal. (I did also experiment with using floral wire instead of pipe cleaners to avoid the entire fuzz problem, but found that the fuzz really works to add necessary padding, filling them out a bit, and keeps the floss from slipping during play.)

Wrap from the waist up the chest, crossing over the shoulders in both directions, and wrap up the neck and back down to the first arm. Wrap down an arm, passing the floss around both wires. Do not cover it completely, as you will be wrapping back up the arm after completing the hand. (I did wrap it completely the first time, and ended up redoing it. The arm twice wrapped was quite stout!) When you get to the loop, stop, and thread your embroidery needle on to the floss.

You will need to wrap around the single wire for the hand, inserting the needle in the loop, instead of wrapping it together as you have been doing. Do this all the way around the end of the loop, and then begin wrapping both wires together again all the way back up the arm, covering all the pipe cleaner fuzz.

That's really the only part of the process that needs much explaining. Go from the first arm to the second, then down to the legs, doing the feet in the same way as the hands. After wrapping up from the last leg, I wrapped extra around the torsos until they were filled out and a little more shapely, then tied off the floss in back.

Using just a small amount of hot glue, tack the hair down around the sides and backs of their heads. Then give them each a haircut. You are done with your doll bodies!

I've seen people clothe tiny dolls in a variety of ways, but I opted to make very simple clothes out of felt. It reminded me of the clothes I used to make for troll dolls when I was little, except I didn't use any puffy paint! Ha. :) I use recycled plastic eco-felt, as we do not use wool. I selected colours to match their hair and added some earth tones in brown and green. Other than felt, I used a needle and thread, and a few spots of hot glue to make the clothing and wings.

We'll start with our boy. I folded a small, rectangular piece of felt in half, and cut a notch at the top just big enough to squeeze over his head, then cut the rest into the shape of a t-shirt. Across the top of the shoulders is the only place connecting the layers, I took a picture of what it looks like open, as well, so you will see what I mean.

Pull it on over his head, then sew it shut up the sides, and underneath the sleeves. I just used a small straight stitch.

For trousers, I stacked two pieces of felt and cut them both out into the basic trouser shape. The two pieces are not connected. I couldn't resist adding a little patch to the front of one leg before sewing them on. Slap a layer on his front, a layer on his back, then sew them up the outsides, up the inseams, and across the crotch.

I gathered the waist with a little piece of embroidery floss as a belt.

The neckline on his shirt was pretty loose after pulling it over his big head, (perhaps the shirt should simply be done in two pieces as well, but this is how I did this one,) so I cut a small felt "C" shape to make a collar, and stuck it on with a little hot glue.

To make wings, I folded a piece of felt in half so that they would be symmetrical, then had fun with the shape as I cut. I cut some spots out of a different shade and hot glued them on the wings, both front and back, then put a drop of hot glue in the middle of his back to secure them in place. I also cut out a little leaf, with a few stitches through it, to decorate the front of his shirt, and hot glued that on as well.

All done with him. See? I told you they were simple clothes. Now for our lady friend. The dress is cut and sewn up in the same way as the t-shirt, just a slightly different shape. I didn't want to put a collar on her, so I went around her neckline with a long basting stitch and gathered it tight before knotting it off.

I then cut out a handful of darker purple petals and tacked those on with a few stitches each around her waist.

I cut some smaller, cream coloured petals, and layered those over in the same way, just a little higher, and staggered between the larger petals.

I cut a tiny apron out of felt, "strings" and all, and tied it in back, you can see the ties sticking out a bit from behind her. I embellished that with a small flower hot glued on.

To cover the little tuft of pipe cleaner on top of her head, I cut another flower and hot glued it in place as a hat. The wings are, of course, the same process as for our boy, I shaped hers a little differently.

All clothed! Now for baby. Kaia asked for them to have a baby the moment I presented the dolls to her, so I put together a very quick, simple, little wrapped baby. I may try something a little more complex later, however this took but a moment and satisfied Kaia just fine. It was an emergency, after all. ;) Cut one large leaf shape, and one thin, rectangular strip, (I rounded the edges on the side that will show.) Add one small bead. Roll the white rectangle up, and add a dab of hot glued to hold it that way.

Glue the little bead on the top, and place it on the leaf. Hot glue the sides of the leaf up onto the roll...

...then tuck the bottom up and hot glue that down as well. Now Mama and Papa can hold their wee baby. I suppose I will be needing to add a little basket of sorts to the furniture I made for the garden! (UPDATE: I did, and you can find the directions for a little bassinet midway through this post.)

Our family is complete! At least... it is for now. Until Kaia asks for more. :)

I would love to see your dolls if you make some, please leave me a link in the comments if you wouldn't mind!


  1. Oh my goodness, these dolls are amazing!!! I have made flower fairies using a similar process, I have always had to glue on the hair, I love this method, thanks so much for your step by step tutorial, time to pull out my floss and felt!! Thanks~April

  2. Seriously, this is one of the best tutorials I have ever seen.
    I will make time to make these for my girls very soon.
    They are brilliant.

  3. Thank you so much for this amazing tutorial. You just made a Dutch mama very happy!!!

  4. Love them. I just tried some bendy dolls the other day after reading another blogger's tutorial. I love your clothing on them. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thank you so much for your sweet comments! It makes it worth the fact that taking the photos and putting together the tutorial took longer than actually making the dolls. :)

    I do hope you will let me see your dolls when you are finished!

  6. Thank you for your tutorial. Made some boys for my son for christmas.

  7. Wonderful! I hope they enjoy them.

  8. Love the tutorial! I am making a bunch to use in my story time programs at the library!

  9. Thanks for this tutorial. Your dolls are so cute.

  10. Your blog is wonderful! I just wanted to let you know that I linked your tutorial on my 'Fairy Party Ideas' blog post. :) www.tansydolls.blogspot.com I made a bunch for my daughter's birthday party - thank you so much for a great tutorial!

    Have a great day! Lesley

  11. These look amazing!! I want to make some for my girls! What size of wooden beads do you use?

  12. These are gorgeous, and your tutorial makes me think I could do it too! Thank you! Have you found anything to help them stand up?

  13. Hi, i wanted to know the size of the wooden head please. thanks alot, great job

  14. Love your tutorial. About how much embroidery floss is needed per doll for their bodies?

  15. aww! so cute

  16. I made my first one. I should've wrapped it more, but I did quickly take a lighter to it, and the pipe cleaner fuzzies don't stick through as much, though the pink still shows through. I wrapped the hair around the top of the pipe cleaner, so it looks like pinned-back bangs, which I quite like. I felt like drawing most of a face on her, and leaving her sans clothing.

  17. ...continued. Plus, despite not wrapping it enough, my 2 3/4 year old loves it. She loves making the hair "blow in the wind" and made her legs go back and said she's just like the Little Mermaid. Thanks for the tutorial! I'll be making at least four more (5 beads in the pack). :D

  18. https://www.flickr.com/photos/62283907@N03/15965260097/
    I also made a doll with a mohawk, using a little hot glue as gel on the hair closest to the "scalp," so the kids can still play with the hair.

  19. How wonderfully kind of you and thank you for this great tutorial,will try making a few for the grand daughter's. I have some nice fuzzy wool I will try for the hair, cheers from Australia.

  20. These are adorable. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Any tips for how to wrap the pipe cleaner to make it look like a body? Its a bit pathetic how much I'm struggling.

  22. I just made one. I'll use your tip when making the hands and feet with my next try.
    These are so cute.

  23. OMGosh.. Thank you! I have really been struggling with making the clothes and you photos and descriptions are the very best. You dolls are beautiful too. Thank you again.

  24. These are adorable and your instructions help to make me think I could make one for my own home this is just precious you are so creative thank you

  25. Hello. Can this be printed out.? Thanks.

  26. I would like to know the size of the bead please.

  27. Beautiful boll can't wait to try and make them x

  28. Thank you for this tutorial. Very easy to replicate. <3


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