Monday, October 21, 2013

Felt Paper Dolls - Part 1

My oldest son (he's almost 4) has started to take an interest in arts & crafts.  Over the summer and early fall, we did a bunch of crafts.  I had a bunch of felt from one of these, so I made a leaf garland like the ones shown here.

My awesome garland and pellet stove.

A close-up of my garland.

So that whole garland took one sheet each of about 8 different felt colors.  I bought a HUGE mix pack of felt and I have tons left over.

What's that got to do with paper dolls?


I was never "crafty".  I fancied myself a "fine" artist in the most snobby way possible.  Felt is a new, awesome media and I love it.  I found some felt doll tutorials here and here that looked fun.  Both of those are a bit sewing intensive and, I'll be honest, sewing isn't my thing.  I've wanted to learn how to sew for 20+ years and it just hasn't happened yet.  I own a sewing machine.  I can hem stuff.  And that is about it! Someday....!!

So my goal was to create a sew-free felt paper doll.  We're going to create templates and cut a basic outfit today.  Next week we'll look into adding details and fancy stuff to our basic felt shapes.

Thick paper or lightweight cardboard (manilla folders would work great!)
Pencil and Eraser
Straight pins/ dressmakers pins (optional)
Scissors (the sharper, the better)

I'm using the kawaii girl doll from last week as a template.  Whatever doll you choose to create, keep it simple.  Felt doesn't cut as smoothly as paper, so simple lines are best.

(Forgive the weird shadows in almost all of these pictures!!)  I have a whole bunch of this medium grey cardstock so I'm using that to make my templates.  Trace your paper doll and cut it out.  This will become your doll body template.

To create some of the basic clothing templates, I started cutting up the paper doll and traced parts of it.  Legs became pants then I cut the undies and traced those.  I cut the hands and head off the top, traced it for a long sleeved shirt, then cut the sleeves off to make a short sleeved shirt.  It was pretty straightforward.

Here are all of my templates cut out.  I wanted to keep everything simple.  If I want to make a sweater set, for example, I'll just trace & cut the long sleeved shirt.  If I want capri pants, I'' trace the pants template and shorten them, etc.  I made some hair templates, a couple of skirts, a couple of shirts, and the pieces to make a princess or wedding dress.

This random pile of stuff is what I'll be working with and then some.  I have a pile of felt, yarn, beans, needle & thread, patches, etc.  Not pictured is some ribbon & embroidery floss.  My plan is to make simple clothing and embellish the heck out of it.

I realized with my previous projects that I really didn't want to make the felt if I could help it, so I pinned the templates to the felt.  You certainly don't have to do it this way.  A marker or chalk would work fine, too.  When cutting, be careful not to pole yourself!

This is the template and doll.  I marked my templates with what they were (skirt, shoes, etc) just in case I forgot!

And it's starting to come together!  Here's the template, hair, dress, shoes, and felt doll.  Felt is great.  It just sticks together.  No tabs, no fasteners, no velcro - nothing! It just sticks.

This is a good stopping point for today.  Next week I'll have more outfits ready to go following this technique.  I'll show you how to add a face and some details.  A needle & thread may be required!  And track down a glue gun or tacky glue if you want to avoid sewing altogether.

Until then, new doll on Friday and more kawaii suggestions for December are welcome.  Have fun making you felt doll!


  1. I've often thought about making felt paper dolls, but what stops me is that I have no children to play with them. I don't know what I would do with the felt paper dolls if I made them. I'm pleased to see that you have both the same goal and some little people who would enjoy them.

  2. It's been so much fun - I recommend trying it! You could put magnets on the felt and have a fun new fridge toy :) Ultimately, I think I'll make two sets for my nieces. They often get the spoils of my experimentation.

  3. to RLC Almost 2 yrs ago you wrote that you would make felt paper dolls if you knew where to give them so children could play. Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, has a program specifically for children who don't have much of anything at all. A donor chooses a boy or girl in certain age ranges and fills a shoebox (one's own or one given) with hygeine items (soap, washcloth, toothbrushes, toothpast, comb or brush), school items if appropriate age (they want to go to school, but can't w/o supplies) (pencils, pens, crayons, markers, etc) and fun stuff (paper dolls, small doll or stuffed animal, coloring book [I use ones with very little English since the boxes go around the world], small cars or dinosaurs) You get the picture! Many churches do this, it's called Operation Christmas Child, and with a few phone calls you could locate one near you and get information. You could just make felt paper dolls to your hearts content and leave these at a church: OCC workers would love to find boxes to put them in! City Missions and Shelters would love things for kids to play with, churches may know of needy community families, schools might even be able to help.