To celebrate Winter, I made a Crone doll! She is based loosely on Buschgroßmutter and more generally on any lady who lurks among the trees, but I’ve just been calling her “Granny.” This is my favorite season, where you can see all the vibrant colors of the earth, branches, and mosses, and I tried to echo that in her colors.
This is my first time combining felting with sewing, and making a doll that can actually stand on her own, so I wanted to write a post about what I did. Think of it less as a tutorial, more as “learning from my mistakes.”
- wool felt
- wool roving
- cotton embroidery floss
- 2 chenille stems
- 1 pine twig
Granny’s legs are built on a single chenille stem. In the future, I would like to try some sturdier wire because they are pretty floppy! It might also be good to use cardstock as a base inside each foot. I took a picture of the shapes I cut for them, but they are pretty inexact – it took me two tries, and I trimmed as I sewed them together. “Measure never, cut at least twice” is my motto. The basic idea is smooth top and flat bottom for the foot, with a contrasting blanket stitch for a scarecrow-like look.
Her face and body are decorated with a combination of embroidery and felting (with roving and cut felt).
Just to try something different, I needle-felted her arms instead of sewing sleeves like I would usually do. I used another chenille stem as a base to keep the shape. Next time, I think it would be good to have a thinner wire (the yellow shows through if you look closely, and the thumbs became clunky).
After sewing and stuffing, it was time for her snowy white hair! (Buschgroßmutter’s hair is full of lice, but I don’t have any of those among my crafting supplies). I’d only done doll hair with embroidery floss before (turkey work) and it was fun to see how it worked out with roving instead. Better in some ways, worse in others.
Roving for hair is easier to improvise. Instead of having to make sure you have enough length for a row of turkey work, you can easily stop and pick back up anywhere, and fill in afterwards. It was also easier to style in the end, since I could just compress into the right shape with a felting needle rather than having to worry about the tightness while braiding.
The texture is both an advantage and a disadvantage, because it’s weaker than floss. The wispiness is really perfect for Granny, but to keep that look I couldn’t trim her hair shorter, I had to pull instead, weakening some parts. I also underestimated how thick it would be when it was all together!
For her skirt, I tried needle felting together wool felt diamonds instead of sewing.
In the past, I’ve sewn together motley with blanket stitch, like for the doll below. But it gives this dimensional look – while it works for this guy’s pants, I didn’t think it would be as appealing on a wide skirt.
So I attached the pieces loosely, then added white roving between to hopefully make it stronger (Granny likes to stay active).
Finally, since the staff is the most fun part of making any doll (am I right or am I right?), I wrapped a pine twig in braided and felted roving. Then, Granny was ready for the forest!
Thank you for reading! I’m looking forward to experimenting more with this new pattern… if you have any tips, questions, etc., feel free to write 🙂