Today we’re showing you how to make classic braided yarn dolls. This is a simple, traditional craft which is fun and easy to make and the finished yarn dolls make great DIY toys or handmade gifts.
Perfect for indoor days when you need a low prep craft using materials you already have on hand!
This craft was originally published in 2015 and has been updated and re-shared for today’s audience.
You might also like these easy yarn crafts for kids
You may have made yarn dolls before, or remember having them made for you as a child. This craft is something that I’ve pulled from my memory vault of childhood crafts, but when I researched how to make them AFTER I made my own I realised that traditionally the heads are made using a different technique to what I have done here, but no matter, this way worked for me.
This is a great craft for older kids (8+ is a good guide), but you know your child and what they are capable of better than a written age restriction.
The best thing about making yarn dolls is that all you really need is YARN (well, not counting the scissors and cardboard scrap used for wrapping the yarn around), gotta love that!
How to make yarn dolls
You will need
- Cardboard scrap (thick, heavy card is best, like what you’d get from a cardboard carton but I have used an old cereal box which is really a bit too flimsy for this purpose)
First wrap your yarn around and around the cardboard scrap. The card should be the length you want your doll to be.
Once you’re happy with the thickness of it slide it off the card.
Snip ONE end so you have a long bunch of yarn pieces all the same length.
To make the head, twist the bunch once in the middle and fold in half, then tie tightly with a separate piece of yarn of the same colour.
Once you have done that you need to divide the bunch into three parts, the two outside parts become the arms, and a thicker bunch on the inside for the waist and legs. Tie two more strands of string around the middle for the waist.
Braid and trim the arms, and if you want your doll to have legs braid some in, or simply give it a tidy-up trim and leave as is for a skirt.
Voila! Now make some more in different colours and you’ll have a pretty collection of them like we do, but watch out – yarn doll-making can be addictive!
More things you can make with yarn
- Try these beaded pom pom and pipe cleaner dolls for something a little different
- Make a traditional God’s Eye yarn craft
- Here are some spooky yarn doll ghosts
- These yarn butterflies are so bright and colourful
- This DIY pom pom maker is the EASIEST way to make pom poms
Oh my gosh, these are so simple and so precious. I actually found your site from Pinterest, looking for “Nutritional Activities for Preschoolers” for a college project, but wow everything you do is way cool. I wandered to the home page and I want to do all of the activities with the children I babysit! Just from a brief visit I’m already being inspired to try all sorts of new crafts and just wanted to chime in 🙂
I also love your bright high quality pictures, they really add to the post so much, and your instructions are clear and easy to understand!! I’m just really impressed overall and really excited!
Wow, what a lovely comment to receive! Thank you for your warm feedback, it is always uplifting to hear when somebody likes my blog and craft ideas! I hope if you go ahead and make any of them that the kids you babysit have fun and like them 🙂
My great-aunt used to make large dolls and glue a thin dowel rod into the top. Voila! Adorable dusters! They made me WANT to dust! I miss her and her creativity!
Hi Cathy, that sounds amazing! What a clever idea
This is great! Thank you! You could also use a small book to wrap the yarn around if don’t have cardboard.
How do you tie off the braided hands and feet?
Hi Cat, you just use a small piece of yarn the same colour as the doll you are making.
Hi Sara, totally! A book would work well
its esy and im 7 and i can evan do it
That’s great! Hope you had fun making them 🙂
Kate Hll says
Love them! I’m going to have a go with a view to making worry dolls for bereaved children – I am a member of COPS (Care of Police Survivors) a charity for the family of officers who died on duty.
We were given a little bag of dolls following a course on how to talk to the children that are members of the charity and yours are much nicer! x
Poor kids 🙁 I hope they like the dolls and thank you for taking the time to comment and for making a difference in the lives of bereaved children
These are so cool! I’m going to experiment with them as soon as possible!
Have fun 🙂
I made 30 of these for my after school kids. They are quick and fun to make. I am going to have the kids (kinder and 1st graders) make clothes for the dolls out of construction paper. I will have the older elementary kids make their own dolls. Thanks for the idea.
You’re welcome – hope the kids love them
Melody Rose Proctor says
I found this through Pintrest looking for craft ideas for my cousins and I to do and found these! So cute!😍
Love them really simple and easy and quick !
I remember we made these in Girl Scouts about 54 years ago. I think we turned ours into angels. I’m going to make some for my granddaughters and my grandson. I think they’ll enjoy them. Thank you for the reminder. Memories!❤️
I hope they love them 🙂
About how much yarn do you need for each one? If I were to use a standard paperback sized children’s chapter book (like Esperanza Rising – where they make these dolls). I need to buy enough yarn for a class of 22-24 kids. I’m clueless as to the volume? Thanks!
I can’t give you an exact volume, sorry. Maybe make one yourself and then see.
i am only 12 years old, but i can try making the dolls, i just have 1 question! can i mix up the strings on one doll?
I’m not quite sure what you mean, do you mean mixing different coloured string in one doll?
Wow i’m13 and I am never going to leave crafting we were reading a book in class Esperanza Rising and the book talked about yarn dolls good thing I found this site i’m going to try it out.Thanks!!!!
Sounds like an interesting book, have fun crafting! 🙂
Rebecca Patterson says
Hi Kate, was looking for simple crafts for my mother’s age care home and came across these which I think most could handle. I will make one before hand using a DVD case to see if that is a nice length for a doll.
From Down Under
I hope they enjoy it! Some of them may have made them when they were young too