How to make a rag doll hair is one of the important steps you learn in crafting cloth dolls. It takes a little practice to really accomplish, but you can learn the basics fairly quickly. The more you practice the better your technique becomes. It’s definitely more forgiving than making a mistake on the face. The biggest challenge is making sure the hair is placed evenly and securely knotted. We’re going to learn about 3 ways you can use Sydney yarn to make hair for you handmade cloth doll.
How to Make Rag Doll Hair – 3 ways
Before we dive into the how-to, let’s talk supplies for your project. First, you need your doll which means getting a pattern (like from Sew Many Prims), muslin fabric, and stuffing. As you can see in our photos, we’ve stained our dolls with our tea or coffee stain recipe before adding the hair. As for finding yarn for hair, there are many kinds of yarn you can find at a local chain craft store like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. Or you can find it in smaller quantities by pattern designers such as Cindy’s Homespun. You can also check out Mary Maxim’s yarn clearance and various promotions. By the way, I love her patterns, too!
Method 1: Short Pigtails
I always use a large eyed needle when doing the hair-on-cloth rag dolls. It needs to have a sharp tip to get it through the fabric. Most of the time I am using pieces of yarn and it can be quite thick.
My doll head is all stuffed firmly and already stained. I have taken my spun wool and cut it into long enough strips to form little pigtails. The length will vary depending on how long you want her pigtails to end up being.
Starting on the top of her head, I thread my needle with a strand of wool and poke it thru close to the top seam. Let the thread hang loose. Continue threading the needle with pieces and poking them thru along the top seam. Go down both sides of her head until you get to the desired area of her face. This will vary with the look of the doll sometimes, lower or higher!
Once all my pieces have been threaded thru, it’s now time to knot in place. Take each strand and simply tie a knot tightly into it. This will hold it in place and make sure it doesn’t get pulled by mistake.
Once all the strands of wool have been knotted in place, I then make two sections of the wool with my hands. These form the pigtails. I tie them off with a small piece of thread and usually finish it with a tore piece of fabric. Your cloth rag doll now has little pigtails.
How high up you tie the pigtails is your choice. And, how long the length of wool is for the pigtails is up to you.
Method 2: Pigtails and Bangs
I take the spun wool that I am going to be using for my doll’s hair and lay a few strands across the top of her head along the seam. This determines how long you have to cut the yarn. I then cut anywhere from 4 to 10 strands, depending on how thick I want her hair to appear.
Next, I place a few strands of embroidery floss the same shade or as close to it as possible, thru her head. The floss is used to secure the yarn in place. I place a strand in the middle(to hold bangs) and then one on either side where I will hold the pigtail.
If you don’t want her to have bangs, then you will only need to have the two strands on the far sides to hold the pigtails in place. I place my strands of spun wool and tie the embroidery floss very tightly into a knot around the wool. And then, I give the wool a slight tug and hold it firmly down while I tie the floss on the other side.
For the bangs, I take a few strands of spun wool and cut them a bit shorter. Next, I use the floss in the middle to wrap around and tie a tight knot. The strands hang forward and give the doll the appearance of having bangs.
Method 3: Long Pigtails and Braids
I take my spun wool and divide it into 3 different sections. My first section will be across her head. The other two sections will be the ponytails (braids). You can unwind the yarn and it will give the effect of curly hair pieces.
My doll head has been stuffed firmly and already stained. Taking embroidery floss in as close to the same color as my chosen wool, I place a piece in the middle of her head. And then, I place 2 pieces on each side of her head.
I lay across the top seam the few strands that I had already set aside. Take the floss from the middle of the head and tie it around the yarn with a tight knot. This is now going to be the “part” of her hairdo. (if you don’t want a part showing…..you don’t have to tie it in the middle….just use the 2 places on the side). Using ONE set of floss on each side, I use the BOTTOM piece to knot around the ends of the yarn. She’ll look like she had tiny pigtails.
Next, take another bunch of the yarn that I’d set aside and find the middle. The last piece of floss on each side, I then place around the middle of the bunch and tie it with a tight knot. I include the small strands from the pieces laying across her head as well. Repeat this on both sides.
The cloth rag doll now has two long ponytails on either side of her head. You may keep her hair this way if you wish. Finish it off by wrapping a torn piece of fabric around the top of the ponytail into a bow.
Take that long ponytail and divide it into 3 equal pieces and start to braid them together. You can braid it however you wish, just a bit or all the way to the bottom. Tie it off with a small piece of thread or torn fabric to hold the braid from unraveling.
As you practice these 3 styles of how to make rag doll hair, your confidence in doll-making will grow. Pretty soon you may just come up with more great ways to style your rag doll’s hair!