How To Make Yarn Doll Hair For Cloth Dolls

cloth doll yarn thread

Are you trying to figure out how to make yarn doll hair? I was too! I was so excited to finally figure it out, I had to share!

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Every time I go on Pinterest or Etsy and see one of those gorgeous heirloom dolls I have a mini heart attack. They are so beautiful!

A few years ago I was so inspired by these dolls that I attempted to make my first one ever, and lets just say there is a reason I never finished it…

It was horrible! I laugh about it now but I’m telling you… It was so ugly! It sufficeth me to say that I am not an embroider-ist.

Since then I have drafted several doll patterns that improve slightly each time and I am getting much better at the whole process. I have decided I like the arms to be wholly attached to the doll rather than sewn on after with buttons, and I have also decided I like the legs and arms to be slightly fatter than the thin little twigs I see in the pretty photos online… I don’t know how those artists possibly turn or stuff those arms…

This week I finished a new doll for my girls that was a good practice doll. It turned out fine, it is cute and that is the biggest measuring stick we are using right now! 😂

The face was just done with Iron on Vinyl since I can basically call myself a master at that by now. The hair was my biggest win so far, and I’m really excited to show you how I did it!

Before we start I want to say, DON’T BE AFRAID! This was literally my first attempt doing this and it turned out pretty darn well all things considered! (Things such as crying toddlers suddenly climbing on me). You can do it too.

Okay, here we go!

How to make Yarn Doll Hair

UPDATE: I still like this method for making doll hair. However, it is no longer my MOST favorite. I have shared my most favorite yarn hair method on the Seam Whisperer! So go read that method too and see which one you prefer!

Table of Contents

Supplies you will need:

Step 1. Pin the Doll

You are first going to cover the back of the head with a layer of wrapped yarn. This gives the hair a good background and visually fills in any holes depending on how densely you decide to sew on the hair.

You will place your pins on the sides of the dolls head at the seams. Consider how low you want the hairline to go across the back, and place a pin at the bottom of the side seam on that line, on both sides of the head.

Next, you will add pins all the way up both sides of the head. The space between the pins should be about the width of two strands of your yarn. This will differ depending on the yarn you are using.

Pin all the way up both sides, stopping to leave about an inch or 1.5 inch gap on the top. Make sure you have the same number of pins on both sides.

Your doll should look like this:

Cloth Doll with no hair
Theres always baby feet sneaking in my photos…

Step 2. Wrap the Yarn

This is easy, I promise.

Starting at the bottom of the head, you will wrap your yarn around the bottommost needle, bring the yarn across the head, and wrap it around the opposite needle on the other side.

At first you will need to hold the tail of the yarn with your thumb, but as you wrap the yarn up the head you can tuck the tail underneath the yarn as shown below:

sewing on yarn doll hair

Keep wrapping across and up the back of the head.

You see here that as I got to the top of the head, my yarn started to gap quite a bit. To fix this, I paused and scooted my needles a bit closer together, and added an extra needle into the gap.

cloth doll hair head

That fixed the problem!

back of doll head

When you get to the top of the head, stick a pin right through the yarn and push it all the way into the head to hold the yarn down. Leave an 1.5 inch long tail and clip the yarn.

doll hair in progress

Step 3. Sew the Yarn

To attach the yarn you will be sewing the thread at the point of each pin where the yarn loops around.

close up sewing through loops
(Ignore that huge gap, I fixed it later.)

Sew each loop down by inserting your needle on one side of a loop, bringing it up on the other side, and inserting it down into the next loop. Remove your needles as you go along.

doll pins in head

When you have finished tacking each loop down, your doll will look something like this!

You’re done with the back of the head for now! Next we will attach the front of the hair!

Step 4. Pin the Bangs

For this doll I am going to sew very simple side bangs with a middle part.

You can get creative and make the front look however you want, but this is an easy quick hairstyle that is great to practice with.

If you want to try sewing full bangs on your doll, check out this tutorial I did for yarn doll bangs!

In the center of your doll’s forehead a little above the eyes, place a pin.

Then place additional pins, spacing the same as you did before, straight up to the hairline you previously finished.

The method for this part is similar to before. Loop your yarn around each pin, but this time leave the opposite ends of the yarn loose.

It is better to make your hair much longer than you think you will need so that when you trim it later you don’t have any too-short surprises!

Step 5. Sew the Bangs

Sew down each yarn loop at the pin just like you did before.

After the hair is attached at the center of the head, you need to attach it at the side of the face as well.

Straighten out the yarn and smooth it down against the face. Arrange it how you like, and make sure it lays flat, then poke a pin through each piece of yarn at the side seam, slightly overlapping the edge you already finished. This covers up the edges and prevents a gap from showing through.

Sew down each strand of yarn near the pin.

When you have completed one side, repeat steps 4 and 5 for the other side! When placing the pins for the second side, make sure they align with the strands you sewed on the first side.

you may have noticed we changed locations

Your doll now has a flat yarn on the back of the head, and the front hair finished!

Step 6. Pin and Sew the Crown

The final step for this tutorial is to pin and sew the hair at the crown of the doll’s head. This hair will fall down the back of the head.

On the top seam, place pins across the hairline until they meet the long side strands you just attached.

Wrap the yarn just like you did before, leaving the ends quite long to make sure you have enough to trim it later.

Sew down each loop.

After sewing down all the yarn, the final step is to cut all the loops open at the bottom of the hair, and trim it to the length you like!

For this orange haired doll, my daughter requested “Long hair to the floor”, but I ended up doing a medium length just for tangles-and-knots-prevention’s sake.

If you wish, you can continue adding rows underneath this back layer of hair for a very full look. This makes the doll very realistic when you style the hair. Or, you could even just add a row at the bottom of the hairline. It’s up to you!

before trimming

That’s all there is to it! If I can do it with two toddlers jumping on me asking to read or nurse or pretend to be a doctor and to cut off their infected leg, then you can certainly do it too.

*If you liked this tutorial, please join me on my new sewing blog, the Seam Whisperer. I will be posting lots of tutorials and free patterns. Let me know what kind of tutorials you would like me to make for your! (I can do more dolls!)*

If you’ve read the blog, you’ll know that I can never post a tutorial without a photo with a baby foot sneaking in…

Great things about this technique:

  • This method makes long yarn hair that is quite realistic in the way it hangs, and is really easy to style. You can braid it, put it in ponytails or buns, make it short or long. (If you really wanted to be committed, you could even sew ‘hairs’ onto the entire head with this method and cut it quite short to make very short or spiky hair.)
  • This technique makes it easy to sew on multi colored hair or two-toned hair.
  • You can sew bangs, fringe, layers, etc with this method.

Considerations about this technique:

  • It is not the most sturdy way to make doll hair. Sometimes the strings can be pulled off the doll’s head if my toddler is whipping it around too roughly. This could be improved with reinforced stitching or double stitching or maybe a bit of glue?
  • This method involves a bit of hand sewing.

Where I learned this technique:

I watched a TON of videos and read a lot of tutorials about yarn doll hair, and by far the best and easiest one I found was by Wee Wonderfuls. If you are a video learner, their video is seriously so simple and quick, and it is the thing that helped be figure this technique out.

Watch it here and visit her website because it is amazing and inspiring! Her dolls are to die for, you have to see her Etsy shop! She also has some amazing tutorials.

What’s next?

After you’ve completed your yarn doll hair, find out how to make an easy iron on vinyl doll face here!

14 thoughts on “How To Make Yarn Doll Hair For Cloth Dolls”

  1. Thank you for this – is exactly what I needed! Also – I love the little baby feet – So cute!

  2. Thank you so much !!!!! This is what I’ve been struggling with the most – making the hair on the doll look full & not gappy….without sewing the entire ball of yarn onto her head. This was exactly what I needed.

    1. Yes it saves a lot of yarn! I think sometime I might try doing the entire back of the head to see how realistic it looks, but for now this methos is what I do!

  3. Great tutorial on adding doll hair. I really appreciated the clear and detailed photos and descriptions. Like a previous commenter I have looked at so many other how-tos on doll hair that finding your site was just what I was looking for. Thanks so much.

  4. I looked at so many tutorials on doll hair. Yours was so easy to follow and the only one that gave me exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much for taking the time to make/publish this. I’m looking forward to the next yarn tutorial you mentioned above.

    1. Robin thank you so much! I do have another tutorial coming soon, and hope to do more. If you have any requests I would be happy to hear them!

    1. You’re welcome Betty! I am brand new at it too. I’ve only made a few and I learn more every time. I have another yarn hair tutorial I will publish sometime this spring so look for it!

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