Christina Platt’s Bamboletta Dolls are one-of-a-kind, treasured friends for children all across the world. You can learn more about Christina’s company and talented group of sewing mamas, plus watch a video showing how an artisan Bamboletta Doll is made here. Christina’s dolls are each a work of art, made with the highest quality materials, lots of love and plenty of important details to make them extra special.

We’re honored to have Christina share her Sleepy Dollie pattern and tutorial as part of our Six Weeks of LOVE for Softies. Christina also graciously donated a Bamboletta Doll for our Soft Toy Drive to Benefit Children in Foster Care. Send a softie in for the toy drive by April 30, 2015 and you’re entered for a chance to win a Sitting Friend-style doll ($191 value).

I’m Christina Platt, owner of Bamboletta Dolls. I live on the west coast of Canada with my two sons, husband and puppy, Acorn. I have an incredible posse of talented women who work with me in creating natural, one-of-a-kind dolls for children.

Some of us sew, some of us dye hair and some of us pack boxes to ship but we all do it with love. Bamboletta has been around for over 10 years now and we’ve sent dolls all over the world, and have had the pleasure of seeing many of our creations become children’s best friends.

Recently we’ve introduced doll making kits, where you can make your own Bamboletta Doll. It’s been a real thrill to see people creating their own dolls; I feel like a proud mama when I see what they’ve done! This is a very sweet and simple tutorial for a “Sleepy Dollie.” I think it would be nice to put a little satchel of lavender tucked in side for a sweet sleepy effect. I’d love to see what you create; please tag your photos with #bambolettalove.

For this project you’ll need:

  • Old wool or natural fiber sweater, washed in hot water and dried a couple of times
  • Some jersey knit for the head– an old tshirt works well– in some sort of “skin” color (You can throw a white t-shirt in a bowl with some tea in it to stain the shirt a light brown-y color– leave it in there for a few minutes.)
  • Wool for stuffing
  • Embroidery floss: you’ll need eyes and mouth color, plus a contrasting skein of floss to go with your sweater
  • Thick string, like thick crochet cotton
  • Thread for stitching on the hat and body
  • A long and a short needle… I think you can find the long needles at craft stores; they are called “Doll Making Needles.”
  • This Sleepy Dolly Pattern

Lay out your pattern on the sweater as shown. Making sure the top edge of the hat is along a fold. Right sides of the sweater should be together. Pin and cut. Stitch where marked, making sure you leave an opening at the neck of the body and at the front of the hat.

Making the Head:
Don’t be scared… It’s way easier then you think! If you have clean wool that is fluffy and all smooth, then you will cut a strip that is about 15″ long and 3″ wide. I’ve measured about that much with my “raw” wool here. Then roll it in your palm using your other hand; you want to roll it until you get it to the size of a small orange. Roll it as tightly as you can! See, there you go. No problem! Now, holding the “ball” in one hand you are going to push the ball into the head cover, like you would with a sock. Stuff it in there very tightly! I like to aim for about an 8″ diameter head. Around there… Don’t stress about it.

Now holding the “neck” with one hand, try to tie a tight knot. It helps to have someone do tie the knot for you. It also helps if you just do one “knot” above your hand and then slide it down to the neck position. I then add some wool to the neck/body tube part that is sticking out. You then stitch it closed on the machine at the bottom. Trim excess.

Phew! That was the hardest part.

Now we will embroider the face on. The back seam can be either at the back or along the sides of the “face.” Try to find the roundest part of your head ball for the face. Mark the eyes and mouth on the doll using a fabric marker, or pushpins. I like the eyes to be just above the “equator” of the doll and the mouth marked below. The rule of thumb is to mark the eyes and mouth in a triangle.

Anchor a stitch (lots of stitches on top of one another) at the back of the head with your long needle. Take a stitch through the back of the head and out to about 1/8th of an inch to one side of your eye “dot” and then to about 1/8th of an inch to the other side of the dot. I like to slightly angle the stitch up.

Then take your needle through the head (just under where it’s forehead would be) and take a stitch again about 1/8th of an inch on one side of the dot through to 1/8th of an inch on the other side of the dot. That sounds harder then it actually is. The picture may be easier to understand! You then finish your stitch at the back of the head and then anchor the stitch again. Cut thread.

Turn under about a 1/2″ seam and position hat on head. Pin in place. Starting on one side near the neck anchor the hat on to the head. Stitch the hat on to the head. I use a whipstitch, but you can go fancy and use a blanket stitch. Whatever really. Finish on the other side by anchoring again.

Thread your short needle with about an arm length’s worth of thread. Using a double thread, turn over a 1/4″ seam around the neck opening. Anchor a stitch. Make a running stitch around the opening of the neck. Leave lots of thread on your needle and pin to the side. Slip your head into the body. Position it so it’s all even and facing forward. Pull thread tightly around neck. Stitch in place. Go around at least four times to make sure it’s all secure and safe. Yeah, you!

Almost done.

Take an arm’s worth of embroidery floss and go in through marking “A” on the pattern. Do a stitch in and out all around the doll like the photo, sort of like the doll is wearing an empire waist. Tie the floss together. Turn the doll upside down and make a bow (always comes out the right way up if you turn the doll upside down). Double knot the bow.

We hope this Sleepy Dollie brings someone you love lots of comfort and happiness. Don’t forget to share what you’ve made! Tag your photos with #bambolettalove.