Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Bendy dolls and Tutorial

i LOVE bendy dolls. i really do. i remember first making these back when i was in girl scouts as a kid. Of course the ones i make now are much nicer, but the concept is still the same. They are very easy to make, and kids love them. i've had a lot of requests from folks asking just how they are made, so i thought i'd put together a tutorial.


After repairing a bunch of bendies that the puppy chewed on, i decided to make Sage a few news ones for Yule. i'm working on putting together a few full play sets, i'll post pics of those later. Alice was a special request, but i'm feeling inspired to make a full set...including the Mad hatter, Queen of hearts a few of the card knights and a needle felted white rabbit and Cheshire cat. :) Okay, that may be a bit too ambitious for me. :)


i've also started an under water mermaid set. Of course when Sage noticed i was making mermaids she requested Ariel. i love making mermaids!


OKay, on to the tutorial. All you need is pipe cleaners, wooden beads for the head, embroidery floss and a bit of craft glue. For the hair you can use wool roving, yarn or embroidery floss they all work well. The clothing can be made from felt, fabric or silk flowers. You can embellish them with other items and you can be as simple or as creative as you want.
Cut your pipe cleaner in three pieces, so you'll have one 4" piece (arms) and one 8" piece (legs). Fold the legs in half down the middle, and you should have something like the above picture.


Now your going to put your bead on and push it down a bit. Open up the top of the pipe clear to create a loop. i tend to snip some of the 'fuzz' off the very top of the pipe cleaner. It makes it fit inside the bead better, and leaves less fuzz sticking up in the hair. Choose your material for the hair, cut it the desired length.


Place the hair inside the loop so you have an even amount on each side.


Then pull the pipe cleaner through the bead as tight as you can. Don't worry if a little bit of the pipe cleaner shows. Later on you can add a dot of glue to it and cover it with a few strands of hair.


Now take your 4" piece of pipe cleaner and twist it in place for the arms. This will be secured with the floss, so you really only have to twist it once.


Now grab your embroidery floss and begin wrapping. Start at the torso, make an X over and under the arms. Once you get this area covered well, begin moving down one arm.


Wrap the floss all the way to the end, trying to cover as much of the pipe cleaner as possible. It's okay if a bit shows through, you'll be going back over it. When you get to the very end, begin wrapping back toward the body about 1/3 of the way down. Then bend over the hand, making sure to leave extra that will help secure it to the arm.


Wrap the hand very tightly. Do not wrap too close to the end or the threads can come loose, i like to leave about 1/4" unwrapped. Continue wrapping tightly, and begin moving back down the arm, wrapping evenly and covering any pipe cleaner fuzz. When you get back to the torso, wrap a few times around the neck, criss-cross around the body and then continue on to the next arm. Following the same steps as above.


When both arms are completed, continue wrapping the torso, until you have the waist covered. You can then continue with this floss and cover the legs. Or switch colors to create 'tights'. If you chose to switch colors, i like to tie off my original thread but leave a bit of a tail. When i wrap the legs, the tail will be covered in the wrapping.


Beginning at the waist, start wrapping your new color. If you want striped tights, use two different colors together. Wrap down the legs, and finish the feet the same way the hands are done but fold back a bit more for the feet. Wrap back up the legs paying special attention to the pattern. Go around the body a few times, then begin wrapping the second leg.


When you get back to the top, wrap around the waist a couple times again, and then tie off your thread. i like to leave a small tail. i place a few drops of craft glue on the knot, and wrap the tail around the body through the glue 'gluing it' down.This will keep the knot from unraveling.


With the hair, i like to put a little glue on the back of the bead, and glue some of the under layer of hair in place. i leave the top free, and if the pipe cleaner is visable at the top of the head use a tiny bit of glue and arrange the hair over it.

Now you can customize your doll! i like to make simple clothing out of felt. i use a blanket stitch to sew it together and it gives a decorative edge. The clothing can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. If i was better at embroidery i'd be adding flowers and little details to these.

Sometimes i add faces, and sometimes i don't. You can use paint pens, gel pens or regular paints. i decided this girl needed some wings. i cut them out of felt and did a simple blanket stitch around the edge. Then sew it on her back with a few quick stitches.

Here she is complete.


Here she is hanging out on my nature table. She looked so nice on it, i had to post a second picture. i've had a few folks ask if i sell these, and as soon as i get some more wooden bead heads i may make a few and put them for sale on here. i'm going to play around with some different themes, but you can probably expect to see a few posts on these.

i hope my tutorial was helpful. Feel free to let me know if you still have questions!
You can also purchase these directly from me. Visit my the bendy doll folder in on Facebook page to see what i have available.

46 comments:

  1. Very cool! We made very simplified versions of these at our library craft day. They were mermaids, and we just bent the pipe cleaners to make them into a tail shape. We also used flower petals from silk flowers to make them skirts. Wrapping them with floss is a great idea to sturdy them up. Thanks for the tutorial!

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  2. Thanks Tree!!!! I'm going to start making some right now!!!!

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  3. Awesome and so simple!! The ones I tried had too many steps and didn't look half as cute!! Can't wait to give it a go, thanks for sharing!

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  4. Adorable!!! :) BIG smiles. :D

    Thanks for sharing the tut!

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  5. Those are great!! My boys would love them, I'll have to make some,thanks for the tutorial.

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  6. what a great tutorial Tree. Thanks for doing this. I remember taking a class in a Moms group on how to do these but haven't made one since. Now I must make some maybe for my Advent Tree.

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  7. These are awesome!
    I will for sure make some for Ria for Christmas.
    Thanks so much for posting this Tree!!!!!!

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  8. Amazing! I actually think I could make these myself. Fantastic tutorial.

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  9. Thanks SO much Tree!! I can't wait to start making these for the girls!!

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  10. What size beads did you use for the heads? I'm hoping to make a doll family for my daughter for Christmas, so I need to get started =D

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  11. That is genius! Thanks for sharing x

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  12. I wondered how you did those, I have never made them before. Yay, learn something new every day. we are going to the craft store today...a MADNESS sale...so excited...will get pipe cleaners and beads :)

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  13. I got 1" beads, and either my feet are too small or my head is too big...cuz she's top heavy.....I am enjoying though, I can see why you do so many. They remind of those wee Guatemalan worry dolls.

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  14. I have been making these for a year ever since I found this tutorial. Right now I'm making three dolls Holly,Ivy,and Snow!

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  15. Yay! Thank you so much for this. I am making some clothespin dolls for my girl and I really didn't like how the pipe cleaner arms looked. This is so much better.

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  16. Do yours stand on their own? And if so, how, lol?

    I've made a few of these- I use yarn instead of floss, and use several layers of pipe cleaners to make them stiffer. But they're basically the same otherwise. So fun!

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  17. I didn't realize you had this here. I've been trying to figure out what to make for special gifts for my daughter's 5th birthday party. If I start soon, I might be able to make these for 16 kids in time.
    They don't look all that easy to do... If I could I'd just buy them from you! My girl loves the ones we have from you so much, but she'll really get into trying to do it ourselves too.
    thank you!!!!

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  18. how did you get the felt over the head without tearing or stretching the felt?

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    1. i don't pull it over the head. i push the feet/arms through and bring it up. You have to kind of fold the arms down, and pinch the skirt together to fit it through. There is a slit cut in the front of the shirt, so it makes the neck opening large enough. Then i stitch the slit closed with the stitching in the front of the shirt. make sense?

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  19. Do you know a good place to buy the beads?

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    1. hobby lobby or Micheal's craft store.

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  20. Also, what size is the bead? I have a bendy doll, but don't have a clue as to the size of the bead!

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  21. Oh, how cute -- I love them!

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  22. My daughte just looked at your page and told me she wanted all of them lol so I thought Id look up a tutorial :) Looks like alot of work but maybe we will give it a whirl sometime :O) Yours are so cute!

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  23. Same question as some.... What size head are you using ?
    Theses looks fantastic !

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  24. Do these stand up? I'm debating between these or peg people for my 2 year old's dollhouse. I know she'll be really frustrated if she can't stand them up.

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    1. Hi Elizabeth, no they do not stand up on there own.

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  25. Just found you through pinterest! So cute dolls ! I'll make some for my frinds' kids! Thank you for sharing!

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  26. Just found (and repinned! lol) this project on Pinterest and plan to try it today, but I have a question. The hole you have cut in your little person's top is so tiny, how do you manage to get it over her big ol' bead head? I really would love to know, so that I can try to make these for my Littles. :)

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    1. You actually don't go over the head, you press the arms against the body and slide it up over the feet/arms. i usually slide the shirt up before sewing the skirt, not sure why i didn't in the tutorial. Also, there is a small stitch (1/8- 1/4) cut in the front of the shirt. That is why i do the decorative X in the front over it. Does that help?

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  27. That actually makes a great deal of sense, and would have saved me a ton of problems with the little one I made for my daughter. Really wish I had waited for your reply, I tried to sew the doll's pants on after the shirt was all sewn up! >.< lol But she's still adorable. Will be adding eyes etc., after they have gone to bed tonight. They are just too sweet for words! :)

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  28. Hello! When you make mermaids, do you even bother wrapping the legs? I imagine you don't have to wrap them since they're covered by the tail.... Also, how do you do attach the tail without it falling off?
    My daughter is turning 4 next month and each year I make her something for her birthday... this year she wants mermaids, and I think these are super cute!

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    1. Nope, i do not wrap the legs. i do add a little glue to make sure the tail stays in place. i also sew around the top of the tail (waist area) and sew it into the wrapped midsection of the doll. make sense?

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  29. The jumper neck hole seems tiny! How do you get it over the large bead head/ up the lumpy body? Apologies if this question has been asked already. Beautiful though & I'll have a go.

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    1. i don't pull it over the head. i push the feet/arms through and bring it up. You have to fold the arms down and put the feet through first. There is a slit cut in the front of the shirt, so it makes the neck opening large enough. In the tutorial i sewed the skirt first, but typically i slide the shirt up first. Then i sew the skirt, then sew the shirt. i stitch the slit closed with the stitching in the front of the shirt. make sense?

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  30. Oops! I've just realised that you have answered the query about the tiny neck hole - sorry! Thank you for the instructions. Sorry I've published as anonymous but can't get the system to accept any other format. I am Andrea from N.E. England

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  31. Can't wait to start !!

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  32. This is the tutorial I've been searching for, can't wait to try this. Thank you so much!

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  33. This is the tutorial I've been searching for can't wait to try it. Thank you so much!

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  34. Hi! Thank you Thank you Thank you for this awesome post! I would love to put it on my blog!

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  35. Thank you for your awesome ideas!!! You are so creative.

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  36. Thank you for your fantastic ideas and the clear and thoughtful way you present them. Can't wait to try some out!

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  37. I have yet to try making these so thank you for the tutorial. Shared here http://siayla.blogspot.ca/2014/01/got-hearts-try-these-heart-craftsjust.html

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  38. so cute!!!!!!!!!! am about to make 1 right now!!!!!!! thanks :)

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