I *REALLY* wanted to start my 12 days of Christmas series with this project. It’s a project that I have TRIED to finish and share for literally the last 3 years now. What do they say, third times a charm, and maybe the third day of the series…something like that? I know, I have commitment issues.
In our family, we have a tradition that each year I make the girls a handmade gift… and I usually start on the 23rd, but I don’t recommend waiting (see I told you, commitment and procrastination, its a deadly duo!).
Anyway, 2 Christmases ago I made some super cute ballerina dolls, I wasn’t exactly happy with the results, but I liked the concept. So, I fooled around to create a different pattern that I really like! Then, I begged my hubby to draw it up in illustrator so that I can share it with you (me and illustrator are not best buds)! Happily, now you can make a doll for your loved ones without having to buy a pattern, and if you have scrap fabric and some batting, heck this project can be free!
AND isn’t she lovely!!!
Free Ballerina Doll Pattern and Tutorial
To download the pattern, click on this link, and simply save and/or print. Please no selling the pattern. If you use the pattern to create a project, please do not re-post the instruction or pattern in any form, anywhere. Rather please be courteous and link back to this post as the source.
This is my first doll pattern please let me know if you have questions. Hopefully I don’t miss any major instructions.
Notes- I have found over the years that a nice mid weight quilting type cotton is best for doll making. For texture I like velvet and corduroy. I try to avoid stretchy fabrics since the dolls shape doesn’t hold when stuffed. Also I avoid felt, since the felt wears too quickly, pills and looks dirty quickly. I like to use scrap fabric whenever I can. So, be sure to look through leftovers from any other projects first, you need very little of each fabric. Fat quarters work well for everything but the skirt.
* Skin tone fabric 1/4 yard for face, back of head, body (if using v neck pattern) lower arms, upper legs
*Hair Color Fabric
*Leotard/Sleeve fabric (these can match or be different)
*Skirt Fabric 1/4 yard of fabric
*Ribbons for slippers, approx 2 yards, and hair bow 30″, pearl necklace 8″-ish, buttons on leotard, all these are optional, for children under three, stick to just embroidery floss embellishments, since the others can be choking hazards.
Thread and Embroidery Floss:
Notes, for the thread you could pick one matching skin tone thread, or a contrasting tone for the whole doll. Otherwise, keep in mind that you may need these types of colors- Skin tone, Hair color, Eye color, Eye Lash thread, White reflection for eyes, Lip color, Coordinating color to outfits.
A Bag of Polyester Fiber Fill Stuffing
* Sewing Machine
* Printer (for pattern)
* Fabric glue (optional)
1. Cut out the pattern pieces.
Save and print the pattern. Then, cut out the pieces, according to the number on each pattern piece (example “x2″ you would need to cut 2 pieces). Remember when cutting two pieces, to cut them either right sides out or right sides together, so that you have the proper mirrored piece for each side. Don’t forget to cut the skirt piece, since there is not a pattern piece, mine is about 9″ x 40-45” long or a quarter of a yard of fabric.
2. Start with the head and hair.
Taking the front piece of the face, in skin tone, layer the front hair in the proper place.
(OPTIONAL: My mother has a 65 year old doll that I love, but the face has worn, and now has holes. So, when I make faces for dolls, I like to double the face “skin” piece, to make the face fabric stronger, once the features are sewn on.)
Pin the front hair fabric on to its proper place with both of the right sides of the fabric facing up, toward you. Using a hair colored thread (or whatever you prefer), with a small, short, zigzag stitch, secure/sew the edge of the hair to the face of the doll. (see image below, the arrows indicate what lines you need to sew) (I like to work from the center part line out in both directions.
Add any additional texture lines that you desire. Again, I like to start with a center part line. Once that is in place, work from the center out, and from the bottom up. This will help to avoid unwanted creases in your fabric. (see image below)
On the back of the head piece, with both of the right sides of the fabric facing up, pin the back hair piece in place. Sew the raw edge with the same zig-zag stitch and hair colored thread, you used on the front. Add any additional texture seams to the hair if desired. (see image below)
If you choose to sew the facial features on with the sewing machine, do so now. (I have done this before and it can really speed up the process) Or you can hand sew them on either now or after it is stuffed! Your choice!
Create the bun. With the right sides of the fabric facing in, sew around the rounded edge of the bun leaving the bottom open. Flip the bun right side out through the open bottom seam. Now attach the bun in the proper place, at the top of the front face of the doll like the image shows below, and add a stay stitch within the seam allowance to secure it in place.
Set the head pieces aside.
3. Start sewing the leotard pieces and shoe pieces.
For the upper body, you can either cut both D pieces in leotard fabric, or you can make a v-neck leotard piece. See pattern piece for cutting instructions.
If you have chosen to make the v-neck leotard. Take the two E pieces, right sides together and sew the neck line as shown in the 1st arrow in the image image below. After you have sewn the neck link, snip the center of the v slightly to help it lay flat when flipping right side out, do not, clip past the seam line.
Flip the right side of the leotard out, and if necessary press the leotard flat with iron. Now, lay the sewn leotard piece, on top of the front of the skin tone piece D, and pin in place. Sew the neck line of the leotard to the skin tone piece as indicated with the 1st arrow. Then sew the leotard piece to the bottom of piece D, as indicated in the 2nd arrow, to secure it in place. Set piece aside.
For the front part of the shoe (or ballet slipper), you will need to take 2 of the front of shoe pieces, right sides together, and sew around the top edge of the shoe, as shown in the picture below. Snip a few lines toward the seam, as shown in the drawing, so that the fabric will flip right side out and lay smoothly. Repeat for other shoe.
Flip the shoe right side out, press flat to smooth with the iron.
To attach the shoe to the sock piece, first, place the finished shoe on top of the sock piece, bottom edges together, and pin in place. Second, secure the shoe to the sock piece by sewing along the top of the shoe about an 1/8 of an inch inside the sewn seam, as shown below. Repeat for other sock.
4. Sew the legs, socks and shoes together, also the arm and sleeve pieces together.
For the front of the legs, sew the center seam of Piece H to piece I. Right sides of the fabric together sew the seam shown in the image below. Repeat for both leg fronts.
For the back of the legs, begin by securing piece H to piece J. Place right sides of fabric together and sew as indicated by the arrow, in step one in the image below. Then attach the back of the shoe to the bottom of the sock piece, and shown in step 2, in the image below.
Once all the pieces are assembled, open and press all the seams out flat with an iron, for all the leg pieces.
Secure the sleeve piece and lower arm together. Right sides together, sew the center seams together like indicated by the arrow, in the image below. Repeat 3 more times, till there are two front and two back, arm pieces.
Once all the seams are sewn together open the seams and press them flat with an iron.
5. Sew the front and back of legs and arms together.
For each arm, place the front and back together, right sides in and pin together. Sew the outside seam as shown in the image below. Leaving the ends open and space on the inner side of the arm for stuffing later. Repeat for the other arm. Flip right side out. Press flat with iron if necessary, set aside.
For each leg, place the front and back of the legs together, right sides in and pin together. Sew the outside seam as shown in the image below. Leaving the flat ends open for flipping and space on the inner side of the thigh for stuffing later. Repeat for each leg. Flip right side out and set aside.
6. Attach the head to the upper body.
Now, we need to sew the head pieces onto the upper part of the body, at the neck seam.
For the front of the doll, place the front of the v-neck body piece down on a flat surface right side up, and lay front of the face right side down, line up the neck seams, and pin in place. Sew along the neck seam, as shown in the image below.
For the back of the doll, place the back leotard colored piece of fabric on a flat surface, right side up, and lay the back of the head right side down, line up the neck seams, and pin in place. Sew along the neck seam, as shown in the image below.
7. Attach arms to front of upper body.
Now, secure the arms with the seam allowance to the body as shown in the image below. Be sure to sew it to the front side of the fabric. Lay the arms flat as shown in the image below pin them in place and stitch them quickly for ease of putting the doll together.
8. Sew the front and back of the head and upper body together.
To sew the front and back of the head and upper body body together, you need to put right sides together, and secure with pins. Being sure that the bun and arms are in the right place and away from any other seams. Then sew around the edges, like shown in the image below. Be sure to leave the bottom seam open, and make sure you don’t sew the arms into the side seams. When the seam is finished flip the whole upper body right side out.
9. Prepare and attach the skirt.
The skirt dimensions are approx 9″ x 45″. You can make this skirt as long or as short as you want. The skirt length will be half of the short width (9″) of the fabric piece you use. If you would like a longer skirt increase the 9″ width to whatever it takes to get the length you want.
With the right sides of the fabric together sew the 9″ ends together as shown in the image below.
Now fold this loop of fabric in half so that the right side is facing out and the width is now 4.5″ wide. Sew a loose gathering stitch across the top and gather the fabric down to the same size as the circumference around the bottom of the upper body that you just assembled.
Being careful to fold (and/or pin) the arms out of the way of where you will be sewing, turn the skirt you just created upside down, and pin the gathered edge to the bottom edge around the upper body (remember the upper body is still right side out, and you are sewing on the bottom circumference of the body ) See image below.
10. Prepare the lower body
Attach the prepared legs to the front of the lower body with a stay stitch inside of the seam allowance.
Putting the two lower body pieces right sides together, sew the two side seams together. Being sure to not sew the legs into the side seam. Do NOT flip this right side out.
With the right side of the lower body in, and the legs folded out of the way. Layer the lower body over the skirt that was just attached to the upper body. Sew completely around the circumference or waist line of the doll to secure the lower body to the skirt and upper body. See image below.
Fold the lower body down. At the bottom of the lower body, fold up the back and front seam allowance right above the legs, to the inside of the doll and sew on the TOP of the outside of the dolls legs to secure the legs to the back of the body. See image. Leaving an open gap between the legs to stuff the body of the doll.
11. Start Stuffing! (and Stitch it up!)
Now stuff the head and body with fiber fill. I suggest doing this sort of tight so that the neck is able to support the head as they play with the doll. If it is filled too loosely it will “break” the neck of the doll, and the head will fall forward and back…
When the doll is stuffed, whip stitch (link to a random video link in case you don’t know what a whip stitch is) the hole at the bottom of the doll closed.
Now fill each limb through the holes you left open and then whip stitch those holes closed as you finish each one.
When you are done with that, you are done with the “building” portion of the doll!
Now you can “decorate” the doll.
I added laces to the feet of the doll. just stitching the laces to where I thought it looked good. and stitching the bows at the top of the laces closed so that they wouldn’t come undone. Be sure to melt the edges of your ribbon so they don’t fray.
I sewed a little string of pearls around her neck.
You could add a couple buttons on the back of her leotard for decoration… or the front
You could embellish the skirt, with ribbon, buttons puffy paint… whatever!
Lastly, I sewed a bow around the base of her bun and secured it in place so that is would stay looking cute.
Now be sure to hide the evidence so the kiddos can’t figure out what you made them!
If you like this project, please feel free to pin it and share it! THANK YOU!
——————–Reader Update, February 2019——————–
Our reader, Claire, sewed up a whole group of ballerinas for her great grandchildren and grand nieces! What a beautiful gift that those precious children will treasure!
Just imagine all of them playing dolls together — Love!
Thank you for sharing, Claire!
Please check out my fellow 12 Days of Christmas bloggers projects!