Simple Toys: How to Make Yarn Dolls

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.

If you are looking for a simple toy that you and your little one can make together, you will love learning how to make Yarn Dolls. These easy, frugal little toys might just become the next favorite.

If you are looking for a simple toy that you and your little one can make together, you will love learning how to make Yarn Dolls. These easy, frugal little toys might just become the next favorite. #homemadetoy #frugal #simple #yarndoll #makeyourowndoll

How to Make Yarn Dolls

When I was little I loved to make things to play with. My grandpa helped me build a big dollhouse out of some scrap wood, so my sister and I were very much into playing with little dolls. I never had a doll that I bought that lived in the dollhouse, but instead, we made cute little dolls from yarn and some from pipe cleaners.

Making Yarn Dolls is a fun project that can be done with boys or girls and doesn’t take long to create, but they make a great project for a snowy day. You only need a few supplies (that you probably have laying around the house), and if not, they can be purchased inexpensively. Let’s get started!

–Here are My Favorite Long Lasting Toys For Boys and Girls

Supplies for Yarn Dolls

How to Make a Simple Doll

To make these DIY yarn dolls you just need some yarn (and any yarn will do, so if you don’t have any, you can look for the cheapest yarn at the store!), scissors, and some ribbon. The ribbon is optional. 🙂

Arms for Yarn Dolls

Start by creating the arms of the doll. You can do this by wrapping yarn around your fingers, or if someone with little hands is making the doll, you will want to find something thin and at least 4 inches wide (like a piece of cardboard) to wrap the yarn around. Wrap the yarn at least 20 times to make the arms.

Tying Arms for Yarn Dolls

Cut the arms away from the main skein of yarn and cut 2 small pieces of yarn to tie up the arms with. You can see this in the process here. Tie off a small section for the “hand” on each end of the arms.

Finishing Arms for Yarn Dolls

Now cut the loops on each end of the arms to create “hands” for the yarn doll. Set the arms aside for now.

Making Body for Yarn Dolls

Take something larger, either a large piece of cardboard, a thin book, or a dvd case (like I’m using here) and loosely wrap more yarn around it to start forming a body for your doll. Make sure that the body is at least 3 times as long as the arms you’ve made. Wrap the yarn around this at least 20 to 30 times or more.

Making Head for Yarn Dolls

Carefully remove the yarn doll’s body from whatever you used to wrap it around and tie off a section for her head. For a girl doll you will want her head to be a little longer than it looks like it should be so you can add a bun later. For a boy doll you don’t need the longer head so just tie off a section that looks like the right shape for a head.

Creating a Dress on Yarn Dolls

Cut the loops on the other end of the body to form the dress.

Inserting Arms on Yarn Dolls

Take the yarn doll’s body and part her dress, place the arms in the middle of the body and snugly up against the underneath of the dolls head.

Adding in Arms on Yarn Dolls

Use another small piece of yarn to tie a waist right below the arms to hold them into place on the doll. Now if you are making a girl doll you are already done with her dress, however, for a boy doll, you will want to slip the “dress” of the yarn in half and tie off legs for pants.

Tying a Bun on a Yarn Doll

To form the bun on the girl doll simply gather up a bit of the loops of yarn in the back of her head and use a small extra piece of yarn to create a little bun. Trim the excess yarn from tying.

Adding a Bow to a Yarn Doll

For a fancy doll, you can use the ribbon to tie a pretty bow around her waist or around the bun in her hair.

Finished Yarn Doll

She’s all ready to be played with and for your little ones to make a little family to go with her! Try and experiment with different sized bodies and arms to make small and large dolls. We used to create huge families with tiny baby yarn dolls!

–For another fun project, you can also try making these Corn Husk Dolls!

Looking for more fun crafts your kids will enjoy? Here are a few to try next:

9 Incredibly Easy Kids Fleece Projects
Homemade Gifts for Kids
Easy Homemade Playdough Recipes
Homemade Finger Paint
How to Keep Little Ones Occupied During School
Homemade Baby Toys

Have you ever played with yarn dolls? Do you plan on making some for your kids to play with?


This post on How to Make Yarn Dolls was originally published on Little House Living in November 2014. It has been updated as of October 2019.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Support Little House Living by Sharing This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. These are adorable! My sister and I used to make these,but often we cut paper dolls out of a catalog. We didn’t ever have much yarn because my mom didn’t knit or crochet. I have two grandsons that will like these,to be sure! They will most likely use camo yarn and make hunter dolls!! They love to create things..which makes grandma very happy!! (their mom DOES knit,so they are lucky!).

  2. I had forgotten about these little treasures from my childhood! Thank you for sharing. You made my heart smile!
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving,
    Kimberly Koehler

  3. I used to make these as a child. I had forgotten about them. I used to make them looping the yarn around a small address book of my mother’s. I know I will have fun making these again with my young girls.

  4. I just found this on pinterest, and I’m so glad! My 8 year old is going to make a couple of these for her sisters for Christmas.

  5. I had my boys make yarn dolls for the little girls at church one year for Christmas. It was a big hit with the girls and their mom’s. The boys thought it was awkward to make them and give them to the girls, but since mom insisted…..LOL!

  6. I made one of these for my daughter about 16 years ago, she called him Mr Blue (he had legs and was blue) based on the toy of one of the characters on a kids programme called Tots TV. We went to visit her at uni the other week and I discovered not only does she still have him but she took him with her!

  7. These are so cute! Thanks for linking up at the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop! We hope you stop by again next week!

  8. These yarn dolls are so adorable! I remember playing with these when young but I had forgotten all about them! Thanks for the fond memories 🙂

  9. when i was gowing up, use to visit my relative on a ranch in arizona, there mom did not have yarn, but i learned how to make stuff animals out of cotton from the fields and scrape material. Good memories, thank-u i all about forgot about this, and u brought those good memories back

  10. I have been looking for these as can remember making them over 60 yrs ago. Also I used to put a pin on the back to make a broach.

  11. This is cute and easy. I work with the youth at my church and this would be a good project to make to attach to gifts for nursing home or someone that is sick. You know I bet you can attach wings to these and make them into angels too. Thank you for sharing this idea.

  12. Thank you so much! These were a fun activity for my kids to do while we talked about our pioneer heritage.

  13. These were popular in the 70’s when I was a girl and we hung them on the Christmas tree for ornaments. I still have one that graces my tree every year.

  14. I made a santa out of red yarn years ago . It was made something like this, but I can’t remember how I made it. It was so cute. Does any one know how to make one? I love these little dolls.

  15. The Yarn dolls made me think back to the days on the East Coast when I was a teen. My Mom made me 2″ dolls one for each sock & safety pin them to the socks. We had different colored dolls for the “Sock Hops” on Friday nights. She made them for me, my sisters & girl-friends. We always got compliments & asked to get Mom to back them some.

  16. I remember making these as a child way back when. Never bothered with the bun but I tied off the top of the head like you would to make a tassle. When my kids were small we made little angels for the tree like these but I cut a folded piece of paper cut like a wing . This was placed with the fold mark tucked under a few strands of yarn and held in place when the waist is tied off. I left the piece of yarn at the top long and tied a knot in the ends to make a hanging loop to place it on the tree. You could glue a small circle of pipe cleaner on top for a halo if you want, I didn’t bother. My kids loved making these!!

  17. My mother taught me how to make yarn dolls many years ago. My mother used to let me raid her scrap yarn stash to make these dolls. Many ended up being multicolored. They were so much fun to play with. Later on, when I was running a day home, I taught some of the children how to make them. I’m glad to see that the tradition is still around.
    We also made paper dolls from scrap paper and would glue the paper to cardboard to make them sturdier. My mom would help make clothes from left over construction paper. I also got paper doll cut outs from the English magazines that my maternal grandmother sent my mother. After she had read the magazine she would help me cut out the paper dolls which usually came with a set of clothing.