Monday, April 9, 2012

Swaddle Baby Tutorial

Find the doll face painting tutorial here.

I was a little surprised by the response from readers after I originally posted about swaddle babies.  These 'swaddling dolls' have been around for a while, a few of you readers even mentioned having owned one as a child.  I first learned how to make one during a Relief Society service project, but when I made some for my children at home I changed them up a bit to better fit my kids.  The originals were made with fleece blankets, and were much smaller in size.  

You asked me for a more in-depth tutorial on how to make my version of these sweet dolls, and here it is!

- materials -
two 19" squares of cotton fabric, can be contrasting designs
one circle cut of muslin about 8" in diameter
yarn for hair
bow / trim

First, gather your materials.

Lay the fabric squares with right sides together.  Sew around three sides about 1/4" from edge.  Cut the corners off of the two sewn corners.

Turn right side out.  Fold the open edge in about 1/2" and sew it shut, about 1/4" inch from the edge.  When you reach the end of that side continue sewing 1/4" inch away from the edge around the rest of the blanket sides.

You should end up with a pretty little blanket.
Fold the blanket diagonal-wise to create a triangle.

To create the little body you will be sewing a small rectangle at the base of the triangle.  The body will be 4" wide and 6" high.

Fold the triangle once in half and make a mark 2" from the center.  

Now measure up 6" from your first mark and make a second one directly above it.
Make both of these marks on both sides of your triangle.

Unfold and use these guides to sew two sides of your rectangle.  Don't sew it shut yet, first we need to stuff it lightly.

Be careful to press the stuffing in enough so that it doesn't stick out after you sew the rectangle closed.

Sew the top of the rectangle closed.
Tada!  Body is finished.

Now we will be working on the head.  Sew a basting stitch about 1/2" away from the edge all around the circle.  This means that you set your machine on it's longest stitch.  Do not secure your threads by sewing back and forth at the beginning or end of your stitch.  We want to be able to pull the threads and gather the material.

Alternately pull on both of the threads coming from the top of your material and gather the circle evenly.  Stuff the head and pull the threads tight.  Tie them so that they do not ungather.

This is what the back of the head should look like.

You will now be hand sewing the head to the body and blanket.  Position it directly in the center of the triangle, at the top of the body.  It is okay for the head to come down a little over the body so that it looks like it is attached.

Be careful to sew the head to only the top fold of the blanket.  I held the head and blanket together as pictured above so that I could feel where the needle was at.  I tried to actually only sew it to the very top piece of fabric, not even going through the entire top fold of the blanket.

This way you don't see the stitches if the blankets are separated during play.  You can see a tiny bit of stuffing poking out above the body seam.  Oops.

This is a loosened view of what my stitching looked like.  Watch the head and blanket as you sew.  You can pull and tighten where you are sewing so that the head takes on the desired shape.

Make sure to make the head secure.

Now for the hair.  Wrap some yarn around a couple fingers to the desired thickness and length of curls. Don't worry about the loose ends, you can trim them later.

Sew your loops down securely.  I went from under the fabric and back directly through the loops.  Once I had done this a few times I made a few random stitches throughout to make sure it was secure.  Now you can trim the loose ends.

If you have a little girl baby you may want to add a bow.  To create a bow without actually tying it around the hair you simply make two bunny ears out of your ribbon...

... and tie those into a bow :)
Stitch the bow on securely with matching thread.  I actually used the same yellow thread I had used for her hair, I just made sure to hide the thread under the knot.
Now here is a potentially dangerous trick.  To keep ribbon from unraveling at the ends you can melt them.  If you hold a match close to the ends of the ribbons you will see the edges melt and seal.  Please be careful if you choose to do this.  I did it over the sink.  What I should have done was wait until my daughter was out of the room.  She couldn't stop questioning why I was going to start the doll on fire.  I felt pretty dumb for seemingly having taught her something completely dangerous.

You can't tell me that's not cute :)

If your heart so desires you can sew on a little lace under the chin.  I folded this eyelet lace under at the sides and simply hand stitched in on.

And oh!  You're baby is done!
What's that you say?  It is without face?  Ohhhh, well you'll have to come back tomorrow!  I've gotten ahead of myself and made a doll-face painting tutorial to show you how to create the face I've made for these babies.  Come back and see!  It's not as hard as you would think :)


  1. These are ADORABLE! I've never seen one. So stinkin' cute!

  2. Will you be putting the face painting tutorial on here today? I'm dying to make one of these for my new grand-daughter! Thanks!!

  3. So fun! Thanks for the tutorial. I hope to make some for my girls!

  4. I love these dolls. they are totally adorable. I might have to give them a try. Thanks for sharing.


  5. Oh my gosh... I love these! My daughter would go crazy over those little babies! LOVE your crafty-mad skills.

  6. Great tutorial! You've been featured on the Quality Sewing Tutorials blog.

    We hand select only the best free tutorials and patterns for the home sewist.

    Grab a brag button!

  7. This is so adorable! I am extremly tempted to try it, as I am not confident in my sewing. My twins would LOVE them!

  8. These are adorable. Was wondering if you were going to post your doll painting face tutorial. I want to make these to include them in our Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes which are sent around the world. Thanks!

  9. Of course Debi! It can be found here :

  10. Those are impressive. The best ones are the ones where the shape of the hand or the skin texture works for the animal (like the elephant and giraffe). The painting of a cat on the hand seems a bit pointless.

    1. I'm gonna go ahead and think you were looking at a blog post with those brightly painted hands with animals on them :)

  11. Super cute! I wanted to let you know that I "pinned" it on Pinterest giving your blog credit.

  12. I just made one of these for my just-turned-one-year-old niece. It turned out beautifully! I'm not sure I actually want to give it away now (isn't that awful?). ;) I've never done any freehand fabric painting before, so I was a bit intimidated, but your face tutorial was great. I did make one change to the doll: I added arms. Now she has a reason to be swaddled. :) Thank you for sharing this great idea with us!

    Here is my post with pictures of my doll:

    (Sorry for the ugly link, I can never remember the html for linking.)

  13. Thank you very much for this tutorial, these are so pretty.

  14. Thanks for this fun tutorial. I just made a doll for my baby's 2nd birthday. I cut down one of her own baby blankets she is no longer using and made the doll out of that. Thanks!

  15. Thanks for this tutorial, I love it! I just made two and am in the process of a third.

  16. Bellissimo!!! I'd like to try (linking to you, of course!)

    Ciao ciao,

  17. Hi. Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing. I made two of these last week. One for my daughter and another as a first birthday gift. I sewed the baby's as a separate doll instead, so added a pouch to the swaddle blanket. I blogged photos here:

  18. ¡¡Muchas gracias!! from Spain I congratulate you, you have a new fan because I love your blog design, tutos & details. Keep it this way you are fabulosa i(fabolous?¿). ;) A pleasure to invite you to visit my new blog: where I will publish your tuto if you don't mind in spanish. Thank you!!

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  20. hi these are so cute ive just made one for my daughter it was a bit of a rush job to get it done before she finishes school :)

  21. and i didnt paint the face as i dont have any but once i get some nicer fabric i will be painting on the face i just used a pen but i still think it looks cute :)

    1. Yay! I'm excited to hear how it all goes Jemma! Thank you for updating me!

  22. This doll is fantastic!!. Thank you so much for your tutorial!!

  23. I have made one for a little girl but intend to make some for a home catering for older ladies with dementia.

    1. Did you make some of the swaddle babies for dementia patients? If so did you make them bigger?

  24. So cute!!! Where is face tutorial?

  25. Becka-
    This tutorial is excellent and the babies are so sweet- But I have a question---
    Is the babies head always placed on the front of the 2 layers/corners, or can the head be placed in-between the 2 corners so that the front corner gets folded down the front? This would allow for the baby to play peek-a-boo with the doll. Has this been considered or should it be placed on the front of the 2 triangle/corners as it is shown? Let me know what you think please. I appreciate your ideas on this. Thanks, Maybeegirl

  26. these swaddle babies are super cute and adorable! I love that they're super easy and fun to make! I featured this in my blog: thank you so much for sharing!

  27. What would you use for the face to make other races?

  28. OMG LOVE this pattern...going to make for my cousin's new grandbaby....her first grandbaby...they are so very sweet....I may even make one for Me haha A thing I
    thought of....IF I got to doing it....would you mind if I made these up and donated
    to a local domestic violence shelter? we have all heard of teddy bears in Police
    stations and at one of the craft clubs I was in when in Fla years ago...we tried to have
    people come and demonstrate new ideas...projects for the members...One girl showed us
    a strip quilt....her quild made them up and donated to the Domestic Abuse Shelters in
    their town. that hit home with me...even though I always wanted to DO...I never have
    gotten around to making the quilts...and it would be a big project espically for one..
    The idea of giving the quilts was....when you up and have to run in the middle of the
    night or dont have (much) or any time to grab personal items....those
    quilts were something the children could keep and have on their own....It is a personal
    thing to Christmas Day when I was young Mom turned the oven off, left the turkey
    in the oven and my sisters and I each got to pick ONE Christmas gift and we left. Hidden by if you dont want to....that's ok, but it looks like IF I get my act together, I have so many patterns, ideas and wanna dos....but if I could I would love to make and donate, even if once or twice a year Christmas and....It looks like it may not take very long to make so I could make many, and I could think of something for boys.....but even if for "me" and others you shared this pattern with THANK YOU ITS DARLING AND I APPRECIATE THE PATTERN.....Kris

    1. Hi Kris! I hope these dolls bless everyone they get made for! Please make and share them with everyone you know! I've seen other versions of these dolls in the past, I just put the pencil to the paper and made a tutorial for them. I don't claim to own the pattern :) Thank you for your caring comment!

    2. Thank YOU for replying....I have had much on my plate AND become sick BUT I am going to start this next week for my cousin's grandbaby....Hannah...who's 2 mo
      old now....I'm gatherin my supplies today, Sat. to start next week. Im so hopeful it will turn out as cute as yours!

  29. Question....just finished my first you secure the blanket around so that it is "always swaddled" aka doesnt open? 2. my head seems to flop way back ...what did I do wrong? maybe I should have put MORE on the body....I just sewed like on the neck area. Thanks Kris

  30. I leave mine undone so it's always a triangle until the kids play with it. That way there's more pretend and manipulation during playtime.

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