How to Make Machine Embroidered Doll Hair

Rag dolls and stuffed animals are wonderful treasures for boys and girls. Nowadays, for safety reasons, parents tend to prefer stitched facial features rather than button faces for their children’s dolls and stuffed animals. With an embroidery machine, stitched facial features are so easy to create because there are so many embroidery sets available for them. There are also many dolls that are created completely in the hoop.

And then there’s the hair, which can take a lot of time to make if the yarn is hand-stitched onto the doll.

Doll with Colorful Thread Hair

I never ever thought of using my embroidery machine to make the hair. But because I wanted to make a doll quickly, making hair with the embroidery machine is exactly what I set out to do.

And now that I’ve tried it, I’d like to share the technique with you. I used the Embroidery Library Soft Rag Doll pattern to make my doll. I used pink polar fleece for the doll’s body. Pink or tan polar fleece is just perfect for dolls like this. Remember, it’s important to use a stretch stitch when sewing the doll together. A straight stitch will break easily when the doll is stuffed.

How to make a doll wig:

Embroidery machine setup:

The goal for stitching with the embroidery machine was to make a single row of stitches across the embroidery hoop to hold the wig together. My embroidery machine has a feature that allows me to use stitches from the sewing machine and stitch them in the hoop. Thus, I created 70 2mm stitches that would stitch straight across the top of the hoop.

If your machine doesn’t have this feature, you should be able to create a straight line of stitches using the editing software that came with your machine or the editing software that you use for looking at your embroidery files.

Wig construction:

I made two wigs for this doll. The first was made using a very fuzzy yarn and with the yarn laid back and forth across a piece of fabric and the hooped stabilizer.

Fuzzy Yarn Laid Out on Fabric

When the area is completely filled with yarn, I used masking tape to hold the yarn in place, but this was much too sticky and very difficult to remove after the wig was stitched. I recommend using something like painter’s tape instead. I placed a layer of wash-away stabilizer over the yarn and tape to prevent the yarn from becoming wrapped around the presser foot during stitching.

Thread with Tape and Stitches

Yarn hair, masking tape and stabilizer, as well as the stitches across the top of the wig.

Sewn Plush Doll with Embroidered Hair

Above is the doll wearing the wig. The yarn was very thin and it made a very thin wig. So I decided to try again and make a wig that was a little different.

This time, a bulky, fuzzy, multicolored yarn was used. Instead of just laying it back and forth on the stabilizer, it was wrapped around an 8-1/2″ quilting ruler.

After it was wrapped and while still on the ruler, it was cut at both ends for the bangs and the back of the hair.  Cutting the yarn resulted in a lot of “fluffies” everywhere.

In retrospect, this kind of yarn would work best if it were left as loops on either end rather than cut. When moving the yarn from the ruler to the embroidery hoop, it is important to be careful not to get it tangled, as this is very soft yarn and would be difficult to “fix.”

Colored Yarn in Roll and Wrapped on Board

And that’s all there is to it. The only thing left to do is stitch the fabric wig base onto the doll, fluff the hair, and dress the doll. How quick and easy is that?

What method do you use to make yarn hair for a rag doll or stuffed animal?

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One Response to “How to Make Machine Embroidered Doll Hair”

    I love this idea and can’t wait to give it a try. I have purchased some adorable ITH swaddle babies but haven’t found fur that I like for the hair. I hope this will do the trick. I’m looking for more of a newborn look and will have more flexibility if I make my own. Thank you so much for the inspiration!