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How to Make a Spool Doll

Lockridge enjoys reading and writing about new (and sometimes old) craft and decoration ideas.

Don't forget to remove the stickers from the ends of your spools, it makes it easier to pass the cord through the spool.

Don't forget to remove the stickers from the ends of your spools, it makes it easier to pass the cord through the spool.

A Fun Rainy Day Craft

Do you enjoy experimenting with old-fashioned or upcycled crafts? Made primarily from empty thread spools, spool dolls are the perfect craft for a child with an active imagination. You can leave the dolls naturally colored, or paint them to make a shirt-and-pants set.

Creating spool dolls is a great rainy day type of activity, one that allows you and your children to make something out of nothing in a relatively short time frame. If you don’t have any spare wooden spools in the house, scope the craft stores for a variety of different shapes and sizes for the wooden pieces.

The most difficult part of the spool doll-making process is deciding which colors to use, and then deciding when to stop making the dolls (they're just so much fun!).

Materials You'll Need

One 1-inch ball knob

Ten 3/4-inch by 5/8-inch wooden spools



Six 12 mm wooden beads

Tape measure

Permanent Markers

28-inches of cording

Hot glue gun with glue



  • Sketch a face onto the large ball knob with a pencil. Ensure that the flat side of the ball is pointed downward. Include facial features such as eyes, mouth, and hair.
  • Fill in the marking with permanent markers.
  • Color the wooden spools with permanent markers to match your overall color scheme. For example, if you want your doll to be wearing a red shirt and blue pants, color five of the spools red and five of the spools blue.
  • Color two of the wooden beads the same color as the doll’s pants and color two of the beads a dark brown or black to represent shoes. Leave the two remaining balls natural color to represent hands.
  • Measure 18 inches up the cord and make a cut. This should leave one piece of cording 18 inches long and the other piece 10-inches long.
  • Fold the 18-inch piece of cording in half, thread one of the shirt spools through the bottom of the cording, and position it about one inch from the top loop. Thread one of the pants pieces right below the shirt spools.
  • Spread the bottom of the cording outward to make the legs of the doll. Slide a spool up each piece of the cord followed by a color pants-colored bead. Position another pants’ colored spool up each piece of cording, followed by the shoe-colored bead.
  • Tie a loose knot at the end of the legs and set it aside.
  • Tie a knot at one end of the 10-inch piece of cording. Thread the natural bead on first, followed by the four remaining shirt-colored spools and the final natural bead.
  • Thread the completed 10-inch cording through the loop formed at the top of the 18-inch cording piece. Center the arms of the doll through the loop, leaving enough room at the top of the loop for the doll's head. Knot the ends off and trim away excess cording.
  • Even up the legs on the doll and center them as needed on the cording. Knot off the legs and trim any excess cording off.
  • Glue the top doll head to the middle shirt spool with the hot glue gun. Hold the head in place until the glue sets.


Alter the size and number of the beads to suit your preferences. Just make sure that the cording can fit through the holes in the spools and the beds.


The Complete Photo Guide to Doll Making by Nancy Hoerner (2010)

© 2011 Diane Lockridge