Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Don't worry, be happy! How to make your own Guatemalan worry doll.

I've been excited to share this project for weeks. Worry dolls are an ingenious Guatemalan craft that help ease troubles of parents and children who are working together to cope with stress associated with sickness and poverty . The idea is to make a likeness of the child and place it under their pillow at night. The belief is that the doll will take away the worry or sickness as they sleep. Like a dream catcher the act of making the craft is soothing. The project fits in perfectly with the library's summer theme - One World, Many Voices. I began the workshop by retelling the folklore story about how the craft of making worry dolls began, I found a great resource at this site

With a group of almost a hundred preregistered children we set up supplies in separate stations around the room to fully utilize the space and avoid congestion.

To stop heads from rolling four 10 mm beads are separated into cups. The multicultural chenille stems are a must, we ordered them from Dick Blick.

This is the clothing table, fabric is cut to 2 1/4" x 4" strips, colorful yard for tying and scissors. We had another table filled with an array of hair choices that included: yarn, embroidery floss, and wool roving in an assortment of colors. The last stop was lidded jewelry boxes with colored paper tape and adhesive dots.

After collecting all the materials the first step is to wrap the hair of choice five times around your fingertips.
Slip the hair off your fingertips and trap it in the crook of a folded chenille stem.

This sample shows a pinch of roving caught in the fold. Slide the bead head up over chenille stem ends so that it rests under the hair.

Here are three dolls ready with embroidery floss hair and heads.

To form the legs and arms, fold up the length of the chenille ends so they extend above the hair. The folded ends will become the feet and the ends will fold down at the neck to become the arms. Fold over the very end of the arms to shorten their length and shape hands.

 Every child was encouraged to make a set of four dolls to showcase a variety of skin tones and hair color.

To clothe your doll wrap the fabric scrap under the dolls arms use a length of brightly colored yarn to wrap and tie it in place.

This young artist was using the yarn to make the clothing, he just kept on wrapping.

To make pants cut the fabric piece in half wrap and tie them around each leg. With a fold and a snip this doll ended up with a nifty felt shirt.

Fancy braided hair is held in place with yarn bows.

This doll was being tucked into bed, shhhh....

Decorating the boxes, was almost as fun as making the dolls. I was so pleased that the boys enjoyed this project almost as much as the girls. Wishing you all worry free days of happy crafting!


  1. I absolutely loved this tutorial. Easy to follow and the pictures were a wondersul addition. Thank You!

  2. Hi, please visit my blog
    and blog to my child Inês:
    We di the worry Dolls whith your tutorial. And I recomend your blog in mine. Bye. Celeste from Coimbra portugal

  3. I would like to invite you to join me at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!

    I hope you can make it!
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  4. "multicultural chenille stems" - fml

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