I’ve had the Waldorf-inspired “Creative Play for your Toddler” since before my older child turned two, and would often leaf through its beautiful projects for inspiration: felt animal finger puppets, cloth dolls, tumbling men, crowns and capes, to name a few. While the skills required may seem daunting as you’re starting out to craft, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in making toys for their children. The hobby horse has been long overdue, and it’s great that my kids are as excited about the prospect of a horsie as ever.
We started this project during the Easter long weekend, and have been working on it a bit every weekend since; the last detail was minimal – adding a shoelace rein! – but we officially finished it this weekend. Its features were decided spontaneously as the project progressed and based on what materials and colours we had on hand. Finally we decided on the name “Midnight”, because the horse’s black skin and sparkly blue mane reminded us of stars on a pitch-black sky.
There is a lot of miscellaneous hand-sewing involved: for example, sewing the neck in, or the ear layers, or the eyes to the head. The reason embroidery floss – and not sewing thread – is used is because it is often multi-stranded. The regular DMC floss is 6-stranded, and I have used either 3 or all 6 strands for most of my sewing. The multiple strands make this thread a stronger one to use for structural integrity.
Here is what we used to make Midnight; more or less followed the instructions in the book, but its always nicer to see it done.
1. The head is made by stuffing roving into the sock, and then sticking the dowel through. There is a bit of sewing to get the head to tuck in to the neck. The dowel is stabilized by screwing a nail through the top of sock into the top of the dowel. The mouth is sewn with white embroidery floss.
2. The ears are made of 3 layers, all cut out from an initial template made on tracing paper: black felt (outer ear), cotton batting (for padding) and tan felt (inside of ear). The layers were pinned and sewn together with the amazing blanket stitch (I learnt it from this Youtube video). This stitch is neat because it holds the edges of the fabric in without having to make a hem; it is a staple in the basic arsenal of embroidery stitches.
The three layers of the ear seen from above, sewn in with the blanket stitch.
The blanket stitch front view.
3. The eyes are made from cutout felt, and sewn on using the simplest stitch I could think of (oversewing, I think it’s called?).
4. The hair is made from strands of acrylic wool of a sparkly blue-gray gradient. The method in the book – making figure “8” loops with the thread and then sewing it down before snipping ends of the loop – did not work for me. The result was too scraggly in my hands and the kids managed to pull out strands in one play session. I ended up using the clever method from this Waldorf doll tutorial, which results in a dense line of machine stitches on the stack of strands. It involves sandwiching the yarn strands between two layers of gift tissue paper, so that this “sandwich” can be sewn through with a sewing machine. I created three batches this way and then hand-sewed them on using a long needle from my assorted craft pack.
The horse before the harness. You can the scraggly hair from the first attempt.
4. The harness was made using left-over Xmas gift ribbon, sewn to D-rings. After fitting it on the horse’s snouth, it was sewn to the head fabric on the other end. Finally, bells were sewn on for festive detail. The rein is a single shoelace, tied to a D-ring on either side of the horse’s head.
And there you have it. A horsie to be your steed on magical adventures…
… and if all else fails, very good for affectionately chomping at passersby.