Finished Project: Matryoshka Dolls

This may be the dorkiest photo I’ll ever take, with my handmade Matryoshki mixed in with a bunch of the real deal. We’ve got bucketloads of them in the house, so I couldn’t NOT use them in a photo.

My sister and her husband had a few dolls already from his parents (who live in Russia) and when J and A travelled there earlier this year, they brought back more, including two of these which they bought for me. The tall red one on the left is mine as well as the shorter black one also on the left. (The only one I left out of the photo is one my sister bought which was painted to feature various members of the Calgary Flames hockey team.)

Anyway, there are 7 handmade felt Matryoshki in there, which are all just a tiny bit different, but are mostly the same. I had loosely planned to use different patterns on each of the bellies of the “girl” dolls, but I don’t have good software anymore on my computer for editing photos and I couldn’t seem to get anything the right size to fit (and I’m not very good at drawing by hand), so they’re all matching.

And I couldn’t decide what to put on the bellies of the boy dolls at all – you just don’t see male Matryoshka that often, and most of what I have seem have been political rather than folk art style – so they only got to have ties. (Which is a little funny, since neither my dad nor my brother in law wear ties with any regularity. Of course, none of the women in my house wear aprons either, even while cooking, and arguably that’s what those white patches are.)

A family of Matryoshka dolls

The embroidery on these was very simple, I did everything in a split stitch except for a few French knots in the flowers and for the cheeks. (I did one set of cheeks using a satin stitch, but found it pretty difficult to achieve a decent circle, so I went with three French knots for all the rest.)

Stitched Names

I stitched the name of the recipient on the back of each doll using… a back stitch? or a running stitch? I forget what it’s called, except on Alex and my dad’s where I used a split stitch. My own doesn’t stand out very much, somehow the white doesn’t pop against that lime green. Maybe I should redo it in black. Hmm. Anyway, they all look a bit like they were written by a child, but I found it incredibly difficult to draw names onto the felt with a chalk pencil. Any sort of curved letter came out a little more wonky than I’d hoped, but I sort of like the look anyway.

There’s a part of me that wants to try making dolls that are a little more like the real thing, with a different coloured head scarf above the dress and more involved patterns on the bellies. Or maybe make a series of different sized ones, starting larger and ending up smaller, with the kind of design variation you usually see on the different dolls in the nest. But I’m trying to let the idea go before I run out of people to make and give these to!

Anyway, these seven dolls are all made with 100% wool felt and DMC emroidery floss. They’re all about 5 inches high and about 3 inches wide across the widest part of the belly. The pattern came from this tutorial at My Sparkle. I used my own pattern for hair for the male dolls, and the ties.


6 thoughts on “Finished Project: Matryoshka Dolls”

  1. So incredibly precious. The whole family came out just great! Did you use braided floss for the hanging loops?

    1. Thanks so much! I did braid floss for hanging them – I was going to use ribbon but everything I had was too wide for doing a good blanket stitch around (though I guess I could have folded it?) and I only could find pink and green, so floss worked out pretty good.

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