Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lucky Little Leprechaun! (Thread-wrapped Miniature Doll Tutorial)

As I have mentioned previously, I have a mad love affair with miniatures. 
Itty Bitty ANYTHING makes me happy...okay, giddy!
This litte leprechaun is a perfect example!

I call him "Smijjin O'Toole" just fits. 
He is about 1-1/2" tall, give or take a tad. I made it as a Good Luck charm for the upcoming year...having my own leprechaun couldn't hurt, right?!! It can be a pocket-charm or you can add a jumpring to wear it on a necklace. 

It is crafted by creating a wire armature, then wrapping evenly with fine weight yarn or embroidery thread, then creating clothing using colored thread/yarn, and accessories such as his hat. I chose to leave his face blank so he has the ability to create whatever magic he needs with the appropriate expressions!


20 or 22 gauge wire 
(I used copper color, but silver or any color is fine to use)

Deborah Norville Collection "Serenity" yarn
(sample uses cream color for armature & skin tone and uses varigated color yarn cut apart to make shirt & pants colors)

Embroidery thread in assorted colors 
(hair, hat & shoes)

Scrap piece of Chenile Stem (pipe-cleaner) for hat

Tacky Craft Glue (Aleene's® Fast Dry works great)

Nail Polish: Green for Lucky Clover & Glittery Green for a top glaze


Small Sharp Scissors

Wire Cutters or Heavy Duty Scissors 

Work Surface or Plastic Tray to contain project


1.  Take a 5" (inch) piece of wire and bend in half, keeping a rounded fold (top of head).

2.  Squeeze just under the bend to form a neck area. 

3.  Twist to secure.

4. Continue twisting to form the torso. The ends become the legs. 

5.  Take a 3" (inch) piece of wire (for the arms) and lay behind the torso just under the head. 

6.  Wrap one side of wire around the torso to secure. 

7.  Repeat with the opposite side wire to secure. 

8.  I used Deborah Norville Collection "Serenity" yarn to wrap the wire armature. You can also use embroiderery thread in flesh tone or any color of your choice. 

9.  Place a small line of glue along the lower half of arm, then lay yarn/thread across wire and begin wrapping tightly in place, covering wire, leaving 1/8" of the wire end open (DO NOT CUT THREAD), then carefully bend wire inward towards body (creating a tiny loop as the hand) with the thread still attached. 

10.  Place a tiny spot of glue on the thread and wire then continue wrapping up the arm. Overlap the thread as you are wrapping if you find that the limb is too  skinny. When you get to the top of arm, end the wrap on back side and place a small spot of glue, then secure the thread/yarn and cut off. 

11.  After cutting the thread, place a tiny spot of glue on top of the cut end then use your clean finger to swipe across the glue and thread end to press flat in place. The glue will dry clear and will help to hold other wraps in place for additional security. 

(You can see from this photo above, that the arm is a bit thick...thicker then I like actually...I had forgotten to take photos of this part of my original leprechaun and had to make a re-do so I could show you details, so the arm is not accurate for what the finished doll is.)

12.  Repeat wrapping on opposite arm, then take thread up to neck area (no need to cut the thread after finishing the second arm), and wrap up neck to top of head. Place small dot of glue on top of head to keep thread from rolling off. Swipe your clean finger across glue to spread and cover threads to secure. 

13.  Continue wrapping thread to create a full oval head shape, then place small dot of glue on back of head, secure thread in place then trim off. Apply additional glue across back of head and swipe with a clean finger to spread glue across threads to secure in place.

14.  Wrap legs as done for the arms, leaving a larger bend/loop at the end for the feet. 

15.  Place a small dot of glue above bend for foot and continue wrapping up leg. 

17.  Finish off thread end at back side of top of leg. 

18.  Wrap opposite leg then continue wrapping up torso to fill out to the size you desire. Mine is a svelt leprechaun but you can create a pot-bellied leprechaun if you prefer!

19.  You can see from this photo (above) that it would be really easy to transform the body into a scary "Mummy" for Halloween! Just leave some threads hanging in various places and voila!

20.  These varigated yarns from Deborah Norville Collection® Premier yarns are ideal for making thread wrapped doll clothing. You can cut the colors into separate pieces as needed and get a huge palette of colors to choose from at a fraction of the cost of buying multiple skeins of yarn colors. They have cool muted tones as well as bright jewel tones that give a different look than the embroidery thread colors offer. 

(*Sorry I forgot to take a photo beginning to wrap the shirt!) 

21.  To wrap the shirt, start with securing the thread with a dot of glue at the back of the torso. Wrap evenly to the shoulder area, then wrap a few criss-cross times across the chest/back areas to hide the armature wrapping that may be showing through. Do not cut the thread just take it over to an arm and wrap down to the length you want the sleeve to be, then wrap back up the arm for a second layer of color. Now take the thread across the upper body (in the easiest most diguisable place) and begin wrapping the opposite arm down to the corresponding sleeve length, and back up to the top, then glue off the end at the back of arm/torso area

Even before he has his pants and hair, I can tell he's a feisty lil guy! 

22.  Wrap pants by gluing the end of thread as an anchor point at back of torso just below the bottom edge of shirt, then wrap upper pants to cover armature, then begin to wrap down the leg to length desired. Be sure to leave room for boots/shoes.

He is starting to come together!

23.  To make his boots, first take your thread (color of choice) and with a tiny anchor point of glue at bottom of (bent) foot, then taking it across the toe with a dot of glue on the toe; allow to dry for 2-3 minutes, then continue wrapping around foot up to the shoe/boot height you desire.

These leprechaun boots are made for walkin'!!

24. To make curls for your leprechaun's hair and beard, wet the embroidery thread and wrap around a toothpick then allow to dry completely. 

25.  Slide dry curls off toothpick for soft supple curls. If you want stiffer curls, you can put a bit of liquid starch on the embroidery thread, but it gets pretty stiff. 

26.  Cut curls into small pieces (approx 1/8" - 1/4" long) for my leprechaun boy...but if you want to make a girl, cut the curls longer.

27.  Place a generous amount of glue on head in the place you want hair to be. I generally start with 2 or 3 strands at the top of head framing the face for "bangs". Then I add a strand or two to each side of the face. From there, fill in the back and top of head, nestling the curls snuggly with the glue tighly next to each other so you hide the head underneath. 

28.  Make sure that no white "scalp" shows through on your leprechaun's head...we don't want a balding fellow, do we?? 

29.  As you can clearly see, Smijjin O'Toole has magically appeared with a beard...Sometime during the wee midnight hours, it just appeared on his face! 
Okay, maybe his beard didn't just appear...maybe I forgot to take photos of gluing those teensy weensy curls to his chin? But isn't it more fun to think it grew all by itself? 

30.  The tophat begins with a scrap of cotton chenile stem. Fold over 1/8" of the stem end. Put a small dot of glue to anchor the end of thread that will cover the tip of the top of the tophat. *When you wrap wire or chenille stems it is very difficult to hide the exposed end, so it is important to hide it as best as possible when you begin, such as is done here. 

31.  Wrap tip of chenille stem approx 3/16" (size of a matchstick head), adding a swipe of glue to secure it. Continue wrapping to create a tophat shape or you can make a different style as your imagination leads you.

32.  To make the brim of hat, begin wrapping thread at base of tophat wrapping on chenille stem, then add thin line of glue along each round of the thread that is wrapped upon itself (applied with a toothpick) to build up the tophat brim. Approx 3 or 4 rounds should be enough to create a nice brim. Cut of the thread, securing in place with an extra swipe of glue with a clean finger, if necessary.

33.  To add a hat band to your tophat, pick a color and glue an anchor point to the back of tophat just above the brim. Wrap twice and glue at back to secure in place. 

34.  Using metallic gold embroidery thread cut 4 small pieces (1/16" each) then glue in place to form a "buckle" on the hat band.

35.  Cut tophat off of chenille stem.

36.  Decide where you want to place your hat on the leprechaun. 

37.  Place a small puddle of glue on head to attach hat.

38.  Attach hat to head and press firmly to secure. Set aside to dry.
I also added a stripe to his shirt. Just one wrap of a contrasting color to add some character to his clothing. 

To make the Lucky 4-Leaf Clover:
Using 22 gauge wire, wrap a loop around a tootpick 

Holding the two wire ends, twist to form a loop.

Continue twisting for 3 full twists to secure. *Wire can break easily if it is bent back and forth, so twist, do not bend back and forth.

Remove the loop from toothpick and repeat the process to create a second loop and twist to secure. 

Repeat the process until you have 4 loops, then bring the two wire ends together, gathering the 4 loops together forming them into a clover shape with petals evenly spaced apart. Twist the wire ends together as you hold firmly to the top 4 loops, making one stem.

Gather green nail polish and some glittery green for enhancement on top, if you like it. *Old thick nail polish works best but you can definitely use new polish as well.  I have a 3-leaf clover above, but 4-leaf clovers are thought to be the lucky ones.

With your nail polish brush draw the polish across the wire loops one at a time. The polish will grab onto the wire frame of each loop and fill in the middle. If your loops are really large, make sure to be touching both sides of the loop wire so the polish will grab, otherwise the polish will not grab the framework and fill it in. This is why the thicker polish works best, it grabs the wire framework. 

Using embroidery thread, wrap the wire "stem" to cover with green.  Anchor it with a small amount of glue on the wire. 

Continue wrapping on glue covered wire to secure it firmly in place.

Attach the lucky 4-leaf Clover by tying it snuggly to leprechaun's arm with green embroidery thread to match the stem wrapping. Tie a knot on the back side, then trim and place a tiny amount of glue on knot end to keep from coming untied. Coil up the stem end by wrapping a few times around a toothpick to give it a cute curl.


Your Luck has Arrived in Adorable Style!!

Be sure to let me know what you think about the project in the comments below and post photos of your creations, I would LOVE to see them!!! 

With Big Sugarplum Hugs!

Happy Crafting!!


  1. Awesome tutorial, thanks! You are so very crafty, I love to follow your next adventure