Easy Peg Doll Ideas – How to Make a Ballerina

Easy Peg Doll Ideas - Ballerinas

I find peg dolls are lovely, and I wanted to try to make them, but at the same time, I felt overwhelmed and scared to try. I love drawing, but I am not an expert with a paintbrush and can’t do intricate details. But one day, I decided to give it a shot and bought a bunch of wooden peg dolls to try them out. It wasn’t easy, but I’ve done my best to make simple designs that we can do at home. So if you are looking for easy peg doll ideas, you’ve come to the right place. This peg doll is my favorite design of all (and you’ll see it is very easy): the ballerina.

My daughter loves ballet. She is a tiny ballerina herself. She started dancing when she was three years old, and she hasn’t stopped doing twirls and steps since. One day, she asked if we could make some peg doll Disney princesses (which I didn’t feel capable of doing to start with) and I suggested trying a ballerina instead. She loved the idea. And when she saw me make one and saw the result, her face lit up, and she wanted to create some herself. It was fantastic!

What you will need

To make a ballerina peg doll, you will need the following materials:

  • Plain wooden peg doll
  • Washi tape
  • Scissors
  • 4 Paint colors for the dress, hair, cheeks, and eyes.
  • Paintbrush
  • Varnish
  • Crepe paper streamer
  • Small elastic band

I’ll be showing you how I paint a ballerina peg doll with paints and my tips and tricks to do so. I’ve simplified it as much as I could.

But if you feel overwhelmed with a brush, you can also use acrylic markers to make them. You might find me more comfortable with a marker, and it is quick to dry. These are great, and I use them regularly on wood or pebbles. My daughter prefers creating peg dolls with markers as she feels more in control.

Bring your peg doll ideas to life! Make a ballerina!

As you will see, I will try to make it very easy. But as with any project involving paint, it requires some time. The colors have to dry, so you need to allow some time between coats. But you can have it done within an hour if you want to as the paint doesn’t cover all the doll’s surface, making it much more manageable.

Phase 1: Prepping the doll

The first thing you must do is protect the ballerina’s face and body. By doing so, you’ll have the dress and the hair to paint. For that, I took some washi tape and placed it on the peg doll. I cut three bits of tape:

  1. One traight strip for her legs
  2. A thinner strip with a long triangled for her shoulders and upper part.
  3. One semicircle for her face.

Phase 2: Painting

Once the three bits of tape were in place, I pressed them firmly in place, ensuring that the wrinkles were tight (to try and avoid painting going underneath).

Now the painting process begins! I start by painting the dress. Once I’ve done it, I leave it dry for at least 15-20 minutes. If you were painting white, don’t fret; do a coat and let it dry, and you will see. My white paint looks quite transparent, but you see the white appearing when it dries. So do not worry.

After that first coat at the bottom, I would do the first coat of the hair. Since we have tape at the bottom, it will be easier to hold, and you could actually paint the dress and the hair simultaneously if you wanted. Then, again, paint it as you did the bottom and let it dry for at least 30 minutes (so you ensure it is dry). 

I always recommend at least two coats of paint for colors (3 coats for white). I repeated the process of painting the dress first and the hair afterward. Allow drying for at least 20 minutes.

If you are happy with the level of color, you can leave the painting here. You can always do a third coat if you wish. It is up to you.

Phase 3: Adding details

Now is the time for the finishing touches. First of all, it is washi tape removal time. Remove the washi tape by unsticking a corner, and the rest will follow. But make sure the doll is dry so that the paint won’t smudge to the protected area. Now you’ll have a figure with a colored body and hair framing its face.

Next, add the eyes. I keep it very simple and add two dots. I used to make mine with paint markers because I felt more precise than using a paintbrush. Acrylic markers or sharpies can sometimes bleed into the woodgrain. I recommend making it very small and gentle. The smaller, the better because there is less risk of bleeding. Feel free to use your tool of choice.

But, I tried something different last time that I feel works much better – paint with the handle of the paintbrush. I took a thin brush and dipped the tip of the handle gently into some black paint. I tested pressure on a piece of paper, and when I was happy, I was ready for the doll. I marked the eyes with the end of the brush handle. (You could even mark where you would like the eyes to go before with a pencil). Perfect eyes and no bleeding.

For the ballerinas, I like adding some rosy cheeks. Repeat the process done for the eyes but with pink paint. I think they look lovely.

Finally, with the same technique, you can add final details, like decoration on the hair as if it were a headband or some dots at the border of the dress. Do what you feel like and have fun!

I have not explored the options of adding a bun, but it is something you can do by gluing a pom pom or a wooden bead. Maybe we’ll explore this route some other time.

Phase 4: Varnish

Varnishing is an essential step if you use acrylic paint. If you skip it, your doll will likely get dirty and lose its color quickly. Trust me, I know. 

Just give it a coat of varnish with your paintbrush, and it will be dry in 15 minutes and ready to play.

Phase 5: Make the tutu

Ah! The final touch and probably the most fun part of the ballerina, her tutu skirt. To make it I use a crepe paper streamer, scissors, and a small rubber band.

  1. I cut approximately the length of an A4 paper (the wide part).
  2. I start cutting tiny slits that go from the border to the center of the streamer. Cut approximately 1cm apart.
  3. Repeat on the other side of the streamer, making sure you don’t coincide two cuts from each side as you cut the paper in half.
  4. Once done, wrap the doll’s body with the streamer and place a tiny rubber band on the center.
  5. Time to fluff the skirt! Bring to top flaps down to the center, and the bottom flaps up to the center. Fluff it and style it as you like.

And voilà, you have your ballerina doll!

Vary it and make it more personal

As you can see, I’ve kept the design extremely simple but yet recognizable. You can make it as complex as you want and add more details or make the current ones different. To personalize it further, you could:

  • Paint the ballerina’s skin
  • Make different style eyes
  • Add a mouth
  • Paint different hairlines
  • Add details to the dress
  • Paint the bottom part as if they were here ballet shoes
  • And you can combine dresses and skirts of many colors
  • Add a bun with a pompom or with wooden bead

Honestly, the sky is the limit. You can search Pinterest for more inspiration. There are fantastic creations out there that are just wonderful.

Let your little one take part!

This design is a straightforward one. If you prep the peg doll correctly and ensure the washi tape is well stuck and secure, they can paint the dress and the hair. 

My 5 year old daughter preferred taking matters into her own hands and taking my doll as a reference; she went full creative and made all of these combinations.

I can assure you they will have a great time doing this with you. If you’d like some tips on how to prep for children to paint at home, you can check out this article. 

What can you do with your doll?

Peg dolls are not supposed to be toys for under 3-year-olds, and they usually serve more decorative purposes. They may chip if played roughly with them, but I don’t mind. I make them for them to play and have fun.

You can use them to decorate….

Or make them part of small world play creating a stage for them…

And you could even recreate costumes of famous ballets, like Swan Lake, for example.

They are nice to have around to spark some creative play.

I suggest you avoid any play that might get the peg doll wet or moist. For example, do not use it to play in the tub or any water play or play with water beads. They will very likely lose their paint and get ruined.

Easy peg doll ideas: a great way to start

Once you start painting peg dolls, you will probably get hooked. This one is straightforward but fantastic to have around if your child loves all things about ballet at the moment. 

Honestly, seeing her get creative, excited, and proud with her results is priceless. It was a nice moment that makes me smile when I see one of our ballerinas around the house. I hope you will have fun creating them too!

By the way, if your little one is also passionate about ballet, you might want to check these books about ballet that they will love 😉 

Happy creating & playing!

P.S. And if you want to explore other easy peg doll ideas check these out as well! 😉

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