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How to Make Kamibashi String Dolls

Updated April 17, 2017

Kamibashi string dolls are cute characters made entirely out of string, or embroidery thread, and pipe cleaners. Originating in Thailand, where they are made under a government program to provide work for people living in remote communities, they have become highly collectable items that are also simple to make at home. Traditionally, Kamibashi string dolls are said to bring love and good fortune to everyone who owns one, and they are small enough for use as either cell phone charms or key fobs.

Cut the pipe cleaner into three 2-inch-long sections, then twist two of the lengths into an X shape. Hook one end of the remaining section around the middle of the X; this will form the head. The pipe cleaner will look like a five-pointed star with one of the points being slightly longer than the others.

Wind embroidery thread around the left leg, starting from the middle of the X, then wind back up again. When you reach the middle again, wind down the left arm of the string doll, then back to the middle. Wrap the two remaining limbs in the same way using the same thread skein. As you wrap, occasionally put a spot of glue on the string to help prevent unravelling. Finish the limb-wrapping back at the centre of the body.

Wrap the remainder of the first skein up the head, then back down. Repeat this process until the first skein is used up and the head is about the size of an almond.

Use both the remaining thread skeins to wrap the head of the Kamibashi string doll. Wrap in random directions to create a large, ball-shaped head. Add the odd drop of glue on the wrapping to help secure the string and keep it tight.

Create clothes for the string doll by wrapping the arms and legs again with different colours of embroidery thread to represent trousers and a top. Sew or glue small buttons onto the head for eyes, and sew or glue a smiley mouth in red thread.

Tip

Small pieces of craft felt can also be used to create clothes, and yarn can be stitched onto the head for hair.

Warning

Supervise children when they are using scissors.

Things You'll Need

  • 3 skeins embroidery thread
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Scissors
  • Craft glue
  • Sewing needle
  • Embroidery thread oddments
  • Small buttons
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About the Author

Deborah Jones started her freelance writing career in 1990. Her work has appeared in The Writer's Forum, "Reader's Digest" and numerous D.C. Thomson magazines. Jones has a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and a postgraduate certificate in education, both from the University of Derby.