It's fascinating to think about the origins of items that are now common in our holiday culture. Today, Maker Team member Katie of @katie_kinsman_artist is honoring the traditional Dala Horse with a new felt verison. This tutorial is adaptable to many skill levels and is certain to be a success with Katie as our teacher!
Dala Horses have become a symbol for the country of Sweden. They are brightly painted wooden horses originating from the Swedish province of Dalarna. Many of us are familiar with the bright red horse with floral designs covering its surface. To honor my own Swedish heritage, I’ve created a felt Christmas ornament inspired by this beautiful symbol!
Skill Level: Intermediate
Time: 2 - 3 hours
NOTE: One 9 x 12" piece of wool felt will make one Dala Horse. The leftover felt from each of the horses can be used for decoration of the others.
1. Download and print the Dala Horse patterns above. Cut out pattern and trace onto appropriate felt colors. Cut out the two body pieces and four legs for the horse.
2. Sew together a leg of the horse. Start at the top of the leg and sew toward the bottom. Add a bit of stuffing inside the leg and gently push down. Sew or glue the bottom onto the leg and finish stuffing. Repeat for the remaining legs and set aside.
3. Cut a 3/4 x 14" piece of felt that will be sewn around the body of the horse. This is more easily done using a ruler and a pen than with a pattern piece. Cut two pieces of felt and sew them together. See diagram in pattern for layout.
4. Use a whip stitch or blanket stitch to sew the long strip to one of the two horse body pieces. Begin sewing at the bottom of the body as indicated in the pattern, roughly between where the back two legs will be attached.
When you are about 1/2" from the end, stop and do a little trim and glue work. Add a few stitches to secure the piece in place.
5. Use pins to attach the second horse body piece at the ears and face of the first. Take special care around the ears and face. Take your time! This is undoubtedly the most “fiddly” part of this tutorial!
6. After sewing the ears and face, use a stuffing stick to begin adding small pieces of stuffing into the head and neck of the horse. This makes getting stuffing into these smaller areas much easier!
7. Continue sewing horse body closed while adding stuffing. About 1/2" from closing the body, make sure the stuffing it to your liking. Add more, if necessary.
8. Use two strands pearl cotton and a large embroidery needle to sew the harness to the face of the horse. Enter the center of the mane and sew the reins onto the horse. These knots will be hidden under the mane of the horse when completed.
9. The legs of the horse can now be glued on. Be sure to glue the front and back legs in the proper position. Add glue to the circular tops of the leg, as well as the inside with the stuffing. Pin the legs into place to help them dry in the correct position. Set the horse aside to dry thoroughly. If you used pins to hold the legs in place, remove them before the glue dries completely.
Most of the work in the following steps (the mane, saddle, harness straps, and tail, with all their decoration) can be accomplished using glue. For those who wish to use a needle and thread for the decorative elements, use a #10 needle with two strands of embroidery floss. Additional colors of floss, embroidery, applique and personalized elements can all be added to further decorate your Dala Horse!
10. Cut the large saddle, two harness straps, mane, and tail pieces from White felt. 10mm scalloped shears can be used in this step. Cut the two small saddle pieces and tear-drop shaped pieces from smaller scraps of felt.
11. Fold the two small V cuts in the mane and sew together with a single strand of thread. They can also be glued, but will require time to dry completely before adding sequins or felt decorations.
12. Glue together the three saddle pieces, as well as the tear drop shapes onto the mane. Be sure to use enough glue to secure these pieces so they will not come apart.
13. Add beads and sequins to the saddle, mane and harness straps. If you are using glue, a toothpick can be quite helpful in placing the small elements.
14. Glue the mane to the horse. It helps to hold these glued elements in place with your hand for a few seconds to make sure they are secure. Pins can also be used. Glue the long harness strap around the chest next and then the stomach strap. The last piece to be glued is the completed saddle. Hold it in place as you did the mane. Use pins if needed.
Once the horse is completely dry, you can add a loop for hanging! Thread an embroidery needle with either white pearl cotton or metallic Diamant thread to create the loop to hang your finished ornament. I hope you have as much fun creating your own unique Dala Horse as I had designing this pattern for you!