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Yuletide Dream Dolls: Homemade Warming Pillows

Yuletide Dream Dolls are sweet-smelling warming pillows perfect for cold winter nights! I was inspired to make them after seeing DIY flaxseed and lavender warming pillows all over the interwebs. I combined it with the old tradition of placing lavender (for good sleep), rosemary (for inspired dreams) and cinnamon (for psychic intuition) in one's pillowcase on the night of the winter solstice. It was a way to put dreams for the new year into motion and welcome renewal after the year's longest night.

These dolls are fab all winter long tucked in your pillowcase or at your feet. Heat them in a microwave or place near a heat source. We place ours next to the wood stove to get her toasty. Flaxseed is perfect for a warming pillow because the oil in the seeds holds heat really well. Or -- another awesome purpose -- place them in the freezer for 45 minutes to soothe a fever.

This is the first time we've ever made a doll (and we are not experienced at sewing!). If you've never sewn, this is totally doable. If you are good at sewing, please make a super tricked out one and send us a tutorial!


Hand puppet (made from canvas or thick fabric)

Embroidery thread + needles

Fabric paint*


Flaxseeds (whole)

Dried lavender


Dried Rosemary

Funnel (for filling your doll)

*If you'll be microwaving your doll, be sure the paint is microwave safe. I've written to the company whose paint I've been using to make sure there are no metal ingredients. I will update this post when I have more information.


We started with a pre-made canvas hand puppet (affiliate link) because, you know, the lack of sewing skills. Keep in mind that you need to start with a thick, tightly woven fabric for the body because of the weight of the flaxseeds (and so the cinnamon stays inside the doll).

Draw the face with pencil. We made a stencil for the eyes.

Embroider the face. We used simple stitches with two strands of the embroidery thread. If you've never embroidered before, it's not difficult. I find it very relaxing and fun, actually. You can practice a few shapes on some scrap fabric and an embroidery hoop, and you'll quickly get the hang of it. You could also draw the face with fabric pens or paint. Additionally, these could be faceless like a Waldorf doll.

I used a backstitch for the outlines and a fill stitch inside the lips and cheeks.

You can embroider the dress or paint it with fabric paint. You can also sew on a lace collar or add ribbons. Only use soft materials so she's cuddly (and microwavable). We decorated the front of the doll and left the back plain.

My daughter is too young for embroidery, but the painting was a great way to include her in the project.

I used a running stitch to attach the ribbon belt.

Using a funnel, fill the doll's body about halfway with flaxseed. Then a few spoonfuls of lavender, cinnamon and rosemary. Then fill the doll up most of the way with flax, but don't totally fill it yet so it's easier to sew.

This kitten loves art projects.

Sew up the base of the hand puppet, leaving an opening that will fit the spout of your funnel. Then, finish filling the doll and sew the base completely shut. We doubled the thread to secure the seam.

For the hair, wrap yarn around a DVD case or piece of cardboard. Tape one side of the case to secure the yarn. Clip the yarn along one end of the DVD case and peel the tape.

Draw a pencil line from the hairline on the doll's forehead to the base of the neck. Take 3 or 4 strands of yarn and sew them securely to the head, following the pencil line, moving your way down the back of the head. I add a second layer of yarn to the front of the face to add extra fullness.

To cover the thread, you can pull yarn from one side to the other -- criss crossing the ends of the same strand of yarn over the seam. This makes it look more like real hair.

Secure the hair into ponytails on the sides of the face. I used embroidery thread, looped twice around the hair and secured it with a knot.

Anything handmade is special, but my daughter helped make these dolls, which really brought it to another level. She is over the moon about them! It made me realize how Christmas morning must have been epic in olden times when everything was handmade with love!

Wishing you and your loved ones sweet dreams that come true in the new year!



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