Easy Clothespin Worry Dolls (Handmade Tradition)

Make your own version of the traditional Mayan worry doll. These adorable dolls are easy to make and perfect for anxious little ones!

Clothespin Worry Dolls | Homan at Home
Clothespin Worry Dolls

My mom introduced me to the idea of worry dolls when I was very little. I was always a anxious sort of kid, and the legend around this little doll is that you can whisper your worries to them, place them under your pillow, and the doll does your worrying for you while you sleep peacefully. I made so many of these. Like so many. They’re easy, and I loved to whisper to them and feel the difficult emotions lift. 

I had kind of forgotten about them until my son started showing the same personality quirks as I did. He’s a worrier, and talking to him reminded me of these little trouble dolls, and that feeling of letting the worry go. I figured we’d give it a try. 

Why you want this craft:

  • simple craft
  • good for elementary students, tweens, and teens
  • perfect for anxious kiddos
  • excellent for cultural exploration
  • versatile hand-made dolls 

Did you know?

The origin of the muñeca quitapena, or worry doll, is Mayan tradition. According to Guatemalan legend, the beautiful Mayan Princess Ixmucane was tasked with creating and caring for humans. She noticed that the humans tended to have many problems and worries, so she petitioned the Sun God, Kinich Ahau, for help for her people. The Sun God granted her the ability to solve any human problem. Eventually, she turned herself in to doll rocks in order to protect her people even better. 

Those rocks transformed over time to very small dolls made from colorful textile leftovers. Which is why Guatemalan artisans still embroider intricate patterns into doll’s clothing to make these Guatemalan worry dolls!


  • Peg Clothespins: I like the ones that have the flat bottoms because then your doll can stand up. The other kind has angled ends, which look really cute because they’re just like little feet, but then the doll can’t stand up. Both work for this. 
  • Embroidery Thread:  A set of worry dolls in the traditional Mayan style would use vivid colors to brighten the worrier’s day. You can feel free to mimic that with vibrant colors!  You will need 2-3 colors: one for the shirt, one for the pants or skirt, and one for the hair. 
  • Sharpie: The Sharpie is used to draw a face on the clothespin. You can use any color you’d like, and you an even omit a face to create a different style! 
  • Glue: You can use Elmer’s glue. If you’re worried about things sticking, you can use hot glue as well. 
  • Scissors: You can use safety scissors for this craft as long as they are sharp enough to cut the embroidery thread. 


Step 1 | Make the Shirt

To make the shirt, put a dab of glue right under the peg head of the clothespin and press the end of the embroidery thread into it. Then, wind the thread around the clothespin, making each wind lie flat against the other until you’re about a 1/4 inch from the split. 

If you’re making a dress, you can continue like this, but if you’re planning a contrasting bottom, you can cut your thread and glue it it to the back of the doll.

Clothespin Worry Dolls | Homan at Home

Step 2 | Make Pants or Skirt

For a skirt: Put a dab of glue right under where your shirt stopped. Press the new color thread into the glue, then wind it around the entire clothespin just like you did the shirt. Keep winding until your skirt is the length you want it. To finish, cut your thread, then glue it to the doll.

For pants or shorts: Put a dab of glue right under where your shirt stopped. Press the new color thread into the glue, then wind it around the the entire clothes pin until you get to the split. When you hit the split, wrap the thread around one side of the split. Finish that side by cutting the thread and glueing it to the doll. 

Start the other leg by glueing the thread to the doll and wrapping it around the remaining leg. When it is level with the other leg, finish it off and glue the end. 

Step 3 | Make the Face

You can make eyes (or a whole face if you want) with a Sharpie on the front of the head. Just be aware that most Sharpies will bleed a bit on the wood, so smaller is better. You can always make the features bigger later!

Step 4 | Make the Hair

Then comes the hair, which is easily the hardest part. 

For the boys, I cut very small pieces of thread, and fuzzed them up. I put glue all over the doll’s head, then rolled him in the fuzz. 

Clothespin Worry Dolls | Homan at Home

This gives you a kind of tousled look, which I liked. 

For the girl doll, I wrapped thread around my fingers.

When I felt like I had enough, I tied the thread together with a small piece of thread and cut off the end. Then I cut across the bottom of the loop. I smeared glue all over the doll’s head and pressed the thread into it. 

Clothespin Worry Dolls | Homan at Home

And all that’s left is to style it! and just in case you were wondering, I was not trying for an Ariel vibe with this one, I just let my kids pick the colors and that’s what they wanted.

Step 5 | Whisper Your Worries Away!

Once your doll has dried completely, you can whisper your worried to it, put it under your pillow, and let those worries fly away!

(Visited 9,541 times, 1 visits today)

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.