My Journey to make the Bernie Sanders Mitten Doll!

Posted by Rebecca Reed on

By now everyone has seen the viral crochet Bernie doll from Tobey Time Crochet, and I wanted to get in on the fun. Having never made a doll before, I was initially nervous but thought it would be the perfect way to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. I documented my progress, the problems I had, and the time I took to make my doll (more on that later). 

Here we go!

First I gathered my materials! I used worsted weight, acrylic yarn for this project and tried to use the exact colors in the pattern as much as I could. I used 2.75mm and 3.25mm hooks.

I'm so excited! 30 minutes in and I have Bernie's little torso! I like to time new pieces so that I have an idea how long they will take me if I want to recreate them in the future. 

I'm about an hour in and he's looking human! I also just learned how to make the cutest little shoe ever!

1.5 hours of intense focus and I needed a break! The next step starts the mittens, which use a stitch I've never tried before. I decided to come back the next morning when my mind was fresh. 

Next morning! Ok the waistcoat stitch looked pretty challenging so I decided to do a practice swatch (I highly recommend this). That way I wouldn't have to worry about learning the new stitch AND color changing AND shaping AND following instructions.  I watched some youtube videos and found some bright colors to practice with. 

Looking pretty good! The waistcoat stitch is supposed to look like knit. It's good enough to try on the mittens now. 

My first mitten was... 4 out of 10. Not great, but at least it's recognizable as Bernie's mitten. I decide to try the second one and if I improve a lot I'll trash this practice one and make a third. 

The second mitten came out as well as the first, so I guess I'll just keep them both now. I'm now 2 hours into my project, and that does not include the time I took to watch the videos or practice my new stitch. 

2.5 hour progress pic! My Bernie has all his limbs, ears, and the start of some hair. 

Quick break to buy wire!

Time to brush out Bernie's hair! I have never done this before, but the recommendation was to use a pet brush. I later got a good tip to use one without the little nubs on the tips so it will brush faster and more aggressively. 

3 hours! It's looking fuzzy! Is this right? It feels kind of wrong to fuzz up a piece I worked so hard on. And be careful not to accidentally fuzz the ears!

Alright now we're talking! I added some extra hairs as recommended in the pattern and Bernie is looking more like himself. It helps that his real hair is a bit wild and crazy. 

3.5 hours in! The little details are what make amigurumi dolls take SO SO long. I spent like an hour on the hair alone. He's got eyelids now, a mask in the works, and the start of glasses. I still need to do some shaping but I wanted to show you what I have so far. The glasses were pretty tough and mine don't look nearly as good as the pattern but that's ok!

4 hours in and UH OH! I started the coat and why is it so small? What happened here? I'm considering scrapping this coat and trying again with a larger hook size, but maybe I should just trust the process.

The saga continues and I'm at 4.5 hours now. It may look like I'm almost done, but I still have quite a few steps left including finishing the coat, hoping it CLOSES, finishing the mask and the worst one - sewing everything together. 

5 hours! I've been working on attaching the arms and finishing up the coat. I think I'm getting close guys! 

5.5 hours and I'm finally done! I still need to fix the hair and take that iconic chair picture but he's finally finished! I just squished him into the coat, but in the future I think a bigger hook size would work well. I also gave him a little envelope haha. 

So what were my thoughts? This was a completely new type of crochet to me that included some new stitches. Overall I had trouble with this doll and got frustrated a few times. I was lucky to have several friends who could answer questions and help me out, so I think this pattern is best suited for people who have some experience with crochet. Having said that, I loved it! I had so much fun making this Bernie doll. 

It took a while to make all the pieces and I had to really focus. A faster crocheter would probably be able to make Bernie in less than 5.5 hours, but this is still a complex and time consuming pattern.

I know there are a lot of people looking to make and buy Bernie dolls right now, and I thought it might be helpful to see all the work that actually goes into these pieces of art. And yes, thats what they are - art. 

Thank you to Tobey Time Crochet for the excellent pattern! It was so fun being a part of this movement, and I hope others enjoy the pattern as much as I did. :)

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  • Thank you so much for taking the time to show your steps and give your opinion on the process! Like you, I found this project a little challenging. But I messaged Tobey when I had questions and she was a wonderful help! I still need to finish him tho. 🤪

    Cheri on

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