Little Dala Horse

The Dala horse, or Dalecarlian horse, if you want to go all big and fancy, has long been a symbol of Sweden. Thought he technically doesn’t have much to do with Christmas, these colorful little horses often pop up when we’re thinking of cold places and bright colors, so they’re a natural around the holidays. This gorgeous and simple little ornament is two-sided and made easily in a couple of hoopings, to liven up your Christmas tree this year and beyond.

So, to make your little Dala horse, you’ll need:

To me, when I think of Christmas, red velvet always comes to mind, which is probably why I chose it. However, it will mean your stitches will “sink” a little more into the fabric. Felt is also an excellent choice.

To start, cut out two pieces of your fabric, large enough to fit your dielines. You’ll also want to cut some cutaway stabilizer, spray it lightly with adhesive, and smooth your fabric on top. This will keep some structure to your fabric. Finally, lightly spray the dieline template and place it on top.

Once you have your template layers ready (stabilizer, fabric, and template on top) carefully cut out your Dala horse shape along the dielines.

When you’re done, peel away the paper.

Now you have your fabric pieces! We’re all prepped for the embroidery.

Or at least, we nearly are...

Hoop up a piece of tearaway stabilizer to stitch your first Dala horse side. Though you won’t need it for this step, make sure you have a bobbin wound with thread that matches your Dala horse color (red, in this case) as well as your usual white bobbin.

Let the embroidery begin! You’ll notice your file came with an A and B version. Load the A file first. It’s going to start by stitching a dieline. Lightly spray the back of your matching Dala shape with adhesive, and place it carefully inside that dieline. Once you start your machine back up, it will stitch a tackdown, keeping your little horse in place.

After that, all the inside decorative elements will stitch. Once it’s finished stitching, this piece is done!

You can un-hoop your horse and tear him free from his stabilizer.

Once side down, one to go! Keep this guy around for the next step. You’ll need him at the end.

In the meantime, hoop up another piece of tearaway stabilizer...

On to our final step! Load your B file, and start it stitching. As before, a dieline will stitch. Take your second Dala horse shape, spray the back and carefully place it inside this dieline. Let your machine continue stitching, and it will do the tackdown and all the decorative elements as before.

But wait! Here’s where it’s important. Once all the decoration in the middle is done, stop your machine and remove the hoop, but DON’T UNHOOP it.

Instead, first tape a loop of ribbon to the back where you want the ornament to hang. I taped it both inside the horse and above, so it wouldn’t shift during sewing. Finally, take the first Dala horse you embroidered, spray the back of him, and place him carefully on the back of this horse. Try to line up the edges as closely as possible.

Once he’s on there, turn your hoop over and press down firmly to make sure both sides don’t move around. Then, BEFORE you put everything back on the machine, change your bobbin to the red (or matching color) of your horse (the same color as your dieline).

Now you can place everything back under your machine, and start it going again! It will stitch one final tackdown that stitches the two sides together.

With that done, you can tear your new little Dala horse out of his stabilizer, and see him all stitched together and pretty!

You’ll notice your machine left a gap in the back of your Dala horse to fill him up a bit if you like. I kinda like a slightly plump little horsey myself. Take little bits of polyfill and carefully fill him out, pushing it into the hard to reach areas of his head and feet first.

Don’t fill him up too much! Just enough to give him some dimension.

When he’s all stuffed, or if you chose to skip that step, you can sew that gap closed with a needle and thread, or just stick him under your sewing machine.

Done and done! This lovely little velvet Dala horse is ready to hang for the holidays, or as a little charm or gift wherever you want a little color!

If you’re curious what he looks like stitched in felt, here’s an example. You can see his stitching is much clearer, and he’s a lot brighter, but he has a slightly less luxurious feel. Whatever suits you!

Your charming little Dala horse is ready to brighten up your tree this holiday season. Stitch a whole bunch as matching ornaments, or try them out in all kinds of colors. Though we often think of Dala horses as red, really they come in all colors and styles.

Have fun making him your own, and bring a little Nordic love into your home during the cold winter months.

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Suggested designs for this tutorial: 
Dala Horse (Stuffed)_image
Dala Horse (Stuffed) $2.99 - $3.99
2 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 5.31"w x 4.84"h | 3.90"w x 3.54"h | Hand Embroidery
Bohemian Star (Stuffed)_image
Bohemian Star (Stuffed) $2.99 - $3.99
3 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 5.00"w x 4.88"h | 3.82"w x 3.90"h | 3.39"w x 3.31"h | Hand Embroidery