How to Make a Gnome...EASY

process steps gnome/tomte

A Gnome, most especially a Scandinavian Gnome, is all about three things...the hair (and beard), the nose, and the hat. The rest - ie the body and head are really only structural and require nothing special. As a result, making one is very easy and can be done with almost anything you have on hand.

process steps gnome/tomte

For the gnome I am making today, I am using fabric scraps left from other projects, one of those super wonderful paper cones you can find at craft supply stores for next to nothing, a bit of roving and other fiber from ancient stash. Tools are simple - scissors, glue gun, marker, box cutter, and if you choose, a needle felting tool but...it is not necessary.

But you can substitute almost anything - hair could be a mop, or yarn or twine; nose could be a fabric covered styrofoam ball, small ball of yarn, a plastic ball or old holiday ornament; the body and hat can be burlap, old bath towel, old sweater, fleece pajamas, felted sweater...so just look around at what you have on hand and use your imagination.

process steps gnome/tomte

Step 1. Make the body. In this case, since the body will not show at all, I am able to use an oddly shaped bit of wool left from another project. It doesn't completely cover the cone, but that does not matter.

process shots/gnome/tomte

Step 2. Cut the fabric so that it fits the part of the cone you need for the body. Mark the top edge of the fabric on the cone.

Step 3. Using a box cutter or exacto knife, cut off the pointed end of the cone and glue the fabric onto the cone with hot glue.

process steps gnome/tomte

Step 4. While the hot glue is hot, glue on the head. Anything round will work for the head. It never, ever will be visible. My usual preference is to make a needle felted or wet felted ball, but in this case to keep things simple I used an old ball of yarn I know I will never use.

A fiber or yarn ball is best if you will be needle felting the hair and beard in place. If you plan to use the glue gun for that step, make sure whatever you use for the head will not melt - a styrofoam ball wrapped in a layer of batting or heavy fabric would work. A large ball - again wrapped in batting or thick fabric so it won't melt. A ball made of newspaper would work. A ball of yarn - but not synthetic. You can always find balls of yarn at the thrift stores.  Wrap in cotton batting if you are unsure of the fiber content.

process shots/gnome/tomte

Step 5. Make and attach the nose. Either needle felt it into place or use hot glue. It doesn't have to look great because only the tip will ever show. I needle felted a nose, but again, a nose can be anything round.

process shots/gnome/tomte

 Step 6. And now the hat! (My hat is cut from an old Pendleton wool chair seat cover). Cone shaped hats are a favorite, but I have seen several gnomes with unusually shaped hats and I love them all. Shape is not as important as that it fits loosely and has good drape. Soft felt or fleece or good quality wool, or felted sweaters...anything that will not ravel easily are perfect because all you must do is cut it out, sew the seam, and plop the hat on the gnome's head. To keep it easy, use a simple, over-sized cone shape.

process steps gnome/tomte

Like this!

In this case, the shape of the hat requires no support, however, most times it is helpful to glue the pointed end of the cone onto the top of the head as shown below.

process steps gnome/tomte

process steps gnome/tomte

Amazing transformation, isn't it? And fyi...the hat is not attached. The cone is an excellent support

process steps gnome

Step 7. Attach the hair and beard all the way around the head just above the join between the head and body.. I prefer needle felting but glue guns are quicker. The hair can be as short or long as you like, just be sure it covers the connection between head and body and place some along both sides of the nose. Once the hair and beard are as thick as you like, all that is left to do is to plop on the hat and you have a beautiful new Gnome.

Usually, I like my gnomes to have soft flowing silky hair so I use roving.  If you are not familiar with roving, go into any yarn shop and ask.  They will help and show you how to pull it apart.  Never ever cut it!  You can also order from a super fabulous selection of rovings and locks available on line at Living Felt...  google it!  

process shots/gnome/tomte

Note: for those interested: the fibers I used for the hair and beard all have a history. The brown I purchased in 1975 (please no math) and it is about as unfinished as fiber can be, heavy with lanolin and knotted and tangled. The golden cream fiber was a gift from my MIL who brought it home from a long summer spent on a sheep farm in Greece about the same time as I purchased the brown fiber.. It is free of lanolin and is like pencil roving but is full of burrs and grass etc. Very course, dull fiber as opposed to be brown fiber which is lustrous and soft. And finally the white ... a good use for my learning to spin failures.

I wanted my gnome to resemble a wild old Merlin who lived in the deep woods and never combed his hair. I think, using these fibers, I managed that. I am thinking that my Merlin gnome really needs a walking stick, however.