Winter gnomes are a favorite of a LOT of us, especially during the holidays. Here’s a twist on one that will become a family favorite for generations!
I’m weirdly into this project. Why is it WEIRD? Because I’ve never made a project like this and it’s not in my normal style. BUT, when the holidays come around, my clean and modern preference takes a turn for the whimsical, sparkly, and FOLKSY. Hello gnomes, right!?
According to GoingGnome.com (who knew, right?!), some of their cited top reasons to have a gnome include:
- Gnomes bring good luck.
- They help to care for pets (except cats, which they apparently don’t like. hmmm.)
- For a great party, invite a gnome as they’re real partiers.
- They’re excellent conversation starters (hello, Toast Masters)
- As far as cohabitation, they’re the easiest of the wee folk to have in your home.
- And they’re adorably CUTE!
Well, awesome! I have to admit, some gnome statues freak me out a bit. BUT the little ones we’re making here today are, in full agreement with #6 above, just so darn CUTE!!
In fact, I propose that making a winter gnome each Christmas should become a tradition.
Finally, the last reason I’m so excited to share this project with you is because of the way I’ve created this project. Before stuffing, these little guys can be GIFT BAGS!!
YES! You can fill them with gifts and have them live under your tree bursting with surprises until St. Nick Day, Christmas Eve, or Christmas day!
For those who don't know about St. Nick Day (as I didn't until living in Wisconsin),on the night of December 5th, children put their shoes outside their bedroom door. St. Nicholas comes in the night and fills them with surprises!
Btw, you can find many ways to modify this process to fit your supplies and skills. What I’m showing you below is, from my own experimentation, the easiest way to make this particular gnome.
I’d love to hear if you find some great alternatives and to see how you personalize and name your little guy! Btw, the naming is ESSENTIAL! Be sure to tag @AmericanSchoolofCharm on Instagram and Facebook to show off your new housemate!
Now, let’s get going!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Getting started to have everything on hand
Supplies for Your winter gnome
The supply list is lengthy. It is a multistep project and while, not difficult at all, does have a lot of pieces to assemble.
Please DON’T be afraid. Just because there are lots of items on your supply list and many steps, this is a TOTALLY doable project for a BEGINNER!! Yes, you can easily make this winter gnome with very little sewing experience. Promise!
Here are the supplies you will need to follow this tutorial:
- Flesh tone flannel fabric for upper body
- Pattern flannel fabric for lower body
- Three types of yarn (hat, sweater, and sweater sleeve)
- Ankle sock for nose
- Two ankle socks for shoes
- Perforated Plastic Mesh for shoes
- Long Pile Fur for hair and beard
- Short Pile Fur for muff
- 1″-2″ ribbon for the drawstring
- Stuffed animal stuffing
- Stuffed animal plastic pellets
Here are some of the items that might work for you. Btw, I went to the Dollar Store for the socks!
You can sew everything for the winter gnome by hand or using a combination of hand and machine (that’s my preference). The typical sewing supplies will be needed, although if sewing by machine, using both a piecing foot and a zipper foot is helpful. Also having sewing clips on hand is useful. Make sure you have something to mark your fabric in your sewing tool kit.
Cutting the fur requires traditional fabric scissors although you can use a rotary cutter and self-healing mat for the flannel fabric. To make the circle easier, I always use my Fiskars Fabric Circle Cutter. It’s definitely NOT essential but does make it super fast to cut the right size circle with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
It’s handy to have an iron and ironing board on hand to press open the seams. I also like to use a Tailor’s Clapper to help make sharp edges and a sleeve board to make ironing the “tube” of the body easier. Not essential but if you’re stocking your craft station, they’re handy tools!
Finally, the pom-pom. I love using the Red Heart Pompon and Tassel Maker for my pom-poms and tassels. It’s a great tool for making FAST pom-poms. You can find pom-poms premade too. For example, the white ones you see on my little guys were from an after Christmas sale at Target. They aren’t my favorite to touch but they look great and were CHEAP!
Just in case some of this is a foreign language, here’s a visual aide:
Knitting your winter gnome parts
FIRST STEP: KNIT ARMS, SWEATER, AND HAT
Using the Quick Knit Looms, you need to “knit” the cozy arms, sweater, and hat.
As far as measurements, you’ll need to knit the following lengths:
- Hat: Green Knit Quick Loom, 6″
- Sweater: Purple Knit Quick Loom, 9″
- Arms: Flower Knit Quick Loom, 11″
Set these aside for now and just leave any dangling yarn ends out. No worries, we’ll handle it later!
Sewing the winter gnome body
Start by making all of your initial cuts.
- Skintone Flannel Fabric: Body – 16 3/4″W x 9″H, Quantity 1
- Pattern Flannel Fabric:
- Base: 5″ Circle, Quantity 1
- Body: 16 3/4″W x 7″H, Quantity 1
- Either the Skintone or Pattern Flannel Fabric: Arms 11″ x 8″, Quantity 1
- Perforated Plastic Mesh: 3″ Square, Quantity 2
- Long Pile Fur: 13″W x 8″H; Cut off 4 1/2″W x 6″H off of both bottom corners
- Short Pile Fur: 4″W x 7″H
When cutting faux fur, mark your cut with a pen on the backside. Then, with right-side down, slide your scissors under the faux fur so only the backing is cut and not the fur.
Set everything aside as we will be working through all the pieces one-by-one, starting with the socks!
From Dollar Store to gnome life
You can form any conclusions you want about me, but I don’t love shopping at the Dollar Store. In fact, I try to avoid it. However, there are many cases when it just makes sense and this is one of them.
I bought two three-packs of ankle socks, one black and one white, for $1 each! The only downfall is that there is a poor selection of colors. So if you’re looking for anything specific such as beige, brown, or blue (Smurfish) then you probably going to have to look elsewhere.
I’m pretty cheap for things like this so I’m good with white and black.
Our winter gnome is a little nosey
Let’s get our nose situated. Take the sock you’ve selected for the nose and open it up so the toe box is on top.
Find something that is approximately a 3″ circle and line it up so the sides of the bottom half of the circle meet the toe seam (I don’t know if that’s what it’s actually called). Mark this half-circle with a heat erasable pen and sew it leaving roughly 1″ open for stuffing.
Stitch a second seam straight across the sock approximately 1/2″ away from the first seam to prevent fraying down the road.
When you’ve made the seam, you just touch the heat of the iron to the pen line and it will magically disappear!
Stuff your nose and that’s it! Set it aside. WOW, doesn’t using a sock make this so easy. My first method involved stitching and gathering and, ugh … love the sock technique!
Note: Years ago I bought a circle template on a whim. I use it ALL the time, including for this project. Not a bad thing to have on hand.
This gnome is meant for walking … really just standing
Now let’s make his little shoes.
Get your 3″ circle out again and line the top center up with the top center of one of your 3″ square perforated plastic mesh pieces. With a Sharpie, mark the circle and cut it out. Do the same for the other piece of your plastic perforated mesh.
Insert this into your sock so the curve of the perforated plastic mesh is in the toe box of each sock.
Stitch two seams now. The first is a seam 3/4 of the way across just off of the edge of the perforated plastic mesh to hold it in place. Second, you’ll stitch another straight seam about 1/2″ down the sock away from your first seam. This is to prevent fraying once we trim the sock but don’t trim it yet.
Now stuff on top of the sock filling the toe box to look like a little shoe.
If you want to stitch yarn through the top to look like laces, it would be really cute. Totally optional!
Set the shoes aside.
bringing a winter gnome to life
Time for a gnome nose job
If you have read our post on how to make a drawstring gift bag, then you’ll be familiar with the technique we’re going to use now. This is the key to how this little guy can multitask as a gift bag!
To start with the wrong side facing up of your skin tone flannel fabric press and starch (and a Tailor’s Clapper, if available) press down first a 1/2″ fold and then another 1″ fold down the long side of the skin tone flannel fabric cut.
Note: If you're going to use your winter gnome repeatedly as a gift bag, then I suggest doing a zigzag or overlock stitch on any raw edges as flannel does tend to fray a lot with use.
Now move onto the pattern flannel fabric. Folding the short-sides together, mark with a fabric pen the center of the top and bottom long sides. Open it back up and attach the center of the nose to the top.
On the top edge, mark 1 1/2″ on each side of the center mark. This is where the edge of your nose will line up. Either by hand or machine (I prefer using the zipper foot here) attach the nose to the bottom fabric between the two 1 1/2″ marks.
Now line up the bottom edge of the flesh tone fabric with the top edge (and nose) of the pattern flannel fabric and piece long edges together with right sides facing.
Trim the excess sock away just beyond the second seam.
a Little mermaid Moment
Remember in The Little Mermaid, how all she wanted was two feet? Our winter gnome wants them too!
Line up the inner edge of each foot with the center mark on the bottom edge of the patterned flannel and sew it into place.
Trim the excess socks off just beyond the second stitch and trim any threads. Isn’t this easy!
A trojan horse … winter gnome
At first, I decided on a drawstring top for ease of closure. Yet once I was assembling it a LIGHTBULB went off and I realized that this little winter gnome guy is the ultimate gift bag!
To begin, stitch the sides of the flannel fabric panel from top to bottom with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Be careful to line up the fold creases on top and the merger of the flesh tone and pattern flannel fabric.
Then fold over the pressed seams and edge stitch down, as I wrote above, just like in the “How to Make a Drawstring Gift Bag” tutorial.
While not essential, I recommend sewing down the seam allowance between the two crease marks. As well as doing a tiny little edge stitch back and forth at the top of the fold.
Then edge stitch to secure the folds into place.
Now open up the vertical seam between the two horizontal edge stitches. This is where you’ll pull the ribbon through, however, wait on that for a bit. No need to have the ribbons dangling about as we get your new friend dressed!
The last step before it’s time to dress
Now, all that’s left is attaching the bottom. Here are some tips for sewing a circle.
- Be patient!
- Use a smaller stitch length.
- Be patient!
- Sew slowly.
- Be patient!
- Use a zipper foot if machine sewing.
- and Be patient!
Turn your naked winter gnome right side out and you’re ready to make him, or her, some clothing! (He or she isn’t actually naked, after all the patterned flannel fabric layer under which the sweater will be worn are trousers, after all!)
winter gnome with an attitude
The clothing is where we can have fun if you’re so inclined. This is a completely separate layer that will be pulled over the underlayer you just finished.
First, sew the short ends of the long-pile faux fur together being careful to pull the fur away from the seam before you start stitching. This part can be done easily on a machine, btw.
Next, we need to sew the hair (aka, long-pile faux fur) between the sweater and hat. I’ve done this both by machine and hand. They both work but I find sewing these on by hand using twine to be the least stressful.
winter gnome hair and sweater
The circumference of the sweater needs to be cinched in a bit. To do this easily, turn the body of the sweater inside out. With a yarn needle and about 2′ of yarn that contrasts the sweater body, stitch around the sweater 7″ up from the top. Leave the ends of the yarn available to cinch in the sweater to fit the circumference of the hair.
This horizontal yarn stitch marks the top of the winter gnome sweater. Turn the sweater back to right-side out and fold over the excess above that yarn seam line. Fit the hair around the top of the sweater and pull the cinch yarn enough so they are the same circumference. You can just tie it in a bow or knot and weave the excess yarn ends around in the knitting.
This is where my head began to go kerbonk, so I’m going to try to explain this easily. I think I’m making it harder than it really needs to be:
- Lay the sweater down flat and the excess sweater neatly folded over.
- With the bottom edge of the hair lined up adjacent to the top fold of the sweater, lay the beard down the center of the sweater.
- Keeping the beard and sweater in hand, turn the loop of hair inside out so the bottom edge is lined up with the yarn seam at the top folded edge of the sweater.
- With twine, stitch the edge of the faux fur and the sweater along the yarn cinch seam together.
Turn right side out and onto the hat!
Gnome hair to hat
We’re essentially going to repeat the same technique as above to attach the hat to the hair.
First weave a piece of yarn 2″ above the bottom edge all the way around the hat.
Line up, overlapping, the yarn seam, and the top of the long-pile fur. Cinch the yarn seam to bring the hat to the same circumference as the faux fur (aka, hair) loop.
Fold the top of the hat down over the faux fur, lining up the top edge of the faux fur with the yarn seam.
Here’s a really important part …
Attach the hat and the fur, I like to use fabric clips, in line with each side of the beard. You AREN’T going to stitch this section as the nose needs to be inserted.
With twine, stitch all around the hat yarn seam and the top of the long pile fur, aka hair, securing it at the beginning of the beard width and the other side.
One more easy step. At the very end, we have to pull closed the top of the winter gnome hat. To do this, create another yarn stitch line at the very top of the hat and just leave the excess threads. Don’t cinch it yet!
If you have any dangling ends of yarn or twine, except for at the very top of the hat, you can secure those and bury them into the knitting and center of the body. Nobody will see them there! Sneaky, right!?
OUr winter gnome is almost ready for fashion week!
This, for me, is a really fun step. Slide the sweater, fur, and hat over the inner body. Let the nose poke through the hole left between the hat and hair.
Isn’t he (or she) so cute!! But we’re not done yet. Almost, almost …
With twine or thread, not yarn, do a slip stitch to attach the bottom of the nose to the top of the beard. I like to make the stitch as the toe box seam of the sock. Putting your hand inside the body is the easiest way to do this quick stitch.
Preparing the winter gnome Arms
The arms are really straight-forward and super easy to make and attach.
First, with right sides facing, sew the long sides of the fabric for the sleeve; and then the short ends of the short pile fur for the muff.
After turning right side out, slide the sleeve tube into the knit tube, and then both into the muff. Stuff this one combined tube up to about 1″ from the end.
Stitch closed the flannel fabric and then cinch closed the knit tube. If you need to, you can add yarn around the ends of the tube to cinch just like we die in prior steps.
Set this aside. Attaching the arm tube is the very last step, well, aside from posting on Instagram and tagging @AmericanSchoolofCharm!
Time to Take a Stand, Little winter gnome!
Time to stuff our little winter gnome buddy.
Start with filling the bottom 1″-2″ with the plastic pellets. Then stuff to almost the top of the hat with the soft stuffing.
Thread your ribbon through the inner layer channel at the top and pull closed.
Using the yarn you ran through the top of the hat, pull the top of the hat closed leaving the ribbon from the inner layer hanging out.
Here the details are up to you. I like to add a pom-pom and to tie the ribbon in a bow. You can dress up the hat or leave it all alone! You make the call! Maybe make a few of these little guys and try some different looks.
Can you see the light, little gnome?
It’s time for the very last detail! Woohoo!! Lift up the top fold of the sweater and tie the arm tube all the way around the winter gnome.
Stitch down the sweater fold over the end of the tube with a little bit of coordinating yarn so you don’t notice it.
If there is anything still showing, you can add a few more securing stitches here and there as needed.
WOW, look at how cute he is and … take a look at his winter gnome SISTER!
Do you want to add more winter gnomes to your holiday? First, make sure you subscribe to get all my upcoming posts as there will definitely be more holiday gnomes! BUT, if you’re more into the buying than the making, here are some cuties I found online!
That’s a wrap!
I’m in a gnome state of mind. Last year, I bought three little ones at Nordstrom Rack that I put on top of a door. I loved seeing them looking down at me as I worked in the kitchen. That’s probably what started this little mini-obsession.
While I tried to find little gnomes to share in this post, I couldn’t. That means another post will be coming up to make some. If you have a door that is always open, like mind in the kitchen, they’re so cute perched up there!
Until then, here are some posts you might like:
Still, want to see more? I have your back. Check out ASC’s Pinterest Boards, where there are always new pins happening! In fact, better yet, follow ASC on Pinterest so you know when I add more to my boards (I find great pins!).
Do you have a question or a suggestion? No problem! Email me with all of it and I’m happy to respond.
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Have a fantastic week! Namaste,