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These whimsical creatures seem to be everywhere. What is it about them that delights us so? If you have never made a gnome before, it is easy to feel intimidated. There are literally hundreds of ways to make them. Some require more skill than others with needle and thread. No worries, this tutorial for how to make a gnome will help you with your first creation.
Easy DIY Gnome
Folks do seem to love this weird little guys. With a wide variety of themes and styles, you can create thousands of different types. So, why not choose – honey bee style.
What is a Gnome?
Gnomes are mythical creatures that were believed to guard treasures under the Earth. Some believe them to be a symbol of good luck. Garden gnomes, made of clay, became popular in the late 1800’s.
It was not unusual to find a gnome watching over a garden for crop protection or perched in the rafters of a barn to watch over the livestock. You will find them in all styles from a dwarfish sinister look to a campy funny style.
The focal points of any gnome construction is the hat and beard. It is customary for the body to be simple. Some patterns show legs and arms – which add interest to your project. However, most gnome crafts do not have limbs. If this is your first time – keep it simple.
- body material
- hat material
- beard (faux fur)
- accessories (pipe cleaners black – wooden bead)
- hot glue gun
You can be very complex when designing a body for your project. Or, a gnome body can be as simple as a sock. Sock gnomes are popular because they require little to no sewing.
The goal is to have a fabric pocket that can be filled with something. Cotton or felt are good choices. For the body, I choose black felt to reinforce my bee motif.
Rice (uncooked), beads, sand and pea gravel are some of the materials used to make the gnome body stand up.
Most gnomes have a signature tall hat. This can be constructed from fabric glued to a foam cone. Or, as in this tutorial, you can sew a cone shaped piece of fabric and stuff with polyfil.
I chose to not put a pom pom on top of the hat. However, depending on the style your are going for – you could add one.
Every gnome needs a long beard. This is one of the key features of the project. White is most common but other colors are fine. Beards can be made of unraveled yarn, felt and other materials. But for beginners a bit of faux fur or craft fur is easiest.
There are many items you can use to give your gnome character. This is the part of the project that really focuses in on the theme of your gnome. Do you have to use a theme? No, of course not.
However, in this tutorial, I am going for a honey bee gnome. One of the most distinguishing features of a bee is a pair of antenna. I used pipe cleaners to simulate antenna.
Assembling Your Gnome
1. Begin by creating the body part. This is easily done by folding you cloth and seaming up one side. Hand stitching is fine – just be sure to make the stitches small enough to contain whatever material you put inside. You do not want rice or sand leaking out of your gnome!
2. Fill the body up with your weighted material. Plain white rice is a popular medium for this purpose.
When it is almost full, gather the top together and close with a zip-tie, wire, etc. No one is going to see this part.
3. Making a hat for your diy gnome. Choose the hat material and fold it right sides together. Then, cut out a large triangle that will become the hat. This hat should be tall because this is another major gnome feature.
Stitch up one side of the hat and fill the interior with polyfil or something similar. We want the hat to stand up.
4. Place the hat on the body of your gnome. It should cover the top of the body that is gathered together.
Use a hot glue gun to attach the hat to the gnome body. (Or you could hand stitch it on if you wish). I admit this was the most tedious part of the project for me.
Make a Gnome Beard
A pattern for this simple DIY gnome is really not necessary. However, if you want my outline for the hat and beard – here it is.
Faux fur fabric is one of the easiest ways to make a beard. You only need a small piece and you can save leftovers for other projects.
The most important things about cutting the fur is to make sure the fabric is laid down correctly. The fur should be going down in the long direction.
Also, be sure to cut only the backing – do not cut the fur underneath – that is what will flow down and cover the edges of the backing. You can do a beard trim later.
Final Stages of Construction
Hot glue the beard to your gnome at the hat line. Now, cover up that raw seam with cord or ribbon. Jute cord from my skep making project served as a trim for the hat.
Every gnome needs a nose. Along with a tall hat and beard, it is one of their most important features. Wood beads are often used to create a nose.
For this projects, adding a wooden bead nose and black pipe cleaner antenna completes our theme of a honey bee gnome. This is a fairly simple project.
Using a few materials (most of which you may already have), your DIY gnome can be ready in less than an hour.
Once you are finished, use a lint roller to remove the white “beard fuzz” that sticks on your black felt. These simple instructions for making a honey bee gnome should get you off to a great start. Feel free to make adjustments and make the project your own.
Christmas gnomes, Halloween gnomes – you name it. This diy gnome tutorial can be used for any style – it does not have to be a honey bee.
If your cutting, gluing etc is not perfect – don’t stress. You are creating a piece of art not a mass produced machine-made item. Have fun.
Looking for a quick project suitable for children? Learn how to make a bee using craft sticks and pipe cleaners.
Though not designed for outdoor use, your easy DIY honey bee gnome will be a cute addition to other bee decor. They make a great gift for a beekeeper friend or anyone who loves bees.
DIY Gnome Bee Tutorial
- sewing machine
- Fold the piece of black felt in half. Sew the bottom and open side with a good seam. Turn the piece inside out so the seam is on the inside.You can use a sewing machine or hand sew. We want a good tight seam to hold the rice. This is the body of your bee gnome.
- There are several materials you can use to fill the body. We need some weight there to ensure he will stand up.The most readily available option is dry rice. Use about 3 cups of rice to fill out the body.
- You should have enough room to gather and tie the top of the bag. You can use a couple of good rubber bands or twisted wire.My favorite is a zip tie that is very easy to work with and get a good seal.
- Lay down the fabric chosen for a hat with right sides together. Place pattern piece for gnome hat on the fabric as shown. Cut out hat.
- With the hat piece still right sides together, sew with machine or by hand along the seam line. This forms the cone that will become the hat for your bee gnome.
- Turn the hat right side out. Pack some polyfill (or similar) into the hat. Use your scissors or something slim to reach the tip so your hat will stand up.
- Don’t make the mistake that I first did of over-filling the hat. You do not need to fill the cone completely. Leave room for the sides of the hat to fit down over the bag of rice.
- Using one of your hands ( or a coupe of pins), place the hat down over the top 1/3 or so of the gnome body. Use the hot glue gun to attach.Don’t be stingy with your glue. People make want to pick your bee gnome up by the hat! Let cool until set.
- It’s time to cut the beard. Lay your beard pattern on the backside of the fur fabric. Check to make sure that the direction of the fur is going the way you want.
- When cutting your gnome beard, gently insert your scissors under the backing material only. You do not want to cut the strands of fur just the backing.
- Use the hot glue gun to attach beard to front of bee gnome body. It normally sits right at the hat line.
- Glue jute cord around the seam where the hat meets the body. Then, glue on a wooden bead (or similar) right under the cord to be the gnome nose.
- Use a lint roller (optional) to remove any furry residue from the body.
- To complete our bee theme. Use 2 black pipe cleaners to make antenna. For each, wrap one end 3 times about a pencil (or finger). Cut length to about 5 inches. Then, glue to area between jute cord and hat.
- Small wire can also be used to secure the top of the body bag. I liked the zip ties better.
- Be careful when cutting the fur fabric for the beard – don’t cut the fur underneath.
- If you do not want to use rice for filling – commercial filling is available.