How to Make a Winter Gnome

10 Materials
5 Hours

Making these wee folk was so much fun! I'm sure it's going to be an annual tradition, especially when (one day long away from now) I have grandchildren. They began as a project to try the Knit Quick Knitting Loom Set I saw in Michael's Crafts. Yet as it began to take shape, I became more engaged with how these little wee folk can become part of your holiday season.

First, not only are they cute stuffed, they can be used as gift bags! Can you imagine a cluster of wee folk under your Christmas tree hiding surprises under their bellies? How cute!

Then I came to learn a few things about gnomes. They are easy to cohabitate with, they help with pets (not cats though, go figure), they're excellent conversation starters, and they love to party! Perfect for the holiday season, right! Let's get making!

Gather Supplies

You can be as creative (or not) as you want since nobody really knows what a gnome looks like for sure.

  1. Flesh tone flannel fabric for upper body
  2. Pattern flannel fabric for lower body
  3. Three types of yarn (hat, sweater, and sweater sleeve)
  4. Ankle sock for nose
  5. Two ankle socks for shoes
  6. Perforated Plastic Mesh for shoes
  7. Long Pile Fur for hair and beard
  8. Short Pile Fur for muff
  9. 1″-2″ ribbon for the drawstring
  10. Stuffed animal stuffing
  11. Stuffed animal plastic pellets
  12. Twine

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.

For knitting, you can certainly do it the old fashioned way. If you’re new to knitting, like me, you can use the LOOPS & THREADS® KNIT QUICK™ KNITTING LOOM SET and LOOPS & THREADS™ FLOWER LOOM.

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 Pom 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!

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.

Knit the Sweater, Hat, and Sleeve

Using the knitting looms, make a 6" hat, 9" sweater, and 11" sleeve for your gnome. You can use any yarn you like.

Cut All the Pieces

There are several cuts to make before you start assembling.

  • Skin tone Flannel Fabric: Body – 16 3/4″W x 9″H, Quantity 1
  • Pattern Flannel Fabric:

  • Base: 5″ Circle, Quantity 1Body: 16 3/4″W x 7″H, Quantity 1
  • Either the Skin tone 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
Make the Gnome Nose

Find something in your house that is about a 3" circle. Trace the outline around the end of your sock. Use this as a guide to sew a seam. Only sew it 3/4 of the way across so you can have space to fill with Poly-fil stuffing.

Make Gnome Shoes

Using the same 3" round guide, mark a curve along the top of the two pieces of plastic perforated mesh. Cut it out and stuff inside the toe box of your dark socks.

Sew a seam 3/4 of the way across the sock just beyond where the perforated plastic mesh falls.

Stuff Poly-fil on top of the perforated plastic mesh. You can now sew another seam all the way across 1/2" away from the first seam. This is optional.

Create a Drawstring Channel

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.

Create the Body

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.

Attach the Feet

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 off the extra sock from the nose and shoes just beyond the seam allowance.

Close the Body

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.

Make the Drawstring Channel

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!

Add Bottom to Body

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!)

Cinch 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.

Attach Hair to Sweater
  1. Lay the sweater down flat and the excess sweater neatly folded over.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. With twine, stitch the edge of the faux fur and the sweater along the yarn cinch seam together.

Attach Gnome 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.

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!

Pull Layers Together

Slide the sweater, fur, and hat over the inner body. Let the nose poke through the hole left between the hat and hair.

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.

Prepare the 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!

Stuff the Body

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.

Attach the Arms

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.

Once you get the hand of making our little winter gnome, you can have fun changing up the pattern to make little girls too!

Be sure to name each gnome you make. Above, we have Evie Green, Douglas Fir, and Tim Burr.

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Allison O'Dell

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Linda Wallis
    Linda Wallis
    on Nov 16, 2020

    How did you make and attach the braid for the girl?

    • Allison O'Dell
      Allison O'Dell
      on Nov 17, 2020

      Hi Linda, I braided it first and then hand stitched where the “part” is in back. I also loosely stitched it to the hat and body.

Join the conversation

4 of 9 comments
  • BarbT14
    on Nov 20, 2020

    No question, just comment. These are adorable!!! I don’t have the skills or patience to make these, but LOVE LOVE LOVE these. Thank you for sharing your creativities.

    • Allison O'Dell
      Allison O'Dell
      on Nov 20, 2020

      Okay, patience is MAYBE a prerequisite BUT I'm not patient at all (I get frazzled pretty easily if a project is too much). In terms of skill, they aren't hard. There are several steps but each one is very manageable. You should try one! Perhaps with a glass of wine, haha!

  • Shirley Kalinosky
    Shirley Kalinosky
    on Nov 21, 2020

    One of the Christmas movies went to a Norwegian town and they had Nisse. Same as a gnome but with long skinny legs. Goggle them/ Merry Christmas!

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