How to Make a Valentine’s Day Gnome
I have been in love with mythical creatures since I first heard about them in my storybooks. The pictures fascinated me, and I wanted to learn all I could about these mysterious inhabitants of our forests. I would sit for hours and study the images of these magical beings. As I grew older and realized I would never stumble upon those gnomes, fairies, and unicorns, I decided I could make them for myself. That is when this project was first conceived. I am going to show you how to make a Valentine’s Day gnome to share love and smiles with your imaginative children, no matter what their age.
There is no right or wrong way to make a Valentine’s Day gnome. You can make it with almost anything you have laying around the house. Traditionally, stuffed figures, such as dolls, were filled with sawdust or cotton picked from the field. These primitive pieces were often nothing more than cloth torn from a flour sack, with the face drawn on with paint or charcoal. As toy building progressed, each section of the doll was carefully stitched separately and then sewn together to create a sweet doll with arms and legs. Wool or some other type of animal hair was used to create the hair. And if all else failed, a bonnet was sewn on to keep the recipient from knowing the dolly was actually bald! This Valentine’s Day gnome is a throw-back to the early primitive doll-making process, but with a twist.
To make our Valentine’s Day gnome you will need:
- 1 white sock or a fabric tube
- 1 colored or patterned sock
- Stuffing (this can be cotton/poly batting, rice, dried peas or beans, or other types of filler)
- Yarn in your choice of colors
- Twine or embroidery thread
- Faux fur or corded rope
- Large bead/ping pong ball
- Panty hose or sheer nylon material
- Assorted ribbons, lace, buttons, pom poms, etc. for decorating
- Hot glue gun
- Needle and thread
The first step to making a Valentine’s Day gnome is filling a sock or fabric tube with your choice of filler. I use either rice or dried beans to make mine. You can even use sand, aquarium gravel, or small pebbles. I add about 1 ½ to 2 cups of filler to the sock. The point is to weigh down the gnome so it sits flat on the table. The more material you add to the sock, the bigger your Valentine’s Day gnome will be.
You must tie the sock opening closed with a piece of twine, as close to the top of the filler as possible. I use jute because I have had rubber bands break over time with some of my first gnomes. Tie the twine knot tightly so it will not come undone.
Do not cut the sock top off yet
The next step is forming a nose for the gnome. The easiest way is to paint a ping pong ball or wooden bead a peach color and glue it into place. You can also use some cotton batting and a 2-inch circle of white- or cream-colored nylon fabric. Form a circle with your thumb and forefinger, lay the fabric over the circle and stuff the cotton into the fabric. As you push down the cotton, the middle of the fabric will start to drop through the hole. Squeeze your forefinger and thumb closer together to keep the ends of the fabric above the hole. Twist the ends of the fabric together to keep the ball shape. Wrap a section of twine around the twisted fabric, leaving the tails of the twine.
Wrap the twine on the nose around the top of the gnome body. You will go over the existing twine that is holding the sock closed. Adjust the nose where you want it to be and tie off the twine in the back. Now you can cut the top of the sock and the twine end pieces from the Valentine’s Day gnome.
You can make the Valentine’s Day gnome hat from a decorative sock or fabric. I prefer to use a stretchy sock because it is very easy to do. Stretch the open end of a sock over the top of the gnome body and part of the nose. Adjust the sock so it covers most of the nose and goes down at an angle on either side of the body. You can adjust the sock any way you prefer your Valentine’s Day gnome to look.
If you use fabric to make the hat, cut a cone pattern from the fabric. Stitch the two opposing sides, leaving the curved edge open. Slip the hat onto the gnome and adjust as instructed above.
Hint: If you are making a girl gnome, it helps to have the hat a little higher on the sides because of the braids or ponytails, unlike a beard that hangs in the front.
After you make the body and hat for the Valentine’s Day gnome, it is time to add the hair. To make the gnome a girl, you need yarn, cotton rope or cord. I use several strands of yarn and braid them together to make braids. For long ponytails, I separate cotton rope into separate strands. I use hot glue to secure the top of the strands between a small piece of ribbon. I tie the bottom with either embroidery thread or a very thin ribbon. I make a bow that matches the rest of the gnome. I glue the hair under the hat on either side of the gnome, about an inch away from the nose.
The male version of the gnome has a beard. Sometimes it is fuzzy and curly and other times it is fine and straight. You can use strands of chunky yarn, rope strands from an unused floor mop, or the faux fur sold in craft stores. I have made gnome beards in all different ways. My preferred method when I make a Valentine’s Day gnome is to use faux fur. It is just easier for me to make several at one time using the fur.
Always cut from the back when you use faux fur. If you cut from the front, usually the fur is cut off and does not look natural. From the back, cut the backing material, and only the backing material, wide enough to go from one side of the gnome nose to the other. Cut the backing long enough to go from the hat to the bottom of the Valentine’s Day gnome’s body.
Hint: If you part the fur like you would your own hair, you can see the backing, making it easier to cut and leave the fur intact.
The next step is putting a notch at the top of the beard so it fits under the nose. On the backside of the fur, cut a semi-circle about ½ -inch wide and ½ -inch long out of the backing. Slip the “beard” under the nose and up under the hat to make sure you have the beard you want. Adjust it as you want your Valentine’s Day gnome to look.
Now that you know how to make a Valentine’s Day gnome, it is time to decorate these cuties. We got to the easy part! You can use flowers, beads, little hearts, cupid arrows, anything you want. I used buttons, pearls and little pins to decorate my female gnome. I made her counterpart more traditional with simple wooden hearts.
When you make these Valentine’s Day gnomes, please post pictures so we can see what cuties you made!