Introduction: Make a Christmas Elf

Forty years ago my grandmother made elves to hide around the house. Here's a cheerful guy to brighten your holidays--he is not a spy to rat yer kids out to Santa every night...instead, he keeps an eye open to see what presents a child would like the most :} This project is an introduction to soft sculpture that my art classes enjoyed during the holidays. Remember, each elf will be different. That's half the charm!

Step 1: Materials

The best elves are made from bits of scrap material or old clothes. Felt or fleece are good. The cloth shouldn't unravel at the edges when cut--if it does, you may have to paint the edges with fray check or nail polish.

You will need sharp scissors, embroidery thread, a needle with a large eye, pins, velcro (the kind without glue on the back), a 1-3 months size baby sock, and a strip of fake fur for hair. You may also need decorations like sequins, bells and pompoms .

These instructions may be lengthy, but it's better to explain a little too much than to leave something out. Please let me know if something is unclear.

The body of this elf can be assembled with hot melt glue instead of stitching, but the effect is not as nice. Whatever floats yer boat. But the face and eyes must be sewn.

Step 2: The Pattern and Cutting the Pieces

The pattern is cut out of paper, then pinned onto the fabric and cut out. The arrows pointing to the side of the paper mean to fold the fabric and lay the edge of the pattern on the fold.

Cut out 2 legs and 2 arms. Also cut 2 bodies. There is only one hat. The pieces do not have to be the same color of fabric.

Once the pieces are cut, remove the paper, but keep the arms and legs pinned in half as shown.

Step 3: Sewing the Pieces

Choose a color of embroidery thread and unwind a length about 3 foot long. You can always cut off extra thread. Moisten the thread's end with Chap Stick and it'll go through the eye of the needle easier.

Bring the ends of the thread togetherto tie a knot. Lick yer finger and wrap the ends of the thread around it. Roll it off using yer thumb to form a knotty loop, then pull. Instant knot.

Step 4: Sew Arms, Legs and Hat

Start sewing as shown. You only have to sew one side of the arms and legs since they were cut on a fold.

Keep the stitches even and about a pea's width apart. Too far apart and the stuffing will leak out. When getting to the end of your thread leave enough room to stitch three times in the same place to anchor the seam (instead of making a knot). Don't worry about sewing the ends of the arms and legs closed.

Sew one side of the hat. Don't sew the body!

Step 5: Stuff the Arms and Legs

Use a pencil to insert the stuffing inside the arms and legs. It'll be tight fit past the ankles and wrists but it's okay if you can't get stuffing in them.

Don't stuff the hat!

Step 6: Attaching One Leg to the Body

Lay down one body square. Place one leg on it with the back seam up, as shown. Then lay the other body square on top, making a sandwich.

Pin the leg between the layers as shown so it will not move. Start stitching and sew from the back body piece, through the leg to the front. Then go from the front body through the leg to the back. Back and forth, back and forth.

Continue to halfway and stop.

Step 7: Attach the Other Leg to the Body

Lift the back and fit the other leg in like the first. Close the top and pin the leg in place. Sew it like you did the other, front to back through the leg, then back to front.

Continue to the other side, then stitch in place three times to anchor.

You've finished yer elf's butt :}

Step 8: Attach Arm to Body

Starting at the butt, stitch the side of the body closed, stopping halfway up.

Like you did with the leg, place an arm between the pieces of the body like a sandwich, pin it in place.

Stitch from the front through the arm to the back, then stitch from the back to the front. Continue up the arm to the shoulder.

Stitch three times in place to anchor

Step 9: Attach the Other Arm

Repeat the process on the other side.

Step 10: Stuffing the Body

Now you can stuff your elf's body.

Step 11: Starting the Head

Take the baby sock and stuff it till it's the right size to go with the body.

Fold the bottom up to make a cuff.

Step 12: Attaching the Head

Place the bottom of the head's cuff under the neck of the body. Pin it in place.

Stitch the neck to the top side of the cuff in and out till you reach the other side.

Step 13: Finish Attaching the Head

Turn the elf over, pin the other side of the body to the cuff and stitch the other side.

Once through, stitch in place three times to anchor. Then stitch the shoulder gaps closed.

Now turn the cuff down to hide your stitches and make a collar :}

Step 14: Begin Soft Sculpting the Nose

Thread your needle with thread the color of your sock. Mark a square where you want the nose to be.

Stitch in place on the back of the head so the knot won't slip through. Then poke your needle through the head so it comes out on one side of the nose. Pull the thread through.

Stitch to the other side of the nose square, poking through a chunk of the sock.

Pull it tight to get a bulge.

Stitch back to the other side and pull tight again.

Step 15: Finish Sculpting the Nose

From one side of the nose square stitch to the top and pull thread out. Stitch to the bottom poking through a chunk of the sock.

Pull it tight to get some more bulge. Stitch back to the top and pull tight again. You should have a little ball staring to form for the nose.

Continue to stitch from one side to the other pulling tight until you have a firm ball.

Step 16: Anchor Your Nose

Once your nose is how you like it, stitch through the head and sew three times in place to anchor it.

By stitching and pinching in different places you can get different shapes of noses. Try it!

Mark the places for your eyes.

Step 17: Elf Eyes

Stitch at back of head so your knot does not slip through. Poke through to where one eye will be.

Choose a bead you'll like the right size that will fit on your needle, then stitch it in place 3 times.

Poke to the back of the head and pull tight to sink in the eye. Stitch three times to anchor it.

Repeat with the other eye.

Step 18: Making the Mouth

Lightly mark the corners of the mouth. Choose the thread color for your mouth. Anchor, then stitch to the front corner of one side.

Poke to the other side and back through the head. Adjust the loop to make a smile or frown, then anchor it.

To make it grin bigger, stitch to the corner of the mouth and back out again and pull.

Using white thread you can sculpt eyebrows, wrinkles and jowls. Experiment :}

Step 19: Adding Hair

Cut a 1 thick inch strip of fur, about 6 inches long. Remember to cut only the fabric, not the hair.

Wrap the strip around the head till it frames the top of the face, then mark a stitch spot on the side, the middle, then the other side.

Using thread the same color as the hair stitch it in those three places, then anchor it. Cut off the extra fur.

You can also use hot melt glue to attach the hair, if it's easier.

Step 20: Attach the Hat

Pull the hat on as shown, stitch it in place in the middle of the back of the head to hide the knots from making the face.

Poke your thread to the middle of the front under the hair and stitch the hat in place.

Poke to the side of the head and stitch it there, then to the other side and stitch to finish.

Use hot melt glue to attach the hat, if you want.

You are almost done!

Step 21: Finishing Touches

Use little powder blush or pastel to put a little color in his cheeks, then sew Velcro to his hands so he can hang onto things and have a drink to celebrate his birthday!

Step 22: And Friends....

You can glue or sew sequins or other decorations, as well as put bells on his toes.

He will also be ready for you to make him a wild and crazy girlfriend to swing with!

One year I made a set of elves that resembled my brother and sisters :}

At school one student made Super Elf, another a Paul Stanley elf (in black with a star on his face). Another October we made Halloween Goblins instead....