This pattern is really versatile. When my kids were small they used them as travel toys, they fit easily in pockets and turn up in unlikely places to keep little fingers busy.
When we have stuffy noses we use lavender filled gnomes on pillows at night to get us breathing again. There is one cedar smelling gnome in our piano to keep away the dreaded moth and if the guitars ever got packed away they would have cedar gnomes too.
I've made smaller versions into badges, sparkle encrusted ones hang from the Christmas tree and friends babies chew larger versions with bells inside.
Just making them is fun and I've used making these doll to teach blanket stitch, as party activities and also at festivals. This pattern has been tested and enjoyed by children as young as 4 and as old as 84.
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Step 1: You Will Need / Choosing Fabrics and Cutting Out Pieces
If you're making a pin cushion or you are new to sewing, using felt for the body will give the best results.
If you are making a rattle for a small child, making a lavender bag, a key chain or decoration, then your choice of fabrics becomes one of what you like the look of, what is comfortable to work with and for the rattle, what washes well.
I prefer to always use felt for the hats. It stands up without being stuffed and I like the way it looks.
Jersey knit (stretch, like tshirt) fabric to be cut in a circle 7.5 cm x 7.5 cm for the head
Felt for the hat 8 cm x 5 cm
Fabric for the body 6 cm x 13 cm
A handful of stuffing (I'm using wool)
Thread to match your fabric choices
Needle and scissors
Optional: lavender to fill the body, a bell, a sewing machine for steps body and hat
Step 2: Get Your Wool
Before you start, thread up your needle with a matching colour to your jersey knit head circle.
Secure the thread to the very edge of your circle by making 3 stitches on top of each other. I seldom use knots because they can pull through too easily and rip fabric leaving nasty holes.
Want to see a video about how to secure thread? Take a look this one.
Pinch a small amount of wool and spread it in the palm of your hand. Spread it thinly so that your entire palm is covered and you can see your hand through it.
Step 3: Ball the Wool - Do People Still Have Marbles?
Ball it tightly as small as a medium sized marble, that's bigger than a regular marble but not as big as one of those special big marbles.
When you're happy with the size hold the wool in the centre of the head circle. If you let go it will probably ping apart again.
Step 4: The Head
Gather the fabric around the wool like a draw string bag. Try to make one side smooth of wrinkles if possible.
That will be your face.
So you've got the head in one hand all pinched up and now you need to secure some thread to it and start to sew it shut, but HOW when you've only got one hand?
So take the secured needle and thread and just wrap it tightly around the wrinkly neck a few times (probably 3) until you're sure it will hold, (you may want to push the needle through the neck a couple of times to be sure) then secure the thread again- 3 times in one spot.
Try to make sure there is no wool sticking out. It just makes the neck more bulky and trickier to fit in the body.
If you want to dd yarn or fabric for hair, now is a good time.
Step 5: The Body
The body can be sewn differently depending on what you'd like to use this doll for.
If you're learning blanket stitch (for this I recommend using felt) you'll need to use the body upside down - please go to the last step now for the Blanket stitch variation.
The body is essentially a bag. With the right side of the fabric touching, fold the fabric in half.
Sew the long sides with back stitch or a sewing machine. If hand sewing remember to secure stitches instead of knotting.
Want to know how to do back stitch? Then take a look at the above.
It's probably a good idea to minimise fraying by using zig-zag stitch on a machine or blanket stitch by hand. For blanket stitch instructions go to the last step now.
Step 6: Shoulders
Sew a little way across the top of the bag to make shoulders then turn the bag right side out.
Step 7: Filling
Fill the bag with stuffing or lavender or a mix of the two. If you can't get your finger in the hole use a pencil. If you can't get a pencil in, you'd better undo that neck hole a little. Leave just a tiny space at the top of the stuffing to push the neck of the head in place. Be aware of which side has your smoother face.
A quick tip: Fluffing up your filler. I always hold a wad of wool in one hand and pull away small amounts into my other hand until all the wool is in the other hand. This gets rid of any lumpy bits. Stuffing with fluffed up filler in small quantities at a time also prevents the body from feeling lumpy when you're done.
Step 8: The Hat
Fold the hat fabric in half and sew along the curved edge using backstitch or a straight stitch on machine.
If you want to use a bell, sew it firmly in place the seam. Make sure it's not too near the top or it won't fit when you turn the hat right side out. It's felt so it's stiff, you're probably going to need a proddy pokey thing that isn't too sharp- you don't want to accidentally push through the fabric or seam.
Turn the hat right side out and place it on the head. Keep in mind where the face is. Again this might be a little snug. It all depends on your opinion of the size of a marble. Felt does stretch in a permanent, non elastic way so if necessary you can give it a little stretch to fit over the head, hiding any wrinkles. Just remember if it over stretches it won't go back and it CAN tear.
Using backstitch or blanket stitch and a thread to match the hat fabric, sew around the hat and head. Make sure to dig your needle into the head a little as you sew. If possible sew the back of the hat down below the neckline thread. This makes a neater and more secure finish.
If you've been using a machine this whole time and aren't sure what backstitch is, go back 3 steps and watch the video. Secure the thread to finish.
Step 9: Head to Body
If not using felt, make sure the neckline fabric is folded inside the body. It will probably get folded in as you ease the neck folds of the head into the body hole. It can be a faff if the hole is too small or the body is over full. Unpick some stitches to make the job easier and sew them up again when you get to the next bit, or utilise that proddy pokey thing again.
If using felt, gently stretch the hole if needed and ease the neck in
Using backstitch and a thread to match the body, secure and sew around the neckline making sure to dig a little into the head's neck gathers.
This is the most challenging step. Small stitches are best, especially if making something to give to a very small child, but I've seen 4-7yr olds make solid enough (for their needs) seams using huge stitches that go straight through the neck and out the other side.
You're done! At this point you can embroider a face on if you wish or add tiny clothes, it's entirely up to you.
Step 10: Blanket Stitch Variation
When I use this method I often cut a curve at the bottom of the body rectangle. I just like the way it looks and I don't have to think about sewing neatly around a corner.
Fold the felt in half, then fold it in half again.
Snip a tiny and I do mean a very small corner from the top of the fold. Remember you can always make a hole bigger but you can't cut a hole smaller again.
Secure your embroidery thread at one 'shoulder' and then blanket stitch around to the other shoulder. Secure to finish.
If you don't know how to blanket stitch then take a look at the above video.
Now go to step 7, Filling.