This is the best DIY little pocket-sized holiday present ever! Adults and children alike cannot help but smile when they see these little guys roll head- over-feet down a ramp!
Inspiration: I made these elves as stocking stuffers for my boys many years ago. They are small enough 3”x4” to fit into a stocking or a pocket (rolled up, it is about 1.5" by 1.5"). After the holiday season, my boys would carry their elves in their pockets and would roll them down their torsos in the car or play with them while sitting bored in an airport.
Note: I have entered this Instructable in the Holiday Gifts Contest because these elves are great holiday gifts and stocking stuffers; the Pocket-Sized Contest because these elves easily fit inside a pocket; the Design Competition because I think this design is fabulous; and the 3-D Printer Contest because it would be great to have a 3-D printer to make such items as the head and ball used in this Elf!
Time to make: 30 min.
Cost: less than $2 each
Recommended Ages to make: 10+
Recommended Ages to play with elves: 3+
WARNING: This toy has small parts (especially the 7/8" metal ball) that may be a choking hazard to young children.
Step 1: Materials and Supplies
Dowload and print pattern (pdf file)
Scraps of thin felt or polarfleece
One 1 3/8” long tube with 1” diameter *
One 7/8” diameter metal ball**
hand sewing needle
thread that matches the color of the hat
* I used a cardboard tube from an old rocket kit. You can also use a piece of PVC pipe or a plastic tube from a tube of holiday gumballs. An inexpensive roll can be made by simply taking a piece of an index card and wrapping it several times around a 1” broom handle and taping the roll in place.
** The ball needs to be heavy. A marble will not work. If you do not have a 7/8” metal/steel ball, I suggest gluing together fishing weights into the shape of a 7/8” ball and wrapping them with tape. Realize that the “ball” must be heavy and must be able to roll freely through the 1” tube.
***I have tried all kinds of glue and find a glue gun to be the easiest to use for this project. Tacky glue works, but you have to pin everything together until it dries. AND despite what the lable says, it does not dry clear on felt! So, if you are using a hot glue gun instead of a cool version, be careful and don’t burn your fingers!
Step 2: Cutting the Felt Pieces
Download, print, and cutout patterns I have provided on a pdf file.
Using the pattern pieces, cut out the elf parts from felt. Choose whatever colors you want. For this elf, I decided to make it look like a court jester and made the body yellow and the mittens, booties, “beard”, and hat blue.
Step 3: Attaching Mittens and Booties
Glue the mittens and booties to the body. The feet will need to be folded and glued.
Step 4: Adding the Head
Glue the cardboard roll into the neck slit opening.
Step 5: Finishing Back
Turn the body over. Glue down the "folded-over" part of the body.
Step 6: The Ball!
Place metal ball into tube.
Step 7: Hat Front
Place glue on the “fringed” edge of the hat front. Attach hat front to the top of the tube.
Step 8: Hat/Neck Back
Glue the lower neck/head back part of hat to the back of the tube. Start with lining the bottom edge with the neck slit in the body.
Pull the front part of the hat to meet the back part of the hat so that the hat slopes towards the back of the elf.
So that the elf is able to roll head over feet, please sew (not glue) the top edges of the hat.
WARNING: If you use glue, it will dry too stiffly to roll properly.
Step 10: Finishing Touches
Glue on a beard and use marker to draw a face.
I chose to make this elf look like a court jester. So, I cut the “beard” to look like a court jester’s pointed collar.
I have provided a photo of a Santa, a holiday elf, and a court jester. The next one I make with have fur for a beard!
Note: So that the elf is able to roll head over feet, make sure that you do not make the body and/or had stiff with glue or decorations. Also, google eyes are prone to fall off, and pom pom balls on the hat with impede the elf’s ability to roll.
Step 11: Rock and Roll!
Your elf will roll best if placed on a board or book covered with felt. Another option is an upolistered cushion.
Trouble Shooting: If after your glue has dried, you find that your elf does not roll “head over feet,” you have a “stiff hat problem.” Another solution to the “stiff hat problem” (besides ripping off the hat, cutting out another and sewing it by hand this time as described in the “Note” Step 9) is to try tacking the back point of your elf’s hat to the back of his head.