Learn how to make the cutest DIY fall gnomes to accent your seasonal decor! These are such an easy autumn project – great for kids or adults.
Skills Required: Beginner. Even if you’ve never crafted before, you can easily make a gnome using a paper cone. You’ll be doing some cutting (using templates), painting, and attaching things using adhesive.
If there’s anything you should know about me it’s these three things: 1) I love pumpkin; 2) I love autumn; 3) I love gnomes. Actually there are a lot more things you should know about me, but it’s September . . . so this is what on my mind!
Once fall hits, I get the crafting bug bad. I craft all year, but my desire and enthusiasm definitely increases toward the end of the year. I’m all about fall colors (orange, yellow, brown), plaid, scarves, and all the great stuff that goes with it. I also love the decorating!
And lately I’ve realized that my autumn decor isn’t quite up to snuff.
DIY Fall Gnomes
I only had a few criteria for my project. I wanted it to:
- Use simple supplies and easy to make
- Use herringbone, plaid, or other cool autumn fabrics (but be no sew)
- Be able to sit on a mantel or table
- Some vertical height
- Can recreate for other holidays
I think I did okay! I love my little autumn gnomes and how they turned out. I’m hoping that you want to make them too, and I’m going to show you how below.
You can make a gnome in six simple steps! You’re going to make the template, then set aside and paint the cone. You’ll cut out the hat fabric. Then you’ll attach the fabric, then the beard, and then the nose.
Most of the steps go relatively quick, and once you get the template and the process you’ll want to do it for every holiday. Before we get into that, I’ve got a few frequently asked questions for you. If you want the FAQs check them out, otherwise the tutorial is at the bottom.
What do gnomes represent?
Why gnomes? They symbolize protection, good luck, longevity, hard work, mischief, and playfulness (source). All those things sound cool to me! Usually you see them in the garden, but I decided to bring them indoors.
Cones to Use
The paper mache cones for my base can be found here. They are 10.63 x 4″. The template I made works for this size cone, but I’m sure you can alter it easily for other sizes.
I prefer the look of the paper mache, but you can also use foam cones. To be honest, they are a little bit cheaper and more readily available. I’m just a paper mache girl for whatever reason (and you can stack them).
Material for Beards
I used faux fur for the beards, though some people use felt, yarn, or even a cut up dollar store mop head. There are a few options – I do like the faux fur best, plus it comes in a bunch of different colors.
How to Attach Fabric
Spray adhesive works well to attach the fabric, but you could probably use a thin layer of Mod Podge. If you use anything liquid, just be careful that your hat fabric isn’t too thin (I used flannel). Otherwise, the liquid could seep through and make dark spots unevenly.
Are you ready to learn how to make these fall gnomes? Here we go!
Gather These Supplies
- Paper mache cones – 2
- Cone template
- Beard template
- Wood beads – 2 (5/8″)
- Acrylic paint – skin tone of your choice
- Flannel fabric – enough to cover the cone
- Faux fur pieces
- Paper to print template
- Spray adhesive
- Sharpie or pen
- Painter’s tape
- Hot glue gun
Cut Out the Hat Fabric
You’ll first want to create a template you’ll use to make your fall gnome, and you’ll want to hold onto this template. You can use it anytime you want to make additional gnomes! Remember mine fits the 10.63 x 4″ cones.
Print it out (poster setting, full size, it should take four pieces of paper). You’ll then cut it out on the outside red line and piece together with tape.
Save the scraps from cutting it out – don’t crumple the paper. You’ll see why.
Before you go any further, test the template for fit! You don’t want to move onto the next step if it doesn’t cover the cone.
Now here’s why you need the scraps. If you think about your gnome, the fabric isn’t going to cover the entire hat. There will be a portion at the bottom that is painted “skin tone” and beard.
The large scrap piece that you cut off the bottom at the widest part of the curve? You’re going to use it to draw a line about 1 3/4″ from the bottom of your template! Turns out the cut scrap makes a perfect curved line for you to trace.
Now cut the bottom portion off your template on the line you just traced using the scissors.
Do another test fit on your cone, just to be sure. Set the template aside for the moment.
Paint the Cone
Choose your skin tone paint color. You can go with any flesh tone you like, and paint the nose too.
Paint the entire bottom third of the cone with a few coats of paint and let dry.
Set the cone aside so you can make some fall gnome hats.
Cut Out the Hat Fabric
Place your fabric down on a cutting surface and place the template on top.
I used a cutting wheel to just zip around the template. You can use a craft knife, or trace the template and cut with scissors. It was easy to grabbing the cutting wheel so I did.
Here’s the hat fabric, ready to go on!
Attach the Hat Fabric
The skin tone paint needs to be completely dry for the next step. Cover the bottom portion of the cone with painter’s tape. The reason for this is so that you don’t spray the “skin” with spray adhesive. You want it on the cone only.
Cover with painter’s tape, overlapping as shown. I suppose you could also spray the fabric piece, but I didn’t really have anywhere to place the fabric down and spray down onto it. So this was easier for me!
The next step is to spray the cone, quickly apply the fabric, and wrap around to secure.
Note: use spray adhesive in a well ventilated area and check safety information if you are sensitive (you might want to use a mask).
Smooth down the hat and let dry.
Attach the Beard
Gather your beard making supplies, including the template.
Trace the template on the back of the faux fur (color of your choice). Then you’re going to cut out.
NOTE: Don’t just cut through the faux fur because you’ll end up cutting off a lot of the beard fur. Pull the fur forward and away from the back of the fabric when cutting.
Place a bead of hot glue on the back of the beard piece, then press down onto the cone.
Add the Nose
Use 5/8″ wood beads. It’s easy to sand a small portion of the bead flat with a piece of sandpaper, so it can sit flush when you glue it.
The last step is to attach the nose with a dab of hot glue. Put it right in the center where the hat meets the beard.
Make as many gnome as you like! Pick fun fabrics, and even add fun embellishments if you like. Here’s how mine turned out.
Display these bad boys anywhere you like. I love my DIY autumn gnomes!
- Sharpie or pen
- Hot glue gun
- Print out the template and assemble using tape. Cut out, and then cut 1 3/4" off of the bottom of the template. Set aside.
- Paint the bottom of the cone with a few coats of acrylic paint, using the skin tone of your choice. Let dry.
- Cut the fabric of the hat out using the template.
- Tape off the bottom of the cone, and apply spray adhesive to the top portion. Wrap the fabric around, smooth, and let dry.
- Cut the faux fur for beards using the template. Trace on the back and then keep the faux fur forward while cutting.
- Attach a beard piece to the base of the cone using a hot glue gun.
- Sand a flat spot on a wood bead using sandpaper. Hot glue the nose in the center where the beard meets the fabric to finish.
I hope you enjoyed these fall gnomes! If you love them, let me know in the comments. Happy fall y’all!