Learn how to make Thanksgiving gnomes to accent your holiday 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.
Poor Thanksgiving. Sandwiched in-between Halloween and Christmas, it hardly ever gets the attention it deserves.
And this year? I’ve noticed that people are bringing out their Christmas decor earlier than ever! No judgements here, but I just don’t think I’m ready to give up my fall decorations. After all . . . I do love me some brown and orange.
What I’m saying is I want to keep the harvest mood going just a bit longer.
I made some fall gnomes, and I love them, but I wanted to make some gnomes specifically for Thanksgiving, so that’s what I’m showing you here today.
These cuties go from the standard white beard to the brown, and I picked herringbone fabrics for the hats that remind me of November. I’m not sure how fabric can remind me of November, but can you disagree with me?
These stay out on my mantel or side table until the Christmas gnomes come out to play for the year. If you’ve never made them before . . you’re going to be shocked at how easy they are! No, really.
Making the Gnomes
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, the beard, and then the nose.
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! While they are often seen in gardens, 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 pieces of dollar store mop head. There are a few options, though I personally 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, any glue can seep through the fabric and cause dark spots. And we don’t want that.
Are you ready to learn how to make these Thanksgiving 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 cut out the hat fabric, 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 and trash it. 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, from light to dark, and paint the wood bead nose that color 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 herringbone 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 grab the cutting wheel, so that’s what I did.
Watch your hands while cutting. Here’s the hat fabric, ready to go on!
Attach the Hat Fabric
The paint on the base of the cone 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 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 in a sensitive group (you might want to use a mask). Read all application instructions.
Smooth down the hat and let dry.
Attach the Beard
Gather your beard making supplies, including the template if you need it.
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. If you want to add a leaf or turkey leg embellishment on the hat anywhere, you can. Here’s how mine turned out.
Display these bad boys anywhere you like. I love my DIY Thanksgiving 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 gnomies! If you love them, let me know in the comments. I’d also love for you to check out the following posts. Happy Thanksgiving y’all!