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Tutorial: How to Make a Gnome Hat for a Young Child

This week’s How-To is How to Make a Gnome Hat for a Young Child by Beth. It was originally published on her site Acorn Pies. A lovely warm (and very cute!) project to make for your child made with a recycled sweater.

You need very basic sewing skills to make this hat. Without the options, it has only one seam and is an excellent beginner’s project.

Begin with a felted thrift-store wool pullover sweater. To felt a sweater, throw it in the washing machine on warm. Keep an eye on it. Some sweaters shrink a lot more than others. The fibers will grab one another and make a dense fabric which is lovely to work with and very warm, and which hides sewing imperfections very well.

If you are like me, you want to start RIGHT NOW. But it would be best if you read the instructions through first.
Start by making a pattern with some newsprint or other inexpensive paper. Adjust the face measurement to suit your child. The face measurement goes from below the jaw, straight over the top of the head, and down the other side to the matching spot below the jaw. The 9 and a quarter inch measurement shown above is half the total face measurement, because you are going to cut the fabric on the fold, and of course the neck measurement is also halved.

Place your pattern on the pullover. The pointy peak should be nestled under the arm. The top of the head runs down the side seam of the sweater. The face goes along the finished bottom edge of the sweater. Now boldly cut the sweater.

This sweater has a very deep ribbing at the bottom of the sweater, so I folded it back before placing my pattern.
This sweater feels a little scratchy, so I decided to make a cotton flannel lining which will go from the front edge to behind the ear. The lining is optional.
Now pin it onto the opened-up hat, wrong sides together. I have folded the ribbing out so that I won’t sew through it. You want to position the lining all the way to the front of the hat. Now machine sew it. Trim the edges of the lining fabric. You can leave them raw, because they will be covered by bias tape. Do not sew down the back seam of the lining. Keep it loose. I realize I didn’t give you a measurement for the lining. As you can see it goes from the front of the hat and ends before the back seam.
Now get out your bias tape to finish the raw edge at the bottom of the hat. This is also optional. (Supposedly, felted wool will not unravel.) I’m going to use the periwinkle. The bias tape is deeper on one side than on the other. That is so that when you sew it on the narrower side, you won’t miss sewing the tape on the inside of the hat.
Stop! Before you put on the bias tape, try the hat on your child and make sure you are happy with the fit. You can still trim the bottom edge, and shape it around the back of the neck the way you want. You can also put a pin or a little mark of chalk where you want the chin ties to go right now, so you don’t have to wrestle your child to the ground again later.

I put the narrow side of the bias tape on the outside of the hat and pinned it. Fold the ends under neatly.
I machine sewed the bias tape. I wish I had hand-sewn it, though of course that would have been very time-consuming. I think it would have looked nicer. In the picture below, you can see that I have pinned the back seam. Sew it with your machine, from the bottom edge up to the tip. Just leave the raw edge out. It is too bulky otherwise.
I got out some special trims and some bells to look at. I picked the rick-rack. Look how the tip of the hat developed a nice little swoop. Have you checked to see where you want to put the chin ties? Also make sure your ties are long enough to tie a bow.
I hand-sewed the rick-rack, catching a thread from the hat under the ribbing from time to time, to keep the ribbing from flopping forward. I like to do some hand-sewing on every project, so I enjoyed it. Here is a picture of the lining, bias trim, and rick-rack chin straps. If the rick-rack is hard to tie in a bow, I will add some ribbon backing
If you have a plainer fabric to work with, you can create some shapes out of wool felt for decorating your hat, and sew them on by hand. Mushrooms, acorns, flowers, squirrels…!
I can’t wait to try it on somebody! If you make a gnome hat for a child, please send me a picture for a special posting at the beginning of December. Try to take a picture of your gnome outside!
Copyright 2009 Beth Curtin. Reprinted with permission. I sewed two bells onto the tip.

The ends on the back seam of the hat are going to show. Make them as neat as you can.

Machine sew the hems on the long sides.

This tutorial was brought to you by Natalie, of Woolhalla.
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Friday Feature with Kreativ Spiel

Today’s interview is with new Natty Kid Angela, of Kreativ Spiel. Enjoy!

Tell us little about yourself!

My name is Angela,  I am Mom to 2 boys and I am now living in my 7th year in the United States. But I was born and raised in Germany and had the luck to grow up with all the wonderful quality wooden toys, Germany is known for. Waldorf principles are naturally incorporated in a German child’s every day life.
I have many wonderful memories of my childhood thanks to the magical toys and freedom of play that was given to me.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?

I am fairly new to creating wooden toys. I started in February of this year and, as it is with most things in life, it’s an ongoing learning process.

What inspires you?
Memories of my own childhood, books, nature and of course my two boys.
What got you started working with wooden toys?
The desire to create something with my own hands, that my will bring joy to kids and that incorporates everything that is important to me: the use of natural materials, the option for open, imaginative play and uniqueness in the design.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?

I have been selling on Etsy since February, though due to a move always across the country, I had to take a long break. But now I am bursting of new ideas and I am trying much as my time allows to put those new ideas to work.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
Always keep going, don’t give up. And having a great customer service is key to everything.

 What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?

I hope to gain some more experience about selling on etsy, as well as get inspired and maybe inspire others through our exchange of thoughts and talents.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

I believe surrounding your children with the beauty of natural toys is one of the biggest gifts you can make them. In a world of hustle and bustle, the simplicity and warm energy those kind of toys radiate is more important than ever. Toys that allow for imaginative play are of such value in a time where almost everything around us seems battery operated and function with the pushing of a button.
Our children should be worth these toys, vs. cheap, mass produced and potentially hazardous toys from China.

Your links:
Thank you Angela!
This interview was by Kat, of kats in the belfry.
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Instructions Not Included Part 2

Two weeks ago I began this blog topic. It is such a powerful idea to me, that children should be allowed to play without parental direction or instruction, that I decided to do the article in two parts. I am focusing on only one of the ways parents can step back and let their children do what they do best and naturally: play. That is, to provide them with toys they can figure out, which are open-ended, meaning the child can use her or his own imagination to complete the toy. It is difficult for some parents to understand this concept and choose a natural toy when they are bombarded by advertising from so many big “name” brands. In the first part of “Instructions Not Included,” I gave several examples from my fellow artisans from Etsy’s Naturalkids Team. I’d like to invite new readers to start with my last post. In this current post, I will continue to offer suggestions in this area with additional links.

Here’s something to consider:I read somewhere that invention is not necessarily creating something new with a purpose, but giving a new purpose and way of using to an existing item. Take the item pictured above from Fairiesnest. Yes it is a wand…or is it? If so, is it for a wizard, a fairy a princess? The answers to these questions will be completed by the child. What new way of using this timeless toy will be invented, what enchanting scenarios may be created? And since it is not licensed or branded by a multinational corporate identity, the possibilities are truly endless.

“Waldorf dolls, such as those made by Bellawinter,
Germandolls or
Woodcreations’….convey little expression. Like the “Mona Lisa,” they are enigmatic and allow the child to decide their emotional state.

In imaginary play, this aspect of allowing the child to complete the toy by deciding if the baby is sleepy or awake, sad or exuberant, not only exercises the child’s imagination, but may also be therapeutic, allowing the child to work through emotional struggles. When Eva was 2, she slipped off the step in our pool. One second later, I lifted her out. This upset her nonetheless. The next day, she had her baby in the bathtub and was teaching it to swim. Clearly she was working out her feelings about water. Mommy’s only job was to wring the toy out later and allow it to dry!

Here is a gnome by Oritdotan. Who is he? Where did he come from? Is that a shell really a cauldron with stew? This playset does not offer any solutions to these riddle. Instead, it offers endless possibilities for the child to imagine.

Beneaththerowantree‘s gnome is quite different…almost a beehive…is he friendly or shy, abiding or mischievous? The child can decide what adventures to send him on, what his future in their present will be.

And who are the gnome’s or the doll’s friends?
Perhaps a needle felted bird, by Thesingingbird

…or some tiny hedgehogs…by Purplemoonfibers.

How about a snail from Woodmouse?


…or Freedomrainbow’s custom order cat…

Is it a really a cat or a woolly forest creature or someone from another universe. this is for the child to decide.

The conversations and adventures these creatures could have with each other are endless, because they come free of history, branding or any other known fact.

There are so many examples I could give from my colleagues on’s Naturalkids Team. But I hope these few examples will give readers a taste of the endless play their children could delight in with toys made from natural materials as they project their fantasies onto them. Like Cozycottage’s strawberries, the sweetness is there, ready to be enjoyed by all the senses, and it begins with the imagination.

In my next blog, we’ll explore another aspect of the playroom. Til then, be well.

By Rebecca Varon-Remstein