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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.

5 thoughts on “Tutorial: How to Make a Gnome Hat for a Young Child

  1. oh, this is great!!! I am so making this for my 9yr old for Christmas! i think will add some pom-poms to mine, perhaps some needlefelted details.

  2. absolutely adorable … thank you for posting!

  3. This is such a great tutorial! I am making this tomorrow for my little girl who lost her hat at school this week-thank you!

  4. What an awesome tutorial! If I may add: You can make your own bias tape! Just cut some fabric strips and fold them in half and fold the sides in. It is so much cheaper!

  5. The gnome hat is just too adorable. Might have too make one myself. Thanks for sharing.

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