Friday, December 10, 2010

Elf on the shelf {my version} tutorial

*EDIT* I have received a few emails saying that you are having issues with the templates.  And I wanted to let you know I am working on getting this problem resolved but for now you can email me and I will send the templates to you. Sorry  for the inconvenience. OK I think I have resolved this issue.  The templates and instructions for printing can be found under the template tab.  Please, please, please let me know if you are still having problems. Thanks!

**A huge thank you to Stephanie Lynn @ Under the Table and Dreaming and Kyla @ Funky Polka Dot Giraffe for featuring my Elf!**

For those of you who haven't seen it over at Gwenny Penny for Haul out the Holly here is my Elf on a Shelf tutorial.

I'm sure many of you have heard of "Elf on the Shelf".  For those who haven't it's an answer for us parents whose kids ask "So how does Santa really know we have been naughty or nice?"  The idea is that one of Santa's elves is sent from the North pole to act as Santa eyes and ears reporting back to him your kids' behavior.  So that only families who want an elf receive one, the elves are instructed to hibernate in a box until they are adopted and only when they are given a name then they will receive their Christmas magic. The only rule is that the children may not touch the elf or the Christmas magic will disappear.  Parents are encouraged to move their elf around when the children are sleeping so it appears that they have been travelling to the North Pole.  Not only is a fun tradition but also a way to curb naughty behavior at least for part of the year ;-)

Instead of purchasing our elf I thought it would be fun to make our own.  We haven't named ours yet.  And instead of hibernating in a box I told my oldest that for some families with crafty moms Santa asks that the moms make their own elf and once it has it's Christmas magic it won't be doll anymore even though it looks like one.  This explanation seemed to satisfy my daughter.  The best case scenario would to make the elf without your kids seeing and then have it show up one day.  And for those of you who don't have kids, grand kids etc. it still makes a really cute Christmas decoration.

So without further ado, here she is...

Ready to make your own?  Other then a sewing machine and associated notions here's what you need:

Fabric for dress body and sleeves
Fabric for tights (legs)
Fabric for shoes
(I used fat quarters for the above)
Twill or similar fabric for face
Felt for hair
Felt for mittens
Felt for ears (I used the same color felt for the ears that I did for the mittens, ivory)
Felt for trim on shoes, mittens, collar, and hat.
Felt for hat
18mm jingle bells
Poly fil
Poly beads or rice/lentils
Embroidery floss
Hot glue gun

1. Print out your templates (click on template tab located below blog header). I like to use freezer paper for my pattern paper, so much easier to iron it down then to pin, seems more accurate for me too.

2. Cut out your pieces.  You need 2 dress bodies, 4 sleeves, 4 mittens, 4 tights, 4 shoes, 4 ears, 1 face, 1 back of hair, 1 front of hair, 1 hat.

3. I started with the legs but you can start with whatever appendage suits your fancy.  Take one shoe and one leg line up edges with right sides together and sew using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  I used 1/4 inch for the whole project.  Iron seam flat.

4.  Repeat 3 more times making sure you sew 2 with the toe of the shoe facing towards you and two facing away so that they match up when you sew the two pieces of each leg together.

5. Take your two pieces of one leg and put right sides together.  Make sure your seams match up.  Pin if you want.

 6. Sew around.

7. Clip toe point on shoes and clip curves

8. Turn inside out.  I have to admit this isn't the easiest but it can be patient and take your time.  My secret weapon is a bamboo knitting needle or if you have a tool specifically used for turning then that works too.

9. Once turned fill with poly fil.  Take care not to over stuff otherwise when you get to the step where we make a doll sandwich it will be really tough to close and sew around.  It just needs to be squishy not stiff.  I also did not stuff the toes of my elf's shoes but this is a personal preference.

Now on to the arms.

10. Line up edges of one mitten and one dress sleeve with right sides together and sew together.  Iron seams flat.

11. Repeat 3 more times, again making sure that 2 are with thumb towards you and 2 with thumb facing away.

12. Put RIGHT sides together making sure seams match and sew around.

The picture above shows wrong sides together proving that I should never sew before having coffee. Ha! I was so frustrated with myself that I forgot to take a corrected picture.  So please use your imagination.

13. Turn inside out...the felt is bulky so for me rolling up the mitten was helpful.

14. Fill both arms with poly fil, again taking care not to over stuff.

Now that the legs and arms are done we can move on to the head and body.

15. Take front hair piece and place on top of face piece.

16. Sew hair to face.  You can either machine sew or embroider.  I chose to embroider using a chain stitch.

Before doing this elf I didn't know many stitches including this one until I found Stitch School by way of Homemade by Jill.  It's a very helpful website for novices.

An elf just isn't an elf unless it has those cute ears.

17. Take two of the ear pieces and sew together.  Since they are out of felt they will not fray so no need to turn them inside out  (YAY!)

18. Trim edges.

19. Take face and one dress body piece and place them right sides together.

20. Repeat with back of hair and other dress body piece.  Iron seams flat.

Hungry?  Cuz now it's time to make an elf sandwich. :-)

21. Take the face and dress piece and place on surface right side facing up.  The next step is easier to show with a picture.

22. Do the same with the arms (and yes those are drawn in arms-again, coffee before crafting!)...make sure thumbs on each arm are facing each me it is not fun to realize this after the fact.

23. Place other dress body and hair piece on top with right side facing down.

Please notice in above picture ears are pinned the wrong way (Aaarghh!)...see below how they should be.

24. Sew around leaving opening at top of head and turn right side out.

25. Take some poly beads or rice/lentils and put in doll body.  This will help weigh it down so that it sits better on your shelf.  Next fill with poly fil as little or as much as you like.

26. Stitch opening closed using a whip stitch.  Don't worry how it looks since it will be covered by the hat.

27. Take hat template and the felt you chose.  Fold felt and place one of the longer sides of the template along fold.  Cut around.

28. Sew edges together using a blanket stitch.  Set aside.

29. Take the felt you chose for your collar, mittens, shoes, and hat trim and using a disappearing ink fabric marker trace around templates. 

30. Cut out and then hot glue onto doll and hat.

31. Take buttons of your choosing and glue onto front of dress.

Almost done only a couple more steps!

32. Take your jingle bells and with a needle and thread or embroidery floss, thread through the tip of the toe and then through the loop of the bell.  Pull off needle so that you have two ends of the thread.  Tie a tight knot to secure bell.  Repeat on other toe and tip of hat.

33. Hot glue hat to head.

34. Draw the face I provided or your own using a disappearing ink fabric marker.  Using a very small bristled paint brush, paint on face using craft paint.

Here is a close up of my elf's face.

35. Now pat yourself on the back and go introduce this new tradition to your family!  And don't forget to name her!

Any questions?  Please email me, I'd love to help.


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  1. Andi,

    OMG She's so cute and you are soooo talented. :) BTW, How much would you charge for sewing lessons... ;) LOL


  2. wow! this is so cute! my kids would really love this as a craft time project ^^)

  3. He is so cute, I love his little bells on the shoes.

  4. What a darling elf & great tutorial! Thanks for the blog visit and kind comment :)

  5. WOW!!! U r soooo talented!! She is precious!!! Keep up ur awesome work girl!! Hey, how much for u to make me one cuz i'm def NOT as talented as u!?!?

  6. You're elf is seriously so much cuter then the one that comes with the book! Totally wish I could sew but great tutorial!

  7. I must make time to make this elf! My daughter has been asking for an Elf on the Shelf and you just made my life easier. Super cute!

    Jennifer :)

  8. So cute! wonder if the elf would put the bf on good behaviour also ;)

  9. This is so cute! I've been dying to do an elf on the shelf but they are expensive! But this I can do! How do I print out the pattern? Like what percent size? Thank you for the awesome tut! Now my list of crafts to get done is longer but I want to make some dolly's for family members and wat nots so this will get my butt in gear!
    Thank you! :)
    karin marie :)

  10. adorable! I have been thinking about getting the elf on the shelf, but have been too cheap! Thank goodness, now I can attempt to make my own and maybe some for others as gifts! Thanks!

  11. Thanks for linking up to TOO Cute Tuesday!!!

    I featured on you Saturday Shout Outs!

  12. Love him! Thanks for linking to quiltstory!

  13. I agree with Michelle - so much cuter than the one that comes with the book! I'm still saving the elf approach for when I really need it. Next year might be the year!


  14. I loved your elf so much I made several to give away to my family members! Thanks so much for the tutorial! You can check out my finished elves at:

  15. Ok I am not a seamstress by ANY stretch of the imagination, but I feel so proud because I made your elf and it looks SOOOO cute!!! Thank you for the great tutorial and template. I love my new elf :)


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