Sunday, November 24, 2019

How to Make Tomato Cage Christmas Gnome Decorations

I saw a big Christmas gnome decorations on line at IKEA and knew two of them would look perfect decorating both sides of my front door this Christmas. Unfortunately they were already sold out of them by the first few days of November!

I was severely bummed.

It was all the encouragement I needed to shop IKEA for the materials and go with my original plan of making a set of outdoor Christmas gnomes built around tomato cages.  Since storage space is at a premium in my condo, I made my Christmas gnomes (which we Scandinavians call Tomte or Nisser) as a temporary slipcover. That way I can use the cages in my summer garden, clean them, and use them again during the Christmas decorating season.  If you have the storage space you can permanently hot glue the fabric to your tomato cage instead of holding it in place with clothes pins like I did.

how to make outdoor Scandinavian Christmas gnome decorations
Save this tutorial to your Pinterest boards for later! Share this decorating idea with your friends!

How to Make Scandinavian Christmas Gnomes

You will need the following supplies

(Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience)

IKEA POLARVIDE 100% Polyester Throw 67" x 51" per gnome – you can buy it online here

1 yard red polar fleece per gnome you can find a variety of solid and printed fleece fabric here

1 Vinter cushion cover – this is enough to make the mittens for 2 gnomes. You can also use Christmas fat quarter fabric like these here

1 white  IKEA Toftbo Bath Mat – this is enough to make the mittens for 2 gnomes. you find similar white chenille bath mats for sale here

Fabric scissors

1 pair of knee high nylons


Coordinating thread

Tailor’s pencil

sewing machine

Sewing needle

Clothes pins

Round tomato cage

Fray check

Sewing measuring tape

Straight pins

Stray plastic bags or more fiberfill

Rubber band

Optional: stiff paper or interfacing

Step by Step How to Make It Tutorial

1. Use the measuring tape to measure the circumference of the tomato cage and height for the body of your gnome. Use the scissors to cut the gray blanket to this size.

DIY Scandinavian Christmas Nisser Gnomes

Tip: I suggest making the body of the gnome taller than you think you want it. I basically starting by folding, draping, and temporarily pinning the fabric to my tomato cage to get the look I wanted. Then I marked the fabric with a tailor’s pencil, removed the fabric from the cage, and after double and triple checking, cut the fabric to the size and shape I wanted.

2.  Measure and cut 2 long triangles from the gray blanket to make the gnomes arms.

3. Fold and pin each triangle in half, sew the seam into place, and turn right side out to make the gnome’s arms.

3. Trace your hand on the cushion cover/fabric you are using the make the gnome’s mittens with the tailor’s pencil and cut out 4 mitten shapes with the fabric scissors. If you have small hands like I do, you may want to add a seam allowance to your mittens using a sewing gage. A sewing gage looks like this.

DIY Danish Christmas nisser gnomes
Need a hand?

4. Make the gnome's mittens by pinning the rights sides of the fabric together (the pretty part) and sewing them together with the sewing machine, leaving the wrist area open. Clip the edges with a pair of scissors, turn the mittens right side out, and stuff them with fiberfill as desired.

DIY Christmas tomte gnome
Everybody wave hi!

5 Pin and hand sew (you might try using hot glue. I found it easier and less messy to sew it) a gnome mitten to the inside of each arm.

how to make outdoor Christmas gnome decor
This project cost an arm and a leg!

6. Measure and cut a U or V shape out of the bath mat to make the gnome’s beard and mustache.

how to make tomato cage Christmas gnome crafts

Tip: My bathmat started to shed like crazy after I cut and handled it. In hindsight, I should have run a bead of Fray Check (you can learn more about what Fray Check is here) around the cut edge. Live and learn! Don’t be me!

7.  Make the gnome’s nose by stuffing the center of a knee high nylon with fiberfill and tying the ends together in a knot. Trim the excess nylon as desired.

DIY Scandinavian Christmas gnome crafts
So nosey! 

8. Sew/Safety pin/hot glue the gnome’s nose to the beard.

8. Sew the gnome’s beard to the center of the body fabric. I had to hand sew mine because the material was too thick to fit under the walking foot of my sewing machine.

9. Sew the gnomes arms to each side of its body.

10. With right sides together, pin and sew the edges together to make the gnome’s body.

11. Slip the gnome’s body over the upside down tomato cage and use the clothes pins to hold it in place if desired.

12. Tie or rubber band the legs of tomato cage together.

13. Use the measuring tape to measure the circumference of the tomato cage and height for the hat of your gnome.

14. Using the measurements you took in Step 13, cut a triangle shape with a rounded bottom to make the hat.

15. Fold and pin the triangle in half, sew the seam into place, and turn right side out to make the gnome’s hat.

16. Stuff the hat or line it with a cone of stiff paper/interfacing if desired and slip the hat on the gnome’s head.

how to make tomato cage Christmas Nisser Tomte Gnomes
There' no place like gnome!

Tip: I found that the hat sat better if I stuffed the top a bit. I used a ripped plastic bag and a bit of packaging pillows from the bag I forget to drop off for recycling at the grocery store.

I’ve always wanted a to decorate with a Julbukk (Yule Goat) (it looks like this) but, again, storage is in issue. Instead, I colored a Yule Goat coloring page I found on line and used Mod Podge Outdoor to attach and seal it to a piece of cardboard with ribbons hot glued ribbons to the back. I used safety pins to arrange the arms and tied the Yule Goat to his hands so it looks like my gnomes is holding it.

If you'd rather buy than DIY, check out the following options - and more! - below!

Did you enjoy this post? Get more like it by subscribing to the Condo Blues RSS Feed or to Condo Blues by Email.


Teresa B said...

So cute! I love them!
Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party. Pinned.

Lisa Lynn said...

These are adorable! Thanks for sharing on Farm Fresh Tuesdays! I hope to see you again this week!
PS...I have a wonderful giveaway going on this week :)

Unique creations by Anita said...

These are brilliant, love them 😁

Denise/My Home of All Seasons said...

These are so so cute! Great tutorial. I can't wait to share this with a friend who is just obsessed with gnomes. So adorable! Pinned!

Marie-Interior Frugalista said...

These are really cute!

Marielle said...

What a cute idea! And how smart to save on storage with the usable tomato cages and pins. Thanks for sharing the tutorial! I'm visiting from the Happy Now linkup. Have a great day!

Reidland Family said...

Those are the cutest gnomes!

Cindy Jamieson said...

These are so cute!!! I never would have thought to use tomato cages this way. Visiting from Fridays at the Fire Station :)

Oombawka Design said...

Gnomes are all the rage here this year! Thank you for sharing this great DIY to make Outdoor Christmas Gnomes at our weekly link party. You are being featured tomorrow at Party 375. Here's the link in case you'd like to share your feature: Wishing you the best, Rhondda

Lydia from Lydia's Flexitarian Kitchen said...

These are so cute! I like gnomes and these would look cute on my porch.

Oombawka Design said...

Your Scandinavian Christmas Gnomes are a great way to decorate for Winter! I love that these are so tall too! Thank you for linking up at our weekly Link Party! You are being featured at our Wednesday Party #426 this week. Here’s the direct link to the post in case you’d like to share your feature:
Hope to see you again next week! Rhondda

Tarahlynn said...

Happy Turkey week! Thank you for sharing with us at the To Grandma's house we go Wednesday link party - I'm featuring you this week when the next party starts.

Beth Watson said...

LOVE these GNOMES! We will be featuring you starting Wednesday at the Creative Crafts Linky Party!
Creatively, Beth

Kerryanne @ Shabby Art Boutique said...

These are so fun!!
Thank you for sharing your DIY project at Create, Bake, Grow & Gather this week. I'm delighted to be featuring your outdoor gnomes at tonight's party and pinning too.
Merry Christmas,

Tarahlynn said...

I'm featuring you when the next To Grandma's house we link party starts - thanks for sharing with us!

Carol, The Answer Is Chocolate said...

BRILLIANT! These are so cute and creative. Featuring when my link party opens.

Post a Comment

I love comments and read them all! If you’re shy and don’t want your opinions made public, you can always email me at condoblues [at] gmail [dot] com.