Plant Dyed Forest Gnome

Plant Dyed Forest Gnome

     These little Forest Gnomes will be a welcome addition to your winter nature table, bedside table, or even your pocket! They are easy to make, easy to dye, and free from any synthetic chemicals.

Here’s what you’ll need:
An old white T-shirt (One that you don’t mind cutting up).
A cup of Tea.
Some thick fabric such as wool felt or cotton canvas. (Natural fibers work best.)
Plant matter- anything green! I used Rose leaves, Parsley, Nettle, Mint, and Indigo leaves
Stuffing- wool if possible.
And your sewing kit- thread, scissors, sewing needle
A piece of paper to make a pattern
An old paper bag or cloth to dye on
A hammer, rubber mallet or a smooth rock

Cut a big square of white T-shirt fabric. (Maybe cut 6" off the bottom.)
Make a cup of tea. (I used English Breakfast tea, but you can experiment with all kinds of tea or coffee to make skin colors.)
Put the fabric in the cup of tea, and leave it all day.
At the end of the day, remove the fabric, squeeze out all the water and lay flat to dry. This is your skin fabric!

Make a pattern:
Here’s an easy way to make a really great pattern for your gnome.
Fold #1:  Fold the paper into a triangle, lining up two edges of your paper.
Fold #2:  Fold it again, in the same direction.
Unfold the last fold.
Fold #3:    Now, fold the top point down and line the point up anywhere along the center fold, depending on how tall you want your gnome to be.
Open fold #3 and cut across on that line where the fold is.

     This makes a really nice shape for your gnome!
     Decide how tall the hat will be, and cup a half circle for the face on the edge that is NOT folded. (Somewhere in the middle.)

     There’s your pattern! Sometimes I curve the bottom so it is a little higher on the folded side, but that’s not essential.

     Use your pattern to cut a gnome out of the wool felt or another heavy fabric.

To Dye:
Lay out your bag. 
Working on this will keep your fabric and the surface you are working on clean.
Place the gnome you cut out on the bag.
Place green leaves on half the fabric.
Fold it over so the leaves are inside the fabric.
Use your hammer to pound the fabric (gently) until you have the desired amount of color on it. (See the left photo below.)
You can make leaf prints, or repeat over and over until the fabric is one semi-solid color.
Lay flat to dry. (See the photo on the right below.)

Sew it up!
Use a blanket stitch or a whip stitch to sew up the base and the hat, Leave an opening for the face.

   Cut a square of your skin fabric. (About 3” square for the larger gnome, smaller than that for a small gnome.)
You can wrap it around a little ball of wool, and stuff it all in the gnome from the bottom. (See the photo below on the left.)
  Or, gather the ends of the skin fabric around the ball of wool, and tie a string around the base to secure it. (See photo below on the right.) Tuck that little ball inside for the face.

   Another option for the face, is just stuff with wool, and don't use the skin fabric at all.
   It’s fun to add a string to the tip of the hat for hanging!
   I don’t usually add a fabric base, but if you want to, set your stuffed gnome on the felt and trace the bottom circle. Cut the circle out and sew that to the bottom of your gnome.

   Enjoy your Forest gnome! Maybe make a lot of them and string them on a garland? Maybe make a family? Maybe make a tiny one, and hide it for someone special to find? Have fun!