"In Swedish Tradition it is a tomte (or jultomte – Yule tomte) who brings Christmas presents to children. It is traditional to leave a bowl of porridge out for the tomte on Christmas night as a special gift to thank him." -Introduction to The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits by Ulf Stark and Eva Eriksson
We have an absolutely amazing tutorial from none other than Margaret Bloom! You may know her books Making Peg Dolls and Making Peg Dolls & More. Margaret created a Yule tomte tutorial, which pairs well with one of our favorite books: Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits. Even if you don't have the book that inspires the figure, this adorable little tomte is a perfect way to encourage imaginative and open-ended play. Let your child's imagination take this festive gnome on adventures big and small!
Gather the Materials
- One blank peg doll, 2 3/8 in. (6 cm) tall
- A 1 ½ in. x 3 in. piece of stretchy, grey knit fabric (a piece of felted wool sweater, an old t-shirt, sock etc…). Alternatively, you could knit a small grey rectangle sized 1 ½ in. x 3 in. Regular, non-stretchy, grey wool felt could also work.
- A 3 in. x 3 in. piece of red felt
- A needle plus grey toned and red toned floss or thread
- A tiny scrap of white wool felt
- White wool yarn
- One small wooden bead, 5/16 in. diameter (optional)
- Glue, ruler, scissors, a fine paintbrush, sand paper (optional), and black paint
Making the Hat
Cut your piece of red felt into a triangle: approx. 3 in. x 3 in. x 4 in.
Form into a cone shape which fits the head of your peg doll. Pin to hold the shape, and then use your needle and red floss/thread to stitch closed.
Once you’ve knotted off your sewing, you should have two little triangles hanging down at the back of the hat. Trim these off so your little red tomte hat is even around the brim.
Making the Beard
Cut a piece of white felt 1 ½ in. x ¼ in.
Cut twenty to thirty pieces of white wool yarn -- how many pieces you will need depends on the weight of your yarn. Here Margaret used a mix of fingering and lace weight yarns, so she needed to cut a lot of pieces. You may need fewer!
Apply a thin line of glue to your tiny strip of white felt and then press your yarn into the glue as shown above in the first photo.
Once your glue has dried, trim the little beard into desired length and shape.
Dressing Your Tomte
Sew your 1 ½ in. x 3 in. piece of stretchy, grey knit fabric into a tube on your peg doll body (alternatively, you can sew up the tube and then slide it onto the body).
Sew a loose running stitch around the neck of the doll. Pull your stitches tight to gather the fabric and then knot.
Glue the hat onto the head of your Tomte
Glue the beard onto the face of your tomte. (Make sure you leave enough space to add eyes and nose between the beard and the hat.)
Adding the Nose
NOTE: If your tomte will be handled by young children, the nose may become unglued and pose a choking hazard. Please omit for the safety of young children.
Use sandpaper to create a small (½ cm), flat area on one side of your bead.
Glue the flat side of the bead above the beard.
Finally, paint small dots for eyes onto your Tomte!
Your tomte is now ready to visit your home. Don’t forget to leave him a bowl of oatmeal for Christmas! Instructions to make little rabbits to accompany your tomte can be found in Margaret's book Making Peg Dolls & More.