Monday, December 13, 2010

Scandinavian Christmas, Day 2

Welcome everyone to the 2nd day of Scandinavian Christmas!

Today's inspiration comes from Pam over at Gingerbread Snowflakes. Check out this adorable little Nisse ornament she made! Pam has all sorts of neat holiday crafts over at her blog, including a complete tutorial for this little fellow and even a cute Dala horse ornament, go have a look!

Pam inspired me to recreate one of the many little Swedish Tomte figures my parents have around our house this time of year. I'm not quite sure if there's any real difference between the Danish/Norwegian/Swedish Tomte or Nisse, does anyone out there know? According to what I've read about them, Tomtes were mythical little farm helpers. The old tale is that back in the day they would either bring your farm prosperity, or ruin if you didn't treat them well.

I made a quick tutorial for how to make your own little (or big, if you prefer) Tomte! Enjoy!

You will need:
  • Red or white felt
  • Stuffing
  • White or gray wool roving (or yarn if you prefer, for the beard)
  • Flesh colored roving or felt (for the nose)
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun, or other quick-drying glue
  • Floral wire
  • Styrofoam balls, I used 2 sizes: 50mm and 80mm (a golf ball could also work)
You can vary the color and sizes to what you prefer.

1. First, determine what size triangle you need to cut for your Tomte. Measure around the midsection of the ball and add 1 inch. For example, my small styrofoam ball was 6" around + 1" = 7" total. I made my hats the same height. For my smaller Tomtes my triangle was 7" at the bottom and 7" high.

2. Cut out your triangle and measure it around the ball. Pinch together and pin. Sew across along the entire hat.

3. Trim any excess felt off and round the top corner. Turn right-side out.

4. Cut off a section of your styrofoam ball so it will sit flat. Next, glue a circle piece of white felt to the bottom.

5. Take your floral wire and cover the end with hot glue. Insert to the top of the Tomte hat and squeeze the tip so it sticks. This is so your hat will stay hunched over later.

6. Stuff the hat around the wire. Leave about 1" - 1.5" space for the ball.

7. Cut a circular piece of red felt with a hole in the center and glue it inside the hat.

8. Prepare your beard by pulling small sections of the wool roving off.

9. Working in 2" segments and starting near the bottom of the ball, add hot glue to your ball and start to stick your sections of wool roving on.

10. Work all the way around before starting with the top layer.

11. Do the same for the top layer. Add as much wool as you need so you cannot see the ball. You can lay longer pieces across the top and secure with hot glue. Trim the floral wire down and hot glue the hat on top of the completed ball. Curve the hat to one side, the wire will make it stay in place.

12. Make a ball with the flesh colored wool roving. If you don't have wool roving, you could paint a small wooden ball or cut a small circle from felt. Glue the ball near the edge of the hat so it looks like his nose is peaking out.

Try out different colors like this white and gray-bearded Tomte!

You can make an entire Tomte family!

And they make great gifts! I'll be giving these away to my grandma and brother-in-law's mom, both big Tomte fans.


  1. OMG these are just too cute. I still have some of that white "hair" left and plenty of red felt and I am definitely making a tomte for my tree! And for Diane!

    I feel very honored that you have linked to my nisse tutorial. Thank you! And Happy St. Lucy Day!

  2. These are so sweet Kathryn! And look like so much fun to make. Not this year, but I'll definitely store this idea away for next year!

  3. I think a tomte is kind of similar in all the Scandinavian countries. Have you read Rien Portviliets book about gnomes? It is my favorite book! your tomte is SO cute! Well done!

  4. Thanks everyone! Pam, thanks for the permission to link back to you, your Nisse ornament is so precious!

    Carin, good luck making them next year!

    Kate, tack tack! :)

    Thanks for the info Hanna, I wasn't quite sure...I'll have to read that book!

  5. I just love Pam of Gingerbread Snowflakes! Her nisse is so cute!

    I LOVE your Tomte. I may have to make some for my own house, my kids would love them!

    I LOVE Rien Portviliets book about gnomes. I grew up perusing that book as a kid. Now I have two copies (I forgot I had the first one and saw the second and knew I had to have it!). In fact my oldest daughter was reading it just last night! So magical!


  6. These are great! Very authentic. I'm Swedish, and I think the Scandinavian tomtar are quite similar. Nowadays the old help-nissar and santa is blending together. Thanks for a really good tutorial! ( I also did a little gnome/nisse craft : )

  7. I love this craft. I've recommended it on Facebook for anyone whose kiddos fall in love with Gnomeo and Juliet. They have some Garden Tomtes in that least from what I've seen on the preview. Such a cute craft! Thanks!

  8. These are so adorable! Your instructions are excellent. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm off to make one now - wish me luck!

  9. thank you very much for sharing, I shall be delighted to try it !!