Mother Earth Living

Holiday Helpers

Add joy to any room with these scented elf-like creations.
By Dawna Edwards
December/January 2002
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Perhaps we all could use a little extra help during the holidays. While Santa’s elves are busy this time of year with their duties, you can create an elf that is sure to bring joy to your home or to that of a friend. Add your favorite herbs and spices of the season to scent a room and place your elf on a shelf, under a tree, or propping open a door. The materials are simple and all that’s left is a little creativity in assembling and arranging each elf as you add personality to these fun decorations.

Materials 

• 6-inch flowerpot
• Red or green paint
• 3-inch plastic foam ball
• Peach or flesh-colored paint
• One 3- by 12-inch piece of fabric (for arms)
• Sewing machine or needle and thread
• 6-inch square of felt
• 12-inch chenille wire or pipe cleaner
• Hot glue gun
• 12-inch piece of string or ribbon
• Two 4- by 12-inch pieces of fabric (for legs)
• 1 cup flax seed
• 3 to 4 tablespoons dried herbs and spices
• (see “Herbs for elves” on page 44)
• 1 tablespoon powdered orris root
• One 5- by 9-inch piece of felt or other fabric (for hat)
• One 2- by 2-inch piece of peach or flesh-colored craft foam
• Whole allspice
• Black felt-tip pen
• Red chenille wire or pipe cleaner
• Various other “elf outfitting” decorations

1. Begin by painting the flowerpot upside down on newspaper with spray paint.
2. Choose a color that will complement the fabric you’ve chosen for the legs and arms.
3. Next, paint the plastic foam ball with flesh-colored paint. This may take several coats to slightly disguise the pits in the foam.
4. Insert a small stick or straw in the bottom of the head to hold the ball while drying. While you’re waiting for the paint to dry, begin working on the rest of your elf’s body.

The arms and hands1. Cut a rectangular piece of fabric according to the size noted in the materials list at left.
2. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise so that the wrong side is facing out.
3. Line the edge up and hold it in place with straight pins.
4. Sew a straight line vertically about 1/4 inch from the loose edges, removing the pins as you go (see figure 1). Do not seal the ends.
5. Turn the arm tube inside out by feeding one loose end of the arm tube through the middle.
6. Insert a chenille wire or pipe cleaner through the center of the arm tube allowing an even amount of the pipe cleaner to stick out from each end.
7. Cut out two felt hands from each of the hand patterns on page 45.
8. Lay one right-hand cutout and one left-hand cutout under each end of the pipe-cleaner and arm tube with the thumbs pointed upward.
9. Cover the felt hand with hot glue. Make sure the pipe cleaner and some of the arm fabric are overlapping the wrist of the hand by about 1/4 to 1/2 inch.
10. Quickly, before the glue cools, place the matching hand cutouts on the right and left hands.
11. Fill in the edges between the two hands with hot glue to completely seal the hands.
12. Take a piece of ribbon or fabric and tie it tightly in the center of the arm tube between the two hands. Set this aside for final assembly (explained on page 44).

The legs1. Cut two rectangular pieces of fabric as noted in the materials list at left.
2. Fold each piece in half lengthwise with the wrong side facing out.
3. Line the edge up and hold it in place with straight pins.
4. Sew a straight line vertically about 1/4 inch from the loose edges and around one end, removing the pins as you go (see figure 2).
5. Be sure to leave one end of each leg tube open.
6. Feed the sewn end of each leg tube back through the leg so the right side of the fabric is revealed and the seam isn’t obvious.
7. In a bowl, mix the herbs, spices, orris root, and flaxseed.
8. Add additional herbs and spices for a stronger scent.
9. Carefully pour or spoon about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of this mixture into each leg tube. Legs shouldn’t be filled to the top, but only about 2/3 full to allow them to be flexible and bend wherever you place them.
10. If the painted pot is dry, hold the legs underneath it (careful not to spill the filling) and decide if you prefer to add more filling for firmer-looking elf legs.
11. Seal the open end by sewing, making sure there aren’t any loose stitches where the filling can spill out.
12. Set these aside for the final assembly, explained below.

The hat1. Cut the fabric or felt you’ve chosen for the hat according to the pattern on page 45.
2. Apply hot glue to the strip labeled “Z” on the pattern.
3. Curl the fabric around in a cone and fit it to the size of your elf’s head. Set the hat aside to attach to the elf later.

The earsTrace the ear patterns found on page 45 on peach craft foam. Cut out one of each ear.

HERBS FOR ELVES• Allspice, whole or crushed
• Aniseed
• Cinnamon, ground
• Cloves, ground or whole
• Orange mint leaves
• Orange peel, dried
• Peppermint leaves
• Pine needles
• Rosemary leaves

Assembling the elf1. Put hot glue about the size of a nickel on the bottom of the painted foam ball and attach it to the bottom of the pot over the drainage hole.
2. Identify which side of the head and body you want to be the front.
3. Cover about 1 inch of the rough-sewn fabric ends of the legs with glue and attach them to the inside front of the pot about three inches apart (see figure 3).
4. Turn the pot so the head is on top and the legs are hanging from the inside of it. Set the emerging elf on a flat surface.
5. Place the hat on the head ball at whatever angle and position you’d like.
6. Turn up the edge all around the hat and put a small dab of glue under the hat on the foam ball in several spots around the head.
7. Decide where you want the face.
8. Use a pencil to lightly sketch the eyes, nose, and mouth positions. Draw the eyes with a black felt-tip pen.
9. Attach a whole allspice ball with hot glue for the nose.
10. With wire cutters, clip off a 1-inch piece of red pipe cleaner for the mouth.
11. Bend the ends up like a smile and attach it over the sketch marks with hot glue.
12. Next, hold the ears up on either side of the elf’s head with the points up and the “P” edge inward toward the head.
13. Use a pencil to lightly mark the position on the head. With a pair of scissors carefully press a small, vertical indentation into the styrofoam at each pencil mark.
14. Apply hot glue to the ears on the edge marked as “P” on the pattern, and press into the indentation on the head. Hold until cool.
15. Now, center the ribbon on the top back of the elf. Make sure the bow is facing outward and the thumbs on either side of the elf are pointed upward (see figure 3).
16. Apply a generous amount of hot glue to the back of the ribbon and part of the fabric of the arm tube. Press it onto the pot on the elf’s back until cool and stable. You may choose to glue other spots of the arms further along around the pot to make it more stable, but don’t go crazy as it’s fun to have some flexibility.
17. Bend the arms as you please.
18. Attach various other decorations, bend the arms in a welcoming wave, or cross the knees and your new elf is ready to help you through the holidays by welcoming guests with a happy smile.

TIP FOR PATTERNSTo avoid cutting out pages in the magazine, place a piece of white computer paper or tracing paper over the pattern and trace the pattern with a pencil. Then, cut out the pattern and pin it to the material before cutting.


Dawna Edwards often takes a break from her duties as editor of The Herb Companion to play in the craft room. 


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