One week from today is Christmas Eve, and that means it is coming down to the end for getting holiday sewing done. I still have one more pair of Simcoe pajamas waiting to be stitched together, and a few little things yet to finish. Speaking of little things, while I was working on the Patchwork Christmas Stars that I shared with you a couple weeks ago, I also spent some time on these little guys... Gingerbread Men!
These gingerbread men are soft and (in my daughter's words) "soooo cute". Made from soft fuzzy fleece and stuffed with stuffing, they are a gift that is sure to bring a smile... especially if you include them with a tin of real gingerbread cookies!
I've created templates for 2 sizes of gingerbread men. The larger size is a bit big for hanging on your tree (unless big ornaments is your thing), but would look sweet on a mantle or cozied up to a bowl of christmas candies. The smaller size is perfect for the tree. You can download the template, including both sizes, below!
For this project, you will need:
Scraps of brown fleece
Polyfil for stuffing
Button(s) for the belly
Buttons, beads, or beads & sequins for the eyes
3/8" - 1/2" ribbon for the bowtie, or a pre-made bow.
Blush makeup for the cheeks
Small piece of 1/8" wide ribbon (optional - to hang)
Needle & thread
Choose which gingerbread man size you would like to make. The larger gingerbread man is approximately 6.5" tall, and the smaller star is approximately 4.5" tall.
Using the template (PDF download available below), cut two identical pieces.
- If adding a hanging ribbon, you will want to baste stitch this on first. (Basting simply means using stitches to hold something in position, instead of pins). Make a loop of the 1/8" wide ribbon, and place the raw ends together at the top on the RIGHT SIDE of one of the gingerbread pieces, as shown. Stitch in place with a couple stitches, as close to the edge as you can.
- Place the other gingerbread piece right sides together with the first, sandwiching the ribbon in between.
- Stitch ALL the way around the gingerbread man, 1/4" from the edge, being careful not to accidentally stitch the ribbon loop that is hidden inside.
Here are some very helpful tips for you when stitching the gingerbread pieces together. First of all, YES, you are stitching all the way around without leaving a gap for turning. Don't worry, I'm not being silly here, you'll understand in a couple more steps. Secondly, this is a small seam allowance and fleece is "sticky", so you are going to want to do this very slowly. I highly recommend a walking foot if you have one! If not though, don't worry, it's totally doable without one. The key is to loosen your top tension a bit and to make only a few stitches at a time, stopping after every 3-4 stitches (with the needle down) to lift your presser foot and help the fabric resume it's shape. It's not going to want to go around those curves easily on its own, so by stopping and lifting the foot you help prevent weird stretching or having the layers slip off each other. Do this all the way around; it won't take you as long as you think! Also, when you get to the corners at the neck, crotch, and under the arms, make those turns nice and sharp.
- Trim off the seam allowance closely all the way around. Trim one layer at a time to make it easier on your scissors and less likely that you might cut into the stitching. You may also snip a teeny bit at each of the sharp corners (neck, crotch, and under arms), but be careful you don't cut through the stitch line.
- TURN RIGHT SIDE OUT (this is the final picture rather than the center one, don't let that confuse you).
- Now you are going to CUT an opening which you will use to stuff the gingerbread man. Cut a line approximately 3/4"-1" wide right at the neck. This will be the FRONT of your gingerbread man, and will be completely hidden later by the bowtie.
- Stuff the gingerbread man tightly with polyfil. Use a blunt tool such as a large knitting needle or a chopstick to fill right into the toes and hands.
- Stitch the hole closed with matching thread. (you can use this same thread to sew on the bowtie if you wish).
MAKING THE BOWTIE
(you can purchase little bows already sewn from craft or scrapbooking stores, but if you want to make your own, this is a very handy way to make a nice bow!)
The size of the bow will depend on the size of your fork. The width of the fork is the width of the finished bow. You CAN do this without the fork... it's just a little trickier. Try it with using a fork a couple times and then give it a try without one because once you've figured out how to do it, you can make ANY size bow perfectly!
I'm using a large serving fork here, and these bows (with 3/8" ribbon) come out to one and a half inches wide, which I think is a nice size for the smaller gingerbread men.
It's a little hard to describe with words, so I'm going to let the photos hopefully speak for themselves. You can also find videos on Youtube to see it in action!
That's almost it for the bow... just slide it off the fork, cut the ends of the ribbon to the length you want, and heat seal them with a candle or lighter. Perfect little bow!
- Stitch the bow in place at the neck, covering any remaining evidence of the hole you closed earlier.
- Mark the position of the belly button(s) with a pen, marker, or chalk. Stitch on button(s).
- Mark where you want the eyes to go with pen, marker, or chalk.
- Stitch the eyes in place.
I used black sequins and tiny black beads for mine. You may choose to use larger beads without the sequins, safety eyes, sew-on google eyes, or regular buttons... the look you want it totally up to you!
Something I think looks super cute is to shape the face slightly when you sew on the eyes. To do this, stitch the first eye on, then (using the same thread, still attached to the first eye), go in further with the needle before coming up at the location where you will sew on the second eye. This will force some of the polyfil to get caught under your thread. Then, as you stitch on the second eye, pull the two eyes a little toward eachother. This creates a ridge between the eyes that looks quite cute.
- Use a little bit of blush to add some color to the cheeks. A Q-tip works well for this.
And you now have an adorable Gingerbread Man!
Next year, I hope to have time to make my daughter a gingerbread themed Muskoka tunic with white ricrac and some fabulous big buttons. I will likely have scraps of brown fleece left over again, so more of these little guys are very likely in my future!
DOWNLOAD THE GINGERBREAD MEN TEMPLATES HERE
Pollywoggles Gingerbread Men
Now it's high time I head back to my sewing table and finish up those other things on my Christmas to-do list. I hope this last week goes smoothly for everyone as we sew our way to the Big Day.
Hmm... I just remembered... once my sewing is done it will be time to do some Holiday baking...