Make a Spun Cotton Santa!
In my book I share four different 'recipes' for crafting vintage elves. Today I'm making a bearded elf, but dressed as Santa! This project combines premade spun cotton shapes as well as hand-crafted cotton parts like the hat and beard which are made out of batting. I cover dyeing cotton batting in the book, which is really quite straightforward. Good, 100% cotton batting can be dyed with Rit or other fabric dyes to match the rest of your components. Follow the directions on the dye packaging, and handle the batting gently, avoiding any wringing.
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- 25mm spun cotton ball for the head
- 6mm spun cotton ball for the nose
- 40mm spun cotton ball for the body
- Two 20mm eggs for the feet
- 1 1/2 inch cardboard circle
- Bump chenille or thick pipe cleaner in red
- 100% cotton batting in natural, and a small piece dyed red
- Paintbrush, craft paints in red, skin color, blush color, white, eye color, and black
- Prepared cornstarch medium - see below
- Toothpicks, skewers, and foam block
- Low temp hot glue gun, glue sticks
- 20mm spun cotton bell
- Mini holly berry wired stamen
- Metallic red crepe paper
Insert skewers or toothpicks into the 40mm ball, and the 20mm eggs to use as handles. Paint them red, insert the handles into a foam block, and allow to dry.
Glue a 6mm ball to the side of a 25mm ball to make the head with nose. Insert a toothpick into the head to use as a handle, and paint it in the skin color you have chosen. While the paint is still wet, add an accent color to the cheeks and nose to give the face some variation. Allow to dry and then paint the eyes in layers, allowing each color to dry in between: Start with two semicircles of white, add two circles of the iris color, and then finish with black pupils and smile lines at the corners of the eyes.
Assemble: Glue the two feet to the cardboard circle, toes pointing outward. Apply two dots of glue to the top of the feet, and press on the round body. Hold until the glue sets. Glue a piece of red bump chenille or a thick pipe cleaner to the top of the ball to make arms. Glue the head on top of the arm segment. Cut a strip of metallic red crepe paper to fit around the waist, and glue in place.
Tear a small triangle of cotton batting to form the beard. Pull away bits from the edges until it fits the Santa's face. Roll the fuzzy edges under, and twist the end of the beard into a point. Attach to the cheeks under the nose with glue. Tear a second smaller piece of batting to make a moustache. Twist at the center like a bowtie, and then twist the outer edges to make them into points. Glue the mustache on top of beard, just under the nose.
Cut with scissors a tall triangle of dyed cotton batting to make the hat. It can be just about as tall as the Santa himself, and should be wide enough to wrap around his head with just a little overlap. Glue it to the forehead first, then continue gluing it around to the back of the head. Overlap the edges at the back, and seal the seam with glue.
Prepare starch medium: Mix 1 tbsp cornstarch with 1 tbsp water to make a slurry. Boil 1 cup water in a saucepan, reduce the heat to simmer, and add the slurry a spoonful at a time until it is fully dissolved. Simmer two minutes, or until all lumps have dissolved. Let cool.
Use a soft paintbrush to apply a coat of the prepared starch to the entire surface of the hat. This allows you to crumple and shape the hat. Once it is positioned as you like it, allow it to dry fully.
Finish the dried hat by applying a strip of cotton trim and a rolled up ball of cotton for the pompom. Use a needle to poke a hole all the way through a 20mm spun cotton bell, and insert a holly berry stamen from the bottom. Bend the wire at the top into a loop to slip over the end of Santa's arm.