March 1, 2012

How To Populate a Leprechaun Colony

You can always entice them by paving the streets with gold, but that's not really practical.

PhotobucketI made these little men from memory. I remember my father made a number of them for my mother - over 50 years ago. If memory serves me correctly, Dad followed a pattern that was in Sunset Magazine. The originals had lead feet.

The ones he made were definitely meant to be leprechauns. However, they all had pointy hats. That makes me wonder if Sunset might have presented them as Santa's elves. A red shirt and a jingle bell on the end of the cone hat would transform them into North Pole residents.

Since they were from memory, I eyeballed everything. When making the patterns for the clothes, I tended to make them too wide for the body, and ended up cutting the pattern down a couple of times before I got it right.

Don't be put off by the number of steps you see here. I tend to turn every movement into a step.

For each leprechaun/elf you'll need:
• clothing patterns
• one 1" wooden bead
• four pipe cleaners:
oooone for the arms (color of your choice, the hands will show),
oootwo for legs and body (any color, they will NOT show),
oooone for the beard (color of your choice)
• two colors of craft felt
• one 9 in. X 12 in. X 1/4 inch thick sheet of craft foam
oooMake sure it's the 1/4-inch thick sheet.
• a cotton ball (you'll use about a third of one)
• thread and needle
• scissors
• hot glue sticks and gun
• black ball point pen
• foamy beer mug Gumball Charms (as listed on eBay - optional)
• ribbon, doll belt buckles, jingle bells, pom-pons (optional)

If you want to add extra support to the legs of the standing leprechauns,
you'll need:
• one screwer
• one pair of nippers
oooALL my dolls stood up just fine, those with and those without the oooskewer-supported legs. You'll just have to try one and see if you ooofeel the extra support is necessary.
At present, I'm without a scanner, You can try enlarging this picture of my patterns until I'm able to supply a template.Photobucket
1. Fill the hole in the bead with glue and insert two stems into the bead. Leave a little protruding at the top in case you want the hat to stand up.
In retrospect, I don't think you'll need to add glue to the hole or make the pipe cleaners protrude at the top. The hat's too small to flop.
2. Slip a felt tunic on, over the two pipe cleaners. Push all the way up to the bead head.Photobucket3. Twist a third pipe cleaner up under the "chin" of the bead head.Photobucket
I wrapped mine around twice.
Why, I don't know.
4. Fold the shirt in half, over the arms.
Glue or sew under each arm and down the sides.
I used a simple, very visible whip stitch.
Before taking your first stitch, say to yourself, "Zig-zag down."
I almost sewed the tunic sleeves around the torso - 3 times!.
5. Before you put the pants on the doll, fold the felt pants in half and stitch the inner leg seams closed.
Slip on the pants, making sure a pipe cleaner leg is on each side of the inverted "V" stitching.PhotobucketStitch the outer pant seams closed, enclosing each pipe cleaner leg.
6. Poke a small amount of cotton up into the torso.
Adjust the pants and tunic, so that the tunic just barely covers the top of the pants. The more leg you have to work with when you pose him, the better.
7. Add a dab of hot glue under the tunic's lower back edge and attach to the pants. This will keep the pants from slipping down or riding up while he's being posed.
8a. Cut two teardrop shapes from the 1/4-inch black foam sheet. Using a skewer, poke a hole in the fat end of each teardrop.

Cut off the pip cleaner legs, leaving 1/4 inch protruding from the pants.PhotobucketPut a dab of glue on the ends of the pipe cleaner legs and insert them into the shoes.
8b. If you wish to give more support to the legs, cut the pipe cleaner legs off, flush with the ends of the pant legs. Insert a skewer into each foam shoe and slide each skewer up the full length of the leg. Cut the skewer off, flush with the bottom of the shoe.Photobucket
9. Glue on a pipe cleaner beard.Photobucket10. Glue on the hair. Make sure the pipe cleaner circles are very close together. It looks funny with gaps.
11. Shorten the pipe cleaner arms and fold what remains back into the sleeves to create hands.Photobucket
12. Decide on a hat style for your leprechaun. Embellish with ribbon, jewelry pieces, tiny bells and pom-pons. Photobucket
I used hot glue to construct the top hat and whipped stitched the cone hat. I'm not sure it matters how you put either one together.

13. I suggest gluing on the hat BEFORE you draw the face. The hat's not really in the way while you are drawing, and you will have a better idea of how high up you can draw the eyebrows.
If you want to add white highlights to the eyes, use the end of a toothpick that's been dampened with white paint.

For a look at how these little men were used in a tablescape, click here.
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Hope Studios for Tutorial Tuesday.


  1. Love these lil' leprechauns, OA! Very unique & fun memories! Great instructions! Lookin' forward to seeing your St Pat decor! Jeanne S.

  2. These are just too cute! I think I am going to make some this weekend for use as a photo prop for an upcoming blog post.

    1. Wow! I'd love to see how they turn out. I went to your blog. Please let me know if and when you manage to set it up. They do go faster than you might expect. I did two at a time. Cut out two sets of clothes. Glued on two heads. Sewed two tunics. Etc.

  3. These are the cutest things I have ever seen! I am so going to make these with my kids. Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  4. These are just the cutest little things I've ever seen and I don't think they would have to be limited to saint paddy's day. I see Eli's and scare crows. How fun! I don't know if I can make them but I'm going to try. Thank you for your talent and for sharing these little guys with all of us.

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