If you love those websites where you can upload a photo of yourself and turn it into a dancing cartoon elf or reindeer, this project is dedicated to you. I never tire of seeing the familiar faces of loved ones in ridiculous holiday outfits and wanted to make a felt ornament series inspired by the JibJab Christmas e-cards. Trim your tree with felt photo ornaments made from school photos or candid shots from the year, or give a set to your favorite family members. Kid crafters 7-plus will love making these. All ages will enjoy receiving them.
Things You’ll Need
- Photos of faces looking straight ahead
- 1 piece of 8-by-12-inch piece of wool felt in each of the following colors: for the reindeer, brown and red; for the snowman, white, black and a scrap of yellow; for the elf, flesh color of your choice, light green, dark green and hair color of your choice; for the Christmas tree, green, yellow and red
- Paper scissors
- Fabric scissors
- Twigs or small branches
- Fabric glue
- All-purpose glue
- Clothespins, hair clips or other mini “clamps”
- Small paper plate
- Wooden toothpicks
- Sewing needle and thread
- Small jingle bells
- Red and white baker’s twine (or gold, green etc.)
To make a reindeer photo ornament, grab your (paper-only) scissors, and snip down a clear, well-lit photo into a square shape.
With the fabric scissors, cut a swatch of brown felt that is about the same size as the photograph.
Round out the swatch of felt into an oval shape that is roughly 1/4 to 1/2 inch larger than the face itself.
Fold the oval in half and carefully cut out an oval shape in the center of your piece of felt. The hole should be about as large as the child’s face. Use the wooden toothpick to apply a bit of all-purpose glue to one side of the felt ring and then place it, glue-side down, directly on top of the photograph.
Center the photograph in the felt ring. Then, cut out two teardrop shapes from the brown felt. Glue theses reindeer ears to the top sides of the deer head with fabric glue.
While the ears dry, pop outside and snip a couple of twigs off a tree in your yard. Tiny twigs that have a natural branching point in them make perfect antlers.
Adhere the antlers to the back of the photo. Cut a 4-inch length of baker’s twine and glue the two cut ends down between the antlers to create your ornament hanger. (I neglected to add the hanger when making the first ornament!)
Cut a swatch of brown felt that is larger than the oval face of your reindeer, add a bit more all-purpose glue to the back of the photo, and use the wooden clothespins to keep the pieces of felt, antlers, and baker’s twine sandwiched together while the glue dries.
When everything is dry, cut the back piece of felt to match the oval face.
Transform your “little deer” into Rudolph by snipping a tiny (nose-sized) piece of red felt and gluing it directly onto the nose of your child with the all-purpose glue and a toothpick. Your reindeer ornament is ready to display or guide a sleigh tonight.
The Snowman Photo Ornament
To make a snowman photo ornament, begin by cutting your child’s photo into a square with paper-only scissors. The snowman is a good option for a smaller photo. The photograph used in this example measures about 1/2-inch square.
Cut a rectangular piece of white felt (ours was 4 inches long by 2 1/4 inches wide) to block out the body of the snowman. Next, cut the rectangle into three, connected graduating squares. Hold the photo against the felt as you work so that you can gauge how large to make the smallest square (the snowman’s head). Aim to reserve at least 1/4 inch of white felt around the photographed face. Then, round out each square to complete the snowman body.
Place your snowman body onto the remaining white felt sheet, and cut around it to make a second, identical snowman body.
Fold the head of the snowman in half and snip a tiny hole to allow your scissor blades to enter. Then cut a round hole in the center of the snowman head that is just large enough for the face to peek through from behind. Glue the photo in place.
Gather a couple small twigs. Apply fabric glue to the rest of the inside of the snowman’s body and sandwich the twig “arms” between that and the second felt piece. Use the wooden clothespins to hold the felt body pieces snug around the twig arms while the glue dries.
Finish the snowman by cutting three small black “buttons” for the snowman body and two matching top-hat pieces for the snowman’s head out of black felt. If you have a scrap of yellow felt, you can make a small rectangular “buckle” for the hat as well. Cut a 3- or 4-inch piece of baker’s twine and glue it down between the top-hat sandwich. Use wooden clothespins to hold the felt together while the glue dries. Your jolly, happy snowman is done.
For school pictures or photographs that measure 1 1/2 inches or larger, make an elf ornament complete with goofy hat and collar.
Start by cutting a piece of flesh-colored felt that is a little larger than the actual photo. Round out the piece of felt to make an oval, and then cut out a center oval for the photo to show through. Glue the photo to the back of the felt oval.
Cut two flesh-colored teardrops for the ears. Glue one to the front side of the face and the other to the back.
Cut some elf “bangs” out of the hair color felt, and glue them in place.
With a piece of light green felt, make a large hook-like hat shape that is as wide as the head but tapers down at the curved tip. Glue the hat in place, over the elf head and hair.
As the glue dries on the hat, cut a small curved rectangle from the same light green felt. Snip a small triangle out of the center of the rectangle and angle both sides inward. Glue the collar behind the felt “chin” of your elf.
Sew the jingle bells to the tip of the elf hat. Cut a tapered piece of dark green felt for the brim of the hat and glue the brim in place. Cut a piece of wool felt that is as large as the entire elf hat, and glue it to the back of the hat. Adding these backing pieces of felt adds strength and stability to your ornament and also gives them a finished look.
Before the glue dries, cut a length of baker’s twine (3 to 4 inches), and insert the cut ends into the topmost part of the elf hat sandwich. Use wooden clothespins or alligator hair clips to hold everything in place while the glue dries.
When the glue has dried, trim down the back of the hat to match the front. The elf ornament is ready to frolic on trees and shelves alike.
The Christmas Tree
For photographs that are smaller than 1/2-inch square, consider making a Christmas tree ornament. Teeny photos make for awesome tree stars.
Cut a dark green piece of wool felt into a triangle shape. Our photo was only 1/4 by 1/4 inch, so I made a triangle shape that was 3 inches wide by 4 inches high to give it a little more real estate.
Snip both sides of the triangle repeatedly to transform the triangle into a tree. Grab a scrap of yellow felt that is larger than your child’s photo (ours was 1 1/4 inches square), and cut it into a star shape.
Carefully cut a hole in the center of the star that is large enough for the photographed face to show through. Glue the photo to the back of the felt star.
Cut out some ornaments for your tree from any color felt you like. Glue them in place with fabric glue and a toothpick.
When the glue has dried on your star and photograph, cut the unneeded photo parts away with the paper scissors. Then glue the felt star to the top of the tree. Cut a length of baker’s twine 3 to 4 inches long, and glue the cut ends to the back of the star and tree. Cut a second triangle of green felt that is larger than the whole tree. Glue that to the back of your first tree, and clip it to the first piece with clothespins. When the glue has dried, snip the back piece of felt to match the front tree. You can now begin rockin’ around the Christmas tree ornament.
Tip: If any ornaments in your set need hangers or final trimming, do that after the glue has dried to avoid gumming up your scissors. The ornaments are all very quick to make, so you may end up working on several at a time, like we did.
When the glue has set and the clothespins have been removed, all that’s left is to hang the JibJab-inspired felt photo ornaments.
All photos by: Megan Andersen