Peg Doll Gnome Wearing a Hat and Scarf

Wooden Peg Dolls - How to Personalize Them to Make Your Own Gnome Family!

Grade Levels: Pre-K - 5

Posted: September 28, 2020 | Updated: September 28, 2020
Created by: Schoolhouse by the Sea

Peg dolls are so simple to personalize and so much fun! Here are a few of our favorite ideas for decorating these wonderful toys.

Decorated Gnome Peg Doll

Purchase unfinished wooden peg dolls

The simplicity of this craft comes from the fact that your doll is already made for you! Your job is to decorate them.

Unfinished wooden peg dolls can be found at many craft or specialty stores, but are very easy to find online. You can purchase them from Etsy or other online merchants.

Choose your decorative style!

When decorating your own peg doll, there are infinite possibilities! Here are three ways that I like to decorate my peg dolls. Keep in mind that you can always experiment with another method! We would love to hear what you choose.

Decorate with nature

Go on a walk and gather materials for your peg doll that will not degrade over time. For example, you might use dried leaves, acorns, moss and twigs. Experiment with different ways to use the materials you find! For example, you can use moss for hair and an acorn cap for a hat.

When you have your natural treasures arranged the way you’d like, Elmer’s glue is strong enough to hold the items in place. Wet the materials with glue, hold them tightly in place for two minutes, then let your peg doll rest for an hour or so. It should then be ready to play!

In decorating your own peg doll, there are many other wonderful possibilities. Dried flowers would make a lovely headband for a little gnome and could be glued on just like the moss was. Dried leaves could make a dress, large and colorful leaves could make wings… there are so many free treasures you could find around you! I would love to see what you create.

Peg Dolls Decorated with Nature

Decorate with paints

Acrylic paints are another wonderful way to give your peg doll personality.

Black and white acrylic paint can turn a peg doll into a penguin. Peg dolls love to be many colors! However you paint them, they can be beautiful.

Here at Schoolhouse by the Sea, we love to turn these peg dolls into gnomes! You can give the round tops the skin tone of your choice with acrylic paint (or with varnish, if an adult will help you use it), then paint on their clothing. A simple cloak, like in our example, is a great choice! Of course, you can always paint your peg doll to match your favorite outfit!

Peg Dolls and Fabric

Decorate with your own hand-sewn doll clothes

There’s nothing as cute as a gnome in clothes -- especially if you’ve sewn those clothes yourself.

As with painting or decorating your gnome, there are an endless number of patterns you could follow, but here are very simple, sweet ideas to follow with fabric scraps.

Ask an adult if you have any fabric that could be reused -- a stained kitchen towel, old cloth napkins, an old pillowcase, anything that is old or tattered enough for your family to be ready to replace. If all your cloth is in working order, then a paper towel or coffee filter could be a good no-sew solution. What can you find around your home?

Fabric Corner and Peg Dolls

Pointy Hat

To make the hat, begin with the corner of an old cloth. I prefer an old tea towel, but anything will do!

  1. Cut a corner off the towel diagonally to make a triangle.
  2. Thread your needle
  3. Hem the edge that you cut so that it doesn’t unravel. How do you hem something? It’s easier than it sounds! Folded up the fabric on the cut side to make a straight line, then sew it together using a running stitch. If you’ve never sewn before, click here for a wonderful guide to making a running stitch.
  4. Sew up the open ends with an overstitch. This is a simple and useful stitch for crafting, so if you don’t yet know it, now’s a wonderful time to practice. Click here for a guide.

Ta-da! Your gnome has a hat!

Peg Doll Gnome in a Hat


To make a cape, you’ll follow a similar process as for the hat.

  1. Cut another corner off the towel diagonally to make a triangle
  2. Thread your need again
  3. Hem the cut edge in the same way as the hat
  4. Fold over the longest edge to make a small extra triangle on each end of the original large triangle.
  5. Sew that folded edge in place, once again using the running stitch.
  6. After fitting the opening to rest on the gnome’s head (as well as to fit over it), sew the original edges together up to about ½ inch.

Ta-da! Your gnome has a cape!

Peg Doll Gnome in a Cape


A little gnome might need some extra warmth for the Fall! You can use the same scrap fabric to make a simple scarf! Here’s how:

  1. Cut an approximately ½ inch wide rectangular strip in whatever length you’d like the scarf to be (we find 3 inches to be perfect!)
  2. Hem any edges you cut, in the same way you hemmed the rough edges on the hat

Ta-da! You've made a doll's scarf! Test it on the gnome. If you like the size, you’re done!

Peg Doll Gnome in a Hat and Scarf

Dying the clothes

You can change the color of the gnomes clothes by boiling water and adding spices or kitchen scraps to get different colors. For Fall, we enjoyed using cayenne pepper to make an orange-ish red scarf, turmeric to make a bold and beautiful yellow cloak, and matcha green tea powder to make a mossy green hat. If your cloth is not white, it may not dye the expected colors, but cloth dying is a wonderful task to experiment with all on its own. What dyes will you choose? If you’re not sure where to begin, this short video has some wonderful inspirations!

Once you’ve dyed them, hang them to dry. In a few hours, they will be ready for your gnomes! They are ready for your nature table and are ready to play with you. Enjoy them!

Gnome Clothes Hang Drying

How will you choose to decorate your gnomes?

Three Peg Doll Gnomes on a Nature Table