Elf on the Shelf is terrific as is. But if your elf desires more freedom with posing when they can no longer be animated, then an elf mod might be needed. An elf hack, mod, modification, cheat, they all work to describe adding some structure and holding power to an otherwise limited elf.
This is our third year with elves and they decided they needed a little something extra. They were able to do a lot as they were, some really incredible things. But they are capable of so much more now.
An elf with basic sewing skills, even no sewing skills but the courage to try, can handle these modifications. A few simple stitches to close any openings is the extent of the sewing.
Before starting, your elf needs to decide the extent of the modification. Adding wire only, magnets only, combination. If adding magnets will they be added to hands and feet? Our elves decided on hands only, and a single magnet in one leg. The reason being that too much magnetism can be a bigger problem than none at all.
- 1/4″ neodymium magnets (Michaels carries these)
- wire, 20 gauge or thicker.
- wire cutters
- thread to repair openings
- something to open seams, seam ripper is ideal but there are many options
- scissors for trimming threads
WARNING these are super strong magnets, the package states they are not toys. Do not use them in modifications where children or pets could potentially chew the elf and ingest a magnet.
Prepare the Wire
If bendable arms and legs are part of your modification now is the time to measure the length needed. Our elves used 20 gauge wire, they decided to double it at the last minute because it seemed a little light. Determine if a single or double length of wire is needed and cut it slightly longer so that the sharp ends can be curled over to prevent damage. The photo illustrates what needs to be done for each arm and leg that will be modified. For limbs where magnets will be added plan to leave space for the magnet without any wire, they will not all fit into the tiny feet and hands.
Now it is time to create openings for the wire to be inserted through. Decide if the wire will be inserted from the hand/foot end or the end nearest the body. Our elves inserted the arm wire from the hand since they wanted magnets in their hands. They inserted the leg wires nearer to the body since no magnets were added to the feet and openings nearer to the body are easier to mend.
Above you see wire being inserted into the leg from an opening near the body. Note the cardboard tube. Ideally, try to insert the wire into the tube for arms and legs. Below you see the wire has been inserted and the leg is ready to be stitched up. Be sure the sharp ends are curved over to prevent damage.
Wire and Magnets for Arms
Adding wire to the arms is exactly as it is for the legs. Again choose where the opening will be. Our elves chose hand openings since they wanted magnets. Just as with the legs, try to insert the wire into the cardboard tube in the arms. A magnet and wire will not fit into the hand together so cut the wire accordingly. The magnets will just fit into the hands. A needle can help manipulate the fabric to conceal the magnet. Before stitching the second hand closed, be sure to check the orientation of the magnets so that the hands will close as desired. Our elves wanted hand over hand rather than hands facing together. Below is the final check before stitching closed.
Stitch Openings Closed